Feast of Our Lady of Carmel

National and public holidays in Chile National Holiday in Chile

La imagen de la Virgen del Carmen, ubicada en el altar principal del Templo Votivo de Maipú. Santiago de Chile

When is the Feast of Our Lady of Carmel?

Always celebrated on July 16.

This holiday is given in lieu of the Corpus Christi holiday. The change to use this feast day happened in 2007.

The change to the holiday was driven by Catholic Church in Chile and was brought into law by Law 20,148 on December 27, 2006.

History of the holiday

Our Lady of Carmel is Mary, mother of Jesus. Carmel is a mountain in Northern Israel, where the Carmelite order was founded in the Twelfth century. How Our Lady of Carmel came to be the the Patron Saint of Chile is related to Chile's struggle for independence.

In December 1811 General Carrera and General O'Higgins asked the Vicar of Santiago to give a mass for success in the struggle for independence against Spain. In the cathedral was a statue of Our lady of Carmel.

General Jo de San Martin placed his baton in the right hand of the statue, and named her patron saint of the Army of the Andes. On the eve of the battle of Chabuco, General O'Higgins proclaimed the Virgin of Carmel patroness and general of the Chilean armed forces.

In 1818, with the Spanish army advancing on Santiago, Chileans crowded into the cathedral to place their prayers and trust at Our Lady's feet, promising to raise a church in her honour at the site where Chile's declaration of independence was signed if they were successful in defeating the Spanish. By the end of the year the prayers had been answered and work on the church had begun.

In 1923, at the request of the Chilean bishops, the Vatican proclaimed the Virgin of Carmel to be the main patron saint of all Chileans, not just the armed forces.

Did you know?

The original date chosen by the Church in England for the feast day was July 17. However this date clashed with the feast of St. Alexis which was celebrated on this day across the rest of Europe, this meant that the feast day had to shift to July 16.

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