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The Brown Madonna

On the feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, I made a pilgrimage to Naples to the Chapel of the Virgine del Carmelo, which holds a 12th-century miraculous icon of the Virgin and child. The church was founded in the 13th century by Carmelite friars driven from the Holy Land during the Crusades, who landed at the Bay of Naples.

Inside is the painting of the "Brown Madonna" (Madonna Bruna), which is said to have been brought by the original Carmelites from the Holy Land. Many pilgrims who prayed there in front of that image have reported miracles through Christ's graces through the intercession of Our Lady of Mt Carmel.

Here's a glimpse of the ex-votos left by faithful:

Twelve Masses were celebrated that day with the final Mass in the evening celebrated by Cardinal Sepe, the Archbishop of Naples. There is also a plenary indulgence attached to this church on this feast day. Traditionally, on the eve of the feast fireworks are set off from the top of the 75-meter bell tower attached to the church. The bell tower is visible from a distance, even amidst taller modern buildings. They call the grand event the "fire in the belltower." The old monastic grounds adjacent to the church now serve as a shelter for the needy and homeless. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us!

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