Why Do We Call Mary “Flower of Carmel?”

St. Simon receiving the scapular from Our Lady
St. Simon receiving the scapular from Our Lady

Last week we looked at the origins of Our Lady’s title Star of the Sea, finding that it dated back to the fifth century with St. Jerome and quickly became a beloved name that Mary’s children used to call on their mother in times of tribulation and uncertainty.

This week I was interested in looking into the history behind Our Lady’s title of Flower of Carmel.

It came as no surprise that the phrase originated with a Carmelite, St. Simon Stock, who lived from 1165 to 1265 AD. St. Simon, to whom Our Lady gave the brown scapular, was a pro in calling on her in times of need, which, in St. Simon’s life, was nearly all the time. As general of the Carmelites he encountered numerous difficulties in establishing and expanding the Carmelite order but through Our Lady’s help overcame these, resulting in the flourishing of the order in Europe. (Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Simon Stock”)

St. Simon channeled his love for Our Lady into the antiphon below:

FLOWER of Carmel, tall vine blossom laden; splendor of heaven, childbearing yet maiden.

None equals thee. Mother so tender, who no man didst know, on Carmel’s children thy favors bestow.

Star of the Sea. Strong stem of Jesse, who bore one bright flower, be ever near us and guard us each hour, who serve thee here.

Purest of lilies, that flowers among thorns, bring help to the true heart that in weakness turns and trusts in thee.

Strongest of armor, we trust in thy might: under thy mantle, hard press’d in the fight, we call to thee.

Our way uncertain, surrounded by foes, unfailing counsel you give to those who turn to thee.

O gentle Mother who in Carmel reigns, share with your servants that gladness you gained and now enjoy.

Hail, Gate of Heaven, with glory now crowned, bring us to safety where thy Son is found, true joy to see.

(Translation by Thesaurus Precum Latinarum by Michael Martin)

Much like Mount Carmel—a place renowned for its beauty and strength of location against invaders—St. Simon knew that we can call on Our Lady, so beautiful and mighty, whenever we face obstacles seemingly insurmountable.

Our Lady, Flower of Carmel, pray for us!

 

 

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