The Little Cloud:
Carmelites in the Middle Ages gleaned inspiration from the raincloud rising above the sea and perceived by Elijah on Mount Carmel after his defeat of the false prophets (1 Kings 18:41-45). The little cloud evoked their innate love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, which they expressed in characteristically medieval fashion through a legend: Elijah saw in the cloud the figure of the Immaculate Virgin conceived without sin, who one day would be the mother of the Savior. A 15th century Carmelite explained: “Just as the cloud rose light and sweet from the bitter waters of the sea, so Mary came of our human race, yet was free of all sin, even from her origin.”
From their earliest days, Carmelites saw in Mary the perfect model of purity of heart, and the legend inflamed their desire to follow her example. They incorporated the little cloud as a symbol of Marian devotion in early versions of the Carmelite shield, as well as in literature, works of art, and official acts of the Carmelite Order throughout the centuries.