The origin of Our Lady of Mount Carmel begins in Israel (near present-day Haifa), the first place ever dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. A chapel was built in Our Lady’s honor before she was Assumed into Heaven.
Many centuries later, Simon Stock, enters the Carmelite Order in Kent, England, after turning 40 years of age. He was sent by his superiors to Mount Carmel, where he enjoyed a life of prayer and penance. When the Saracens retook the region in 1238, during the Second Crusade, Simon Stock and many of his Carmelite brothers had to flee the area, many of them returning to England in 1242. In 1245, a General Chapter was convened. At this meeting of the Carmelites in Aylesford, England, Simon Stock was unanimously elected Prior General of the Carmelite Order.
From a very early age, Simon Stock had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is thought that the Carmelite Order saw great growth under the care of Simon Stock because of his great love and admiration for Our Lady. He and the Carmelites would need her intercession when the Church tried to oppress them as well as the Augustinians with decrees from the Councils of Lateran IV and the Lyons II. Not having any friends in the hierarchy, the Carmelites prayed to Our Lady to save them from extinction. On July 16, Our Lady’s intercession came through for the Carmelites and they were saved from oppression.
Not only were the Carmelites saved in 1245, but on the same day Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, who was 86 years old by this time. Mary appeared to him in an apparition holding a Brown Scapular in her hand. She said to him,
“Receive, my beloved son, this habit of thy order: this shall be to thee and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire.”
After the apparition from Our Lady, Simon Stock founded numerous Carmelite communities in and near many university towns throughout England, France, and Italy. A few years following the apparition, he became Superior-General of the Carmelites. For centuries, nearly 700 years, the Brown Scapular has been a beacon of hope for many faithful Catholics around the world. It has been one of the most sought after Sacramentals of the Catholic Church, because it was given as a piece of clothing to the faithful from the Blessed Mother herself.
I have been wearing a Brown Scapular since the Spring of 2009, after learning about the importance of this Sacramental in my graduate theology class on the Blessed Virgin at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
To learn more about the Brown Scapular, I would encourage you to read my article, Catholic Dog Tags and “Mondays with Mary” – The Synthesis of Marian Spirituality in the Brown Scapular.
This particular Marian title is important not only for the Carmelites, but it plays an important role in two Marian Apparitions. Our Lady appeared on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Lourdes (July 16, 1858) and at Fatima (October 13, 1917) she appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the last time she appeared to the three children.
On July 16, 1726, Pope Benedict XIII, extended the celebration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to the Universal Church.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel…Pray for Us