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The Carmelites are a contemplative order founded by hermits on Mount Carmel in Palestine at the end of the 12th century and placed under the protection of the Virgin Mary. In the 13th century, the Carmelites left their hermitages to take refuge in Europe. According to ancient sources, the first monks wore a brown, grey or black tunic. The coat was striped white and brown and sometimes more rarely white and black. According to tradition, the Saracens, after having taken control of the Holy Land, forbade the monks to wear white clothes because white was for them a mark of distinction and nobility. The brothers were then forced to follow the custom of the Orientals and wear colorful coats. Following the General Chapter of the Order in Montpellier in 1287, the Carmelites abandoned their striped or barred coats in favor of a white covering as we see it today. The brown scapular that the monks wear, like many other orders today, was reportedly given by the Virgin Mary to Saint Simon Stock, an English monk then Prior General of Carmelites, as he begged the Virgin Mary to help the persecuted Order.

© Province de Paris de l'Ordre des Carmes Déchaux.