Visions and Devotions
Among the various Catholic orders, Carmelite nuns have had a proportionally high ratio of visions of Jesus and Mary and have been responsible for key Catholic devotions.
From the time of her clothing in the Carmelite religious habit (1583) until her death (1607) the life of Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi is said to have had a series of raptures and ecstasies.
- First, these raptures sometimes seized upon her whole being with such force as to compel her to rapid motion (e.g. towards some sacred object).
- Secondly, she was frequently able, whilst in ecstasy, to carry on working e.g., embroidery, painting, with perfect composure and efficiency.
- Thirdly, during these raptures Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi gave utterance to maxims of Divine Love, and to counsels of perfection for souls. These were preserved by her companions, who (unknown to her) wrote them down.
Sister Antónia d'Astónaco, a Carmelite nun from Portugal, reported during her life a private revelation by Saint Michael the Archangel. Based on that revelation, the Archangel Michael had told in an apparition to the devoted Servant of God that he would like to be honored, and God glorified, by the praying of nine special invocations. These nine invocations correspond to invocations to the nine choirs of angels and origins the Chaplet of Saint Michael. This private revelation and prayers were fully approved by Pope Pius IX in 1851.
Sister Marie of St Peter, a Carmelite nun in Tours France, started the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. She said that in an 1844 vision Jesus told her: "Oh if you only knew what great merit you acquire by saying even once, Admirable is the Name of God, in a spirit of reparation for blasphemy."
In the 19th century, another Carmelite nun, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, was instrumental in spreading this devotion throughout France in the 1890s with her many poems and prayers. Eventually Pope Pius XII approved the devotion in 1958 and declared the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus as Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) for all Catholics. Therese of Lisieux emerged as one of the most popular saints for Catholics in the 20th century, and a statue of her can be found in many European and North American Catholic churches built prior to the Second Vatican Council (after which the number of statues tended to be reduced when churches were built).
In the 20th century, in the last apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fátima, Portugal, Sister Lúcia, one of the most famous visionaries of Our Lady, said that the Virgin appeared to her as Our Lady of Mount Carmel (holding the Brown Scapular). Many years after, Lúcia became a Carmelite nun. When Sister Lúcia was asked in an interview why the Blessed Virgin appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel in her last apparition, she replied: "Because Our Lady wants all to wear the Scapular... The reason for this," she explained, "is that the Scapular is our sign of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary". When asked if the Brown Scapular is as necessary to the fulfillment of Our Lady’s requests as the Rosary, Sister Lúcia answered: "The Scapular and the Rosary are inseparable".
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... nuns have had a proportionally high ratio of visions of Jesus and Mary and have been responsible for key Catholic devotions ... Sister Marie of St Peter, a Carmelite nun in Tours France, started the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus ... She said that in an 1844 vision Jesus told her "Oh if you only knew what great merit you acquire by saying even once, Admirable is the Name of God, in a spirit of ...
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“What visions in the dark of light!”
—Samuel Beckett (19061989)