Our Lady of Mount Carmel – July 16

The Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin was born in the twelfth century on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land. A group of hermits from the west settled there to live after the example of Christ in His land. At their request, the Patriarch of Jerusalem gave them a rule of life that required them, among other things, to build an oratory among their cells where they could gather for the celebration of the Eucharist. The “Carmelites” built a chapel on Carmel that they dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, whom they addressed as the “Lady of the Place.”

Since the 15th century, popular devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel has focused on the Brown Scapular, a sacramental associated with promises of Our Lady’s special assistance in the salvation of the devoted wearer, especially promising that those who died wearing the scapular would be saved. The origin is said to be that Our Lady gave the Scapular to an early Carmelite named St. Simon Stock.

The Brown Scapular resembles an “apron” that symbolizes the “yoke of Christ.” There are many indications of aprons being used over the religious habit even from the times of St. Benedict (+547 AD), whose Rule also mentions the scapular. In the course of time, the Brown Scapular became part of the religious habit, and eventually acquired religious significance.

As understood and lived in the Carmelite Order, following Jesus Christ and Our Lady becomes the reality for which the faithful in the Carmelite family strive. They rely on the help and support of all the brothers and sisters who share in the same ideal. The members of the Carmelite family live their commitment in various ways: in the “desert,” in fraternal life, in the apostolic life, on the streets of the world, together working with Mary for the Kingdom of God.