July is definitely the month of Carmel. Of course, the focus appropriately is on July 16th each year. The solemn feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated literally around the world. Wherever Carmelites are, the feast is a major celebration. We saw that this year, even in our covid world, with special Masses celebrated live and livestreamed over the internet.
Some of those—from Brazil, Kenya, North America, Australia-Timor Leste— were listed in the July 7 CITOC email. Carmelites were good enough to send us news about additional celebrations which we would like to highlight here.
In the Philippines, the members of the Province of Titus Brandsma had a novena and series of Masses. These were streamed over the province’s Facebook page (CarmelitesPhCom) as well as on the Facebook page of Dominus Est, the new evangelization website of the Archdiocese of Manila. The page was started by Cardinal Tagle.
One of the first Carmelite foundations in Europe, Aylesford, also joined in celebrating Mary with a Pilgrimage of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on Sunday, July 11. An 11:30 Mass was held at the main shrine and included Third Order professions and renewal of promises. Later in the day a Holy Hour was celebrated.
In southern Spain, the Province of Bética transmitted an online novena from July 7-15 from the Minor Basilica of the Crowned Virgen of Carmel in Jerez de la Frontera. The prior provincial, David del Carpio Horcajo, preached. At midnight on July 15, the people of Jerez joined together to greet the day of Our Lady. Later in the morning, a series of Masses were celebrated. Then at 8:30 PM the beloved statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Carmelite church was processed through the streets of the city. Some of these celebrations can be viewed on the Facebook page of the Real Hermandad de Damas y Caballeros de Ntra. Sra. del Carmen Coronada (HdadCarmen) which livestreamed some of the celebrations. See the picture courtesy of Real Hermandad de Damas y Caballeros de Nuestra Señora del Carmen Coronada.
Perhaps the most dramatic of all the celebrations is that held in Naples, Italy— the Incendio del Campanile di fra’ Nuvolo. The ancient tradition calls for the lighting of explosive fireworks contained in and around Carmine Maggiore’s bell tower which, at 75 meters high, is the tallest in the city. The result is a colorful and noisy rain of fiery explosions. This continues until a painting of Our Lady, under the title “La Bruna,” arrives to extinguish the fire.
Recalling a real fire and the salvation of the city by the Carmelites’ Madonna, the annual celebration the night before the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a testimony of the entire city’s devotion to “Mamma d’o Carmene.” See the pictures courtesy of napolidavivere.it
The Province of Malta provided a novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. While the Masses were not livestreamed, the homily for each day was posted on the Facebook page of the Carmelite priory in Valletta. On the app NITOLBU prayers in Maltese were available each day of the novena. In addition, the app daily provided an excerpt from the book Forty Days of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi. On July 15th and 16th, a number celebrations took place which were livestreamed. Among these were the solemn translation of the relic with Vespers and a Eucharistic blessing. On the morning of the feast, the Carmelite prior provincial, Joseph Saliba celebrated a solemn Mass. Later in the evening, Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna, the archbishop of Malta, celebrated the Mass. Following that Mass, there was a solemn prayer vigil which concluded the feast day with the singing of the Flos Carmeli and a Eucharistic blessing.
Many Carmelites find themselves traveling to conduct novenas and to accompany the people on the actual day of the feast. Fernando Milán, our former prior general, found himself in Tomelloso a town of La Mancha. The Carmelites of the Province of Bética sponsored a school there from 1942-1987. Today the Carmelite presence continues in Tomelloso through a very active and flourishing Third Order. Each year someone from the province goes for the novena and the assemblies of the Carmelite Third Order. The statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is now in the main parish of Tomelloso. The town continues to reflect the Carmelite presence, perhaps most concretely with a neighborhood named for Our Lady— barrio del Carmen—which has a procession with the statue of Our Lady each year.
In addition to the celebration of Mary under the title of Our Lady of Carmel, the Church and Carmelites in particular celebrate Blessed Maria Crocifissa Curcio (July 4), foundress of the Carmelite Sisters of Sr. Thérèse of the Child Jesus (Suore Carmelitane Missionarie di S. Teresa del Bambino Gesú); Blessed Jane Scopelli (July 9) an Carmelite mantellata who formed an early community of Carmelite women; St. Elijah (July 20), along with Mary, a major inspiration to the lifestyle and spirituality of the Carmelites; Blessed John Soreth (July 24) reforming prior general and “founder of cloistered Carmel and the Third Order”; Sts. Joachim and Anne (July 26) protectors of the Order; and Blessed Titus Brandsma (July 27) martyr for the faith in the Dachau concentration camp.