Our Lady of Mount Carmel (or of Carmine) is one of the oldest and most beloved forms of worship to Christians. It is celebrated on July 16th, when, in 1251, Our Lady of Mount Carmel would have appeared to the English priest Simon Stock, then General Prior of the Carmelite Order.
Mount Carmel (in Aramaic “garden”) in Israel has always been considered a place of great mysticism and spiritual strength. The prophet Elijah, gathered with other people of faith on the mountain and in open conflict with the priests of the god Baal, he claimed to have witnessed an apparition of the Virgin Mary, incarnation of the Word of God, of her generosity, including through her power and the world. The slopes of the mountain were then gathering place for monks and hermits, the “Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel”, and the Carmelites later.
It was the General Father of these last mentioned, Simon Stock, to whom Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared, surrounded by angels, by light and with baby Jesus in her arms. She donated the religious a scapular (a strip of cloth with an opening for the head, which falls on the chest and back, sometimes with a hood), which when worn would guarantee the salvation from hell, and the liberation from the pains of Purgatory. Our Lady of Carmel said, “This is the privilege for you and yours: anyone who dies wearing it, will be saved.”
The Carmelites, devoted to Our Lady of Carmel, established as their rule that primitive one, established by the prophet Elijah, one of the fathers of monastic life: night vigils, fasting, strict abstinence, poverty and silence. In addition, they manifested their consecration to Our Lady of Carmel wearing the scapular, and dedicating their life imitating her.
Simon Stock, later beatified, spread the devotion of Our Lady of Carmel in Europe and composed for her the Flos Carmeli, a wonderful hymn.