The Carmelites had long claimed that their order extended back to ancient times—indeed, that it was founded on Mount Carmel in Palestine by the prophets Elijah and Elisha. While others disputed this idea, Pope Honorius III, in approving the order in 1226, seemed to accept its antiquity. The celebration of the feast became wrapped up with this controversy, and, in 1609, after Robert Cardinal Bellarmine examined the origins of the feast, it was declared the patronal feast of the Carmelite order.
From then on, the celebration of the feast began to spread, with various popes approving the celebration in southern Italy, then Spain and her colonies, then Austria, Portugal and her colonies, and finally in the Papal States, before Benedict XIII placed the feast on the universal calendar of the Latin Church in 1726. It has since been adopted by some Eastern Rite Catholics as well.