A traditional procession was held in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, popularly called "Talaat al-Adra,” the ascent of the Virgin, on Sunday, May 15th. By a special grace, the relics of St. Therese were present this year alongside the statue of the Virgin in the Latin parish of Haifa at Stella Maris Monastery on Mount Carmel. Tradition and Carmelite sources tell us that St. Therese and the Blessed Mother have journeyed together to the heights of Mount Carmel.
Many joined the procession, present were the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Franco; Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Bishop William Shomali, Bishop Kamal Bathish, Latin, Greek-Melkite and Maronite pastors and priests, religious men and women, the Carmelite sisters and priests in Haifa, including Fr. Flavio Caloi, ocd, delegate for the Holy Land, and Fr. Abdo Abdo, parish priest in Haifa and organizer of the procession. Seminarians from the Latin Patriarchate seminary in Beit Jala were visibly absent as they were not granted travel permission to go to Haifa.
The procession to honor Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a very significant celebration in the Carmelite spirituality. It is a popular devotion which brings together thousands of the Christian faithful from Galilee, Nazareth and the neighboring region including Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Ramallah. The crowd was estimated at about 50,000 as reported by the police authorities.
Historically, this feast commemorates the protection given by the Virgin Mary to the city of Haifa during the First World War. In gratitude, the faithful, just after the war ended, walked barefoot in procession accompanying the carriage with the image of the Blessed Virgin to the sanctuary of Stella Maris. In biblical perspective, the festival is a reminder of the deep affection of Carmel for Mary – in the spirit of the meditative silence of Mary as the foundation of Carmelite contemplation.
The “ascent to Carmel” took nearly three hours with the faithful praying the 20 mysteries of the rosary along the way alternating with prayers and songs dedicated to the Blessed Mother and St. Therese.
The Bishops blessed the faithful at the end of the procession invoking the intercession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Therese and Blessed John Paul II. The day of celebration ended with an evening concert.
Summary of article by Magali Baron
Source Latin Patriarchate