Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Patroness of the Carmelite order
Our Lady of Mount Carmel is typically portrayed in the brown habit of the Carmelite order, wearing a golden crown and holding a brown scapular from one hand while she cradles the Christ Child in her other arm. The child will also be crowned and often holds a second scapular.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the patroness of the Carmelite order. Their tradition has it that the Virgin gave the brown scapular to St. Simon Stock. For some time the order maintained that Our Lady of Mount Carmel would rescue those who wore the scapular from Purgatory. For this reason, the lower sections of many images picture souls in Purgatory looking up to her for succor, as in the second picture at right.

Mount Carmel is where Elijah called down fire from Heaven (I Kings 18:20-40), so in the 12th century a monastery was established there. It eventually had sister institutions throughout Europe that encouraged devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Because of the connection with Elijah, he sometimes appears in her images, such as the third picture at right.

MORE IMAGES

  • This painting at the Santa Barbara Mission in California is among the few in which the scapulars are held by putti rather than by the Virgin and Child.

NAMES

  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel's 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."

ALSO SEE

Prepared in 2017 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University. Revised 2018-09-14.

HOME PAGE


A typical Carmen in a 16th-century church in Teitipac, Mexico. (See the description page.)


The Virgin was said to rescue those who wore scapulars from Purgatory on the first Saturday of their stay. In Cáceres Cathedral, Spain, this painting is labeled "The Sabbatine ['Saturday'] Privilege." (See the description page.)


The prophet Elijah is on the right in this 18th-century painting of Our Lady of Mount Carmel with the souls in Purgatory. (See the description page.)