The Hermits and Our Lady

The hermits of Mt. Carmel placed themselves under the protection of Our Lady. They saw here as their Patroness. The times were feudal. Having someone as patron meant having an advocate. It also meant belonging totally to that person. So in seeing Mary as Patroness they saw themselves as belonging totally to her and that she was their advocate.

This gave rise to the expression: Totus Marianus est Carmelus – Carmel belongs totally to Mary. Devotion to Mary as Mother and as a “sister in the faith” would later become characteristic of Carmelites. Meanwhile, the hermits built in her honour a very beautiful little Chapel. Soon after this, they were been referred to as “The Hermits of St. Mary of Mt. Carmel”. Around 1209, these hermits requested a Rule of Life from (St.) Albert, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. The Rule, which is short and simple, deeply scriptural and centred on Christ, is set out as a way of life based on constant meditation on the word of God.

Silence and solitude were balanced with daily liturgy, work and love of neighbour. The reception of this Rule established this group of hermits as a religious group within the Catholic Church with the name, “Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel”. An indulgence was even granted by Pope Urban VI (in 1379) to all who would call them by this title.