July 16, 2021 | Fr. Claude Lombardo, MC
Today, July 16, is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. First instituted in the 14th century, The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel became part of the universal Church calendar in the early 18th century. Why did Mary appear to St. Simon Stock, the then-Father General of the Carmelites on July 16, 1251, and presented him with the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel?
Below are 10 facts to help our understanding of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and her presentation of the Brown Scapular.
Mount Carmel is on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, overlooking the modern-day city of Haifa.
“Carmel” in Hebrew means “the garden” or “the garden-land” because of its lush beauty during ancient times referenced in Isaiah 35:2.
At the time of the Old testament, hermits lived on Mount Carmel and built a chapel dedicated to Our Lady.
This pious community prayed in expectation for a Virgin-Mother who would bring salvation to mankind much like the holy prophet Elias who ascended Mount Carmel praying to God for the salvation of drought-stricken Israel – Elias “went up to the top of Mt. Carmel, and casting himself down upon the earth put his face between his knees.” (1 Kings 18:42).
During the time of the Crusades, St. Simon Stock, of English origin, joined hermits on Mount Carmel, who claimed to be successors of Elias. However, due to threats to their lives, the group moved to England.
Eventually, St. Simon was elected the sixth superior-general of the Carmelites. The order experienced many difficulties in gaining acceptance and suffered persecution from secular clergy and other orders which prompted the monks to have recourse to the Blessed Virgin in the year 1251.
Tradition says that Our Lady responded to their call through an apparition to St. Simon Stock on July 16th, 1251 as he knelt in prayer. She appeared holding the Child Jesus in one arm and the Brown Scapular in the other hand.
Our Lady upon giving St. Simon Stock the Brown Scapular said the following words – “Receive, My beloved son, this habit 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 Sabbatine Privilege is the second promise attached to the brown Scapular made by Our Lady to Pope John XXII on March 3, 1322. In a papal letter, he recounted that during his vision of the Blessed Virgin she said to him that for those who wear the Brown Scapular: “I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death and whomsoever I shall find in Purgatory, I shall free, so that I may lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting.”
Based on Church tradition, three conditions need to be fulfilled to obtain the benefits of this Privilege and the Scapular:
To receive the spiritual blessings associated with the Scapular, it is necessary to be formally enrolled in the Brown Scapular by either a priest or a layperson who has been given this faculty. Once enrolled, no other Scapular need be blessed before wearing. The blessing and imposition are attached to the wearer for life.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Ora Pro Nobis!
May Peace be with you!
Fr. Claude, MC