Friday 28th October 2016

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Reconnecting With Mary . . . The Brown Scapular: How It Began

November 17, 2013 Frontpage No Comments


Part 1

The brown scapular originated in England, in the 13th century, during the time of the Crusades. St. Simon Stock went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where he met a group of hermits on Mount Carmel. These claimed to be the successors of Elijah and his followers, and Simon returned with them to England when the situation became too dangerous in Palestine because of the Saracens.
He was eventually elected superior general of the Carmelites, but he faced many problems and withdrew to his monastic room or “cell” — either at Cambridge or Aylesford by this time — in order to pray to Mary; it was then, on July 16, 1251, that he had his famous vision of her bringing the brown scapular to him with the following words, which are preserved in a 14th-century narrative: “This will be for you and for all Carmelites the privilege, that he who dies in this will not suffer eternal fire.”
The brown scapular usually worn today is a smaller version of the scapular worn by Carmelite friars and nuns. This is a garment worn over the shoulders (scapula) by members of religious communities, and which hangs down to the front and back. It began as a sort of apron to protect the habit from getting dirty during work, but gradually attained a spiritual significance, as a sign of dedication to God.
The scapular promise is based on the two elements of Mary’s spiritual maternity and her mediation of grace, that is, that she is the spiritual mother of all mankind, as well as the “channel” by which all grace comes to us from God. This promise implies that Mary will intercede to ensure that the wearer of the scapular obtains the grace of final perseverance, that is of dying in a state of grace, and this privilege has now been extended to all Catholics who are enrolled in the scapular.
To be enrolled in the scapular confraternity and wear the scapular entitles one to a special relationship with Carmelite saints such as Thérèse of Lisieux, John of the Cross, and Teresa of Avila, among others. It also entitles one to a share in the prayers and good works of all Carmelite nuns and friars alive today.
By the mid-14th century the wearing of the scapular had spread to the laity, and gradually over the centuries it has gained in popularity, particularly following the promotion of the “Sabbatine Privilege” by various Popes. This is an idea which grew out of a deepened understanding of the promise originally made to St. Simon, and involves the idea that Mary will intervene to help those who have worn the scapular before death and now find themselves in Purgatory, particularly on a Saturday, the day traditionally dedicated to her.
According to a papal bull of John XXII, our Lady appeared to him and said of those who wear the brown scapular, that: “I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death and whomsoever I shall find in Purgatory I shall free so that I may lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting.”
Certain conditions are attached to this promise: Firstly, that the individual should continuously wear the brown scapular, and that they should observe chastity according to their state in life, whether married or single. The other condition which most usually applies today is that they should, with the permission of a priest, say five decades of the rosary daily. (Previously it had been necessary to say the Little Office of Our Lady or abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays.)
In the main, it is probable that the Sabbatine Privilege arose as a consequence of a deeper understanding of the promise made by the Blessed Virgin to St. Simon Stock, and, according to a decree of Pope Paul V, issued in 1613, the spiritual authority of the Popes of the preceding century in promoting the Sabbatine Privilege, had effectively guaranteed its efficacy for the faithful.
So all that is needed to benefit from all these privileges is to obtain a scapular, have it blessed by any priest, and then be enrolled in the scapular confraternity. There are prayers for the blessing of the scapular, and for enrollment.
When the scapular breaks, is worn out, or is lost, you can simply get a new one. You don’t have to be enrolled again.
Over the centuries, the scapular has been enriched with many indulgences and privileges by numerous Popes, including Sixtus IV, Gregory X, Clement VII, Clement X, Leo XI, Leo XIII, St. Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI, and Pius XII. Popes Clement VII and Clement X decreed that all who wear the scapular participate in a special manner not only in the fruits of the spiritual works of the Carmelites, but also in all the good done throughout the entire Church.
By the 17th century the brown scapular was well known among Catholics, due in great part to the Popes of the 16th and 17th centuries, who had promulgated the Sabbatine Privilege and approved the confraternity of the scapular for all dioceses, thus allowing any Catholic to benefit from wearing the scapular as a way of honoring our Lady.
However, after Vatican II, the brown scapular came under attack at the hands of progressives, who claimed that St. Simon Stock had never existed, and thus that the scapular itself was an imaginary devotion. But more recent and very thorough research has shown that it is incontestable that St. Simon did actually exist, and that the traditions surrounding the scapular promise are historically reliable. His feast day, which had been removed from the Church calendar, was restored in 1979.
The brown scapular is one of the most highly indulgenced and privileged sacramentals of the Church, as well as one of the most ancient. But more than that, it is a sign of consecration to the Blessed Virgin and a powerful aid to salvation which she herself has recommended in a special way for our times.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a sacramental is “a sacred sign which bears resemblance to the sacraments, and by means of which spiritual effects are signified and obtained through the prayers of the Church” (CCC, n. 1667). In the case of the scapular, the sacred sign is the scapular itself and the spiritual effect is the protection of one’s soul through the prayers of Mary, as she promised in the vision to St. Simon Stock.
Sacramentals, such as holy pictures or icons, statues, medals, holy water, blessed palms, and indeed the scapular, are means which dispose us to receive the chief effect of the sacraments themselves, that is, a closer union with Jesus. The Miraculous Medal, which was given by our Lady to St. Catherine Labouré at the Rue due Bac convent in Paris, in 1830, is another important sacramental, a channel to the grace mediated by Mary.
The next article will look at some miraculous events associated with the brown scapular, what various Popes have said about it, and how it was promoted by Our Lady at Fatima.

+    +    +

(Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian apparitions, and maintains a related web site at

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican: Cremated bodies may not be scattered

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2016 / 09:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released an instruction Tuesday regarding burial and cremation, reiterating the Church’s teaching that cremation, while strongly discouraged, can be permissible under certain…Continue Reading

Pope’s climate message failed to sway Catholic conservatives: study

Pope Francis’s landmark statement on climate change and his call for more work on the issue failed to sway conservative American Catholics, according to a new study. The report, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, concluded that…Continue Reading

Live From New York Should a Catholic Vote for Hillary or Trump?

Almighty God has been very good  in giving us as the day’s Gospel passage that of Our Lord’s famous admonition to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but to God what is God’s.” I say that in view of the…Continue Reading

Catholic university blasts ‘Unborn Lives Matter’ posters as ‘bigotry,’ bans them on campus

CHICAGO, Illinois, October 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – College Republicans at DePaul University were prohibited by the university president from displaying posters on campus advertising their group with the pro-life message, “Unborn Lives Matter.” Vincentian Father Dennis Holtschneider indicated to the…Continue Reading

For Archbishop Chaput, ‘Catholic Spring’ group did untold damage

Philadelphia, Pa., Oct 14, 2016 / 05:53 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput did not enjoy his first and only encounter with two leaders of Catholics United. “It was an interesting experience,” Archbishop Chaput recounted in his Oct. 13 column…Continue Reading

The anti-Catholic Catholics (and the bishops who support them)

Yesterday Ross Douthat of the New York Times embarked on a lengthy Tweetstorm —21 tweets in all—questioning whether it’s accurate to refer to the leaked emails from the Clinton campaign as evidence of “anti-Catholic” bigotry. Douthat—who is no friend of…Continue Reading

The next ‘deplorables’? Clinton campaign rips ‘backwards’ Catholic beliefs in leaked e-mails

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – “Conservative Catholics” are the latest Americans to be smeared by members of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign, leaked emails revealed on Tuesday show. Catholic beliefs are bashed as “backwards” and conservative Catholics…Continue Reading

German Bishop’s New Proposal: “There Exists More Than Man and Woman”

The Catholic Church in Germany seems to be becoming more and more unbounded in its proposals. In the recent past, for examples, the official website of the German Bishops’ Conference,, has reported about the idea to have women cardinals; about…Continue Reading

Cardinal Sarah presents counter-vision to Francis as he launches new book

After being reprimanded by Pope Francis over the summer for calling on priests to face east while saying Mass, Cardinal Robert Sarah is refusing to back down and is becoming a rallying point of opposition to this papacy.  The Vatican’s…Continue Reading

Massachusetts’ highest court grants full parental rights to unmarried gay woman

BOSTON – The Mass. court that paved the way for same-sex marriage in the United States ruled Tuesday that an unmarried gay woman whose former girlfriend gave birth to two children through artificial insemination has the same parental rights as…Continue Reading

Shunned for supporting natural marriage, former Mozilla CEO is back with new browser

SAN FRANCISCO, September 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The former CEO of Mozilla has released a new Internet browser called Brave. Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript, continues to lead the technological revolution with Brave, an innovative concept in Internet browsers.…Continue Reading

Lay Catholic Group: Tim Kaine’s Radical Views Stem From Embrace of Liberation Theology

An organization of committed lay Catholics is challenging Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, who’s invoking his Catholic faith and the words of Pope Francis as a basis for his radical positions on abortion and marriage, as well as his…Continue Reading


Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

">Mother Angelica On Voting

Pope Francis addresses JPII Institute

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis addressed the administration, faculty, students, and staff of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Rome on Thursday, at the opening of the Institute’s academic year. The Holy Father’s address was also in view of the Institute’s upcoming 35th anniversary, to be marked in November. In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered on Thursday morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace,…Continue Reading

Father Gerald Murray, Blasts Clinton for Not Apologizing for Staff Emails, Suggesting Pope Francis Supports Her

A Catholic priest said Friday on Fox News that he is very disappointed Hillary Clinton didn’t apologize for her campaign staff’s anti-Catholic remarks during her appearance at the Al Smith dinner. The annual Al Smith roast-style fundraiser for Catholic charities was held Thursday night in Manhattan, and featured both candidates for president. Father Gerald Murray, the pastor of Holy Family Church in New York City, was also incensed that Clinton suggested that Pope Francis was endorsing her…Continue Reading

Cardinal Kasper: Can the ‘remarried’ now receive communion? ‘Yes. Period.’

October 24, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — In a recent publication of the German journal Stimmen der Zeit (Journal for Christian Culture), Cardinal Walter Kasper published an article calling Amoris Laetitia a “paradigm shift” in the Church’s teaching. “Amoris Laetitia: Break or Beginning” is the title of a recent scientific article by Kasper in which he analyzes the post-synodal exhortation and provides his opinion on the right hermeneutic in reading it. In the first part called “Discussion…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood rips proposal to require father’s consent for abortion

SOUTH CAROLINA, October 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) is walking back suggestions it made last month that fathers of pre-born children consent for their mothers to abort them. The proposed regulations would possibly update abortion accident reporting requirements, requirements for abortion licensure, “complaint reporting, patient rights, infection control,” “record maintenance,” and “fire and life safety requirements,” according to the SCDHEC, which is accepting public comment on…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . The Definitive Biography Of Hitler To Date

By JUDE P. DOUGHERTY Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939. Translated from the German by Jefferson Chase. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. x + 998 pp. Confronted with a 998-page volume, one can only hint at its content. The book is not a pleasant read, although it contains a lot of material relevant to the…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Advance Medical Directives” (Conclusion)

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, “Euthanasia,” e-mail him at + + + We have seen that there are many problems associated with the standard Living Will, although…Continue Reading

Restoring The Rightful Place Of The Supreme Court In American Government

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bi-monthly] in Crisis. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of…Continue Reading

Time To Pray Unceasingly . . . The Catholic Church Is Under Attack

By FR. MICHAEL P. ORSI The Gospel reading for Sunday, October 16 was Jesus’ parable about the persistent widow demanding of a corrupt judge that he render a fair verdict on her claim. The judge gives in “lest she finally come and strike me.” It’s a humorous anecdote which Jesus turns into an illustration of…Continue Reading

A Movie Review . . . Coming To God In An Unconventional Way

By REY FLORES “I see you dressed in white. Every wrong made right. I see a rose in bloom. At the sight of you (oh so priceless). Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable. I see it all in you (oh so priceless).” The above are the closing lyrics for the song Priceless by country duo For King &…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. I personally don’t believe too many women’s lives are endangered when choosing an abortion. It also seems to me that our Church says if such a circumstance happens during an abortion or a regular delivery, doesn’t the Church rule the baby should be saved first? That seems to conflict with what Mrs. Clinton believes. — D.L.H., Iowa. A. No, the…Continue Reading

Let Your Hearts Be Strengthened

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirty-Second Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: 2 Macc. 7:1-2, 9-14 2 Thess. 2:16-3:5 Luke 20:27-38 In the first reading today we hear about the heroic family who all suffered death at the hands of a tyrant who was trying to force the Jewish people to give up their faith because it made them different…Continue Reading

Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2004 Letter… Forbids Catholics To Vote For Hillary Clinton Under Pain Of Mortal Sin

(Editor’s Note: Below is a commentary The Wanderer is reprinting with permission from Catholics 4 Trump [catholics4trump], originally posted on October 11. All rights reserved. Catholics 4 Trump makes the case that a vote for the pro-abortion Hillary Clinton is objectively grave matter. Note the contrast between Trump’s and Clinton’s abortion stands in the third and final presidential debate on…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Pray Always And Never Grow Weary

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK A moment of dawning experience when I was young gave birth to a nearly perfect prayer. This farewell to innocence of which I speak was a blessing. In the light of it I came to know the presence of God through His goodness which is the heart of prayer in the life of faith. I…Continue Reading

What Is Faith?… Other Attributes Of God

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 8 “I love thee, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:1-2). The enthusiasm with which the psalmist praises God our Lord comes from his knowledge of God’s…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Colman Of Kilmacduagh

By CAROLE BRESLIN Ireland, the Emerald Isle, a green country of lush fauna, friendly people, and beautiful views — if you can find a clear day — has a rich and troubled heritage. It is a land full of the lore of elves, fairies, and, most important, Catholic saints. Numerous books have been written about the many Irish saints and…Continue Reading

Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi

By CAROLE BRESLIN When a society is riddled with evil and corruption, the worst thing we can do is to remain quiet. If we truly believe in God, then it is our obligation to do all we can to save the souls in danger of being lost in such a society. The threats and dangers of this world are not…Continue Reading