Why do you wear the brown scapular?

Why do you wear the brown scapular?

  1. To show devotion to Mother Mary

  2. Because one day, God willing, I might become a lay Carmelite and I’m practicing in advance.


It is a sign that I am a child of the Blessed Virgin.

Adding to the vocation of being a lay Carmelite because I love the Carmelite and contemplative spiritualities. Also, I want to show my devotion to the Blessed Virgin (and know that she’s praying for me!). I’ve been trying to find the scapular but it’s really rare here.

You can make your own. All it requires is two squares of brown cloth (It doesn’t have to be wool) permanently attached to two ribbons or cords to hang over you front and back. It is not required that they have any pictures or designs on them and in fact the most authentic scapular is either plain brown or might just have a little simple cross stitched on it.

Ah okay! That sounds awesome. I might make one soon. Thank you!

I wear one 24/7 to manifest my devotion to Our Lady and her Divine Son, to fulfill the request of Our Lady at Fatima, to remind myself of the constant presence of God in my life, to make my life a continuous prayer (this is the hard part), and to have some sort of connection to the Scapular Promise (“whosoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire”).

The latter, of course, presupposes that I will do my part to remain in the state of grace. Anyone can simply “wear a scapular”.

It is also a “secret devotion”; if you are dressed normally (and are a male), it will be very rare that other people would even see it. If they do, and if they ask about it, that’s a teachable moment.

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I secound @HomeschoolDad

I started wearing it after having a dream asking me to wear it. Before that I had no idea what a scapular was and it took a lot of research, then it was quite a quest because where I lived at the time, priests just didn’t knew/want to invest people with Scapulars because it kinda “fell out of fashion” in an European Capital such as Lisbon.

I actualy had to talk to the Rector of the Church of St Dominic https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igreja_de_São_Domingos_(Lisbon) to get invested, and even so, I had to bring a paper with the Rite in Portuguise because they didn’t want to look in the Rituale Romanum.

Currently, I am invested with the Five fold Scapular (Also had to translate the rite from English) and the St Michael Scapular, which was a genuine nightmare to get invested with, having been forced to translate the whole rite from Latin because most priests in Portugal don’t know Latin and will hostilize you if you show up with a Latin text…unless you got lucky and caught an Opus Dei priest.

Personally, I wear it as a link to the Carmelite Order, as I had discerned to join it when I was younger, and as a secret devotion (anyone can use one with a cord long enough to keep under their clothes.) I only learned about the Scapular Promise far long after I had been invested with it, haha!

It’s almost like, this days, it’s becoming one of those sacramentals which are becoming more and more hidden in Europe in general, like the Pardon Cross.

Actually, I started (or rather, resumed) wearing it over 20 years ago. We had just moved to a new city and I got a job downtown. Early on, in my morning commute I was almost in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence. I just assumed that the people in this city drove rationally with regard to traffic rules and safety. I assumed wrong. So after this brush with death, I realized that any one of us could die any moment (including in one’s sleep). And I began a practice of vigilant, defensive driving that I continue to this day.

Does anyone else pray the Little Office of the Virgin Mary? Its a traditional requirement of bearing the Brown Scapular right?

Wow…I would too if I had a driver’s licence.

Although I’ve reinforced my practice of wearing it after almost getting run over a while ago. Made me learn Parkour and make sure that, if I’m not using the Scapular, I have at least a blessed Scapular medal with me, since it’s kinda hard to use the miraculous medal at the same time haha.

To be honest, my first scapular was made by me with synthetic felt. Cloth ones weren’t sold there and the ones that were sold were so flimsy that actually seemed disrespectful to call that a scapular.

You can if you want but it’s no longer required. Carmelite spirituality nowadays suggests the regular praying of part of the Liturgy of the Hours instead.

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What does parkour have to do with wearing a scapular?

I suspect it actually has more to do with being able to dodge errant vehicles.

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Apropos of the brown scapular and the Sabbatine Privilege, the legitimacy of the latter is not based on the mediaeval legend, but on decrees of the Holy See as recently as 1908. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

"The [privilege] of [Pope John XXII], commonly [ vulgo ] known as the Sabbatine, which was approved and confirmed by [Clement VII] (“Ex clementi”, 12 August 1530), [St. Pius (“Superna dispositione”, 18 Feb., 1566), [Gregory XIII] (“Ut laudes”, 18 Sept., 1577), and others, and also by the Holy Roman General [Inquisition] under [Paul V] on 20 January, 1613, in a [Decree] to the following effect:

It is permitted to the [Carmelite Fathers] to preach that the [Christian] people may piously [believe] in the help which the [souls] of brothers and members, who have departed this life in [charity], have worn in life the [scapular], have ever observed [chastity], have recited the [Little Hours [of the Blessed Virgin]], or, if they cannot read, have observed the [fast] days of the [Church , and have [abstained] from flesh meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays (except when [Christmas] falls on such days), may derive after death — especially on Saturdays, the day [consecrated by the [Church] to the [Blessed Virgin]— through the unceasing [intercession] of [Mary], her [pious] petitions, her [merits], and her special protection.

With this explanation and interpretation, the Sabbatine privilege no longer presents any difficulties, and [Benedict XIV] adds his desire that the [faithful] should rely on it (Opera omnia, IX, [Venice], 1767, pp. 197 sqq.). Even apart from the [Bull] and the tradition or [legend] concerning the [apparition] and promise of the [Mother of God] the interpretation of the [Decree] cannot be contested.

The Sabbatine privilege thus consists essentially in the early liberation from [purgatory], through the special [intercession] and petition of [Mary], which she graciously exercises in favour of her [devoted] servants preferentially — as we may assume — on the day [consecrated to her, Saturday.

With the permission of a priest, five decades of the Rosary may be substituted for the reading of the Little Office.

What you have posted is does not comport with the current scapular catechesis (dated 2000) promulgated by the Carmelites, who are in charge of the Brown Scapular.

It may be read here: https://www.meditationsfromcarmel.com/content/scapular-catechesis

Regarding the Sabbatine Privilege, the catechesis explains that the Holy See instructed the Carmelites to stop mentioning it as it is without historical foundation. However, we are permitted to devoutly believe that Mary will intercede for us and help us. (Which is even better because she might not wait till the next Saturday to help us get to heaven.)

As for all this business about the Little Office, fasting, etc. it is also out of date with the current catechesis, which states in pertinent part the suggested ways of practicing Carmelite spirituality in connection with the Brown Scapular:

What is this Carmelite spirituality that one must practice in order to have an affiliation with the Carmelite Order?

The spirituality of the Carmelite Order is one of the preeminent spiritual traditions of the Catholic Church. It is difficult to reduce this spirituality to a few sentences. One who wears the scapular should certainly reflect upon the teachings of the great Carmelite saints, three of whom are doctors of the Church.

A few basic introductory principles of Carmelite spirituality would be

  1. frequent participation in the Mass and reception of Holy Communion;
  2. frequent reading of and meditation on the Word of God in Sacred Scripture;
  3. the regular praying of at least part of the Liturgy of the Hours;
  4. imitation of and devotion to Mary, the woman of faith who hears the Word of God and puts it into practice;
  5. the practice of the virtues, notably charity, chastity (according to one’s state of life), and obedience to the will of God.

One can certainly pray the Little Office and/or the Rosary as part of one’s “devotion to Mary” (point 4) but one is no longer required to pray the Little Office or ask a priest if one can substitute 5 decades of the Rosary, etc.

Bottom line is if one is going to use a sacramental representing the habit of the Carmelite Order, one should follow the current directives of the Order on how to best use it, and not be digging up old out-of-date stuff from centuries past. Unfortunately there is a metric ton of misinformation all over the web about the Brown Scapular.


Exactly what @whatistrue said. I trust in the scapular to help saving my soul. I trust parkour to keep my life so that the scapular won’t have to do that in a so near future, haha.

I thought you had to ask the priest for that! The Priest I asked for the substitution actually told me that he thought that 5 decades of the rosary was too much, so he had me reciting one hymn to Mary daily instead. I ended up doing both.

The Little Office of the Virgin Mary is a condition for the Sabbatine Privilege. The Congregation of Indulgences on July 4, 1908 stated:

“The privilege of Pope John XXII, commonly [ vulgo ] known as the Sabbatine, which was approved and confirmed by Clement VII (“Ex clementi”, August 12, 1530), St. Pius V (“Superna dispositione”, February 18, 1566), Gregory XIII (“Ut laudes”, September 15, 1577), and others, and also by the Holy Roman General Inquisition under Paul V on January 20, 1613, in a Decree to the following effect:

”It is permitted to the Carmelite Fathers to preach that the Christian people may piously believe in the help which the souls of brothers and members, who have departed this life in charity, have worn in life the scapular, have ever observed chastity, have recited the Little Hours [of the Blessed Virgin], or, if they cannot read, have observed the fast days of the Church, and have abstained from flesh meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays (except when Christmas falls on such days), may derive after death — especially on Saturdays, the day consecrated by the Church to the Blessed Virgin — through the unceasing intercession of Mary, her pious petitions, her merits, and her special protection.”

With this explanation and interpretation, the Sabbatine privilege no longer presents any difficulties, and adds his desire that the faithful should rely on it (Opera omnia, IX, Venice, 1767, pp. 197 sqq.).

The Sabbatine privilege thus consists essentially in the early liberation from purgatory through the special intercession and petition of Mary, which she graciously exercises in favor of her devoted servants preferentially—as we may assume—on the day consecrated to her, Saturday.

Hilgers, J. (1912). Sabbatine Privilege. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13289b.htm

Once again: The Carmelite Order, by order of the Holy See, no longer teaches the Sabbatine Privilege because the Holy See has determined there is no historical basis for it. The Little Office may be practiced as an optional devotion to Mary but is not required for anything, particularly a dubious “privilege” which the Holy See has told the order to stop promulgating.

The Catholic Encyclopedia on New Advent is over 100 years old and is not an authoritative or endorsed Church source. It is helpful for looking up Church history, but much of its content regarding things like Sabbatine Privilege, indulgences etc is out of date.

Please don’t propagate misinformation about the Brown Scapular. The official, current statement on the Sabbatine privilege, from the Carmelite Order itself, is in the official Scapular catechesis that I posted. Those who wish to practice the Brown Scapular devotion should read and follow that, and ignore all the out-of-date and just plain wrong information posted on the Web elsewhere.

We have had many Brown Scapular threads on this forum linking to the correct catechesis and we also have several lay Carmelites on this forum who have repeatedly posted and directed people to the correct catechesis. Why people keep posting other misinformation here is beyond me.

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