“Whoever dies in the garment shall not suffer eternal fire.” - promise of Our Lady to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251
How many Catholics know of this amazingly powerful sacramental? Do they really understand the graces, privileges and benefits it offers for their soul? If they did, they would certainly be wearing one all the time. Are you wearing your Brown Scapular? Are you spreading devotion to the this great gift for Our Lady? Hint: Share 🙂
Here you can learn just a little bit about this powerful and miraculous gift from heaven. The Rosary and the Brown Scapular go hand and hand. Our Lady even said to St. Dominic "One day through the Rosary and the Scapular, I will save the world."
In the year 1251, in the town of Aylesford in England, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite. She handed him a brown woolen scapular and said, “This shall be a privilege for you and all Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall not suffer eternal fire.” In time, the Church extended this magnificent privilege to all the laity who are willing to be invested in the Brown Scapular of the Carmelites and who perpetually wear it.
True devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary consists in three things: VENERATION, CONFIDENCE AND LOVE. By simply wearing the Scapular, we can tell her every moment of the day that we venerate her, love her and trust in her protection.
The Scapular Is a Silent Prayer
As Our Lord taught us to say the Our Father, Our Blessed Mother taught us the value of the scapular. When we use it as a prayer, Our Lady draws us to the Sacred Heart of Her Divine Son. It is good, therefore, to hold the scapular in the hand. A prayer offered while holding the Scapular is as perfect as a prayer can be. It is especially in time of temptation that we need the powerful intercession of God’s Mother. The evil spirit is utterly powerless when the wearer of a scapular faces temptation, calling upon the Holy Virgin in this silent devotion. “If you had recommended yourself to me, you would not have run into such danger,” was Our Lady’s gentle reproach to Blessed Alan de la Roche, one of her devoted servants.
Enrollment in the Confraternity
To be eligible for the scapular promise, one must be enrolled in the Brown Scapular Confraternity. This is a simple ceremony which can be performed by any priest (see below). The members of the Confraternity have the added benefit of sharing in all the spiritual benefits of the Carmelite Order.
According to a statement made by the Carmelite Fathers at the National Scapular Center, every priest now has the right to invest the faithful in the Brown Scapular and to substitute the rosary in lieu of the Little Office (see below).
The scapular must be 100% wool without plastic casing and should not be pinned or affixed to clothing. It is worn over the head, under one’s clothes, with one square of wool hanging on the chest and the other on the back. Pictures are not necessary.
The Sabbatine Privilege
The Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel has promised to save those who wear the scapular from the fires of hell; She will also shorten their stay in purgatory if they should pass from this world still owing some debt of punishment.
This promise is found in a Bull of Pope John XXII. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him and, speaking of those who wear the Brown Scapular, said, “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.”
The Blessed Virgin assigned certain conditions which must be fulfilled:
1. Wear the Brown Scapular continuously.
2. Observe chastity according to one’s state in life (married/single).
3. Recite daily the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin OR Observe the fasts of the Church together with abstaining from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays OR With permission of a priest, say five decades of Our Lady’s Most Holy Rosary OR With permission of a priest, substitute some other good work.
Pope Benedict XV, the celebrated World War I Pontiff, granted 500 days indulgence for devoutly kissing your scapular.
The Morning Offering
O my God, in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary (here kiss the scapular as a sign of your consecration), I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Jesus from all the altars throughout the world, joining with It the offering of my every thought, word and action of this day. O my Jesus, I desire today to gain every indulgence and merit I can, and I offer them, together with myself, to Mary Immaculate, that she may best apply them to the interests of Thy most Sacred Heart. Precious Blood of Jesus, save us! Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us! Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
The Popes and the Brown Scapular
Pope Leo XIII: “The Carmelite Scapular’s nobility of origin, its extraordinary spread among Christian peoples for many centuries, the spiritualizing effects produced by it and the outstanding miracles worked in virtue of it render the Scapular of Carmel commendable to a wondrous degree.”
Pope Pius XI: “In consideration of the munificent goodness of the heavenly Mother towards her children, it surely ought to be sufficient merely to exhort those who belong to the Scapular Confraternity to persevere in the holy exercises which have been prescribed for the gaining of the indulgences to which they are entitled.”
Pope Pius XII: “All Carmelites, whether they live in the cloisters of the First or Second Orders or are members of the Third Order or of the Confraternities, belong to the same family of our Most Blessed Mother and are attached to it by a special bond of love. May they all see in this keepsake of the Virgin herself a mirror of humility and purity; may they read in the very simplicity of the Garment a concise lesson in modesty and simplicity; above all, may they behold in this same Garment, which they wear day and night, the eloquent expressive symbol of their prayers for divine assistance.”
Pope John XXIII: He spoke “of the Mother of God who is honored in this Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Devotion to her becomes a necessity; towards Our Lady of Mount Carmel we are drawn with a most tender, yet irresistible, attraction.”
Pope Paul VI, speaking of Marian devotions, especially of the Scapular, says “Let the faithful hold in high esteem the practices and devotions to the Blessed Virgin approved by the teaching authority of the Church. It is Our conviction that the Rosary of Mary and the Scapular of Carmel are among these recommended practices. The Scapular is a practice of piety, which by its very simplicity is suited to everyone.”
THE ROSARY AND THE SCAPULAR ARE INSEPARABLE.
Priest - Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy.
Respondent - And grant us Thy salvation.
P - Lord, hear my prayer.
R - And let my cry come unto Thee.
P - The Lord be with you.
R - And with your Spirit.
P - Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, sanctify + by Thy power these scapulars, which for love of Thee and for love of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Thy servants will wear devoutly, so that through the intercession of the same Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and protected against the evil spirit, they persevere until death in Thy grace. Thou who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
THE PRIEST SPRINKLES WITH HOLY WATER THE SCAPULAR AND THE PERSON(S) BEING ENROLLED. HE THEN INVESTS HIM (THEM), SAYING:
P - Receive this blessed scapular and beseech the Blessed Virgin that through Her merits, you may wear it without stain. May it defend you against all adversity and accompany you to eternal life. Amen.
AFTER INVESTITURE THE PRIEST CONTINUES WITH THE PRAYERS:
P - I, by the power vested in me, admit you to participate in all the spiritual benefits obtained through the mercy of Jesus Christ by the Religious Order of Mount Carmel. In the name of the Father + and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. + Amen.
May God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and earth, bless + you, He who has deigned to join you to the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel; we beseech Her to crush the head of the ancient serpent so that you may enter into possession of your eternal heritage through Christ our Lord.
R - Amen.
THE PRIEST THEN SPRINKLES AGAIN WITH HOLY WATER THE PERSON(S) ENROLLED.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the requirements for gaining the Brown Scapular Promise?
Who may be invested?
How am I enrolled in the Brown Scapular?
What is the formula for investiture?
What is the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular?
How do I wear the Brown Scapular?
What should the Scapular look like and be made of?
May I wear a Scapular medal instead?
Must I always wear the Scapular?
If I get a new Scapular, do I need to be re-invested?
What are the indulgences granted to those who wear the Scapular?
What is the Sabbatine Privilege?
What are the requirements for gaining the Sabbatine Privilege?
“Whoever dies invested with this Scapular shall be preserved from the eternal flames. It is a sign of salvation, a sure safeguard in danger, a pledge of peace and of my special protection until the end of the ages.”
1.To observe exactly what has been prescribed regarding material, color, and shape of the Scapular, that is it must be 100% brown wool in a rectangular shape.
2.To be enrolled in the Scapular by a priest.
3.To wear it continually.
Please note that there are no special prayers or good works that are necessary to receive the promise. The Scapular is a silent prayer that shows one’s complete consecration and dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Scapular is a devotion whereby we venerate Her, love Her, and trust in Her protection, and we tell Her these things every moment of the day by simply wearing the Brown Scapular.
All the Catholic faithful should be enrolled. It is customary for children to be enrolled after their First Holy Communion. Even infants can be invested.
Any priest can enroll or invest you in the Brown Scapular. There is a formula of investiture that the priest performs.
5. Who can enroll me in the Brown Scapular?
Any Catholic priest can enroll you. It was once customary that only the Carmelite Fathers were permitted to enroll the lay faithful, and special permission was needed for any other priest to perform the ceremony. However, this devotion has spread so far and wide throughout the Catholic world that now the Church has given permission to all priests to invest the faithful in the Brown Scapular.
Yes. If you would like a copy of the investiture ceremony in either Latin or English, please click here.
Once invested in the Scapular, a person automatically becomes a member of the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular. What is meant by the Confraternity is that, having been enrolled in the Scapular, you belong to a spiritual family whereby you have the privilege of being affiliated with the Carmelite Order, participating in the merits of the Carmelite Fathers and Religious in life and in death, as well as receiving the promises of Our Lady through the Scapular. Although at one time it was customary to inscribe one's name in the Confraternity Register (the parish priest would do this for all those he enrolled by sending the names to a Carmelite convent where the Confraternity was canonically erected), it is no longer the practice to do so. Part of the reason for this is that the Scapular has become, thanks be to God, such a universal sacramental and devotion that the Church has taken away this obligation upon the lay faithful. It is sufficient to be invested in the Scapular to be a member of the Confraternity.
8. How do I enroll in the Confraternity?
By being invested in the Brown Scapular by a priest.
9. Can an ordained deacon enroll a person in the Brown Scapular?
No, an ordained deacon cannot enroll a person in the Scapular. Only an ordained priest of the Catholic Church can perform the investiture.
You must wear it over the shoulder so that one part hangs over your chest and the other side hangs over the back. Both parts cannot be carried in the front or the back, otherwise, the wearer runs the risk of not receiving the promise.
11. May the Scapular be fastened or pinned to my clothing?
The Scapular must hang over the shoulders with one side hanging in the front and the other side hanging in the back. However, one may sew or pin the scapular to an undergarment to hold it in place or to keep it from rising about one's neck.
12. What if I'm allergic to wool?
If one has a serious allergy to wool or has irritation of the skin, one can wear the wool scapular over one's clothing, encase the wool scapular in plastic, or wear the Scapular Medal with an image of the Sacred Heart on one side and an image of Our Lady on the other side.
Yes. Cotton, silk, and any other material is strictly forbidden.
14. May I use a chain instead of a cord for my Scapular?
Yes, just as long as the scapular itself is 100% wool.
15. What shape does the Scapular have to be?
It must be rectangular or square. It cannot be oval, round, or polygonal.
16. May the Scapular have any other images on it?
It is permitted to ornament the Scapular with images or pictures, such as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel or the Carmelite shield. However, the wool brown color of the Scapular must predominate.
17. Does the Scapular have to be touching the skin?
No, it may be worn over or under any part of the clothing.
18. May one wear a different color of the Scapular?
Different color Scapulars do exist as sacramentals in the Church for other devotions, such as the Red Scapular in honor of Our Lord’s Passion. However, the Brown Scapular that the lay faithful wear is a miniature of the Carmelite Religious Habit, and since that Habit is brown in color, it has always been regarded as the proper color for the Scapular. However, black wool is permissible.
In order to receive the promise, the Scapular must always be worn. We must understand that by wearing the Scapular we show our consecration and devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Our Blessed Mother cannot be pleased in any one who out of vanity or fear takes it off whenever it is not convenient to wear it. By wearing it we make an open profession of our faith, confidence, and love of Her.
20. May I take my Scapular off to bathe?
No. However, our modern Popes, notable St. Pius X and subsequent Popes, have declared that in necessary cases such as in foreign or tropical climate missions, the Scapular Medal with an image of the Sacred Heart on one side and an image of Our Lady on the other side may be worn instead of the wool Scapular. The Scapular Medal can also be worn in case of real necessity or for very serious reasons, such as an allergy to wool. But if the Scapular Medal is worn for insufficient reason, such as vanity or convenience, the wearer runs the risk of not receiving the benefit of the Scapular promise. It is important to remember that the small Scapular worn by the lay faithful is meant to be a miniature version of what the Carmelites wear as part of their Religious Habit, which is never substituted for anything else.
No. If your Scapular has worn out or has broken, you only need to get another one and put it on. The blessing and investiture is still valid for the new Scapular, since the blessing is predominately given to the person who is invested in the Scapular.
1.A plenary indulgence on the day of receiving the Scapular. Conditions: Confession and Communion.
2.Plenary indulgence at the moment of death. Conditions: Confession, Communion, and devout invocation with the lips, or at least with the heart, of the Holy Name of Jesus.
3.Reciting the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary devoutly – 100 days indulgence.
4.Each time the Scapular is kissed – 500 days indulgence.
It is the promise piously to be believed, that the Blessed Virgin Mary gave to Pope John XXII in a vision, that She will deliver Her faithful children who have worn the Scapular devoutly from purgatory soon after their death, notably the first Saturday after death. “As a tender Mother, I will descend into purgatory on the Saturday after their death, and will deliver them into the heavenly mansions of life everlasting.” (Words of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Pope John XXII). This Sabbatine Privilege was promulgated and taught through the famous Bull Sacratissimo Uti Culmine (Sabbatine Bull) of Pope John XXII in 1322 and given definitive ratification in 1908 by the Holy See.
1.To wear the Brown Scapular continuously.
2.To observe chastity according to one’s state in life.
3.The daily recitation of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary OR to abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays OR with the permission of a priest say 5 decades of the Holy Rosary.
Mary In Her Scapular Promise by John Mathias Haffert
Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 1883
Decrees of the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences and Holy Relics, 1844-1868
Manual on Indulgences, Father Schneider’s German edition
Sabbatine Bull of Pope John XXII, Sacratissimo Uti Culmine
Fifteen Minutes at the Feet of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Discalced Carmelite Fathers, College of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, by Rev. Father Ludovico of the Sacred Hearts, OCD
Apparitions and Shrines of Heaven’s Bright Queen by William J. Walsh
Carmelite Devotions compiled by a Carmelite Tertiary, 1956.