The Seal of Mount Carmel
In the center of the seal is Mount Carmel, cradle of the order, its tip reaching to the sky. It refers to Mount Carmel, the Carmelite’s place of origin in Haifa, Israel. In the 9th Century BC the prophet Elijah lived there and had a profound experience of God there. In that same place in the early 12th Century some hermits, inspired by the memory of Elijah, gathered there, with a desire “to live a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ” (Carmelite Rule). The cross on the summit of the mountain was added in the 16th Century as a distinctive mark of the Discalced Carmelites.
On the seal there are also three, six-pointed stars which represent the three great epochs in the history of Carmel:
- The first epoch, or prophetic era, represented by the star inside the mountain, dates from the time of the prophet Elijah to the time of St. John the Baptist.
- The second epoch, or Greek epoch, when the order spread throughout the east and west, from the time of St. John to the time of Berthold, the first Latin General.
- The third epoch, from Berthold to the end of time.
Another meaning of the stars is that they stand as a remembrance to the members of the Carmelite order. The star inside the mountain represents the Carmelites who are still on their way to the summit of Mount Carmel (heaven); the other two stars in the sky represent all the Carmelites who have gone before us and have reached the goal of their life’s vocation: union with God in love in the eternal joy of heaven.