The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a Roman Catholicparish church under the authority of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, located three blocks south of Fordham University at the corner of Belmont Avenue and 627 East 187th Street, Fordham, the Bronx, New York City, New York.

Parish history

Another parish church for Italians existed in 1892, located at 447 E 115th Street, Manhattan. Despite the similar dedication, this has always been a separate parish. “In answer to the petition of the Italians living in the neighborhood of 183rd Street and Pelham Avenue, Rev. Daniel Burke, D.D., of St. Philip’s Church, opened a mission for them early in 1906.” There were initially only around 150 people attending the mission. The Rev. Francis Magliocco, D.D., was appointed assistant in September, 1909, and Fr. Caffuzzi was reported in 1914 to have resided near the church (and not in a rectory) since January 1907.

The parish was established around June 1906 when a store was remodeled as a chapel, and the Rev. J. Caffuzzi was appointed acting pastor on June 24. The congregation increased rapidly. By the end of 1907, the congregation had swelled from its 150 figure in 1906 to 1,134 adults and 150 children by the end of 1907, and 2,500 adults in 1914. By 1914, the Sunday school had an attendance of 800 children.

Buildings

By “…the end of [1906] Father Burke bought seven lots costing $21,000 at 187th Street and Belmont Avenue, and on June 29, 1907, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Farley laid the cornerstone of the church.”The 750-seat basement was opened December 25, 1907; the upper 500-seat upper church was opened December 8, 1912, at a cost of $12,000.The upstairs church was dedicated in 1917.The rectory address is 627 East 187 St., Bronx NY 10458.

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 hermitsliving 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.

History

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The Carmelite Order was the only religious order to be started in the Crusader States. In the 13th century, some of its people migrated west to England, setting up a chapter and being documented there about 1241–1242. A tradition first attested to in the late 14th century says that Saint Simon Stock, believed to be an early English prior general of the Carmelite Order soon after its migration to England, had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in which she gave him the Brown Scapular. This formed part of the Carmelite habit after 1287. In Stock’s vision, Mary promised that those who died wearing the scapular would be saved. This is a devotional sacramental signifying the wearer’s consecration to Mary and affiliation with the Carmelite order. It symbolizes her special protection and calls the wearers to consecrate themselves to her in a special way.

In 1642, a Carmelite named Fr. John Cheron published a document which he said was a 13th-century letter written by Saint Simon Stock’s secretary, Peter Swanington. Since the early 20th century, historians have concluded that this letter was forged, likely by Cheron himself.[

But Stock’s vision was long embraced by many promoters of the scapular devotion. The forged Swanington letter claimed that 16 July 1251 was the date of the vision (16 July being the date of the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel), which led for centuries to a strong association between this feast day and the scapular devotion. Based on available historical documentation, the liturgical feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel did not originally have a specific association with the Brown Scapular or the tradition of Stock’s vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This tradition grew gradually, as did the liturgical cult of St. Simon. The latter has been documented in Bordeaux, where Stock died, from the year 1435; in Ireland and England, from 1458; and in the rest of the Order, from 1564. Historians have long questioned whether Stock had the vision of Mary and the scapular. Although Simon Stock was never officially canonized, his feast day was celebrated in the church. The Carmelite convent of Aylesford, England, was restored and a relic of Saint Simon Stock was placed there in 1951. The saint’s feast is celebrated in the places dedicated to him.

Also associated with Our Lady of Carmel was a papal bull saying that there was a Sabbatine privilege associated with devotion to the saint; that is, until the late 1970s, the Catholic liturgy for that day mentioned the scapular devotion. Vatican II resulted in scrutiny of the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, as well as that of Saint Simon Stock, because of the historical uncertainties about the origins. The liturgies were revised and, in the 21st century, neither, even in the Carmelite proper, makes reference to the scapular.[7]

A saqra (animal figure) dancer watching the procession of Mamacha Carmen from a balcony

In Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, there has been particular devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, who has been adopted as a patron saint of several places, as she has been in other Catholic-majority countries. In addition, Carmen and María del Carmen have been popular given names for girls in Spanish-speaking countries. An annual festival, known as Mamacha Carmen, is held in the highland Paucartambo District, Peru, featuring a procession with the Virgin and traditional dancers. Veneration of the Virgen del Carmen (often also associated with the Stella Maris) is particularly strong in coastal towns of Spain.

Carmelite devotion

The Carmelites consider the Blessed Virgin Mary to be a perfect model of the interior life of prayer and contemplation to which Carmelites aspire, as well as a model of virtue, in the person who was closest in life to Jesus Christ. She is seen as the one who points Christians most surely to Christ. As she says to the servants at the wedding at Cana, “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you.” Carmelites look to the Virgin Mary as a Spiritual Mother.[9] The Stella Maris Monastery (Star of the Sea) on Mount Carmel, named after a traditional title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is considered the spiritual headquarters of the order.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, OCD, a revered authority on Carmelite spirituality, wrote that devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel means:

a special call to the interior life, which is preeminently a Marian life. Our Lady wants us to resemble her not only in our outward vesture but, far more, in heart and spirit. If we gaze into Mary’s soul, we shall see that grace in her has flowered into a spiritual life of incalculable wealth: a life of recollection, prayer, uninterrupted oblation to God, continual contact, and intimate union with him. Mary’s soul is a sanctuary reserved for God alone, where no human creature has ever left its trace, where love and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind reign supreme. […] Those who want to live their devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to the full must follow Mary into the depths of her interior life. Carmel is the symbol of the contemplative life, the life wholly dedicated to the quest for God, wholly orientated towards intimacy with God; and the one who has best realized this highest of ideals is Our Lady herself, ‘Queen and Splendor of Carmel’.”[1]

Prayer to the Blessed Mother of Mount Carmel

O most beautiful flower of Mt. Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me 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 succor me in this necessity (make request). There are none that can withstand your power. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Sweet Mother I place this cause in your hands. Amen.

 

Miracles

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.

Use in the peace movement

The first atomic bomb was exploded in the United States at the Trinity test site on 16 July 1945, near Alamogordo, New Mexico. The Catholic anti-war movement has built on the coincidence between this date and the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. In 1990, the Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, a priest of the Eastern Rite (Byzantine-Melkite) of the Catholic Church, initiated the “16 July Twenty-Four Hours Day of Prayer,” for Forgiveness and Protection with Our Lady of Mount Carmel, at Trinity Site in the New Mexico desert. Each year on 16 July, a prayer vigil is conducted at the Trinity site to pray for peace and the elimination of nuclear weapons

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