January 1, 2001

The Seal of Carmel...

Nations, organizations, and individuals have their coat of arms, which is expressive of some facts in their history, or some typical characteristics. So the Order of Carmel has its seal, significant of its spirit and its antiquity. In the center of the shield is Mount Carmel, the cradle of the Order; and on this shield are also three six-pointed stars which represent the three eras in the history of Carmel; the first, or Prophetic era, from the time of the Prophet Elijah to the time of Saint John the Baptist; the second, or Greek era, when the Order spread through the East & West, from the time of St. John the Baptist to that of Berthold, the first Latin General; and the third, from Berthold to the end of time.

The cross of the summit of the mountain was added in the sixteenth century as the distinctive mark of the Discalced Carmelites.

The twelve stars of the crown represent the prerogatives of Our Lady, the Virgin Mary whom St. John saw in the apocalyptic vision: “A woman clothed with the sun… and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” The stars also signify the twelve points of the Rule, which are: Obedience, Chastity, Poverty, Recollection, Mental Prayer, Divine Office, Chapter, Abstinence from Meat, Manual Labor, Silence, Humility, & Supererogation.

Above the shield is an arm with a flaming sword, symbolic of the fiery spirit of Elijah. Over it is a scroll bearing the words of the prophet: Zelo Zelatus sum pro Domino Deo excrcituum. “With Zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts.” (1 Kings 19:10)

Fr. Anastasius of St. Paul, OCD 1927

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