Mount Carmel is a biblical place where the prophet Elijah dwelt. It rises 1,742 feet above sea level and towers above Israel’s Mediterranean coastline. It was here where Elijah prayed to God for the salvation of Israel, which was suffering a terrible drought at the time. He continued to pray and sent his servant up the mountain several times to look for rain. On the seventh try, Elijah’s servant returned with good news. “Behold a little cloud arose out of the sea like a man’s foot” (1 Kings 1:44). Soon thereafter, torrential rains fell upon the parched land and the people of Israel were saved.
Elijah saw the cloud as a symbol of the Virgin mentioned in the prophecies of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14). The hermits who lived on Mount Carmel followed Elijah’s example and prayed for the advent of the much-awaited Virgin, who would become the mother of the Messiah. The origins of the Carmelite Order can be traced back to Elijah and his hermited disciples.
In the 13th century, during the Crusades, St. Simon Stock joined a group of hermits on Mount Carmel during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In 1247, he was elected the 6th superior-general of the Carmelites at the first chapter held in Aylesford, England. However, the order had difficulty gaining general acceptance and suffered much persecution and oppression from secular clergy and other orders which prompted the monks to have recourse to the Blessed Virgin in the year 1251.
On Sunday July 16th, 1251, as Simon Stock knelt in prayer, Our Lady appeared to him, holding the Child Jesus in one arm and the Brown Scapular in the other. She uttered the following words:
“This shall be the privilege for you and for all the Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall be saved”
On January 13, 1252, the order received a letter of protection from Pope Innocent IV, defending them from harassment.
St. Simon Stock lived a holy life for 100 years and died in the Carmelite monastery at Bordeaux, France on May 16, 1265.
Repeated endorsement of the associated devotional scapular by the Holy See.