History of Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel is a mountain spur projecting into the sea south of Haifa, Israel. Its bold outline can be seen for many miles. The name means "garden" or "orchard." Always a sacred place and a refuge, the mount had several pagan deities called Baal. It was the scene of the struggle and overthrow of the priests of Baal, publicly challenged by the prophet Elijah as recounted in the Bible (I Kings XVIII, 19ff). Tradition has maintained the existence of prayerful hermits, followers of the prophet, resident thereafter, worshiping and honoring the one true God.

Mount Carmel naturally became a refuge for early Christian hermits and monks. In 570 A.D., a monastery dedicated to Elijah was known to exist. About 1156, the Order of Carmelites was founded, and a new monastery was built to the honor of St. Mary of Mount Carmel.

Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel spread throughout Europe by the returning Crusaders and by members of the Carmelite Order. Notable shrines and churches were founded in honor of Mary under the title of Carmel or Carmen. In England in 1251, the Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock, Prior General of the Order of Mount Carmel. According to tradition, Our Lady on this occasion promised special blessings to all who wore the Carmelite scapular which signified total dedication to her Son, Jesus. Honor to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is worldwide.