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The Scapular/Way of the Cross

A scapular consists of two rectangular cloths attached by a string. It hangs over the shoulders, with one cloth in the front and one in the back. Religious orders wear large scapulars, but the ones made for laypeople are much smaller. The most popular of all the scapulars is the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

In 1251, St. Simon Stock of the Carmelite Order, was visited by Mary, who said of the Brown Scapular during this vision: "This shall be to you and all Carmelites a privilege, that anyone who dies clothed in this (scapular) shall not suffer eternal fire; and if wearing it they die, they shall be saved". This is to be properly interpreted to mean that one who will die wearing the scapular will receive the grace of final perseverence, or the grace of conversion, and we can be assured that those who died wearing the scapular died in the state of grace. The scapular is merely a sign that one died in the state of grace according to the ordinary means. It does not mean that the scapular itself placed the wearer in the state of grace. The scapular of Venerable Francis of Yepes once fell off, and upon retrieving it, the devil appeared to him and said, "Take off that habit, which snatches so many souls from us". Francis pressed the devil, and he revealed the three things that tormented him the most–first, the name of Jesus; second, the name of Mary; and third, the Brown Scapular.

Another promise that has been attached to the Brown Scapular is the Sabbatine Privilege. Based on a revelation given to Pope John XXII, and revealed in a bull in 1322, those who wear the scapular faithfully, practice chastity according to their state in life, and recite daily the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary (which any priest can commute to the daily rosary of five decades), will be released from purgatory on the first Saturday after death.

Besides these promises, the Scapular is a special sign of Mary's love and protection. It is an outward sign of our inward devotion to Mary, who said, "To be clothed in it (the scapular) means you are continually thinking of me, and I in turn, am always thinking of you".

To derive the benefits of wearing the Scapular, one must wear a scapular made completely of lamb's wool, and must not be substituted for the scapular medal without sufficient reason. The scapular must be brown and rectangular, although the pictures that are placed on some scapulars (an image of St. Simon Stock receiving the scapular from Mary, and the inscription of Mary's promise to scapular wearers) are not necessary. The scapular must be worn properly over the shoulders, and most importantly, one must be enrolled in the Scapular. This can be done by any priest or Carmelite, and after the first scapular has been blessed during enrollment, future scapulars do not need to be blessed. This enrollment is for life, and allows the person to share in the benefits of the good works of the Carmelite Order.

Miracles of the Scapular–During the Spanish Revolution, seven atheists were captured and visited by a priest. They agreed to each wear a brown scapular in exchange for alcohol and cigarettes. Soon thereafter, six of them came to the priest for confession. The seventh refused, and went to the firing squad wearing his scapular. Upon examining the dead bodies, six of the men had their scapulars on, but the seventh, who refused to go to confession, was lying dead without his scapular, which was miraculously found on the ground, fifty yards away. In Germany, a fire broke out among a row of houses. The owner of one of the houses hung a scapular on the main door of the house. That house was the only one in the entire area that remained untouched by the fire. A priest went off to celebrate mass one day. However, on the way, he remembered that he had forgotten his scapular, and returned to get it even though he knew he would be late. During the Mass, a man pulled out a gun and shot the priest in the back. To everyone's amazement, the priest went on saying the Mass. Upon disrobing after Mass, a bullet was seen adhering to the priest's scapular. St. John Bosco was buried with his scapular, and when his body was exhumed decades later, among the decomposing clothes was found his scapular, perfectly intact.

There are many other types of scapulars. Another popular scapular is the Green Scapular of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Green Scapular consists of an image of Mary on one side, and a picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the other side, with the words "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death" surrounding it. The Green Scapular was given to a French nun, Sister Justine, by Mary herself, in 1840, for the conversion of sinners. No enrollment is necessary. The scapular simply has to be blessed by a priest, and can be worn or carried on one's person. It may also be secretly placed on another's person or in his possession. In addition, the prayer found on the scapular should be prayed at least once a day, with confidence.

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