The Origin of the title, Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Mount Carmel is a coastal mountain range in the Northern part of Israel. The Hebrew name for this place is “Har ha Karmell” meaning “God’s vineyard or garden”. It is made mostly of limestone and is known for its lush vegetation.
It is believed that Elijah lived in one of the many caves on this mountain, as did many others over the centuries.
Somewhere between 1189 and 1191 a group of penitent Christian men from Europe came to Mount Carmel to follow Elijah’s example and “to live in the footsteps of Jesus”. These men became known as the Carmelite hermits.
After settling in, they bult a chapel to honor Mary and adopted her as their patron. From that time they were known as the Brothers of St. Mary of Mount Carmel.
The group was forced to leave the area of Mount Carmel when the Saracens attacked, causing them to flee back to Europe, residing in England.
In 1247, Pope Innocent V accepted this group as a new religious order for men and were renamed “The Carmelite Friars”.
While in England the group faced great persecution. One of the members, Simon Stock, prayed to Mary asking for her to watch over the community and help them to persevere through this time of hardship.
Tradition holds that in 1251 Simon Stock received a vision of Mary dressed all in brown. She promised to watch over the religious community and gave Simon what is known as the brown scapular, instructing him and his community to wear this around their necks so they would always be reminded of her protection.
When Simon asked who she was, Mary responded, “I am the Lady of Mount Carmel”, giving us the title, “Our Lady of Mount Carmel”!
Simon and Carmelite Friars wore the brown scapular.
Simon Stock died at age one hundred on May 16, 1265 and was later named a saint.
In 1452 a Carmelite religious order for women was started.
St. Therese Lisieux (The Little Flower) was a member of the Carmelite Sisters.