Monday, July 11, 2011

"La Bruna"

When the early Latin hermits settled in Mount Carmel around the 12th century they erected an oratory dedicated to Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel.
This oratory became the centerpiece of the liturgical life of the hermits and which earned them the name of "The Brothers of Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel." She was also called by the hermits as the "Lady of the Place." This is understandable since these hermits were products of a feudal mentality of the 12th - 13th century, a mentality of feudal lords and tenants. They placed themselves under her protection and she in turn became their main patroness and Lady.  Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the Patroness of the Carmelite Order. The spirituality of Carmel hinges on  two main pillars: Mary and Elijah.  Her feast is celebrated with great solemnity in the Carmelite Order on July 16th.

During the Saracen persecutions the early Carmelites were driven out of the Holy Land and back to Europe. A painting of Our Lady believed to be painted by St. Luke himself was brought from Mount Carmel to Naples by the Carmelites Religious who settled there. This painting was a representation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This painting of the Blessed Virgin and the Child is peculiar on account of the darkness of its color, and in consequence,  is often called "Santa Maria della Bruna. ("the dark one").   Our Lady is represented holding the Infant in her arms with such tenderness.  The Divine Infant is most touching as he is shown to be affectionately touching the Blessed Virgin's chin, while his left hand grasps the edge of her veil.  Mary is enveloped in a large veil surmounted by a crown, a star ornaments her shoulder.  After Our Lady had given the Scapular to St. Simon Stock in 1251, a brown scapular was placed suspended from the right hand of this image.

This image was very popular in Italy and numberless miracles were worked by invoking this image of our Lady. The ancient picture was placed on a throne above the high altar in the Carmelite Church.  Many copies were taken of it and distributed among the Carmelite churches of the world.

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