Scapular, Brown Scapular, Green Scapular, Catholic Scapular

In its original form, the scapular is a part of the monastic habit (the outfit that monks wear). It is composed of two large pieces of cloth, connected in the middle by narrower strips of cloth. The narrower strips provide an opening through which the monk placed his head; the strips then sat on his shoulders, and the large pieces of cloth hung down in front and in back.

Today, the term is used most often to refer to a sacramental (a religious object) that has essentially the same form as the monastic scapular but is composed of much smaller pieces of cloth (usually only an inch or two square) and thinner connecting strips. Technically, these are known as the "small scapulars" and are worn by lay faithful as well as those in religious orders. Each small scapular represents a particular devotion and often has a certain indulgence or even a revealed "privilege" (or special power) attached to it.

In the year 1322 Pope John XXII issued a document known as the Sabbatine Privilege. This was the result of a vision he had of Our Blessed Mother holding the Scapular of Mount Carmel, in which she said, "Those who have been invested with this Holy Habit will be delivered from Purgatory the first Saturday after their death." In it indulgences are granted to the members of the Carmelite Order and to its secular members.

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Brown Scapular

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.

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.”

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Green Scapular

The Green Scapular, called by Our Lady, “The Badge of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” was given to the world by the Blessed Virgin Mary herself, through a series of apparitions to Sister Justine Bisqueyburo, a Daughter of Charity, in the early 1840’s in Paris, France. On the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, Sept. 8th, 1840, the Mother of God appeared holding in her right hand her Immaculate Heart, surmounted by flames and holding in her other hand a green scapular. The scapular consisted of a simple piece of green cloth, rectangular in shape, hanging from a green string. On one side was an image of Our Lady dressed in a long white gown which reached to her bare feet. Over this she wore a light blue mantle. However, she wore no veil. Instead, her hair hung loosely about her; and in her hands she held her Heart from the top of which gushed abundant flames. Her bearing was enhanced by a majestic beauty all heavenly. On the other side of the scapular was pictured her Immaculate Heart, all ablaze and transparent as crystal, with rays pouring out that appeared more dazzling than the sun. This Heart, pierced with a sword, was encircled by an inscription in the form of an oval and topped by a golden Cross. The inscription read:

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us, now and at the hour of our death.”

This prayer should be prayed daily by the one giving the scapular, and preferably by the person receiving it. Although wonderful graces are obtained, they are proportionate to the confidence with which it is given. The Green Scapular was twice approved by Pope Pius IX, in 1863, and again in 1870, when he said: "Write to these good Sisters that I authorize them to make and distribute it."

The Green Scapular is a life line for conversion. At the same time, as Sr. Justine received the scapular, an interior voice revealed to her the meaning of the vision. This new scapular and the prayers of those who used it would be a means that God would use to bring Himself those who had no faith and to reconcile those who had strayed from their faith. The green scapular was distributed, and God granted wonderful conversions and some bodily cures.

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