The Carmelites, whose Order was founded by
St. Elias, tell the story of this chant (2):
"The Flos Carmeli is a Carmelite hymn and prayer. Flos Carmeli is Latin for 'Flower of Carmel' and was first used as the sequence for the Feast of St. Simon Stock. Beginning in 1663 it became the sequence for the Feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel. It is said to have been written by St. Simon Stock himself (c. 1165 – 1265). The prayer is taken from the first two stanzas of the sequence.
"Oral tradition tells of St. Simon Stock praying with a passionate intensity to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel during a time of great distress and hardship for the Order. With fervor and faith, he prayed for the first time the
Flos Carmeli prayer which he wrote. And Our Lady answered that prayer. Thus, for seven centuries the
Flos Carmeli continues to be prayed to the Blessed Mother with the firm faith that she will answer its request with her powerful help." (2)
Since the chant mentions the Scapular, it is helpful to know the origin of the Scapular and the establishment of the Feast of Our Lady of Carmel, explained by Dom Guéranger:
"In the night between the 15th and 16th of July of the year 1251, the gracious Queen of Carmel confirmed to her sons [the Carmelites] by a mysterious sign the right of citizenship she had obtained for them in their newly adopted countries.
As Mistress and Mother of the entire religious state she conferred upon them with her queenly hands the Scapular, hitherto the distinctive garb of the greatest and
most ancient religious family of the West. On giving St. Simon Stock this badge, ennobled by contact with her sacred fingers, the Mother of God said to him:
'Whosever shall die in this habit shall not suffer eternal flames.'" (3)
Later, Our Lady appeared to James d'Euse, future John XXII, and revealed to him "the privilege she obtained from her Divine Son for her children of Carmel – a speedy deliverance from purgatory. 'I, their Mother will graciously go down to them on the Saturday after their death, and all whom I find in Purgatory I will deliver and will bring to the mountain of life eternal.'" (4)
Dom Guéranger continues: "Who shall tell the graces, often miraculous, obtained through this humble garb? Who could count the faithful not enrolled in the Holy
Militia? When Benedict XIII, in the 18th century, extended the feast of July 16 to the whole Church, he did but give an official sanction to the universality already gained by the cultus of the Queen of Carmel." (5)