Q: Who is Our Lady of Mount Carmel and how does she relate to the scapular devotion?

A: The relation between Our Lady and Mount Carmel is geographic and biblical. Mount Carmel is about twenty miles from Nazareth and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. It was considered a symbol of blessing and beauty for its rich vegetation (Isaiah 35.2), and a place of sacred memory to remember the second covenant between God and Israel.

The prophet Elijah prayed at Mount Carmel for rain, which was announced by a little cloud rising from the sea (1 Kings 18,41-46). The little cloud was subsequently identified as a symbol for Mary and eventually developed into the title Star of the Sea.

Mary announces Christ the Savior and already in the fifth century was hailed "Cloud of rain that offers drink to the souls of the Saints." (Chrysippus of Jerusalem)

Mount Carmel eventually attracted hermits, and from the twelfth century on was the residence of Latin hermits whose official name became "Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel." Following in the footsteps of Mary, they developed a Marian spirituality. This spirituality highlights

  • the importance of contemplation,
  • the understanding of the spiritual life as "way of perfection" (ascent of Mount Carmel, little way),
  • the journeying with Mary (resemblance and intense communion) to attain a truly Mary-formed life, and
  • the reference to Mary not only as Mother and Patroness, but also as Sister.

The order of Carmel considers itself "totally Marian," a privilege which it claims to have received from Mary herself and which is made visible through the scapular.


Image of  Our Lady of Mount Carmel by Goler] Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Victor Goler
Taos, New Mexico

The Mount Carmel brown scapular is the oldest among eight scapulars that have a Marian character and were approved by the Church. (Four of the others are white, one is blue, one black and one green.) The brown scapular owes its origin and existence to Saint Simon Stock who received a large brown scapular from Our Lady in a vision on July 16, 1251. A scapular is actually a sleeveless outer garment of a monk's habit that falls from the shoulders. The original significance implied that one was clothed with Mary's garment in the sense of being clothed with her attitudes and devotion to Christ. The small piece of cloth (or medal) used today recalls the intention of being clothed in the garments of salvation.

The scapular was to be a signal grace for the Carmelite order. Mary promised that whoever died in it would not suffer everlasting punishment and would quickly be released from purgatory (Sabbatine privilege). According to some scholars it has become one of the most widely practiced Marian devotions.

The scapular can be worn by anyone. The wearing of the scapular is meant to foster true devotion to Mary. This devotion is founded on Mary's spiritual maternity and mediation of grace. The scapular teaches confidence in the intercession of Mary to obtain for its wearer the grace of perseverance unto death. There are two conditions attached to the grace of perseverance:

  • one must honor Mary by wearing the scapular until death, and
  • promise to lead a faithful Christian life.

For further information see J. Carol,ed., Mariology, "The Scapular Devotion" by Ch. P. Ceroke, O.Carm, 1961, 128-142. This article makes reference to more specific literature.

Prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel

O, most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, blessed mother of the Son of God, immaculate virgin, assist me in my necessity. O, star of the sea, help me and show me herein, you are my mother. Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who turn to you.

Holy Spirit, you who solve all problems, light all roads so I can attain my goal. You who gave me the divine gift to forgive and forget all evil against me, and who are with me in all instances in my life, thank you for all things, as you confirm once again that I never want to be separated from you in eternal glory.




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This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by J.C.Tierney , was last modified Tuesday, 10/12/2010 14:16:51 EDT by Ramya Jairam . Please send any comments to jroten1@udayton.edu.