Our Lady of Mount Carmel, or Virgin of Carmel, is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the Carmelite Order. The first Carmelites were Christian hermits living on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land during the late 12th and early to mid-13th century. They built in the midst of their hermitages a chapel which they dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, whom they conceived of in chivalric terms as the "Lady of the place." Our Lady of Mount Carmel was adopted in the 19th century as the patron saint of Chile.
Since the 15th century, popular devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel has centered on the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, also known as the Brown Scapular. Traditionally, Mary is said to have given the Scapular to an early Carmelite named Saint Simon Stock (1165-1265). The liturgical feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated on 16 July.
The solemn liturgical feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was probably first celebrated in England in the later part of the 14th century. Its object was thanksgiving to Mary, the patroness of the Carmelite Order, for the benefits she had accorded to it through its difficult early years. The institution of the feast may have come in the wake of the vindication of their title "Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary" at Cambridge, England, in 1374. The date chosen was 17 July; on the European mainland this date conflicted with the feast of St. Alexis, requiring a shift to 16 July, which remains the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel throughout the Catholic Church. The Latin poem "Flos Carmeli" (meaning "Flower of Carmel") first appears as the sequence for this Mass.
St Kuriakose Elias Chavara was the recognized leader of the people of God of his time. He was a visionary who integrated contemplation and action harmoniously in his life. Adorned with the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, this man of God led a holy life preserving the baptismal grace all the while, and thus became a beautiful lamp and mirror not only for us but also for all the Christians of Kerala. He experienced the Eucharistic Lord as his own Father (Abba-Appa), and that divine presence itself became his ‘food and drink’, ‘breath and consolation’. The awareness of his own sinfulness and the sense of gratitude for the countless mercies he had received as a ‘son’ from God plunged him into the Abba experience. When remaining in rapt attention before the Blessed Sacrament praying Lord, do not distance yourself from me until I am united with you, God revealed the distress and the difficulties of the Kerala Church to him and unfolded the hidden and mysterious ways to uplift the people of God. All throughout his life, especially in times of fiery ordeals, like St Thomas he manifested his courageous faith in God and he declared “the Lord is my portion and cup” (Ps 16:5).
St Kuriakose Elias painfully realized that there was no canonized saints in Kerala Church which received Christian faith centuries ago and there was no setup for women desiring to lead a chaste life according to the evangelical counsels and no one for the uplift of women and children who were backward spiritually and materially. He desired to remedy the situation, and worked hard to make ‘an abode of sanctity for the girls of Kerala and a religious house for them to learn catechism and to grow up as good Christians’, after he had started a monastery (Darsana Veedu) for men at Mannanam. He could establish the first convent with the support of Fr Leopold Beccaro OCD at Koonammavu on 13 February 1866 in spite of many trials and difficulties.
Submission to the will of God, trust in the providence of God, devotion to the Bl Mother, obedience to the superiors, especially to the ecclesiastical authorities and above all, the love that embraced even enemies were clearly visible in this ‘active ascetic’ who untiringly worked for the salvation of souls and for the unity and holiness of the Church. The essence of this spirituality of our founder father is the source of our spirituality.
Rev. Fr. Leopold Beccaro, an Italian Carmelite Missionary was a man of deep prayer and zealous action. He studied Malayalam language and wrote spiritual books imbued with the zeal to work for the salvation of souls, to help them practice virtues, to tend his flock and to give them spiritual direction. He found joy and consolation in the Blessed Sacrament and remained content even in the midst of sufferings, surrendering himself to the will of God.
The spiritual bond that developed between St Kuriakose Elias and Fr. Leopold and the discussions they had, helped St Kuriakose to realize his dream of starting a convent. They also exchanged their views concerning the apostolic services the sisters of Malabar (Kerala) could render. Thus, it was hoped that besides looking after their own spiritual needs, the sisters could teach girls catechism along with other virtues and train them in some handicrafts including needle work. Fr. Leopold co-operated with the establishment of the convent and took tireless efforts to direct his spiritual daughters in the way of perfection taught by
St Teresa of Avila. He has greatly contributed for the formation of the Carmelite spirituality in CMC.