Our Lady of Mount Carmel

July 16

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel gives Scapular to St. Simon Stock

Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the Asherah four hundred, that eat at Jezebel’s table.

1 Kings 18:19

What are Carmelites? Was Clint Eastwood their mayor? Are they responsible for my favorite Frappuccino toppings?

No, the Carmelites are named for Mount Carmel in Israel, a peak considered sacred to Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Bahais.

Mt. Carmel is mentioned prominently in the Old Testament, including the Book of Kings, wherein Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal and Asherah to light a fire atop the mountain.

Nearly two-thousand years later, according to hagiographers, a French Crusader by the name of Berthold founded a monastic order on Mount Carmel—on the site of Elijah’s Cave—after receiving a vision from Christ. St. Berthold remained in charge of the monastery until his death in 1195.

The most famed leader of the Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, or the Carmelites, may have been an English hermit named Simon Stock. During Stock’s tenure as prior, the Carmelite Order was in danger of being suppressed.

Oppressed by the Saracens, the monks slowly emigrated to Europe. During the night preceding the sixteenth of July, 1225, the Blessed Virgin is said to have commanded Pope Honorius III to approve the foundation.

— carlosechevarria.blogspot.com

The legend goes that on July 16th, 1251, St. Simon Stock had a vision of the Virgin Mary who presented him with a sacred scapular and a promise of protection for those who wore it.

“Take, beloved son, this scapular of thine order as a badge of my confraternity and for thee and all Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire. It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant.”

— The Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Simon Stock, Cambridge, England

The Order was not suppressed, and in fact grew in prominence over the next several hundred years, even splitting off into different branches.

Today the special scapular is a defining vestige of the Carmelites, and they celebrate the anniversary of the apparition of the Virigin Mary—Our Lady of Mount Carmel—on July 16th every year.

In observation of the 750th anniversary, to be celebrated on July 16, Pope John Paul II has written a special letter to the Carmelites, saying: “I also carry the scapular on my heart… for the love that it nutures toward the common Heavenly mother, whose protection is continually springing forth.”

VIA Inside the Vatican Newsflash: John Paul II and the Brown Scapular , by John Drogin

Young Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) with Scapular
Young Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) with Scapular around his neck

Mount Carmel – Bibleplaces.com

Mary and Carmelite Spirituality, another viewpoint

Our Lady of Fátima – Portugal

May 13

Our Lady of Fatima

Sightings of the Virgin Mary date all the way back to 40 AD when the Virgin Mary first appeared to the Apostle James in Spain. They’ve occurred all over the world, in communities big and small, and the sightings continue to this day. In fact…

“Just last week, the Virgin Mary appeared in the form of a stain on a griddle at Las Palmas restaurant in Calexico, California. More than 100 people have come to gaze upon it, manager Brenda Martinez told the Imperial Valley Press…” — The Standard – May 13, 2009

But the most famous sighting in modern times may be the one that took place on this day (May 13) in 1917 in Fátima, Portugal. As the World War raged throughout Europe, three Portuguese children—Francisco and Jacinta Marto, ages 9 and 7, and their cousin Lucia Dos Santos, age 10—were building a wall in the fields when their play was interrupted by a flash of lightning.

“They thought that a storm was brewing and herded the sheep together to take them home. They once again saw a flash of lightening and shortly afterwards they saw above a small holm oak tree a Lady dressed entirely in white and shining more brilliantly than the sun.”

The apparition answered the children’s questions on heaven, and entreated them to return on the 13th of each month thereafter. At subsequent encounters she told them about heaven, hell, and God’s message. Over the next 5 months, word spread of the children’s encounters. By October 13, 70,000 people gathered in the field hoping to catch a glimpse of “Our Lady of Fátima” (now also known as “Our Lady of the Rosary”).

“After the long extensive rains, the sky became blue, people could easily look into the sun, which started to spin round like a wheel of fire which radiated wonderful shafts of light in all sorts of colours. The people, the hills, the trees and everything in Fatima seemed to radiate these marvellous colours.

Then the sun stood still for a moment then the wonderful thing that had happened reoccurred. It was repeated for a third time. But now the sun broke loose from the heavens and came down to earth with a zigzagging movement. It became bigger and bigger and looked as though it would fall on the people and flatten them. All were frightened and fell to the ground while they prayed for mercy and forgiveness.” —  http://www.marypages.eu/fatimaEng.htm

Jacinta, Lucia, & Francisco

Sadly, Francisco died only 2 years later and Jacinta the year after that.  Pope John Paul II beatified Francisco and Jacinta on May 13, 2000. Lucia lived to the ripe old age of 97. She died in 2005.

May 13 is celebrated in Portugal and by many Portuguese Catholics in other parts of the world. On May 13, 2009, “The 13th Day”, about the miracle of Fátima, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in France.