16th July Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Patroness of our Order

From her home in Nazareth how often must Mary have gazed lovingly on the beauty of Mount Carmel across the valley in the setting sun. That holy mountain where Elijah prayed, and which has drawn people of prayer down the centuries. It was here that a group of hermits gathered in the 12th century with their little chapel in the midst of their cells dedicated to the Mother of God – the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Later women would become part of this family – St. Teresa was one of them. After her mother’s death she tells us “I went afflicted before an image of Our Lady and besought her with many tears to be my Mother”.

By choosing the Blessed Virgin and as our Mother and Patroness we place ourselves in her safe keeping. The presence of Mary pervades our monasteries and stamps our contemplative life of friendship with Christ with a distinctly Marian character.

The brown scapular of Carmel reminds us that we belong to her and wish to mirror in our lives the beauty of her holiness. A tiny version of this scapular is worn worldwide as an expression of veneration of Mary and for her protection.

In Carmelite iconography an image of Mary sheltering the friars and nuns beneath her mantle has been traditional. It expresses in symbol a lived reality. She is indeed a Mother and Sister.

 

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