Our Lady of Mount Carmel Read about: History 1887 - 1965
The name of Mount Carmel
Mount Carmel extends about thirteen miles in Northwestern Isreal from the Esdraelon Valley into the sea south of Haifa. Its name means "garden" or "orchard". The Arabic name, "Jobal Mar Elyas" means "The Mount of the Prophet Elijah."
In the days of Ahab and Jezebel, Elijah prayed for rain on this mountain and a cloud which then arose from the mountain top brought the rain and broke the long drought. Mount Carmel was the site where Elijah contested the false prohets of Baal, where, centuries later, crusaders would secure the Mount in the name of Christianity. A number of these crusaders settled on the slopes of Mount Carmel, imitating the hermit life-style of Elijah. Taking the name "Carmelites", they erected a church and monastery over the grotto in which Elijah was said to have lived.
In the 12th century the Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was formed as a religious community for men. A second Order was founded for women religious and eventually a third for lay people to associate with the friars and nuns of Carmel. Their charism as a community is especially centered in contemplative prayer. There are about 2,000 men and women Carmelites today. They are a powerhouse of prayer and charity in the Church.
In England during the 13th century the Carmelite Order was greatly persecuted. During this time on July 16, 1251 while the Superior General of the Carmelites, St. Simon Stock, was in prayer, Mary appeared to him holding a scapular. She gave it to him, saying, “Receive, my dear son, this scapular of your Order as the distinctive sign of my unity with you and the mark of the privilege which I have obtained for you and the children of Carmel. It is a sign of salvation, a safeguard in danger, and a special pledge of peace and protection until the end of time. Whoever dies wearing this shall be preserved from eternal flames.” Thus Our Lady of Mount Carmel is especially known for her Brown Scapular which anyone with a devotion to Mary may wear.
The Carmelites accepted Mary as their patroness and model of their way of life. They saw a parallel between Mary, who brought to a grace-parched world the saving Lord, and the cloud which brought the rain for which the Prophet Elijah prayed on Mount Carmel.
A fairly new church on top of Mount Carmel overlooks the Mediterranean Sea; hence the name of the church, "Stella Maris", meaning "Star of the Sea".