Everyone knows of All Saints Day (Holy Day of Obligation) on November 1st each year – but what about the Feast of All Carmelite Saints on November 14th?
In addition to the Solemnity of All Saints celebrated in the Catholic Church on November 1st, there are also several other days dedicated to the saints and the blessed of particular religious orders. One of these, the Feast of All Carmelite Saints is celebrated on November 14th. The day is to commemorate all of the Carmelite saints whether they be well-known and venerated - or known only to those who experienced their lives of sanctity which continue to provide inspiration today on how to live a life of faith, hope and love. The honored saints exemplify some of the important traits of the Blessed Virgin Mary – particularly her willingness to say “yes” and her loving relationship to her Son, Jesus Christ.
Who are The Carmelites?
The Carmelite Order is one of the officially recognized religious communities of the Catholic Church. Their “official” beginning is recognized as the year 1247 when Pope Innocent IV approved the Rule of St. Albert (The Carmelite Rule) which was drafted as a set of rules and living guidelines for a community of hermits living on Mount Carmel in Palestine. However, there is not one specific founder of the Order that traces its roots back to the Prophet Elijah, who on Mount Carmel won a challenge against the priests of Baal to identify the true God (as told in the First Book of Kings 18:20-40). Also on Mount Carmel, the Prophet Elijah spent time in prayer to a spiritual precursor to the Blessed Virgin Mary along with other seekers of the coming of the Messiah. Mount Carmel has traditionally been one of the most verdant areas of Palestine full of beauty and peace and was home to the “spring of Elijah” in one of the Mount’s valleys where the early hermits gathered. The Order is also widely recognized by the Brown Scapular which tradition says was given to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251 by the Blessed Virgin Mary in an apparition and who indicated that it would provide protection for its wearers. The Brown Scapular is a brown garment with hole for one’s head worn over the shoulders by the religious of the Carmelite community. A smaller “pendant version” of the Brown Scapular is for use by lay people. The Carmelite Family consists of priests, friars, nuns, sisters and lay people. The Order consists of two strands: “The Carmelites” or “Ancient Observance” (O.Carm) and “The Discalced Carmelites” or “Teresians” (O.C.D.). It is estimated that there are nearly 60,000 active members of the Carmelite Family.
Who is Our Lady of Mount Carmel?
Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Patroness of the Carmelite Order. She is also known as the Flos Carmeli (the Flower of Carmel). Her followers seek to imitate her openness to say “yes” and her closeness to her Son, Jesus Christ. She is usually pictured in sacred images wearing the brown habit of the Carmelite order and wearing a golden crown. She holds a Brown Scapular in one hand and the Child Jesus in the other. The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated on July 16th each year (the day of St. Simon Stock’s apparition and receipt of the Brown Scapular).
Well-known (and lesser-known) Carmelite Saints
Some names of Carmelite Saints are easily recognized and include these Doctors of the Church: St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John of the Cross, and St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila). However, there are also important Carmelite Saints that are less famous such as: St. Brocard (“Brother B”), St. Berthold, the Prophets Elijah and Elisha, St. Simon Stock, and another Doctor of the Church, St. Cyril of Constantinople. Of course, consistent with Catholic teaching on saints, there are legions of other Carmelites who lived “heroically virtuous lives” who are certainly with God. Read more at https://www.catholic365.com/article/24278/is-grandma-a-saint.html
Places of Worship
There are multitudes of churches, monasteries, convents and chapels across the world served by the Carmelite Family and under the patronage of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Seek out a local venue on November 14th such as Our Lady of Grace Church in West Sacramento, CA https://churchwonders.com/churches-shrines/california-churches/our-lady-of-grace-church-west-sacramento-ca/ or Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Littleton, CO https://www.olmcfssp.org/
Or visit one of these National Shrines of Our Lady of Mount Carmel:
Basilica of The National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, New Manila, Quezon City – https://mtcarmelshrine.com.ph/
National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Middletown, NY - https://www.ourladyofmtcarmelshrine.com/
National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Victoria, Australia - https://sj-mc.org.au/
Some of this information was adapted from the book by Butler, Alban Rev. The Lives of Saints: Complete Edition. New York. Catholic Way Publishing, 2015; as well as the numerous resources available on the websites of the Carmelite Family that are used here to provide education about Our Lady of Mount Carmel, her Son and the Carmelite Saints and Blessed’s.