Faith & Life


By DANIELLE TAYABAS     7/11/2023

The Book of Isaiah  mentions “the splendor of Carmel,” (Isaiah 35:2) when speaking about Israel’s deliverance on Mount Carmel. “Carmel” is a Hebrew word that means “garden of God.”

It was on this mountain range of Palestine, currently known for its beautiful, lush forests, fertile grasslands and majestically painted skies that the prophet Elijah placed his trust in the Lord. During a three- year drought inflicted by God, Elijah summoned to Mount Carmel all the Israelites, including hundreds of prophets that worshiped false gods. With a zealous and obedient heart, he challenged them in a contest involving a sacrifice to prove that His God was the One True God (1 Kings 18:20-40).

“The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who “arose like fire” and whose “word burned like a torch,” brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel. This event was a “figure” of the fire of the Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches,” (CCC 696).

When the Israelites witnessed this, they prostrated themselves and exclaimed, “The Lord is God!” After Elijah defeated and killed the false prophets the Lord sent a heavy rain that ended the drought.

Since then, Mount Carmel has become an anointed place of prayer. Over the centuries Christian hermits gathered and resided there.

They lived an austere and ascetic life of prayer and penance with burning love for God and in veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In the 12th century, the Carmelite Order was founded from this humble band of hermits. Sometime between 1206-1214, the Carmelites were given the Rule of Saint Albert to live their religious consecration. Over time, they transformed from an eremitical to mendicant way of life and spread out to other countries.

In the 13th century, during a period of persecution, Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared on July 16, 1251, in Aylesford, England to a Carmelite priest named Saint Simon Stock. She handed him the brown scapular and said, “Receive my beloved son, this scapular of thy order: this shall be to thee and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire. It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace.”

The brown scapular, placed around the neck and over the shoulders like an apron, became a part of the distinctive garment and religious habit worn by the Carmelites. It symbolizes their devotion, consecration and dedication to Our Lady and her powerful protection.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, also known as the Virgin Carmel, became the Patroness of the Carmelite Order.

A smaller version of the brown scapular has been used over the years by the Christian faithful. It consists of two small pieces of brown wool on a cord. It has become a Marian sacramental and devotional that we can participate in and gain indulgences from.

One must be invested and enrolled in the Brown Scapular Confraternity by a priest and pray to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The Confraternity members will share in the spiritual benefits of the Carmelite Order as they strive to live a life of virtue.

The Sabbatine Privilege, a papal bull (a type of public decree, letters patent or charter issued by a pope of the Catholic Church) by Pope John XXII issued on March 3, 1322, is also attached to wearing the brown scapular. The Blessed Mother appeared to him in a vision and said, “I, the Mother of graces, shall descend on the Saturday after their death, and whomever I shall find in purgatory I shall free so that I may lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting.”

Our Lady of Mount Carmel pray for us, protect us and lead us to eternal life!