Name, meaning, and origin
The scapular (from Latin, scapula, shoulder) forms a part, and now the most important part, of the habit of the monastic orders. Other orders and numerous religious congregations (both male and female) have also adopted the scapular from the monastic orders. It is usually worn over the habit or soutane.
It consists essentially of a piece of cloth about the width of the breast from one shoulder to the other (i.e. about fourteen to eighteen inches), and of such a length that it reaches not quite to the feet in front and behind. There are also shorter forms of the scapular. In the middle is the opening for the head, the scapular thus hanging down from two narrow connecting segments resting on the shoulders. Originally the longitudinal segments of cloth were connected by cross segments passing under the arms — a form which exists even today. In former times also two segments of cloth hung over the shoulders, which they covered, and thus formed a cross with the longitudinal segments over the breast and back.
This monastic scapular, like the whole monastic habit and indeed the liturgical vestments of the priest, developed from the ordinary clothing of the laity. And, just as the stole is the special sign of the priestly dignity and power, the scapular is now the sign of the monk. In the West, in the case of Saint Benedict, the scapular was at first nothing else than a working garment or apron such as was then worn by agricultural labourers. Thus, in the Rule of Saint Benedict, it was expressly termed “scapulare propter opera”. From this developed the special monastic garment, to which a hood could be fastened at the back. In fact, the original scapular of the Dominican Order was so made that it acted also as a covering for the head, and thus as a hood. The scapular of the West corresponded to the analabus of the East.
Ceremony and symbolism
Monastic formulae of profession of the West from the ninth century make no mention of the investment with the scapular. It was only gradually that it became one of the important part of the monastic habit. Later, like the analabus, it was solemnly presented during the clothing and the symbolism of the scapular is emphasized in the formula used during this ceremony. Especially the analabus but also the scapular was often called simply crux (cross) on account of its shape, and symbolism introduced accordingly. It was thus natural to term the scapular jugum Christi (the yoke of Christ); it was also called scutum (shield), as it was laid over the head, which it originally covered and protected with one portion (from which the hood afterwards developed).
Small nighttime scapulars
In the rules of the religious it is expressly prescribed under penalties that even at night the scapular must be worn, e.g. in the case of the Servites and Carmelites. For night the Carmelites have now a special smaller scapular which, however, is still much larger than the so-called great scapular of the Third Order of Saint Francis; it measures about twenty inches in length and ten in width. In the Constitutions of the Carmelite Order of 1369 it is appointed that each candidate of the order must bring with him his bed and in addition: “habeat etiam cum rauba sua parvum scapulare cum tunica ad jacendum”. Perhaps the smaller scapular for the night is here hinted at or foreshadowed. Perhaps even the small scapular of the confraternity (that for the laity) may be suggested, since the reference is to persons coming from the world (novices) who should have this small scapular. It is likewise prescribed in the Constitutions of the Servites of 1257 “quod nullus accedat sine scapulari et tunica dormitum”. Again, after Saint Benedict had declared in his Rule XXII: “Vestiti dormiant et cincti cingulis aut funibus”, it was prescribed in the “Consuetudines sublacenses”: “Vestiti autem dormiant id est ad minus in una tunica et scapulari et cincti ut sint parati surgere” (Albers, “Consuet. monasticae”, II, 126). This scapular thus appears to have been a portion of the night clothing of monks.
The scapular of the third orders
To the first orders have been gradually added the second and third orders and the oblates, who receive the proper habit from the first orders.
Third order use of the full habit
Early in the Middle Ages numerous lay persons had already joined the Benedictine Order as oblates, these often received from the first order the entire monastic habit which they wore either constantly in the world or at least during Divine Service. It was regarded as a great grace and privilege to be able to die and be buried in the monastic habit, which was frequently given to the dying or placed on the deceased before burial.
In the revised statutes of the Oblates of the Benedictine Order, confirmed in 1891 and 1904, it is stated in conclusion: “The Oblates may be buried in the black habit of the order, with scapular and girdle, wherever the conditions allow the fulfilment of this pious wish”. In the first Rule of the Third Order of Saint Francis of 1221 (also in that of 1289), the investment is fairly exactly described, but there is no mention of a scapular. The first Rule of the Third Order of Saint Dominic in the first half of the thirteenth century prescribed likewise a formal and complete investment. Here also there is no mention of the scapular. As in the case of the other third orders this made its appearance later, until finally it became usual to wear the scapular under one’s ordinary clothing instead of the full habit of the order. By the Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars of 20 December, 1616, it was declared that the Bizzoche who lived in the houses of relatives (and thus quite without restraint in the world), might wear the tertiary habit, but without supriectum, sottogola, and patientia (i.e., without veil, pectorale, and scapular). Later, the wearing of the special habit of an order became unusual, and the constant wearing of such was regarded as a privilege.
Third order use of the large scapular
Gradually, however the most distinctive article of the monastic habit, the scapular, was given, and is in an ever smaller form. It has thus come to pass that the third orders for the laity, such as those of the Franciscans, Servites and Dominicans, wear today as their special badge and habit a “large” scapular, consisting essentially of two segments of woollen cloth (about four and a half inches long and two and three-eighths inches broad in the case of the Franciscan scapular, much longer and broader in the case of the Carmelite although no particular length or breadth is prescribed) connected with each other by two strings or bands. The best known scapular is that of the Third Order of Saint Francis, or, as it is simply called, the Scapular of Saint Francis; it is brown, grey, or black in colour and has (at least generally) on one of the woollen segments the image of Saint Francis and on the other that of the little church of Portiuncula. For these large scapulars the same general rules hold good as described in detail below in the case of the small scapulars. It is especially necessary that persons who desire to share in the indulgences and privileges of the third orders shall wear the scapulars constantly. However, the Congregation of Indulgences expressly declared on 30 April, 1885, that the wearing of the scapulars of smaller form and of the same size as those of the confraternities entitled one to gain the indulgences of the third order.
The small scapulars
The four oldest small scapulars
Like the large scapulars the first and oldest small scapulars originated to a certain extent in the real monastic scapular. Pious lay persons of either sex attached themselves to the Servites for instance; many of those who were in a position to do so attached themselves to the third order with vows, but in the case of many others either this was impossible or the idea of doing so had as yet not occurred to them. In this manner developed, shortly after the foundation of the Servite Order, the Confraternity of the Servi B. Mariae Virginis. Similarly originated the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel; that this existed in 1280 is proved by the still extant “Libro degli ordinamenti de la compagnia di Santa Maria del Carmine scritto nel 1280” (edited by Giulio Piccini at Bologna, 1867, in “Scelta di Curiosità letterarie”). The members of these confraternities were called the confratres and consores of the respective orders; they had special rules and participated in the spiritual goods of the order to which then belonged. It is probable also that many of those who could not be promoted to the third order or who were special benefactors of the first order received the habit of the order or a large scapular similar to that of the oblates, which they might wear when dying and in which they might be buried. It was only later and gradually that the idea developed of giving to everyone connected with the order the real scapular of the order in miniature as their badge to be always worn day and night over or under their ordinary clothing.
It was now that these confraternities developed into scapular confraternities in the modern sense. On account of the scapulars the faithful resorted ever more to these confraternities, especially after they had heard of the wonderful graces which members had received through the scapulars, and above all when the story of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin and of her promise to all who wore the Scapular of Mount Carmel faithfully until death became known. Consequently, the four oldest small scapulars are likewise the badges of four confraternities, attached respectively to the Carmelites, Servites, Trinitarians and Mercederiansy. Later on the Franciscans gave the members of their third order for the laity the large scapular, and founded also a Franciscan confraternity the members of which were given as their badge not a small scapular, but a girdle. The Dominicans likewise assigned to their third order the large scapular as its badge, and to their principal confraternity the rosary. Since 1903, however, there is a small scapular of Saint Dominic provided with an indulgence but connected with no confraternity (“Analecta eccl.”, 1904, p. 261). The Benedictines, on the other hand founded a special confraternity in the latter half of the thirteenth century, and gave to its members a small scapular of Saint Benedict. An attempt was later made to give the oblates of the Benedictines a larger scapular which could be worn constantly. However, the regulation which was already quoted from the new statutes of the Benedictine Oblates still remain in force.
The newer small scapulars
In the course of time other orders received the faculty of blessing small scapulars and investing the faithful with them, although such scapulars were not always connected with a confraternity.
Thus originated the Blue Scapular of the Theatines in the seventeenth century, in connexion with which a confraternity was not founded until the nineteenth century. The Fathers of the Precious Blood have a scapular and confraternity named after their order. Similarly the Camillians have the Confraternity and Scapular of Our Lady the Help of the Sick, and the Augustinians the Confraternity and Scapular of the Mother of Good Counsel, in which cases the scapular and confraternity are not inseparably united; finally the Capuchins have the Scapular of Saint Joseph without a corresponding confraternity. The Lazarists have the Red, and the Passionists the Black Scapular of the Passion. Under Leo XIII originated in Rome the Scapular Confraternity of Saint Michael the Archangel, which is attached not so much to an order as to the church in which it exists. Also under Leo XIII, in 1900, were approved the Scapular of the Sacred Heart, the Scapular of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (both without a corresponding confraternity), and the Scapular of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which originated in 1877. These complete the list of the seventeen known small scapulars.
The history of the origin of the first four small scapulars is still to a great extent obscure. It is probable that the revival of the religious life in the sixteenth century (the Counter-Reformation) gave the chief impetus to the development of the scapulars, as to other institutions and practices (e.g., confraternities and novenas). To assign an exact date to the origin of the first small scapular is still impossible; it appears, however, that the Carmelite scapular antedated all the others, as a prototype well worthy of imitation, and had its origin the above mentioned scapular prescribed for wearing at night. At the end of the sixteenth century the scapular was certainly widespread, as is clear from the information given by the Carmelite Joseph Falcone in “La Cronica Carmelitana”, a book which was published at Piacenza in 1595.
Before entering into further detail concerning the individual scapulars, we must give the general rules and regulations which apply to all the small scapulars.
General ecclesiastical regulations concerning the small scapulars
The small scapulars consist essentially of two quadrilateral segments of woolen cloth (about two and three-quarter inches long by two inches wide), connected with each other by two strings or bands in such a manner that, when the bands rest on the shoulders, the front segment rests before the breast, while the other hangs down an equal distance at the back. The two segments of cloth need not necessarily be equally large, various scapulars having the segment before the breast of the above dimensions while the segment at the back is much smaller. The material of these two essential parts of the scapular must be of woven wool; the strings or bands may be of any material, and of any one colour. The colour of the segments of woollen cloth depends on the colour of the monastic habit, which it to a certain extent represents, or on the mystery in honour of which it is worn. Here, however, it must be remarked that the so called Brown Scapular of the Carmelites may be black, and that the bands of the Red Scapular of the Passion must be of red wool. On either or both of the woollen segments may be sewn or embroidered becoming representations or other decorations (emblems, names etc.) of a different material. It is only in the case of the Red Scapular that the images are expressly prescribed.
Several scapulars may be attached to the same pair of strings or bands; each scapular must of course be complete, and must be attached to both bands. In many cases the five best-known of the early scapulars are attached to the same pair of bands; this combination is then known as the “fivefold scapular”. The five are: the Scapular of the Most Blessed Trinity, that of the Carmelites, of the Servites, of the Immaculate Conception, and the Red Scapular of the Passion. When the scapulars are thus joined together, the bands must be of red wool, as required by the Red Scapular; it is customary to wear the Red Scapular uppermost and that of the Most Blessed Trinity undermost, so that the images specially prescribed in the case of the Red, and the small red and blue cross on the Scapular of the Blessed Trinity, may be visible.
Only at the original reception of any scapular is either the blessing or the investment with such by an authorized priest necessary. When a person needs a new scapular, he can put on an unblessed one. If the investment with a scapular be inseparably connected with reception into a confraternity, the reception and enrollment must take place on the same occasion as the blessing and investment. To share in the indulgences and privileges of a scapular, one must wear it constantly; it may be worn over or under one’s clothing and may be laid aside for a short time, if necessary. Should one have ceased wearing the scapular for a long period (even through indifference), one gains none of the indulgences during this time, but, by simply resuming the scapular, one again participates in the indulgences, privileges, etc. Every scapular, which is not merely an object of private devotion (for there are also such) but is also provided with an indulgence, must be approved by the ecclesiastical authorities, and the formula of blessing must be sanctioned by the Congregation of Rites. In this article we speak only of scapulars approved by the Church.
The scapular medals
Since 1910 and the regulation of the Holy Office of 16 December of that year it is permitted to wear, instead of one or more of the small scapulars a single medal of metal. This medal must have on one side a representation of Jesus Christ with His Most Sacred Heart and on the other an image of the Mother of God. All persons who have been validly invested with a blessed woollen scapular may replace such by this medal. The medal must be blessed by a priest possessing the faculty to bless and invest with the scapular or scapulars which the medal is to replace. The faculties to bless these medals are subject to the same conditions and limitations as the faculties to bless and invest with the corresponding scapulars. If the medal is to be worn instead of a number of different scapulars, it must receive the blessing that would be attached to each of them, i.e. as many blessings as the number of scapulars it replaces. For each blessing a sign of the Cross suffices. This medal must also be worn constantly, either about the neck or in some other seemly manner, and with it may be attained all the indulgences and privileges of the small scapulars without exception. Only the small (not the large) scapulars may be validly replaced by such medals.
The individual small scapulars
The Scapular of the Most Blessed Trinity
The small white scapular, provided with the blue and red cross, is the badge of the members of the Confraternity of The Most Blessed Trinity. To Innocent III, who sanctioned the Order of the Trinitarians on 28 January 1198, an angel is said to have appeared wearing a white garment and on his breast a cross of which the transverse shaft was blue and the longitudinal shaft red. The Trinitarians were accordingly assigned this as their habit. When later the faithful sought to associate themselves more closely with their order in confraternities the Trinitarians gave them as their outward badge the scapular described above. The red and blue cross is essential only on the front segment of woollen cloth which hangs before the breast. Each person who joins the Confraternity of the Blessed Trinity must be invested with this scapular and must constantly wear it. The indulgences of this confraternity were last approved by a Decree of the Congregation of Indulgences of 13 August 1899. The General of the Trinitarians may communicate to other priests the faculty of receiving into the confraternity and of blessing and investing with the scapular.
The Scapular of our Lady of Ransom (Blessed Maria V. de Mercede redemptionis captivorum)
Like the Trinitarians, the Fathers of the Order of Our Lady of Mercy for the Ransom of Prisoners give the faithful a special scapular on their entering the confraternity erected by them. The order was founded by Saint Peter Nolasco (1256). The scapular is of white cloth, and bears on the front part, which hangs over the breast, the picture of Our Lady of Ransom. The other part consists simply of a smaller segment of white cloth. The summary of indulgences of the confraternity was last approved by the Congregation of Indulgences on 30 July, 1868 (Rescr. auth. S. C. Indulg., pp. 483 sqq., n. 36). The General of the Mercedarians communicates to other priests the faculty of receiving into the confraternity and of blessing and investing with the scapular. In the “Bullar. Ord. B.M.V.de Mercede” (Barcelona, 1696), p. 16, mention is made of a Constitution of Urban IV issued at Viterbo on 25 March, 1263 granting afresh to the laity who wear the scapular of the order (habitum nostrum) in the world many graces and indulgences. We do no more than record this circumstance exactly as it is related in the “Bullarium”. However, the encyclical could not have been issued from Viterbo on 25 March, 1263, for Urban IV was at that time in Orvieto.
The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Also known as the Brown Scapular, this is the best known, most celebrated, and most widespread of the small scapulars. It is spoken of as “the Scapular”, and the “feast of the Scapular” is that of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on 16 July. It is probably the oldest scapular and served as the prototype of the others. According to a pious tradition the Blessed Virgin appeared to Saint Simon Stock at Cambridge, England, on Sunday, 16 July, 1251. In answer to his appeal for help for his oppressed order, she appeared to him with a scapular in her hand and said: “Take, beloved son this scapular of thy order as a badge of my confraternity and for thee and all Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire. It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant”. This tradition, however, appears in such a precise form for the first time in 1642, when the words of the Blessed Virgin were given in a circular of Saint Simon Stock which he is said to have dictated to his companion secretary, and confessor, Peter Swanyngton. Although it has now been sufficiently shown that this testimony cannot be supported by historical documents, still its general content remains a reliable pious tradition; in other words, it is credible that Saint Simon Stock was assured in a supernatural manner of the special protection of the Blessed Virgin for his whole order and for all who should wear the Carmelite habit, that the Blessed Virgin also promised him to grant special aid, especially in the hour of death, to those who in holy fidelity wore this habit in her honour throughout life, so that they should be preserved from hell. And, even though there is here no direct reference to the members of the scapular confraternity, indirectly the promise is extended to all who from devotion to the Mother of God should wear her habit or badge, like true Christians, until death, and be thus as it were affiliated to the Carmelite Order.
Heretofore no authenticated testimony has been discovered proving that the small scapular was known from the second half of the thirteenth century and was given to the members of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. On the contrary there are many reasons for the view that the small scapular, as we now know it and in the form it has certainly had since the sixteenth century, is of much later origin. Zimmerman (Mon. hist. Carmelit.) and Saltet give very reasonable grounds for this view. In any case, the scapular was very widespread in European countries at the end of the sixteenth century, as is evident from “La cronica Carmelitana” of the Carmelite Joseph Falcone (Piacenza, 1595). In 1600 appeared at Palermo the “Giardino Carmelitano” of the Carmelite Egidio Leoindelicato da Sciacca (the approval is dated 1592). Towards the end the author gives after the formulas of benediction for the Fratelli and Sorelle della Compagnia della Madonna del Carmine (who receive the complete habit of the order) the formula for the blessing of the scapular for the Devoti della Compagnia Carmelitana (pp. 239 sqq.). This is the earliest form of benediction for the small scapular with which we are acquainted. It is also noteworthy that the formula for the sisters contains no reference to the scapular, while in that for the brothers there is a special blessing for the scapular.
Nevertheless, even should we admit that the small scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel originated even as late as the beginning of the sixteenth century, yet the above promise, which is designated the first privilege of the Carmelite Scapular, remains unimpaired. For this privilege declares nothing else than that all those who out of true veneration and love for the Blessed Virgin constantly wear the scapular in a spirit of fidelity and confiding faith, after they have been placed by the Church itself with this habit or badge under the special protection of the Mother of God, shall enjoy this special protection in the matter and crisis which most concerns them for time and eternity. Whoever, therefore, even though he be now a sinner, wears the badge of the Mother of God throughout life as her faithful servant, not presumptuously relying on the scapular as on a miraculous amulet, but trustfully confiding in the power and goodness of Mary, may securely hope that Mary will through her powerful and motherly intercession procure for him all the necessary graces for true conversion and for perseverance in good. Such is the meaning and importance of the first privilege of the Carmelite Scapular, which is wont to be expressed in the words: “whoever wears the scapular until death, will be preserved from hell”.
The second privilege of the scapular otherwise known as the Sabbatine privilege, may be briefly defined as meaning that Mary’s motherly assistance for her servants in the Scapular Confraternity will continue after death, and will find effect especially on Saturday (the day consecrated to her honour), provided that the members fulfill faithfully the not easy conditions necessary for obtaining this privilege.
As regards the external form of the scapular, it should consist of two segments of brown woollen cloth; black, however, is also admissible. This scapular usually bears on one side the image of our Lady of Mount Carmel, but neither this nor any other image is prescribed. The authentic list of indulgences, privileges, and indults of the Scapular Confraternity of Mount Carmel was last approved on 4 July, 1908, by the Congregation of Indulgences. It is noteworthy that this summary says nothing of the above-mentioned first privilege; what it says of the Sabbatine privilege is explained in the article on that subject. Concerning the often miraculous protection which Mary on account of this her badge has granted to pious members of the Scapular Confraternity in great perils of soul and body, there exist many records and reliable reports (some of recent times), to which it is impossible to refuse credence. Like the rosary, this scapular has become the badge of the devout Catholic and the true servant of Mary.
The Black Scapular of the Seven Dolours of Mary
Shortly after Alexander IV had sanctioned the Servite Order in 1255, many of the faithful of either sex associated themselves with the order in ecclesiastical confraternities in honour of the Seven Dolours of Mary. The members of this Confraternity of the Seven Dolours of Mary also wore in later times a scapular which, like the habit of the order, had to be of black cloth. In other respects nothing is prescribed concerning this scapular, although it usually bears on the front portion (over the breast) an image of the Mother of Sorrows. This scapular must likewise be worn constantly, if one wishes to gain the indulgences of the confraternity. The summary of indulgences was last approved by the Congregation of Indulgences on 7 March, 1888. Priests may obtain from the General of the Servites the faculty to receive the faithful into the confraternity and to bless and invest with the scapular.
The Blue Scapular of the Immaculate Conception
The Venerable Ursula Benicasa, foundress of the Order of Theatine Nuns, relates in her autobiography how the habit which she and her sisters were to wear in honour of the Immaculate Conception was revealed to her in a vision. When Jesus Christ had in return promised great favours for her order, she begged the same graces for all the faithful who should devoutly wear a small sky-blue scapular in honour of the Immaculate Conception and to secure the conversion of sinners. Her petition having been granted she herself disseminated such scapulars, after they had been blessed by a priest. This devotion bore such rich fruits that Clement X by the Brief of 30 January 1671, expressly granted the faculty to bless and invest with this scapular. Clement XI granted certain indulgences for the wearing of the scapular and succeeding popes increased the number. The summary was approved by the Congregation of Indulgences first in 1845 and finally on 26 August 1882. Only the blue woollen cloth is essential and necessary. The scapular usually bears on one portion a symbolization of the Immaculate Conception and on the other the name of Mary. In 1894 a confraternity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin and Mother of God Mary was erected in the Theatine Church of San Andrea della Valle at Rome. In the same year it was endowed with various indulgences, and then raised to an archconfraterity. According to the statutes of the confraternity admission is effected by the blessing and investing with the Blue Scapular, the presentation of the small chaplet of the Immaculate Conception, and the enrolling of the name in the register of the confraternity. However those who received the scapular before 18 September, 1894, are not obliged to have themselves enrolled in the confraternity. Similarly, priests who may have received the faculty only of blessing and investing with the scapular may continue to exercise it at present priests who receive this faculty from the General of the Theatines, receive simultaneously the faculty of admitting the faithful into the confraternity and must forward the names of those admitted to Rome or to some other canonically erected confraternity of this kind.
The Scapular of the Most Precious Blood
Priests who can receive the faithful into the Confraternity of the Precious Blood have also the faculty of blessing and investing these with this red scapular (or a red girdle). No special indulgences, however, are connected with the wearing of this scapular, and the wearing of it is left optional to the members of the confraternity. For the scapular it is prescribed only that it be of red cloth. The scapular as used in Rome bears on one portion a representation of the chalice with the Precious Blood adored by angels; the other segment which hangs at the back is simply a smaller portion of red cloth.
The Black Scapular of the Passion
It is related in the life of Saint Paul of the Cross that before founding the Congregation of the Passionists he received in apparitions the black habit of the order with the badge on the breast. Later, after the foundation of the congregation, the Passionist Fathers gave the faithful who wished to associate themselves more closely with their order a black scapular in honour of the Passion of Christ. This bears an exact replica of the badge of the Passion, namely a heart above a cross, on which is written “Jesu XPI Passio” and below “sit semper in cordibus nostris”. The other portion of the scapular hanging at the back, consists simply of a small segment of black woollen cloth. At various times indulgences have been granted to the faithful who wear this scapular, the Summary being last approved by the Congregation of Indulgences on 10 May 1877. The Superior-General of the Passionists communicates to other priests the faculty to bless and invest with the scapular.
The Red Scapular of the Passion
This scapular owes its origin to an apparition which Jesus Christ vouchsafed to a Sister of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul in 1846. Jesus Christ showed the sister a scapular, such as is worn, and promised to all who should wear it on every Friday a great increase of faith, hope, and charity. The apparition having been several times repeated, and finally in the following year reported to Pius IX, the latter sanctioned the scapular by a Rescript of 25 June 1847, and granted the Priests of the Mission (the Lazarists) the faculty of blessing the scapular and investing the faithful with it. He simultaneously granted many indulgences for the wearing of the scapular. The Superior-General of the Lazarists can communicate the faculty of blessing and investing with this scapular to other regular or secular priests. The scapular and bands must both be of red woollen material. On one woollen segment Jesus Christ is represented on the Cross; at the foot of the Cross are the implements of the Passion, and about it are the words: “Holy Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ Save us.” On the other are represented the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and above these a cross with the inscription: “Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, protect us.” These images also are essential to the scapular.
Scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of “Help of the Sick”
In the Church of Saint Magdalen at Rome, belonging to the Clerks Regular of Saint Camillus, a picture of the Blessed Virgin is specially venerated under the title of Help of the Sick. This picture is said to have been painted by the celebrated Dominican painter, Fra Angelico da Fiesole and before it Pope Saint Pius V is said to have prayed for the victory of the Christian fleet during the battle of Lepanto. This picture suggested to a brother of the Order of Saint Camillus. Ferdinand Vicari, the idea of founding a confraternity under the invocation of the Mother of God for the poor sick. He succeeded in his plan, the confraternity being canonically erected in the above-mentioned church on 15 June 1860. At their reception, the members are given a scapular of black woollen cloth; the portion over the breast is a copy of the above picture of the Mother of God and at her feet Saints Joseph and Camillus, the two other patrons of the sick and of the confraternity. On the small segment at the back is sewed a little red cloth cross; although this receives separate and special blessing for the sick, it does not constitute an essential portion of the scapular. The scapular is the badge of the confraternity, which received its indulgences from Pius IX and Leo XIII in 1860 and 1883; these were last ratified by a Rescript of the Congregation of Indulgences, 21 July 1883.
The Scapular of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
This scapular originated with the Sons of the lmmaculate Heart of Mary in 1877, and was sanctioned and endowed with indulgences by Pius IX on 11 May of that year. The scapular was later approved by the Congregation of Rites in 1907, and its form more exactly decreed; in the same year it was assigned new indulgences. The superior general of the above congregation can communicate to other priests the faculty of blessing and investing with this scapular. The scapular is of white woollen cloth: on the portion which hangs before the breast is represented the burning heart of Mary, out of which grows a lily; the heart is encircled by a wreath of roses and pierced with a sword.
The Scapular of Saint Michael the Archangel
While this scapular originated under Pius IX, who gave it his blessing, it was first formally approved under Leo XIII. In 1878 a confraternity in honour of Saint Michael the Archangel was founded in the Church of Saint Eustachius at Rome, and in the following year in the Church of Sant’ Angelo in Pescheria (Sancti Angeli in foro Piscium). In 1880 Leo XIII raised it to the rank of an arch-confraternity, which was expressly called the Archconfraternity of the Scapular of Saint Michael. At first (1878) the confraternity received indulgences from Leo XIII for seven years; the summary of indulgences of the Pious Association of Saint Michael was last approved for ever by a Decree of the Congregation of Indulgences, 28 March, 1903. The scapular is so associated with the confraternity that each member is invested with it. The formula for blessing and investing with the scapular, given in the Rituale Romanum was first approved by the Congregation of Rites on 23 August, 1883. In outward form this scapular is different from the others, inasmuch as the two segments of cloth have the form of a small shield; of these one is made of blue and the other of black cloth, and of the bands likewise one is blue and the other black. Both portions of the scapular bear the well-known representation of the Archangel Saint Michael slaying the dragon and the inscription “Quis ut Deus”.
The Scapular of Saint Benedict
To associate the faithful, who were not Oblates of Saint Benedict, in a certain measure with the Benedictine Order, a confraternity of Saint Benedict was founded in the second half of the nineteenth century, at first by the English Congregation. Reception is effected by the enrollment of the members and investment with a small blessed scapular of black cloth. One of the segments usually has a picture of Saint Benedict but no picture is necessary. The confraternity was endowed with indulgences in 1882 and 1883.
The Scapular of the Mother of Good Counsel
At the petition of the Augustinian monks this scapular was approved and endowed with indulgences by Leo XIII in a Decree of the Congregation of Rites of 19-21 December, 1893. The faculty of blessing and investing with the scapular belongs primarily to the Augustinian monks, but the General of the Augustinians communicates this privilege to other priests. The two segments of cloth must be of white wool, though the bands are usually also white, this is not essential. The segment of cloth which hangs before the breast bears the image of the Mother of Good Counsel (after the well-known picture in the Augustinian church at Genazzano) with the inscription: “Mother of Good Counsel”. On the other segment the papal arms (i.e., the tiara and the keys of Peter) with the inscription: “Son, follow her counsel. Leo III”.
The Scapular of Saint Joseph
This scapular was approved for the Diocese of Verona by a Decree of the Congregation of Rites of 8 July, 1880. On 15 April, 1898, Leo XIII granted to the General of the Capuchins the faculty of blessing and investing the faithful everywhere with this scapular. From the Diocese of St-Claude in France this scapular (at first white) was spread by the Capuchins; but it was later decreed that the shape and colour of that used in Verona should be used. Nevertheless, owing to a mistake, a slight difference crept in, and it was expressly declared later by the Congregation of Indulgences that the scapular might be lawfully retained in the form now customary among the Capuchins. In this form, the two segments of woollen cloth are of a violet colour; to these are sewed two pieces of gold-coloured material (linen, cotton, etc.) of equal size. On the gold-coloured segment before the breast is the representation of Saint Joseph with the Child Jesus on his right arm and the staff of lilies in his left hand, while underneath is the inscription: “St. Joseph, patron of the Church, pray for us.” On the other gold-coloured segment is represented the papal crown, the tiara, above it the dove as the symbol of the Holy Ghost, and underneath it a cross and the keys of Peter with the inscription: “Spiritus Domini ductor eius” (The Spirit of the Lord is his Guide). The bands are white. This scapular having been approved by the Congregation of Rites on 18 April 1893, various indulgences were granted for all the faithful who wear it by a Rescript of the Congregation of Indulgences, 8 June 1893.
The Scapular of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
The constant wearing of a small picture of the Heart of Jesus was already recommended by Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque, who herself made and distributed them. They were made of a small piece of white woollen cloth, on which was embroidered or sewed in red a picture of the Heart of Jesus. This badge was especially employed during the plague at Marseilles as a protection against the pest. During the terrors of the French Revolution it also served as a safeguard for the pious faithful. Although this badge is often called a scapular, it is not really such; consequently the conditions governing scapulars do not apply to it. It was only in 1872 that an indulgence was granted by Pius IX for the wearing of this badge. A real scapular of the Sacred Heart was first introduced in France in 1876 when it was approved by Decree of the Congregation of Rites and a special formula for blessing and investing with it appointed 4 April, 1900. This scapular consists of two segments of white woollen cloth connected in the usual manner by two strings; one segment bears the usual representation of the Sacred Heart, while the other bears that of the Blessed Virgin under the title of Mother of Mercy. By a Brief of 10 July, Leo XIII granted many indulgences for the pious wearing of this scapular.
The Scapular of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary
This is very similar to the Red Scapular of the Passion. Like the Scapulars of the Heart of Jesus, it was approved at the request of the Archbishop of Marseilles, by a Decree of the Congregation of Rites, 4 April 1900. The two segments of cloth are of white wool, one bears the image of the Heart of Jesus with the well-known emblems and also the Heart of Mary pierced with a sword, underneath being the implements of the Passion; the other segment has a small cross of red material. Indulgences were granted for the wearing of this scapular in 1901, and increased by Pius X in 1906. The scapular owes its origin and spread to the Congregation of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, founded at Antwerp in 1873.
The Scapular of Saint Dominic
On 23 November 1903, this scapular was endowed by Pius X with an indulgence of 300 days in favour of all the faithful who wear it, as often as they devoutly kiss it. The scapular is thereby also approved. It is made of white wool, but the bands, as in the case of so many other scapulars may be of another material. No image is prescribed for the scapular, but the scapular given in the house of the Dominican General at Rome has on one side the picture of Saint Dominic kneeling before the crucifix and on the other that of B. Reginald receiving the habit from the hands of the Mother of God. The General of the Dominicans communicates to other priests the faculty of blessing and investing with the scapular.
The Scapular of the Holy Face
This scapular bears on a piece of white cloth the well-known picture connected with Saint Veronica. This scapular is worn by the members of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face. The members can, however, wear the picture on a medal or cross, in place of the scapular. The wearing of this picture is simply one of the pious practices of the archconfraternity, without any special indulgences.
- Joseph Hilgers. “Scapular”. . CatholicSaints.Info. 20 April 2014. Web. 24 February 2017. <>