Sunday, December 12, 2010

40. RETRO-SANTO: Nstra. Sñra. Del Carmen

The image of Our Lady of Carmel housed at the San Sebastian Church on Plaza del Carmen, depicts the classical theme of the Mother and Child with the signature Carmel scapular in their hands. The title of "Our Lady of Mount Carmel" was given to the Blessed Virgin in honor of the brown scapular given to St. Simon Stock, who organized the Carmelite Order in England. The members were required to wear the brown habit as well as the scapular which became a symbol of Mary's love and protection.

The head and hands of the Virgin and the Child Jesus are of ivory, and both wear heavily embroidered vestments in traditional gold and brown colors. Unfortunately, the heads of the Virgin and Jesus were stolen in the mid 1970s, and has not been recovered since. The head of the sacristans, Felipe Dy, head of the sacristan mayores, offered to restore the statue from the generous donations of parishioners. The well-known shop of Maximo Vicente re-created the missing parts of the original images.

The revered statue of the Virgen del Carmen was brought to the Philippines in 1617, by Spanish Recoletos, on their 3rd mission to the country, led by Fray Rodrigo de San Miguel. The sacred statue was actually a gift presented by the Discalced Carmelite Sisters of Mexico while their ship was anchored there, en route to Manila. The crew elected the Virgen del Carmen the ‘capitana’ of their ship in their voyage to the Pacific.

When the Agustinos Recoletos safely arrived, the image was enthroned in a makeshift church that was built in an area called Calumpang, the same place where San Sebastian now stands. The Cofradia of the Virgen del Carmen was established in 1625, and quickly gained popularity, attracting members not only from Manila but also from nearby provinces like Laguna, Pampanga, Bulacan and Batangas. They were primarily responsible for spreading the devotion to the Virgen del Carmen, with Her feast initially celebrated every January 21. Rome later moved her feast day to July 16 for the universal church.

In 1964, the Mt. Carmel Shrine and the Monastery was built in New Manila, becoming only the second shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

Composed by St. Simon Stock

Most Holy Virgin! Beauty of Carmel! Virgin flower forever in bloom!
Bright ornament of Heaven! Thou Virgin Mother of the Man-God!
Mother of holy love! Mother of Mercy and meekness!
Mother honored above all mothers!
Star of the Sea! Be thou propitious to they dear children of Carmel,
And to all who the happiness of wearing thy holy Scapular. Amen.

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