Our Lady of Carmel
Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the Carmelite Order. The first Carmelites were Christian hermits living on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land during the late 12th and early to mid 13th centuries. They built a chapel in the midst of their hermitages which they dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, whom they conceived of in chivalric terms as the "Lady of the place." Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is also the patron saint of Chile.
Mary for the Carmelites :
The first hermits on Mount Carmel built a church in the middle of their cells. This was the centre of their lives where they converged each day to celebrate Mass together. This little church they named in honour of Our Lady. By this fact the first group of Carmelites took her as their patroness, promising her their faithful service and expecting her protection and favour. They were proud to bear the title of "Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel" and they defended this title with vigour when their right to it was challenged.
Mary consented to God's will when she was asked to be the mother of the Saviour. She pondered on the events of her life and was able to see in them the hand of God at work. Mary did not become proud about her unique vocation but instead praised God for looking on her lowliness and doing great things in her. She was with Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry when, at the marriage feast at Cana, she made known to him the simple need, "They have no wine". She was with him as he died and there she became the mother of all believers. At the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles we find Mary gathered in the upper room praying with the other disciples waiting for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. For us Carmelites, Mary is a constant presence in our lives, guiding us and protecting us as we seek to follow Christ.
The brown scapular has for many centuries summed up the Carmelite's relationship with Our Lady. The scapular is a piece of cloth based on the traditional Carmelite friar's garb. Wearing the scapular is a sign of consecration to Mary, the Mother of God, and is a symbol showing that the person is putting on the virtues of Mary and is being protected by her. Mary symbolises for the Carmelite everything that we hope for - to enter into an intimate relationship with Christ, being totally open to God's will and having our lives transformed by the Word of God. Carmelites have always thought of Mary as the Patroness of the Order, its Mother and Splendour. We seek to live in spiritual intimacy with her so that we can learn from her how to live as God's children. Elijah and Mary are inspirational figures for all Carmelites. They play a very important part in the life and spirituality of the Order which sees itself as belonging to Mary and looks to Elijah as our spiritual father.