Our Lady of Mount Carmel

18th century?
Oil on canvas
Mission Santa Barbara, California

Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the patroness of the Carmelite order. Her Spanish name is Nuestra Señora del Carmen, which we have heard people in Mexico shorten to "La Carmen." The Spanish name is, of course, the origin of the popular given name Carmen.

She is typically portrayed in a brown Carmelite habit under a white cloak, with a golden crown shaped more or less as shown at left. She invariably carries the Christ Child, who usually wears a similar crown.

Tradition in the Carmelite order has it that the Virgin gave the brown scapular to St. Simon Stock (explanation at this page). Thus many images show her with the scapular hanging from her hand (example).

Feast day: July 16

At the mission the label for this painting identifies the saints holding the Virgin's cloak as Joseph (note the lily stalk) and Teresa of Avila (in the habit of a Carmelite nun). St. Joseph was the patron saint of the first convent established by Teresa as part of her reform of the Carmelite order.

Below the main figures, the souls in Purgatory call on the Virgin for her intercession.

More of portraits of the Virgin Mary

Photographed at the mission by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.