In France, the Blessing of a New Statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Source: FSSPX News

A rather primitive Gothic wooden statue was found: it could be the statue brought over from Palestine with the Carmelite brothers.

Since the early 1980’s, the members of the association “Friends of Our Lady of Férétra” opened the ancient Toulouse chapel of the Férétra – saved from imminent destruction by the late-lamented Bishop René Trazit in 1975 – to the priests of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X, who stayed at Saint-Joseph des Carmes in Montréal-de-l’Aude at first, and now reside at Gragnague.

In 1238, a small group of seven Carmelite brothers (including Brother Guillaume Anésia, a native of Toulouse) left the Holy Land under Muslim pressure and settled on the site of the present-day chapel, where they built a small church dedicated of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. They brought with them an image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, that delivered them from a multitude of dangers during their journey; they venerated it in the chapel of the Férétra, where it performed many miracles.

After the Garonne floodings that twice caused a part of the convent to crumble in 1241 and 1242, the Carmelites moved to the center of the city of Toulouse in 1264 and abandoned the chapel of the Férétra, not without transferring the miraculous statue of Our Lady to their new convent where it was venerated up until the Revolution.

After the monastery was completely destroyed in 1808, the parish church of La Dalbade welcomed the image and devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and a confraternity was established in one of the church’s side chapels. When the bell-tower collapsed in 1926, the church was closed until 1950. When the building was reopened, a rather primitive Gothic wooden statue was found in the attic of one of the houses belonging to the parish: it could be the statue that was brought over from Palestine with the Carmelite brothers. It is now preserved in the sacristy of La Dalbade.

On Sunday, July 16, 2017, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, blessed a copy of this statue sculpted by Vincent Rivals, a young sculptor from Toulouse.

As can be seen from a painting from the beginning of the 18th century kept in the church of Seysses, the statue used to be clothed and crowned; this custom has been revived, and now Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Férétra in Toulouse shares it with the Black Virgin of La Daurade and Our Lady of the Ramparts in the church of Taur.