On the evening of February 14, 1876 in Pellevoisin, France, a young woman named Estelle Faguette lay dying of pulmonary tuberculosis. In mortal agony, and with just hours to live, Estelle begged God for the strength to accept death. Suddenly at the foot of her bed, the devil appeared and what happened next became one of the most remarkable interventions of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on record.
At first, Estelle thought the devil was a hallucination, but he was so horrifying to look upon that she was seized with terror.
In almost the same instant, the Blessed Mother appeared on the other side of the bed. She turned to the devil and sharply demanded, “What brings you here? Do you not see that she wears my livery and that of my Son?”
Our Lady was referring to the brown scapular Estelle was wearing. The devil immediately vanished. Five days later, Estelle was completely cured.
In every one of the next 15 apparitions of the Virgin to Estelle Faguette, which were approved by the Church in 1983, Our Lady was wearing the scapular of Mount Carmel.
“I can never describe how beautiful she was,” Estelle would later say.
These were almost the exact same words as St. Bernadette when she spoke about the final appearance of Our Lady at Lourdes which occurred on July 16 – the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Bernadette said that she was never so beautiful as in that final apparition.
A century later, Lucia Santos of Fatima would make a similar remark about Our Lady’s appearance during the final apparition of October 13, 1917. This was the day Our Lady pointed at the sun and sent it hurtling to earth. Just as it was about to strike the earth, Our Lady appeared in the sky dressed as Our Lady of Mount Carmel and chased the sun back into its place.
Afterward, Lucia would say that Our Lady was never so beautiful as she was while appearing as Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Never so beautiful.
Never so powerful.
But the prophet Elijah did more than convince the false prophets to worship Yahweh. Later that same day, he would sit atop Mount Carmel and watch a tiny cloud in the shape of a man’s foot rise out of the Mediterranean Sea. He would instantly receive the interior knowledge that this cloud represented the woman who would “crush the head of the ancient serpent” with her heel. Pure and white like the cloud, she would be immaculate, yet there was rain in the cloud. This rain represented the grace that would be poured upon the earth with the birth of her Son, the Messiah.
This woman, revealed to Elijah in the wake of an epic battle between good and evil, would come to be known as the Virgin of Carmel. Her power would rival that of the legendary battle that took place there, just as her beauty would rival the majestic slopes upon which that showdown took place.
“Does it seem that under this title she is Our Lady of Prophecy, Our Lady of the Old Testament and the New, and at the same time, Our Lady of the Apocalypse?” asks John Haffert in his book, Her Glorious Title. “Does this not seem to be above all a title to join all her children beneath her mantle to crush the head of the serpent?”
Her “mantle” is the brown scapular, which she drapes upon her children much like Elijah once passed his cloak to his successor, Eliseus. Estelle Faguette won Mary’s protection against a deathbed attach by Satan by draping herself in the mantle of the scapular, and it was with this particular scapular in hand that she appeared at the most critical moment in Fatima just before the fiery sun was about to strike the earth.
“At the climax of the great miracle, when it seemed that the world was about to be destroyed by fire, Our Lady appeared in the sky holding out the brown scapular and the fire gathered back into itself and a crowd of thousands of people were suddenly filled with consolation and joy . . .” Haffert recounts.
Imagine the sight – tens of thousands gathered in the rain-soaked Cova da Iria, watching the sun come closer and closer until it was so large it appeared as if the whole sky was on fire. Grown men threw themselves to the ground an
d begged for mercy. Atheists converted on the spot. Even the skeptical press was wild-eyed with fear, many of whom later reported being deeply shaken by the event.
“While all this was going on, the children beheld the mysteries of the rosary in tableaux form in the sky,” writes Francis Johnston in the book, Fatima: The Great Sign.
The Joyful mysteries were represented by the Holy Family. The Sorrowful mysteries by Our Lady carrying His cross with Our Lady of Sorrows.
“Finally, Lucia alone was privileged to see Our Lady of Mount Carmel holding out the brown scapular to the world to signify the Glorious mysteries.”
Johnston speculates that the reason for this singular privilege was because Lucia would survive to adulthood and eventually enter the Carmelite order where she would learn that “the spirit of Carmel represents triumph over suffering.”
Just as Elijah experienced triumph over the suffering caused upon Israel by the false prophets of Baal, so will we achieve triumph over the suffering caused by the false gods of our time if we call upon beauty and the power of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!
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Make this the year that you and your family are invested in the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Scapulars can be found in any Catholic book store or on the Internet. This site offers scapulars for free. Any priest or deacon can enroll a person or family in the brown scapular. Click here for the investiture prayers.