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Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel by Brenda Nippert

Artist Narrative:

The ancient order of Mount Carmel takes Mary as it's patroness. Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to Saint Simon Stock and gave him the brown scapular in 1251, to help renew the struggling order. The scapular, or religious garment is the long narrow cloth that hangs down the front and back of the religious habit. Mary made many wonderful promises to those who are devoted to her and wear the scapular. Today, many lay people wear a miniature version of the scapular as a way of showing they are consecrated to Mary's service and rely on her intersession to keep them safe and on the path to her Holy Son. Many miracles have been connected with the scapular and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Many Saints have come from the Carmelite order to give us wonderful examples of holiness such as Teresa of Avila, Thérèse of Lisieux and John of the Cross.

Her feast day is July 16.

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Hermits lived on Mount Carmel near the Fountain of Elijah in northern Israel in the 12th century. They had a chapel dedicated to Our Lady. By the 13th century they became known as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” They soon celebrated a special Mass and Office in honor of Mary. In 1726, it became a celebration of the universal Church under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For centuries the Carmelites have seen themselves as specially related to Mary. Their great saints and theologians have promoted devotion to her and often championed the mystery of her Immaculate Conception.

Saint Teresa of Avila called Carmel “the Order of the Virgin.” Saint John of the Cross credited Mary with saving him from drowning as a child, leading him to Carmel, and helping him escape from prison. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus believed that Mary cured her from illness. On her First Communion day, Thérèse dedicated her life to Mary. During the last days of her life she frequently spoke of Mary.

There is a tradition–which may not be historical—that Mary appeared to Saint Simon Stock, a leader of the Carmelites, and gave him a scapular, telling him to promote devotion to it. The scapular is a modified version of Mary’s own garment. It symbolizes her special protection and calls the wearers to consecrate themselves to her in a special way. The scapular reminds us of the gospel call to prayer and penance—a call that Mary models in a splendid way.

The Carmelites were known from early on as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” The title suggests that they saw Mary not only as “mother,” but also as “sister.” The word sister is a reminder that Mary is very close to us. She is the daughter of God and therefore can help us be authentic daughters and sons of God. She also can help us grow in appreciation of being sisters and brothers to one another. She leads us to a new realization that all human beings belong to the family of God. When such a conviction grows, there is hope that the human race can find its way to peace.