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Feast of Our Lady of Mount 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 feast, now celebrated on July 16th, was celebrated first in England in the latter part of the 14th century.

After members of the Carmelite Order migrated to England in the 13th century, Saint Simon Stock had a vision in which the Blessed Virgin Mary gave him the Brown Scapular (which would form part of the Habit after 1287) and promised him that those who would die wearing the Scapular would be saved. The 1996 doctrinal statement approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated :

Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is bound to the history and spiritual values of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and is expressed through the scapular. Thus, whoever receives the scapular becomes a member of the order and pledges him/herself to live according to its spirituality in accordance with the characteristics of his/her state in life.

For Carmelites, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the perfect model of the interior life of prayer and contemplation for them to aspire to and as a model of virtue in the person who was closest in life to Jesus. Carmelites look to Mary as their Spiritual Mother. Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdealene de'Pazzi, OCD, explained that this devotion to Our Lady of Carmel means:

a special call to the interior life, which is preeminently a Marian life. Our Lady wants us to resemble her not only in our outward vesture but, far more, in heart and spirit. If we gaze into Mary's soul, we shall see that grace in her has flowered into a spiritual life of incalculable wealth: a life of recollection, prayer, uninterrupted oblation to God, continual contact, and intimate union with him. Mary's soul is a sanctuary reserved for God alone, where no human creature has ever left its trace, where love and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind reign supreme. [...] Those who want to live their devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to the full must follow Mary into the depths of her interior life. Carmel is the symbol of the contemplative life, the life wholly dedicated to the quest for God, wholly orientated towards intimacy with God; and the one who has best realized this highest of ideals is Our Lady herself, "Queen and Splendor of Carmel"

The visionaries of Our Lady of Fatima reported that the Blessed Virgin told them Our Lady of Carmel was one of the titles claimed by her during one of her visits and the Garabandal appearances in Spain were reported to be images of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Tradition holds that it was the miraculous intercession of Our Lady of Carmel that saved thousands of lives in Palmi Italy. For 17 days leading up to November 16th many in the city reported seeing strange eye movements and changes in the colors in a statute of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. On November 16th, a procession was organized to carry the statue through the streets and a massive earthquake suddenly shook the ground when the procession reached the end of the city. Out of a city of 15,000 inhabitants, only 9 died as the overwhelming majority of the city's population was on the streets participating in the procession. Each year since this miracle the city holds an annual festival to commemorate it.

Because the first atomic bomb explosion in the United States happened on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (July 16th, 1945) a prayer vigil is conducted each year on the Feast to pray for peace and the elimination of nuclear weapons. The first vigil was held in 1990 by Reverend Emmanuel Charles McCarthy who instituted the 16 July Twenty-Four Hours Day of Prayer for Forgiveness and Protection with Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

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