By Jennifer Lindberg
It’s one of the most popular holy items Catholics wear around their necks: the Catholic brown scapular. Here’s everything you need to know about this well-worn sacramental that has amazing promises attached to it.
Today, the Catholic Church approves 18 different kinds of scapulars, such as the green scapular.
But the most well-known Catholic scapular comes from St. Simon Stock who had a problem he took to Our Lady. He was to lead the the Carmelite friars out of the Holy Land where they had been hermits and into Europe to live in communities. It was a daunting task to reestablish themselves under new rules.
His many prayers to Our Lady paid off and he was graced with a vision of her giving him the scapular on July 16, 1251.
Everything You Need to Know About the Brown Scapular
The brown scapular represents the brown wool habit of the Carmelite order.The “scapular,” originally the word for a monk’s work apron, eventually became a symbol of Marian devotion for Catholics. St. Simon Stock was able to found communities at Cambridge, Oxford, Paris, and Bologna all while promulgating the scapular that has world-wide importance.
It’s main purpose is to save souls from hell and rescue them from purgatory. It’s also seen as a consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary because those who wear it make certain promises to obtain the favors granted by Our Lady.
The Promises of the Catholic Brown Scapular
St. Simon Stock isn’t the only one the Virgin Mary gave instructions to about the brown scapular.
She also appeared to Pope John XXII, who detailed his apparition in a papal bull:
“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,” she told the pope.
How to wear the Catholic Brown Scapular
Anyone can wear the brown scapular after being enrolled in the Brown Scapular Confraternity. It is a simple ceremony done by a priest.
The following conditions must be fulfilled to obtain the promises from Our Lady:
- Wear the brown scapular continuously
- Observe chastity according to one’s state in life
- Recite daily the “Little Office of the Blessed Virgin”
If you cannot recite the LIttle Office there are other ways to fulfill your obligation:
- Observe the required fast of the Church as well as abstaining for meat on Wednesday and Saturday
- Recite the rosary daily
- With permission, substitute some other good work.
An Amazing Fact about the Brown Scapular
As with most devotions in the Catholic Church they keep giving opportunities for holiness and a deeper prayer life.
Pope Benedict XV, the celebrated World War I pontiff, granted 500 days indulgence for devoutly kissing your scapular and offering this 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!
For more devotional prayers see our recent post: The Six Symbolic Meanings of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.