Since the ancient hermits that established themselves on Mt. Carmel, the Carmelites have been known for their deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. They interpreted the cloud of the vision of Elijah (1 Kings 18:44) as a symbol of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Already in the 13th century, five centuries before the proclamation of the dogma, the Carmelite misal contained a Mass for the Immaculate Conception.
In the words of Benedict XVI on July 15, 2006:
The slopes of Carmel, a high ridge that runs down the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea at the altitude of Galilee, are dotted with numerous natural caves, beloved by hermits. The most famous of these men of God was the great Prophet Elijah, who in the ninth century before Christ strenuously defended the purity of faith in the one true God from contamination by idolatrous cults. Inspired by the figure of Elijah, the contemplative order of Carmelites arose. It is a religious family that counts among its members great saints such as Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Thérèse of the Child Jesus and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (in the world: Edith Stein). The Carmelites have spread among the Christian people devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, holding her up as a model of prayer, contemplation and dedication to God. Indeed, Mary was the first, in a way which can never be equalled, to believe and experience that Jesus, the Incarnate Word, is the summit, the peak of man's encounter with God. By fully accepting the Word, she "was blessedly brought to the holy Mountain" (cf. Opening Prayer of the Memorial), and lives for ever with the Lord in body and soul. Today, I would like to entrust to the Queen of Mount Carmel all contemplative life communities scattered throughout the world, especially those of the Carmelite Order, among which I recall the Monastery of Quart, not far from here, that I have had the opportunity to visit in these days. May Mary help every Christian to find God in the silence of prayer.
The Star of the Sea and the Carmelites
Sailors, before the age of electronics, depended on the stars to mark their course in the immense ocean. From here comes the analagy with the Virgin Mary who, like the star of the sea, guides us through the difficult waters of life toward the safe port that is Christ.
Because of the invasion by the Saracenes, the Carmelites were obliged to abandon Mt. Carmel. One ancient tradition tells us that before leaving, Our Lady appeared to them while they sang the Salve Regina and she promised to be the Star of the Sea for them. They also knew Our Lady by this beautiful name because Mt. Carmel rises like a star above the sea.
The Carmelites and devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel spread through the World
The Immaculate Virgin, Star of the Sea, is the Virgin of Carmel, meaning that from ages ago she has been venerated on Carmel. She accompanied the Carmelites to the measure that the order was propagated through the world. The Carmelites are known for their devotion to the Mother of God, since in her they see the fulfillment of Elijah's ideal. They are even called the "brothers of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel." In their religious profession, they are consecrated to GOd and to Mary, and they take the habit in her honor, as a remembrance that their lives belong to her, and through her, to Christ.
The devotion to Our Lady of Carmel was propagated especially in the places were the Carmelites were established.
Among the places in which Our Lady of Spain is venerated in as patron is Beniaján, Murcia. More images are seen there.
America: She is the patroness of Chile; in Ecuador she is the queen of the region of Cuenca and of Azuay, receiving the pontifical coronation on July 16, 2002. In the CHurch of the monastery of the Assumption in Cuenca she has been venerated for more than 300 years. She is venerated by many across the continent.
History of the Apparition
Information on the Scapular
Prayer to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel