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Scapulars

Return to Mary, Our Mother Section | Popular Marian Devotions

Scapulars

Scapulars

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The Scapular

Types of Scapulars


The Scapular

In 1251, Our Lady made the following promise during an apparition to St. Simon Stock:The Blessed Virgin Mary & St. Simon Stock "Whosoever dies wearing this (brown) scapular shall not suffer eternal fire. It shall be a sign of peace and a safeguard in times of danger". This amazing promise has helped to greatly increase the devotion to the scapular. This "miniature religious habit" has been considered a highly indulgenced sacramental and has been associated with many extraordinary miracles. The small scapular is actually a miniature replica of an old monk's habit [the small scapular is measured in inches, where as the monks' scapular is measured in feet (it goes from the shoulders to near the ground)]. The small scapular generally consists of two small rectangular pieces of material (e.g. wool) connected by ribbons - however the shape and material of scapulars may vary by type. The word "scapular" comes from the Latin word scapulae, which means shoulders, as it is worn over the shoulders.  

A scapular may be worn either over or (typically) under clothing. One part hangs in front of the body, while the other part hangs in back at an equal distance. Scapulars should not be pinned to clothing. As indicated above, the materials and shape (as well as color, appearance, and purpose) of scapulars vary by type. Images are not required on some scapulars. If you wear more than one type of scapular, they may be joined to the same set of bands. (For more information on types of scapulars, scroll down or click here.) 

There are more than a dozen small scapulars approved by the church. A "fivefold scapular" includes the five of the best known small scapulars (Red Scapular of the Passion, White Scapular of the Most Blessed Trinity, Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Black Scapular of the Seven Dolours of Mary, and the Blue Scapular of the Immaculate Conception) attached to the same set of red wool bands (i.e. on top of each other). Note: For additional information about various scapulars, see below.

Scapulars may or may not be associated with a confraternity (a voluntary association of the faithful under ecclesiastical authority). An individual may become invested with a scapular by a Roman Catholic priest who says an appropriate blessing. At the investiture, the scapular should be blessed by the priest. Afterwards, the individual should wear the scapular at all times, day and night. If you stop wearing the scapular, you can resume at any time. During the time the scapular is not worn, the individual will not get any indulgences associated with the wearing of the scapular. Note that each type of scapular may be subject to its own particular requirements. 

Those who wear a Marian scapular (e.g. the Brown Scapular) are effectively placing themselves under the special protection of the blessed Virgin Mary. "The other devotions to Our Lady last only for a certain time, but he who wears the Scapular honors Our Lady at all times and in all places. The Scapular is, as the Blessed Virgin herself has declared, 'a safeguard in danger'" (Muller). The Marian scapular is like a coat of armor. It shows your special devotion to Mary and your desire to be like her. In order to receive the benefits of the scapular, you must live as an true Christian - a scapular is not a guarantee of salvation or an excuse to sin. You must wear the scapular properly and with faith. The scapular should be your silent way of telling Mary that you honor, love, and venerate her. It is like a constant prayer, worn each second of the day. It can also help you perfect your prayers and avoid evil; simply hold it as you pray and while undergoing temptation. Wearing of the scapular should show your desire and intention to improve your spiritual life and to seek perfection, and it should serve as a reminder of Mary's presence in your life. Your scapular can remind you to seek Mary's intercession and to keep Jesus as the center of your life.

After becoming invested (also called "enrolled") in the scapular by a Catholic priest, a scapular medal may be worn in the place of a small cloth scapular in "extreme" cases. However, Popes have indicated that the cloth scapular is preferable and discourage the use of the scapular medal. There should be a good reason to wear a scapular medal in place of a cloth scapular. Vanity and fear of making an open profession of faith may be considered insufficient reasons. Also, it has been noted the scapular medal has not been associated with miracles, unlike the cloth scapular. A scapular medal should be blessed by a priest. If the scapular medal replaces more than one scapular, the medal should receive a blessing for each scapular replaced. Note that the scapular medal may contain an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on one side, and Mary on the other side.

Individuals may receive their first scapular at their First Holy Communion. It should be venerated and not forgotten. In addition to the many other benefits, faithful Catholics may also receive indulgences both for wearing or kissing the scapular. Since scapulars are inexpensive, it is recommended that the faithful have additional scapulars around as spares for themselves and for others (they are great with gifts). Even non-Catholics are encouraged to wear a scapular. The scapular has been associated with many miracles, including many conversions. Note that scapulars should be blessed by a priest and old scapulars should be disposed of properly as a religious object (i.e. buried or burned). After death, one may be buried with their scapular. Those who promote scapular wearing may also gain graces, so be sure to hand them out to family and friends and encourage them to wear the scapular. Finally, one should note that the scapular is commonly associated with the Rosary as the two should go hand-in-hand.

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Note: Click here for the Flos Carmeli Prayer (Great for scapular wearers--It's been said that this prayer has never been known to fail in obtaining the Blessed Virgin's help)

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Types of Scapulars

The following is a brief listing of some small scapulars. Note that some scapulars may be referred to by different names and certain characteristics of scapulars - even of the same type - may differ. A variety of indulgences have been granted for wearing and venerating (see box at right) certain scapulars. In addition, various promises are attached to certain scapulars. Scapular devotions should be approved by the Church.  

Did You Know?

Non-Catholics often criticize the practice of "venerating" scapulars. However, by "veneration" we do not mean "worship". Rather, "veneration" may be compared to a person kissing a photograph of a deceased loved one or a bible. Clearly, the person isn't committing "idolatry" of a photograph or a bible by kissing it, but he or is simply expressing affection for what they represent in a concrete manner. For more information, please visit the Non-Catholics Section of this site (click here).

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Click link below or scroll down for additional information:

Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Green Scapular

Black Scapular of the Passion

Black Scapular of the Seven Dolours of Mary

Blue Scapular of the Immaculate Conception

Red Scapular of the Passion

Scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Scapular of the Most Precious Blood

Scapular of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary

Scapular of St. Benedict

Scapular of St. Dominic

Scapular of St. Joseph

Scapular of St. Michael the Archangel

White Scapular of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

White Scapular of the Most Blessed Trinity

White Scapular of the Mother of Good Counsel

White Scapular of Our Lady of Ransom

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Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel - The best known, mostBrown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel popular, and most widespread scapular is the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (also called "The Brown Scapular" and "The Scapular"). This is the scapular associated with Our Lady's promise to St. Simon Stock: "Whosoever dies wearing this (brown) scapular shall not suffer eternal fire. It shall be a sign of peace and a safeguard in times of danger". This brown scapular is thought to be the first the scapular and is the most favored of the Blessed Virgin Mary in apparitions. In Fatima on October 13, 1917, for example, Mary appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This scapular, which was adapted from the scapular of the Carmelite Order, has been associated with many extraordinary miracles. St. Simon Stock founded many Carmelite Communities (the Order of Carmel has been the home to a number of great saints, including St. John of the Cross, St. Terese of the Jesus, and St. Therese of the Child Jesus). The Sabbatine Privilege (which obtains for you special assistance from Mary in the form of her securing your release from purgatory on the Saturday after your death) is also associated with this scapular. To obtain this promise, an individual must meet certain stipulations [i.e. wear the scapular, observe chastity, recite the Little Office of Our Lady daily (with permission of a priest, the Rosary may be substituted)]. This is an especially valuable privilege as it has been said that the average time spent in purgatory is as long as 40 years. And, as St. Caesar of Arles has said (circa 540 A.D.), "That purgatorial fire itself will be more difficult than any punishments that can be seen or imagined or felt in this life." This particular scapular is made of brown woolen material and usually contains an image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It requires that individuals be enrolled by a priest in the Scapular Confraternity of Mount Carmel (which occurs automatically upon the investiture by a priest). Wearers should say the Hail Mary at least three times a day and should also try to say the Rosary daily (which may be required for the Sabbatine Privilege). Everyone (including non-Catholics) should wear this scapular. Wear it yourself and encourage your family and friends to wear it too. It is a sacramental that can help lead you to holiness and can help you avoid eternal punishment. (Part of the fivefold scapular)

Note: There are various forms of investiture of this scapular. A priest must possess the faculties to perform a valid investiture (contact the appropriate Church authority beforehand to verify). When the priest invests you (or "enrolls" you) in the scapular, you are automatically enrolled in the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel or Scapular Confraternity for life. You don't need to notify anyone. The prayer for conferring the scapular may be found in the priest's Book of Blessings.

Finally, Scapular wearers should note that the prayer which follows, the "Flos Carmeli" has been handed down over the centuries. It is said that this prayer has never been known to fail in obtaining the help of the Blessed Mother.

"Flos Carmeli Prayer for Scapular Wearers": O beautiful Flower of Carmel, most fruitful vine, Splendor of Heaven, holy and singular, who brought forth the Son of God, still ever remaining a Pure Virgin, assist me in this necessity. O Star of the Sea, help and protect me! Show me that Thou art my Mother. O Mary, Conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee! Mother and Ornament of Carmel, pray for us! Virgin, Flower of Carmel, pray for us! Patroness of all who wear the Scapular, pray for us! Hope of all who die wearing the Scapular, pray for us! St. Joseph, friend of the Sacred Heart, pray for us! St. Joseph, Chaste Spouse of Mary, pray for us! St. Joseph, our Patron, pray for us! O sweet Heart of Mary, be our salvation!*

"Ever hold in great esteem the practices and exercises of devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin which have been recommended for centuries by the magisterium of the Church. And among them we judge well to recall especially the Marian Rosary and the religious use of the Scapular of Mount Carmel." (Pope Paul VI)

*Note: Phrases like this should not be taken out of context. Catholics know that redemption comes from Christ, however, they do acknowledge the fact that Christ made his coming to earth dependent upon the fiat of Mary - that, by the will of God, redemption would not be possible without the Virgin's consent - and that her intercession is a powerful aid to salvation. For more assistance, see "Do Catholics Worship Mary?"

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Green ScapularGreen Scapular - Well known for countless miracles of cures and conversions, the green scapular (also called a "pocket scapular") is second in popularity to the Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel. The green scapular consists of a single piece of green felt with a cord. One side of the scapular contains a picture of the Blessed Virgin, the other side contains an image of Mary's Immaculate Heart pierced with a sword. The green scapular may be worn around the neck or otherwise worn or carried. If an individual is not receptive to the scapular, it can be placed in the room, under a pillow, or hidden from sight (even unknown to them). The confidence of the person wearing or giving this scapular is critical. In fact, the graces received come in proportion to the degree of confidence in Mary. The scapular must be blessed by a priest and the following prayer should be said at least once daily: "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death". If you give the scapular to someone else who won't say the prayer, you should say it daily on their behalf. Use of this scapular is a great means of converting loved ones and may also affect a cure for the sick. Have plenty on hand and share them often.

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Black Scapular of the Passion - This scapular is associated with the Congregation of the Passionists. It is black and contains an image of a heart above a cross.

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Black Scapular of the Seven Dolours of Mary - This scapular is associated with the Confraternity of the Seven Dolours of Mary (and the Servite Order). It is black and may contain an image of the Mother of Sorrows. (Part of the fivefold scapular)

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Blue Scapular of the Immaculate Conception - This scapular was introduced through the foundress of the Order of Theatine Nuns after she reported having a vision of Jesus. It is light blue and may bear a symbol of the Immaculate Conception. (Part of the fivefold scapular)  

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Red Scapular of the Passion - This scapular arose after an apparition in 1846. It is entirely red (both the cloth and bands are made of red woolen material) and contains an image of Jesus on the Cross on one side and the Hearts of Mary and Jesus on the other side. (Part of the fivefold scapular

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Scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary - This scapular is black and may contain a picture of the Mother of God (under the title "Help of the Sick") with saints at her feet, and a red cross.  

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Scapular of the Most Precious Blood - This scapular is associated with the Confraternity of the Precious Blood. It is red and may contain a picture of the chalice with the Precious Blood.    

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Scapular of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary - This scapular is associated with the Congregation of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart. It is white and contains an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Heart of Mary pierced with a sword as well as a small red cross.

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Scapular of St. Benedict - This scapular is associated with the Confraternity of St. Benedict. It is black and may contain an image of St. Benedict.

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Scapular of St. Dominic - This scapular is white and may contain an image of St. Dominic kneeling before the crucifix.  

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Scapular of St. Joseph - This scapular is associated with the Capuchins. It is violet and gold and contains images of St. Joseph with Jesus, a dove (a symbol of the Holy Spirit), a cross, and the keys of Peter.

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Scapular of St. Michael the Archangel - This scapular is associated with the Archconfraternity of the Scapular of St. Michael. It is in the form of a shield, and is made of blue and black cloth. The bands are blue and black and the scapular contains an image of St. Michael the Archangel. 

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White Scapular of the Immaculate Heart of Mary - This scapular is associated with the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is white and contains a picture of the heart of Mary, pierced with a sword, encircled by a wreath of roses, and contains a lily rising from the heart.

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White Scapular of the Most Blessed Trinity - This scapular is associated with the Confraternity of the Most Blessed Trinity and is based on the habit of the order of the Trinitarians. This scapular is white and contains a blue and red cross. (Part of the fivefold scapular

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White Scapular of the Mother of Good Counsel - This scapular is associated with the Augustinian monks. It is white and contains an image of the Mother of Good Counsel on one side and a tiara and the keys of Peter on the other side.

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White Scapular of Our Lady of Ransom - This scapular is associated with the Fathers of the Order of Our Lady of Mercy for the Ransom of Prisoners. It is white and contains a picture of Our Lady of Ransom.  

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Know of a miracle associated with a scapular? Please share it in the Good News section.

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Belief in apparitions and private revelations is not binding on Catholics. Note that it is up to the appropriate Church authorities to pass judgment on all apparitions and private revelations. Catholics should reject any 'apparitions' and 'private revelations' which do not conform to traditional Catholic teaching as unworthy of belief. The Faithful should also confirm that any information obtained from apparitions / private revelations has not been condemned by Church authorities (not exempting any which may be contained on this site). 


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