by Father Johann G. Roten, S.M. | Source:
The relation between Our Lady and Mount Carmel is geographic and biblical. Mount Carmel is about 20 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 5th century was hailed as "Cloud of rain that offers drink to the souls of the Saints" (Chrysippus of Jerusalem).
Mount Carmel eventually attracted hermits, and from the 12th c. 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. Roman Catholics commemorate the Memorial of Our Lady on Mount Carmel on July 16.