Is it ok for a scapular to not be covered by clothing?

I recently started wearing a Brown Scapular. I know that it is worn under the clothing because the wool is supposed to itch your skin as a minor penance. I’ve found, though, that with some women’s clothing (particularly dresses) it tends to stick out in the back. On the one hand, I am wondering if this should be a sign to cover up. However, usually the clothing is not immodest, it just might have a bit of a low back. On the other hand, when my clothing does not fully cover it, I feel like I should be proud to let it show. It can certainly make for an opportunity to talk about my faith. That said, I also know that it is a private devotion and I’m not sure if is something that should be shown.


Is that true? Hm…I cut the strings off because they’re uncomfortable, and pin it to the inside of my clothes along with a medal of St. Michael. I hate anything around my neck and my necklines are probably a little low for most conservative folks because of that.

I don’t know the answer to your question, but I know that I’ve seen people wear it on the outside of their clothing…or it was sticking out of their clothing. My grandmother used to pin it to the inside of her clothes, but she never said anything about it being uncomfortable. :shrug: I’m sure others will chime in to answer you :slight_smile:

Carmelites wear their scapulars outside their habit as they were originally designed. Small-scapular wearers are free to wear them outside their clothes or inside.

As for the itching and penance, that was not part of the wool scapular’s intention. It’s a welcome bonus probably.

I’d rather not pin a scapular because then, well, technically, it would no longer be a scapular.

I read somewhere that the scapular should be worn around the shoulders but not pinned… if it’s uncomfortable, maybe that could be a penance? :slight_smile: I don’t know.

I don’t see much of a problem though I’ve seen many secular people ask what’s that big square rectangular material your wearing under your shirt.

No problems answering them.

I never pinned mined wearing a t-shirt then the large scapular, the the shirt.

Of course it goes without saying that it shows more if your shirt is lighter in color.


I have a scapular that is very long so I find I can tuck the string part out past my shoulders so you cant see the string with any of my shirts/dresses. The idea of it being wool is suppose to be a little irritating as a small form of penance. Sort of like how people use to wear hair shirts. Anyways it is suppose to be worn inside the shirt, around the neck. I know a girl who puts it in her bra so that she doesn’t have the same problem your talking about, I however would just try to find one that is really long so you can pull the necklace towards each side of the shoulders, does that make sense? It’s hard to explain.

I pin the cords of the scapular to my bra straps. I try to get long-corded ones so it doesn’t ‘ride up’ and show around the neck.

If you cut off the cords of the scapular (the strings), it wouldn’t be a scapular.

I used to be a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCDS), so I wore a larger version of the scapular, though I wore it outside rather than under my clothes.

*The idea of it being wool is suppose to be a little irritating as a small form of penance. *

That sounds like an urban legend to me. I was enrolled in the brown scapular at age 6 and have never heard that. I have heard that wool can be itchy but the wool at the back of the scapular is so fine that it is unlikely to have ever been a problem.

I think that pinning the scapular to one’s bra straps is a good idea.

Do you have a Carmelite source for the penance thing?

Right. Besides, if you look at the Carmelite habit, the scapular is always outside. Which makes sense given the size. You can also catch pictures of confraternity members wearing six inch or so scapulars outside the clothing. As the scapular is by design an exterior garment, we can’t say it must be worn inside clothing.

When I was enrolled and in the material that came with it, I was instructed to wear it under my clothing… only.

as far as it traveling, I sewed medals to the front and back pieces to keep it from going too far… large St Benedict on the back, St Michael and a Crucifix on the front.

do not understand the question

why would you think it matters if you wear it over or under clothing?

actually if it is required as part of a religious habit (the full length fabric version) it is usually worn on top of the habit. If you are not a religious required to wear the scapular, wear it as you like.

I have the official blessing and enroll ment here from the book of blessings and it says nothing whatever about wearing it inside or outside. if you are preparing for enrollment, simply ask when you receive it.

I have the official blessing and enroll ment here from the book of blessings and it says nothing whatever about wearing it inside or outside.

“The Scapular is made from wool and should lay against your skin as a small discomfort since wool is itchy. This small penance is to remind us that we are sinners and we must pray for others who are out of grace and have no one to pray for them. The Scapular is an affirmation of our devotion and servant of Our Lady of Sorrow for the purpose of saving souls and to console the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of Mary” here is website

"Third, the wearing of the Brown Scapular, especially on hot and sticky days, can also be penitential, thereby serving as a remedy for concupiscence. There are times when we can think of the scapular as a “mini-hair shirt.” "

“This last remark is especially true when it is a question of using instruments of discipline: hair-shirts, chains or disciplines. The hair-shirt is a piece of material made of hemp either in the form of a girdle or of (a scapular.”)

“The styles worn by members for the clergy did not change much throughout the Middle Ages. Monks wore tunics that were tied at the waist with a leather belt, and over this wore hooded robes made of wool. In addition, some monks wore shirts made of goat hair under their tunics. These were worn as a symbol of penance and to resist sexual temptation. Bishops, on the other hand, were very wealthy and wore the fashions that were popular in the royal court.”

“A scapular is a sleeveless outer garment falling from the shoulders. Use of the scapular originated in the monastic orders of priests and monks, forming part of the habit or clothing of the members. Essentially the scapular is a special garment worn as a sign of love and devotion to Mary the Immaculate Queen. With the passage of time lay people were permitted to wear the scapular as symbolic members of a monastic order, with the attendant spiritual benefits attached to such membership. Over the years the scapular, at least for lay people, became much reduced in size to but small pieces of wool cloth suspended front and back.”

I was told by a Priest that the scapulars are made of wool because that is what the carmelite robe was made of, and that because it was itchy to lay members it should be a small form of penance in the same way it was penance for the saints who wore hair shirts. Since strict forms of penance today are only to approved with a spiritual director, we can take part in a small hair shirt like wearing the brown scapular (being itchy) as a small hair shirt. Of course, you can do whatever you want, wear it however you want, but the promise is associated with wearing it all the time, except for removal for a short period of time IF necessary and enrollment, and living a pious life which means PRAYER AND PENANCE. So I don’t see how me saying it should be viewed as a small form of penance should be bothersome to people or seem totally irrational.

The Scapular must be worn over the shoulders in such a manner that one part hangs in
front of the body and the other in back.

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