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The Carmelite Order was noted to have begun by Prophet Elijah on Mount Carmel that is located in Palestine; and since that event, the prayer and meditation life became existing and inspired the formation of the Carmelite Order.
According to the book of Kings, a group of men who got inspired by Prophet Elias lived in Mount Carmel’s caves calling themselves hermits; moreover, after the era of Jesus Christ, the hermits’ successors built a chapel on Mount Carmel being the first chapel ever dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Years Later, Upon invasion by Muslims and an increase in vocations they spread across Europe. King Louis IX also invited them to settle in France which made them change their rules to accommodate their new environment. The hardship they faced then forced them to beg and rely on People’s generosity to survive.
St. Simon Stock joined the Order after his return to England and was made the head of the Order. One day as he was praying to Our Lady the Patroness of the Order using the Prayers he invented that is used by the Carmelites till today. Suddenly Our Lady appeared to him in the company of angels and bearing the infant Jesus in her arms and holding the brown Scapular. She gave it to him with a promise that anyone who died wearing it piously will not suffer eternal damnation. This Apparition happened in July, 1251.
Our Lady also appeared to St. Peter Thomas during the fourth century to comfort them against the adversaries they were facing. This apparition strengthened the Order and made many people to become members of the Order and to join the Confraternity and enjoy the privileges with it.
On the 3rd of March in 1322, Pope John XXII had a vision whereby Our Lady appeared to him to grant a Sabbatine Privilege to the souls of those who wore the scapular till death. She promised to descend to Purgatory on the Saturday after their death and free their souls if found there.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared during the spectacular miracle of the Sun that took place in Fatima, Portugal and she also appeared at Castelpetroso in Italy that was witnessed by many people around Italy. Many Saints have spoken highly of the scapular, including St. Alphonsus Liguori and St. Claude de la Colombière. It is regarded as the most indulgenced of all sacramentals.
It is also of interest to realize that the scapulars of St. Alphonsus and St. John Bosco were found intact during their exhumations and are still preserved in reliquaries. Additionally, Blessed Pope John Paul II joined the Discalced Third Order of Mount Carmel as a young man and always wore the scapular till he died.
Summarised by Chioma Betina Okwara
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