The Brown

The Scapular finds its roots in the tradition of the Order, which has seen in it a sign of Mary's motherly protection.


The Scapular is a sign of Mary

One of the signs in the tradition of the Church from many centuries ago is the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  It is a sign approved by the Church and accepted by the Carmelite Order as an external sign of love for Mary, of the trust her children have in her, and a commitment to live like her.scapular-with-stroke.png

The word "scapular" indicates a form of clothing which monks wore when they were working.  With the passage of time, people began to give symbolic meaning to it: the cross to be borne every day as disciples and followers of Christ. In some religious orders, such as the Carmelites, the Scapular came to symbolize the special dedication of Carmelites to Mary, the Mother of God, and to express trust in her motherly protection as well as the desire to be like her in their commitment to Christ and to others.  Thus it became a sign of Mary.


The Carmelite Scapular

Is not:

* a magical charm to protect you 
* an automatic guarantee of salvation
* an excuse for not living up to the demands of the Christian life

It is a sign:

* which has been approved by the Church for over 7 centuries;

* which stands for the decision to

   - follow Jesus like Mary:

   - be open to God and to His will

   - be guided by faith, hope and love

   - to pray at all times

   - to discover God present in all that happens around us.



In the Middle Ages, many Christians wanted to be associated with the orders founded at that time: Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians and Carmelites.  Groups of lay people began to emerge in associations such as confraternities and sodalities.

All the religious orders wanted to give to lay people a sign of affiliation and of participation in their spirit and apostolate.  That sign was often a part of their habit - a cloak, a cord, a scapular.

Among the Carmelites, the stage came when a smaller version of the Scapular was accepted as the sign of belonging to the Order and an expression of its spirituality.


The value and meaning of the Scapular

The Blessed Virgin Mary teaches us:

  • To be open to God, and to His will, shown to us in the events of our lives;
  • To listen to the Word of God in the Bible and in life; to believe in it and to put into practice its demands;
  • To pray at all times, as a way of discovering the presence of God in all that is happening around us;
  • To be involved with people, being attentive to their needs.

The Scapular finds its roots in the tradition of the Order, which has seen it it a sign of Mary's motherly protection.  It has therefore, a century's old spiritual meaning approved by the Church.

  • It stands for a commitment to follow JESUS, like Mary, the perfect model of all the disciples of Christ.
  • It leads us into the community of Carmel, which has existed in the Church for over eight centuries.
  • It reminds us of the example of the saints of Carmel, with whom we establish a close bond as brothers and sisters to one another.
  • It is an expression of our belief that we will meet God in eternal life, aided by the intercession and prayer of Mary.

Some practical rules

  • People are enrolled in the Scapular only once, by a priest or authorized person.
  • The Scapular can be replaced afterwards by a medal which has, on one side the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and on the other, the image of Mary.
  • The Scapular holds us to live as authentic Christians in line with the teaching of the Gospel, to receive the sacraments, to profess our special devotion to the Blessed Virgin, which should be expressed each day.