Although many of us are familiar with Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the significance of Mount Carmel and the Lady of Mount Carmel in Catholic history is something to meditate on during this month of July. Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the patron saint of the Carmelite Order. Although the history of Our Lady of Mount Carmel dates back to the beginning of the 12th century, it was not until the early 18th century when the Universal Church started celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated on July 16th. Mount Carmel is the name given to the mountain range in Northern Israel extending along the Mediterranean Sea. It is not far from Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus. This mountain range is where the followers of Baal were successfully challenged by Prophet Elijah and revealed the power of true God. Historically, a group of monks built a church and a monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary on Mount Carmel in 1263. The monks became known as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel” before their formal approval as the ‘Carmelite Order.’ Formal approval of the Carmelite Order was obtained in 1274 at the Council of Lyon. Unfortunately, the monastery and the church in Mount Carmel were taken down by non-Christians/pagans in 1291.
The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
(വെന്തിങ്ങ): The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is an important belief/tradition among Catholics. The origin of the Scapular dates back to the days of Saint Simon Stock. The King of France who visited Mount Carmel in 1254 brought some monks including Saint Simon Stock to France and helped them build a convent near Paris. Saint Simon Stock played a key role in the spread of Carmelites in Europe. History says that Mother Mary appeared to Saint Simon Stock on July 16th in the 1200s and gave him a Scapular telling him to promote devotion to it. The name “Scapular” is derived from the Latin word ‘scapula’ meaning shoulder blade. Originally worn by monks, a scapular is made of two pieces of cloth, one covering the chest and the other covering the back, connected by straps passing over the shoulders. Although the Carmelites wear the Scapular as a part of their Order, devout lay people,too, wear it under their shirts in the form of a necklace. A Scapular is a modified version of Mother Mary’s garment symbolizing salvation, a shield in danger, and a pledge of special protection and peace. If wearing a Scapular, one is expected to make sincere efforts to live a life of devotion and faith. In addition, the wearer should have the Scapular blessed and be enrolled in the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular. Confraternity of the Brown Scapular is a simple ceremony often performed by a priest. True devotion to Virgin Mary implies three principles: confidence, love, and veneration. Wearing the Scapular reflects one’s love, trust, and veneration to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Many miracles have been reported around the world attributed to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. One of the popular miracles is the one that happened in Palmi, Italy in 1894. Palmi is a small town in the Southern part of Italy with almost 15,000 inhabitants. This town was struck by a powerful earthquake in 1894 and the death toll was only nine out of the 15,000 inhabitants! The death toll was so low despite extensive destruction of the buildings and structures in Palmi, because all the inhabitants were out of their residences witnessing a procession around a local statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. History says that this procession was a quickly organized one by the believers because of reported changes noticed to this statue over the preceding 17 days right before the earthquake. It is believed that the Prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel never fails. Praying with a Scapular is especially helpful in times of temptation, when the powerful intercession by God’s Mother is guaranteed. This is a powerful tool for Catholics to use in urgent needs. Ensure to pray this prayer with confidence and believing that Mother Mary is beside you to aid in difficult times.
A copy of the prayer is attached here.
O most beautiful flower of Mt. Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven.
Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity;
O Star of the Sea, help me and show me you are my Mother.
O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth, I humbly beseech thee from the bottom of my heart to help me in my necessity (make request).
There are none that can withstand your power.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee (say three times).
Holy Mary, I place this prayer in your hands (say three times).
Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands (say three times).
Thank you for your mercy to me and mine. Amen.
In essence, the history of Mount Carmel dates back to the days of Prophet Elijah. Prophet Elijah prayed on Mount Carmel to send rain, when Israelites were facing a drought. Eventually, there was rain, and the Israelites were saved. Theologians say that Elijah believed that his prayers were heard because of the Messiah’s mother. Even though Mother Mary was not born at that time, Prophet Isaiah had spoken of the Virgin who would give birth to the Lord. History of Our Lady of Mount Carmel dates back to the early 1200s when a group of monks established a place of worship on Mount Carmel. Since then, the devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel has spread to different parts of the world mainly through the Carmelite Order. The Scapular has become an embodiment of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and has become a tradition among Catholics around the world. While devoting our lives to Mother Mary, let’s remember the Scapular, in addition to the Rosary. As such, let us hope for the fulfillment of St. Dominic’s famous words about Mother Mary: “ One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, She will save the World.”