Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Mount 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, in South America.
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. 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.
A Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Our Lady of Mount Carmel
O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel, Fruitful Vine, Splendour of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me this my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein you are my Mother.
O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart, to succour me in this necessity; there are none that can withstand your power.
O, show me herein you are my Mother, O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. (3 times)
Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands. (3 times)
In Palmi, Italy, the anniversary of the earthquake of 1894 is observed annually on 16 November. The earthquake had its epicenter in the city. An associated event has been classified as the "miracle of Our Lady of Mount Carmel." For 17 days preceding this earthquake, many of the faithful had reported strange eye movements and changes in the coloring of the face in a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The local and national press reported these occurrences.
In the evening of 16 November, the faithful improvised a procession carrying the statue of the Virgin of Carmel on their shoulders through the streets. When the procession reached the end of the city, a violent earthquake shook the whole district of Palmi, ruining most of the old houses along the way. But, only nine people died out of a population of about 15,000 inhabitants, as almost all of the population had been on the street to watch the procession and were not trapped inside the destroyed buildings. Therefore, the city commemorates the 1894 procession each year, accompanied by firecrackers, lights, and festive stalls.
The Catholic Church has officially recognized the miracle. On November 16, 1896 the statue of the Virgin was crowned, based on the decree issued September 22, 1895 by the Vatican Chapter.
Few details are known of St. Cristina but she lived during the third century and was the daughter of a rich and powerful magistrate believed to have been named Urbain. He was deep in the practices of heathenism and had a number of golden idols, which he distributed among the poor.
Though his lovely daughter had drawn the eye of several suitors by the time she reached the age of 11-years-old, Urbain wanted her to be a pagan priestess.
He locked his daughter in a room filled with gold and silver idols, then ordered her to burn incense before them.
Saint Cristina often peered at the world outside her window and decided there must have been a great creator of the world. Turning to the idols, she came to believe they could only be false as they were forged by man.
She began to pray to the creator of the world and asked him to reveal himself to her. That was when she felt an intense love blaze from deep within her heart. She began to fast and continued to pray.
An angel came to St. Cristina and taught her the Gospel of Christ. It then called her a bride of Christ but warned she would suffer for her faith.
Knowing the Truth, St. Cristina smashed the false idols and threw them through the window. When her father came to visit and discovered the missing idols, he questioned St. Cristina but she refused to speak to him.
After sending the servants in to speak to her, Urbain learned of her new faith. Enraged, he began to slap his daughter's face until she began to speak - but her words were to proclaim her new faith and to share the Truth. She also admitted to destroying the idols.
Urbain executed the servants who tended St. Cristina and beat her before throwing her in prison. St. Cristina's mother came to the prison and pleaded for her daughter to renounce her faith but St. Cristina refused.
The next day, Urbain took St. Cristina to trial and ordered her to worship the pagan gods and beg for forgiveness.
Rather than following her father's orders, St. Cristina held fast to her Cristian faith and was ordered to be tortured.
She was tied to an iron wheel above an extreme fire. As she was raked through the flames, her body was burned but she did not die. She was thrown into a prison cell and that night an angel appeared. Her wounds were healed and she was fed food the angel brought with it.
The next day, when her father found her unharmed, he ordered a stone to be tied around her neck and she was thrown into a lake. As she sank, an angel sustained then untied her. When she reappeared above the water, Urbain attributed her survival to sorcery.
He decided to execute her the following morning but that night he died suddenly.
The region's governor was sent to execute St. Cristina's punishment in her father's stead but she survived every torture. When fellow believers discovered the miracles, they began to gather at her cell.
During her time in captivity, she converted nearly 300 people until a new governor arrived and resumed her torture. When she survived five days in a red-hot furnace, she was finally executed with a sword.
Prayers to St. Cristina
O Venerable Cristina,
You appeared as a shining dove,
With a pair of golden wings
Alighting in the Highest Heavens.
Therefore we celebrate your glorious feast
And bow before the place that holds your relics.
Pray that we may receive grace and healing for body and soul.