Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (also known as the Brown Scapular), is by far the best known, most celebrated, and most widespread of the small scapulars. It is spoken of as "the Scapular", and the "feast of the Scapular" is that of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16. It is probably the oldest scapular and served as the prototype of the others. Any priest may invest a person with the brown scapular, while other scapulars must frequently be conferred by an ordained representative of an appropriate religious order.


According to traditional accounts concerning this Scapular:

The Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock at Cambridge, England, on Sunday, 16 July, 1251. In answer to his appeal for help for his oppressed order, she appeared to him with a scapular in her hand and said: "Take, beloved son this scapular of thy order as a badge of my confraternity and for thee and all Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire. It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant". St. Simon Stock was given certain supernatural assurances:

"Assurances of the Scapular"

*The special protection of the Blessed Virgin for his whole order and for all those wearing the Carmelite habit.
*Special aid, especially in the hour of death, to those wearing the habit in her honour throughout life, so that they should be preserved from hell. Indirectly, this promise is extended to all who from devotion to the Mother of God should wear her habit or badge and be thus, as it were, affiliated to the Carmelite Order.
*The Sabbatine Privilege.

The scapular was very widespread in European countries at the end of the sixteenth century, as is evident from "La cronica Carmelitana" of the Carmelite Joseph FalconePiacenza, 1595] . In 1600, it appeared at Palermo the "Giardino Carmelitano" of the Carmelite Egidio Leoindelicato da Sciacca (the approval is dated 1592). Towards the end, the author gives the formulas of benediction for the Fratelli and Sorelle della Compagnia della Madonna del Carmine (who receive the complete habit of the order) and the formula for the blessing of the scapular for the Devoti della Compagnia Carmelitana.pp. 239 sqq] This is the earliest apparent form of benediction for the small scapular. It is also noteworthy that the formula for the sisters contains no reference to the scapular, while in that for the brothers there is a special blessing for the scapular.

Beliefs associated with the Scapular

The first privilege the Virgin Mary grants to those wearing her Brown Scapular is eternal salvation, if they wear it constantly until death. Such is the meaning and importance of the first privilege of the Carmelite Scapular, which is wont to be expressed in the words: "whoever dies in this garment", will be preserved from hell". However, this is usually understood that you cannot commit every possible sin and go to Heaven anyway without repentance and penance, which would be contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church. Devout Catholics usually argue that Mary's intercession either grants conversion, final perseverance, and/or last rites to the wearer, shown in the assurances above. Possibly another argument is that the scapular is condemned by faithless and godless souls, rejecting the Virgin's promise, and so come nowhere near to wearing it. But, even another argument is that in cases of stubborn unrepentant sinners the scapular will somehow, miraculously or not, be taken off the wearer. This was taught by Saint Claude de la Colombière, there are also contemporary stories of this happening, most recently, Thomanz Wieczorek, as well as another incident occurring during the Spanish Civil War.

A second privilege of the scapular, historically known as the Sabbatine privilege, states that through her special intercession on the Saturday following their death, Mary will personally liberate and deliver the souls of devotees out of Purgatory. Carmelite Orders, while encouraging a belief in Mary's general aid and prayerful assistance for their souls beyond death and commending devotion to Mary especially on Saturdays which are dedicated to her, explicitly state in their official catechetical materials that they do not promulgate the Sabbatine privilege, and are at one with official church teaching on the matter. []

The authentic list of indulgences, privileges, and indults of the Scapular Confraternity of Mount Carmel was last approved on July 4, 1908, by the Congregation of Indulgences.


The scapular must consist of two pieces of brown 100% wool cloth with one segment hanging on the wearer's chest, and the other hanging on his/her back. These pieces are joined by two straps which overlap each shoulder--hence the word "scapular". Images sewn onto the Brown Scapular are unnecessary.

Due to the ease of deterioration of wool in hotter and tropical climates, since 1910 those properly invested into a confraternity may wear a properly blessed scapular medal(s) with the depiction of Jesus with his Sacred Heart on one side and Mary on the obverse. (Acta Apost. Sedis, III, 22 sq.) However, Pope Saint Pius X expressed his preference for the cloth scapular. Pope Benedict XV has also proclaimed the Church's ardent desire for cloth to be worn rather than the medal. []

External links

* [ The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel] - A Sign of Christian Faith & Commitment
* [ Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel]
* [ Message of John Paul II to the Carmelite Family] - At The 750th Anniversary of the Bestowal of the Scapular
* [ The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (includes ceremony for blessing and investiture)]
* [ The Brown Scapular]
* [ Carmel's Heights] - This CD album is an attempt to share with all, some of Carmel's Saints - real persons of flesh and blood - who share with us in song their own spiritual experiences.
* [ Sister Lucia's statement relating Brown Scapular to Fatima's message]

Notes and References

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