Our Lady’s Brown Scapular by Fr. Peter Davies, O. CARM. Part 2.

What the Popes Say About the Scapular

As good Catholics, we always look to the Holy Father for a lead in matters of devotion, and we know that what is approved by the Pope is safe for us to follow. For many centuries, the Popes have publicly voiced their approval of the Scapular, and have themselves worn it faithfully and lovingly. When Leo XI was being crowned as Pope, his Scapular was accidently removed from his shoulders, and he said: “Leave me Mary lest Mary should leave me”-an eloquent tribute to his faith in Our Lady’s promises.


Pope Pius IX was notable for his special love for the Mother of God. It was he who defined the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854. This saintly Pontiff said: “This most extraordinary gift of the Scapular from the Mother of God to St. Simon Stock, brings its great usefulness not only to the great Carmelite family of Mary, but also to all the rest of the faithful who wish, affiliated to that family, to follow Mary with a special devotion.”


Pope Leo XIII is known to all of us as the author of the great encyclical letters on social and labour reforms. All his life he had a tender devotion to the Scapular. When he knew his death was near after his long and fruitful reign, he called his close friends to his bedside and said: “Let us make a novena to Our Lady of the Scapular, and I shall be ready to die.” Earlier in his Pontificate he had said of the Scapular-”Its nobility of origin, its venerable antiquity, its extraordinary spread in the Church, the spiritualizing effects produced by it, and the outstanding miracles worked in virtue of it, make the Scapular of Carmel commendable to a wonderful degree.”


This saintly Pontiff, often called the “Pope of the Eucharist” because he permitted children to receive Holy Communion, not only wore the Scapular-he was also a Carmelite Tertiary, a member of the Third Order of Carmel.


Pope Benedict XV ascended the throne of St. Peter in 1914, the year in which the terrible First World War broke out. His pleas for peace fell on deaf ears- but his stirring appeal for the wearing of the Scapular should be heard by every Catholic. He declared: “Let all of you have a common language and a common armour; the language, the sayings of the Gospel; the common armour, the Scapular of the Virgin of Carmel which you all ought to wear, and which enjoys the extraordinary privilege of protection even after death.”

The Pope of the Missions -Pius Xl.

Many of us remember Pope Pius XI who died in 1939. It was he who canonized the great Carmelite Saint, Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, and made her the Patroness of Missions throughout the world. But, long before he knew little Therese, he was devoted to the Scapular. He said: “I learned to love the Scapular Virgin in the arms of my mother.” He never tired of urging the faithful to wear the Scapular faithfully and so obtain the protection and promises of Our Lady.

Pope Pius XII, shared the devotion of his predecessors to the Scapular-a devotion which went back to his boyhood days. His very beautiful letter on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the Scapular is quoted in the introduction to this pamphlet.

A Sign and Pledge of Mary’s Protection
Could anyone have any doubts of the value and the sincerity of Our Lady’s promises when the Popes have so unhesitatingly accepted them? Pope Pius XII called the Scapular “the keepsake of the Queen herself, and the Garment of Mary.” His predecessors for 700 years loved it and trusted to its protection. We need have no fear of doing what they have done, and what they have so constantly urged us to do. Let us put it on then with confidence and love for our Heavenly Queen, knowing that in doing so we are honouring her, and that, in return, she will do all she has promised for us.

Consecration to Mary
When Our Lady appeared at Fatima in 1917, she reproached the world for its laxity and commanded us all to pray for sinners. She promised peace to the world if only the world would turn to her, and she requested the consecration of ourselves and of the world to her Immaculate Heart. In the last vision to the children of Fatima, on 13th October, 1917, the children saw Our Lady clad in the Carmelite habit and holding her Brown Scapular down towards the crowd. This was her last appearance. It was an eloquent sign of her desire that all should wear the Scapular in her honour, and as a sign of their consecration to her. Pope Pius XII no doubt had this in mind when he wrote these words in the Scapular letter: “May it (the Scapular) be a sign of their consecration to the Most Pure Heart of the Immaculate Virgin, which consecration we have so strongly recommended in recent times.”

Each and every one of us has the duty of taking part in the crusade to bring God back into the lives of men and of nations. Our Lady herself promised at Fatima that this would be effected by the consecration and devotion of the world to Her Immaculate Heart. She said: “If my requests are heard, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace.” Here then is your task, and the means are within your reach. By wearing the Scapular faithfully you are consecrating yourself to the Queen of Heaven in the way she desires, and in the way that the Holy Father has recommended. You will be doing your part towards winning peace for the world, and for the triumph of God and His Church over all the evil influences which today are attempting to overthrow it.

Are You Enrolled in the Scapular?
Most children are enrolled in the Brown Scapular when they make their first Holy Communion. If you were enrolled as a child and have perhaps not worn the Scapular for a long time, you do not have to be enrolled again. All that is necessary is to obtain a new Scapular and wear it. A new Scapular does not have to be blessed, but is simply worn immediately you get it.

If you have never been enrolled in the Brown Scapular, any priest with diocesan faculties in Australia and New Zealand may do so-parish priests and curates have the necessary authority, as well as all priests of Religious Orders who are authorized to hear confessions in the diocese. Any of them will gladly enrol you if you ask him.

The Scapular Medal
Because of the difficulty of wearing the cloth Scapular in very hot climates, Pope Pius X permitted the use of the Scapular Medal as a substitute. The medal must have the image of Our Lady on one side and that of the Sacred Heart on the other, and it must be blessed. For the actual enrolment in the Scapular a cloth Scapular must be used.

All except one of the spiritual favours and indulgences of the Scapular, including the Sabbatine Privilege, may be gained by wearing the Scapular Medal. In order to encourage people to continue wearing the cloth Scapular, Pope Pius X granted an indulgence of 500 days each time we kiss our cloth Scapular. This does not apply to the medal.

The cloth Scapular is to be preferred to the medal since it is the habit of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in miniature. When its place is taken by the medal much of the rich symbolism of the Scapular devotion is lost. It is true that the medal is more convenient to wear; but one should remember that little sacrifices are highly pleasing to Our Lady. It is recommended, therefore, that all who can should wear the cloth Scapular, and when that is inconvenient during the day and the medal is substituted, the cloth Scapular should be worn at least during the night.

Your Brown Scapular
Now that you have read about the Brown Scapular, can you fail to be impressed with its importance for yourself? Our Blessed Lady has made her promises for you; she promises that you will save your soul if you wear it faithfully, and that she will, after your death, shorten your time in Purgatory. To neglect such promises would be rash indeed! Take then Mary’s Scapular, wear it faithfully with love and with reverence in her honour-if you do, it will most surely be for you a pledge of her maternal protection in life, in death, and even after death!

Nihil Obstat:
B. O’CONNOR, Diocesan Censor
 JUSTIN D. SIMONDS, Archiepiscopus Melburnensis. April 1st, 1964