“Whosoever dies clothed in this [Scapular] shall never suffer eternal fire. It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger, a pledge of peace and of My special protection until the end of the ages”
– Our Lady of Mount Carmel to St. Simon Stock, 1251
On July 16, 1251, Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to St. Simon Stock, the Superior General of the Carmelite Order, and gave him the Brown Scapular. Assuring him of Her special protection over the Order, She directed him to institute a confraternity of the faithful dedicated to Her service and wearing Her designated habit, whose members would likewise experience Her unfailing solicitude for their salvation.
(For a brief history of the Brown Scapular see the section beneath this article.)
A Sign of Salvation and Protection
Wearing the Brown Scapular is a sign of predestination, just as daily recitation of the Holy Rosary is a sign of predestination. The Scapular represents Our Lady’s protection and Her care for us. She promised to St. Simon Stock: “It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger, and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.”
The Scapular worn by the laity is two pieces of brown wool joined by ribbon, string, cord or chain. It is Our Lady’s garment, and by putting on the Scapular we place ourselves under Her mantle. The Scapular also represents the filial love, obedience and honor we have for our Blessed Mother and how we completely entrust ourselves to Her like ‘little children’ (cf. Mark 10:14-15).
Two great founders of Religious Orders, St. Alphonsus Liguori (Redemptorists) and St. John Bosco (Salesians), were devoted to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and both wore Her Brown Scapular. When they died, each was buried in his priestly vestments and Scapular. Many years later, their graves were opened, the bodies and sacred vestments in which they were buried were dust, but the Brown Scapular which each was wearing was perfectly intact.
For more information about the Brown Scapular, see The Brown Scapular: A Sign of Salvation and Protection, “Miracles of the Brown Scapular” (pp. 8-20), “Necessity of Wearing the Scapular” (pp. 20-21), and “Scapular Facts” (pp. 27-28).
We now consider this feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in light of Our Lady’s last apparition at Fatima. We invite you to add other considerations in our comment section below.
October 13, 1917 and Our Lady of Mount Carmel
In Her prior apparition of September 13, Our Lady announced to the three children the coming of Our Lady of Mount Carmel the following month.
“In October, Our Lord will come as well as Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus in order to bless the world.”
On October 13, 1917, while the crowd was witnessing the Miracle of the Sun, the three children were graced to see three successive visions in the sky, the last of which was Our Lady of Mount Carmel holding out the Brown Scapular. The Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary are represented in this vision.
Out of all Her possible titles and honors Our Lady chose to appear as Our Lady of Mount Carmel during the Great Miracle of the Sun. Surely this is connected to how this Miracle foreshadows the great chastisements which will befall our disobedient world that has turned its back on God. On that fateful day, the pilgrims at Fatima were horrified, believing the world was coming to an end as the sun hurtled towards the earth. Yet, this was prevented by Our Lady.
The Brown Scapular has long been associated with Our Lady saving souls from falling into eternal hellfire and lifting souls out of the agonizing flames of Purgatory. Surely there was thus no better title under which She could therefore appear at Fatima. God has vowed that He wishes to save the world, but will only do so through worldwide devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He has extended many means of salvation to mankind, but we have rejected them. Now He offers us the last and most powerful remedy, His own Mother. How true it is that at this point in history, only She can help us.
God has therefore given Her two most powerful sacramentals far greater efficacy than ever before in this “Fatima Time”. Yes, the times are very evil, but God responds by making an ever-greater superabundance of grace available to mankind. Terrible trials may befall us, but then a correspondingly greater torrent of grace, merit and honor unto all eternity likewise await the faithful soul!
Let us therefore take up our Rosary, a potent spiritual sword, and do battle with the powers and principalities that prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. As Sister Lucia testified, there is no problem in the world, no matter how great, that faithful recitation of the holy Rosary can’t solve. And let us clothe ourselves in Her Scapular, an unconquerable spiritual shield, by which we resist the fiery darts and wiles of that Ancient Dragon who seeks our eternal perdition. Our Lady has guaranteed that if we are faithful to wearing the Scapular we will be saved. And by the order of grace, She is all-powerful with God!
Our Lady of Fatima and the Brown Scapular
At the end of the 1940’s, while conversing with three Carmelite priests, Sister Lucia recalled that Our Lady wished that devotion of the Brown Scapular be propagated. Holding the Scapular in Her hands during Her last public apparition was to urge us to wear it, quite like in the preceding apparitions in which the presence of Her Rosary clearly manifested the wishes of Her Heart.
On October 15, 1950, Sister Lucia also explained this to Father Howard Rafferty when he questioned her in the name of the Father General of the Carmelites: “Our Lady held the Scapular in Her hands because She wants us all to wear it.”
As our founder, Father Nicholas Gruner, stated:
“Now, this mantle of the Carmelites symbolizes Our Lady’s spiritual maternity. Because the mantle is worn over the shoulder, therefore the mantle of Our Lady covers all Her children in Her spiritual womb. So, we entrust ourselves to Her Immaculate Heart, as Pope Pius XII tells us to do. The Scapular of Mount Carmel is the sign of our personal consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lady promises us that it will protect us from danger, that it will be a sign of peace and a pledge of salvation, that whoever dies wearing this Scapular will not suffer eternal fire.”
Today, more than 700 years after giving us the Brown Scapular, Our Lady’s promised protection is more urgently needed than ever.
Let us remain steadfast in this beautiful devotion, showing ourselves to be ever beneath Our Lady’s mantle, particularly in these dark days which precede the promised Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart. May Our Lady hasten the day in which Her prophecy and promise to St. Dominic are fulfilled: “One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, I will save the world!”
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!
Brief History of the Brown Scapular
The Scapular devotion dates from the time of the prophet Elias (Third Book of Kings). The people were then adoring Baal (the devil). To bring the people back to God, Elias prayed for a drought, which the people would understand as a sign of Divine displeasure.
After it did not rain for three and a half years, Elias went up to Mount Carmel (in Palestine) and asked God to send rain. After praying for a time, he sent his companion to see if rain was coming. His companion went down the mountain side, looked to the sea, then returned to Elias and reported that he saw no rain. So Elias prayed again, then sent his companion down to the sea, and again, there was no rain. He prayed six times. Each time, there was no rain.
Then Elias prayed a seventh time. This time when the man went down the mountain, he saw a little cloud coming out of the sea in the shape of a foot. And this cloud grew until it covered the whole land. And from that one cloud, there came the rain.
Now Elias understood this cloud represented God’s Mother-to-come, the Blessed Virgin Mary. The cloud was in the shape of a foot, and he knew the prophecy of Genesis, that the Woman would crush the serpent’s head with Her foot.
Saint Bonaventure tells us that every page of the Old Testament talks about the Blessed Virgin in one way or another. Holy people have told us that there are two other reasons why this cloud represented the Blessed Virgin:
- Because the sea was a salt-water sea, but the cloud was fresh water. The cloud represented Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception. Our Lady arose out of sinful humanity, but She alone was conceived without sin;
- The cloud also represented the Blessed Virgin as Mediatrix of All Graces. The rainwater represents grace. The rainwater that fell on all the parched land came from one cloud. It came through the Mediatrix of All Graces.
Elias, being a prophet, decided to commemorate this event and he founded a community of hermits on Mount Carmel to prepare for the coming of the Savior and His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
It was to the successor of these hermits of Mount Carmel that Our Lady appeared centuries later. The community had just been transferred in 1241 from Mount Carmel in Palestine to Aylesford, England. Saint Simon Stock was made Superior General of the Order for men in 1245.
Weighed down by all the external persecutions and internal dissensions at that time, the 90-year-old Saint Simon Stock had retired to his cell alone. On July 16, 1251 he poured out his heart to the Blessed Virgin Mary – the Flower of Mount Carmel – asking Her to help him and all the Carmelites.
Then, accompanied by a multitude of angels, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, holding in Her hands the Scapular of the Order, and said:
“This shall be to you and to all Carmelites a privilege that anyone who dies clothed in this [Scapular] shall not suffer eternal fire.”
The full Carmelite Scapular is made of brown wool, is about 14 inches wide and is worn down to the knees in the front and the back.
Saint Simon established the Confraternity of Mount Carmel shortly after this apparition and thus the promise of eternal salvation was extended to Carmelite Confraternity members who died wearing the Carmelite Scapular. Pope Urban IV, in 1262, extended special blessings to these Confraternity members.
Already by 1276 AD the abbreviated form of the Scapular … existed as can be seen by the still-preserved small Scapular of Pope Gregory X, who died that year and was buried with his Scapular on. Five hundred and fifty-four years later, it was found intact in 1830 in his tomb and is still preserved in the Arezzo (Italy) museum today. There are historical records of Carmelite Confraternity meetings of lay people in Florence, Italy in 1280 AD.
 This section is based on The Brown Scapular: A Sign of Salvation and Protection, pp. 6-8.
 Whereas all three children witnessed the first vision, apparently Lucia alone witnessed the last two. Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima, Vol. I: Science and the Facts, (Buffalo, Immaculate Heart Publications, 1989), p. 306.
 This section taken from The Brown Scapular: A Sign of Salvation and Protection, pp. 4-6.
 The full text of Our Lady’s statement is: “Receive, My beloved son, this habit of your order: this shall be to you and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire. It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger, a pledge of peace and of My special protection until the end of the ages” (“The Brown Scapular Is an Essential Part of the Fatima Message”).
 “The Brown Scapular … then became part of the Carmelite habit, and beyond being devoutly worn by its friars, nuns and tertiaries, was also extended to the faithful in general, who upon being invested or enrolled in the Scapular, became members of its Confraternity associated with the Order. The use of the powerful sacramental, and devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel in general, spread with the growth of the Carmelites throughout the world. …
“But the great promise of salvation is not the only benefit, or important part of wearing the Scapular. Wearing the Scapular is both an assurance and sign of Our Lady’s maternal protection and love for us, as well as a sign of our love for Her. By devoutly and habitually wearing the Scapular, close to our heart, we assure the Mother of God of our constant love, our veneration, our trust and hope in Her at every moment.
“As the Scapular is the main part of the Carmelite habit, it is a reminder to us of our need to pray and do penance, in a spirit of reparation and union with God, as the religious of Carmel do.” (see “The Brown Scapular Is an Essential Part of the Fatima Message”).