The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a feast day celebrated on July 16th. It is an optional memorial feast in the Roman Catholic Church and celebrates the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Carmelite Saint Simon Stock on July 16th, 1251.
History of The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Mount Carmel is a mountain range in Israel, close to the port city of Haifa, which is near where Christ lived as a child. This has led many people to consider it a holy mountain, even before it became home to the Carmelite monks who would eventually settle there during the 12th century. These monks were particularly devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary and regarded her as their patroness.
According to Carmelites, Mount Carmel has been home to their order since ancient times, an idea that has been disputed by many. However, despite the controversy, Pope Honorius III approved the order during the early 13th century.
On July 16th, 1251, St. Simon Stock is said to have seen the Blessed Virgin Mary, who gave him the Carmelite habit – the Brown Scapular. According to Carmelite tradition, anyone who wears the Brown Scapular faithfully, while remaining devoted to the Virgin Mary, will be delivered early from Purgatory upon their death.
In 1609, Robert Cardinal Bellarmine closely examined the origins of the feast and the Carmelites and decided that The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was indeed the patronal feast of the Carmelites.
Once this was established, word of the feast began to spread far and wide. It became approved for celebration in parts of Italy, Austria, Portugal, and Spain. This continued until it was placed on the universal calendar of the Latin Church by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726.
The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Customs & Traditions
People observe this day in various ways. Some attend services dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel or take time to pray to the Blessed Virgin. Others have a priest enroll them in the Brown Scapular, which allows them to wear it as a sign of their devotion to the Virgin Mary. In East Harlem, New York City, in the U.S., there is an annual festival for Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This festival has been held annually since 1881.