Our Lady Mount Carmel

Nuestra Señora del Monte Carmelo

Feast day: July 16

Patroness of the Carmelite Order, Chile in South America and protection from harm and dangerous situations.

Invoked through a series of prayers for special needs and associated with the Souls of Purgatory.

Essay by Carolyn Christensen

Our Lady of Mount Carmel is also known as the Blessed Virgin Mary and, according to Saint Simon Stock’s vision, the Virgin gave him the Brown Scapular which has been a devotion since the 1400s. A papal bull attributed to Pope John XXII associating Sabbatine privilege with this devotional has since brought into question the origins of the scapular and was removed from the Catholic liturgy in the late twentieth century but it still a devotion to the Carmelite Order. Our Lady of Mount Carmel is associated with the Souls of Purgatory, where the sins of the souls are cleansed in fire. The Carmelites see her as both Mother and Sister; as a close bond with her and a strengthening of the Family of God.

In the first retablo (fig. 1), Our Lady of Mount Carmel is seen holding the Christ Child in her left arm as she holds onto the brown scapular in her right hand and the Christ Child holding one in his left hand against a solid blue background. They are both wearing golden crowns. Pearl beads adorn both of their necks. Her white habit is decorated with red flowers under a blue robe with yellow decorations. The Christ Child is wearing a navy-blue robe. Both figures have averted gazes. The brown scapular represents her motherly protection in both life and death. The crowns upon both of their heads are symbolic of holiness.

In comparison, the second retablo (fig. 2) depicts Our Lady as a much larger figure than the Christ Child. Both have radiant halos around their heads. This time, the scapular is being held by both her and Child, as one end drapes over Mary’s left hand and the other end is gripped tightly by the Child’s right hand. She is wearing a white habit under a red robe, while the Christ the Child is covered in a white cloth. They stand against a sky of puffed balls of clouds. The third retablo (fig. 3) shows Our Lady and the Christ Child sitting on a cloud. They are both dressed in brown robes and appear to be in a sitting position. She is the only one holding a scapular in this composition.

Figure 1: Our Lady of Mount Carmel / Nuestra Señora de Monte Carmelo

Anonymous, Mexico. Nineteenth Century.                       

Oil on tin with tin frame. 7 x 5”. NMSU Art Gallery Collection #1968.3.3.        

Donor: Dr. and Mrs. Andrew M. Babey.

Figure 2: Our Lady of Mount Carmel / Nuestra Señora de Monte Carmelo

Anonymous, Mexico. Nineteenth Century.

Oil on tin. Collection: NMSU Art Gallery #1968.6.5.

Figure 3: Our Lady of Mount Carmel / Nuestra Señora de Monte Carmelo

Anonymous, Mexico. Nineteenth Century.

Oil on tin. 9 5/8 x 7”. NMSU Art Gallery Collection #1963.4.3.


D’Souza, Paul, OCD. The Carmelite Scapular: History and Devotion. Bangalore: St. John the Baptist Church.

Edwards, Bede, OCDS. “St. Simon Stock—The Scapular Vision & the Brown Scapular Devotion.” In Carmel Clarion, 17-22. Vol. XXI. Washington Province: Discalced Carmelite Secular Order, 2005.

Zarur, Elizabeth Netto Calil., and Charles M. Lovell. Art and Faith in Mexico: The Nineteenth-century Retablo Tradition. 1st ed. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001.