Why I Wear A Scapular


On this day, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Tradition tells us that Our Lady presented St. Simon Stock with the brown scapular in 1251. Just what is a scapular? According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy:

The scapular is an external sign of the filial relationship established between the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Mount Carmel, and the faithful who entrust themselves totally to her protection, who have recourse to her maternal intercession, who are mindful of the primacy of the spiritual life and the need for prayer.

Even though I am a cradle Catholic and have always gone to Mass regularly, I used to think that people who wore scapulars were a little flaky. Rather than just be “normal” like me, I believed that those “scapular wearers” were oddballs who embraced apparitions and phony visions of the Blessed Mother. Why can’t they just be “regular” Catholics, like me instead of believing in something superstitious like the scapular? Most of all, I would never wear a scapular because someone might see it and think I’m weird.

How do I feel now? Every morning I kiss my brown scapular and say to Our Lady, “Blessed Mother, I am all thine and all that I have is thine!” I then put on the powerful sacramental knowing that Mary will help me to stay close to Jesus as I do battle with the forces of evil (and don’t kid yourself…they are all around us!) that threaten me constantly. I wear Our Lady’s scapular because it is a sacramental which better disposes me to receive the grace that I need to be a better Christian. I am proud that I wear the scapular and I hope people see it for what it is, a visible sign of my love for Mary and my trust in her intercessory powers. Most importantly, I wear the scapular because I am a comfort-loving, cowardly, self-centered sinner and I desperately need Mary’s help to keep me close to her Son and help me remain on the road that will lead to Eternal Life in Heaven.

That’s why I wear a scapular!

This entry was posted in Blessed Mother, Catholic Life, Catholicism, devotions, Marian, Mary, Mother of God, sacramentals. Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to Why I Wear A Scapular

  1. LaurieR says:

    ‘I am a comfort-loving, cowardly, self-centered sinner and I desperately need Mary?s help to keep me close to her Son and help me remain on the road that will lead to Eternal Life in Heaven.’

    There may be a run at the Scapular store because so many of us (myself especially) fall into this category.

    • Gary Zimak says:

      Thanks for your comment, Laurie. Devotion to Our Lady has made a HUGE difference in my life. Although I’m still far from perfect, I can only imagine just how bad I’d be if she wasn’t helping me!

    • Walt says:

      Wonderful comments Gary, many thanks. I wear my scapular at all times. It is, to me, a shield as mighty as that of St Michael. And, lets face it, to not take advantage of the wonderful graces and promises made to Saint Stock with respect to the wearing of the scapular from Our Lady, would be absolutely crazy.

      • Gary Zimak says:

        Thanks for your comments, Walt. I agree that it would be crazy to not take advantages of the wonderful graces and promises attached to the wearing of the scapular. Unfortunately, I was “crazy” for many years and didn’t wear it. Now that I’ve come to my senses, I want to share the news with as many people as possible!

        God Bless,

    • marie rose says:

      I wear a brown scapular because Our Blessed Mother offered it to us and She wants us to wear it, also because I know She is a powerful and loving Mother and will never abandon us.

  2. Jonathon Jaszcz says:

    I was a cradel Catholic, being Baptized as an infant however my Mother has a chip on her shoulder with The Church and all “organised religion” so I was never allowed to got to Catechism or any other Church related teachings. She taught me that Jesus was a great man, but she saw no reason to be a part of a group. I spent my younger years in an Irish/Italian neighborhhood being left behind by my friends going to Catechism. As I grew into adulthood I explored many different religions from old Irish traditions to Budhism. At 33 years old I finally went through RCIA and received my First Communion and Confirmation last year. My Parish Priest, Fr. John Kirk urges us to wear the scapular and to understand our relationship with The Blessed Mother and I am proud to were my Brown Scapular and when someone questions it I am more than happy to share the joy that I feel by wearing it. I know that some of them think I’m weird, but that certainly has never stopped me anything.

    • Gary Zimak says:

      Good for you, Jonathon! Accepting Mary as my mother has brought me closer to Jesus than I ever thought possible. I wish that I wasn’t so stubborn and did it many years earlier!

  3. ann says:

    I was drawn to ask my husband to wear a scapular before he deployed to Afghanistan. I had the same misgivings towards the practice, but things kept on nagging at me to ask him despite my lack of understanding. When we went to the Catholic store to pick one out, he looked at me and asked in a surprised tone “well, aren’t you going to get one too?” to which I sheepishly responded, “you’re the one with the dangerous job…” realizing how silly my response was, I picked on out, and we were able to have them blessed by Fr that same day, the day before he left. He was KIA 2 months later. Though his rosary is lost somewhere over there, they did return his scapular, the cord from which I can often pick out around his neck in the photos from when he was over there. Nothing compares to the consolation of knowing that his final moments were in the arms of Our Blessed Mother, and I am forever grateful to Our Lady of Mt Carmel for this gift.

    • Gary Zimak says:

      What a touching story, Ann…thank you for sharing it! I’ll keep you, your family and the soul of your husband in my prayers.

      • Melissa says:

        OMG Ann, very sorry for you and your family. Will be praying for you and yours. You made me cry but thats ok i needed too. It makes me think that every time i send a box of rosaries over to our troops that the blessed mother will protect and guide. God bless and keep your head high.

    • Robert Morgan says:

      As a surgeon in Iraq, I saw several young men whose only connection identifiable to the Church was the scapular they wore. Fr. Simpson, the Navy chaplain in Al Asad with us, was always there and the men were always Annointed. Sometimes during surgery but always before death.

      Of note, several young men wearing scapulars had ID tags not identifying them as Catholic. This came up enough that I can only encourage young folks entering the military (and the more senior folks who counsel them) LIST YOUR FAITH AS CATHOLIC! Check your dog tags and make sure the priest knows who you are. There is a role call in Heaven, don’t be AWOL for the formation.

  4. Robyn says:

    I have heard many conflicting things about the brown scapular. I was enrolled at a huge youth retreat that I attended with my kids as a chaperone in a large group ceremony – and I honestly cannot remember how it was all explained, and what they told us we were supposed to do. I’ve been told that you are to pray the rosary daily but only if it is commuted to that, and that you’re really supposed to pray the Little Office daily if you’re wearing the brown scapular. I’m so confused that I just don’t wear it, for fear that I’d be wearing it unworthily. Should I go ahead? Should I get enrolled again? The traditions are sometimes confusing. (I’m a lifetime Catholic)

    • Gary Zimak says:

      Good question, Robyn. According to the book, The Scapular of Mount Carmel, for the main promise of the scapular (that of being preserved from hell), there are no special conditions other than receiving the scapular with the right intention and wearing it at the moment of death. To benefit from the Sabbatine Privilege (delivery from purgatory on the Saturday following death, the Little Office (or the rosary, as prescribed by a priest) is one of the requirements. In a blog early today, the very reliable Father Z., however, concluded that the Sabbatine Privilege is most likely no longer in effect. You may want to check with a priest, but I don’t think you’d be wearing the scapular unworthy if you did it with the right intention.

      • Elizabeth D says:

        Actually, the “Sabbatine” privelege of release from Purgatory on the Saturday following one’s death probably never existed at all but according to the Catholic Encyclopedia was from an apocryphal (fake) papal bull. see: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13289b.htm That page also explains in what sense one can believe in the “Sabbatine privilege”. However, it is important to know that the form and terms of the Brown Scapular devotion has changed since that was written, in 1996 the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments approved a new doctrinal statement, catechesis and ritual for the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which can be purchased in booklet form from ICS Publications. The doctrinal part can be read at this link: http://thereseocds.org/uploads/DoctrinalStatement.pdf

        That link is the correct information on how it stands in the Church today. Older information or informtion from Fatima sites is NOT accurate (I have never, ever seen a Fatima site that teaches the current correct information and ritual for the brown scapular) A significant change is that now if the person is not joining an actual canonically established confraternity group the ritual does NOT refer to the confraternity. However, where such a group exists its members can earn plenary indulgences on several different Carmelite feast days. Other scapular wearers, however, cannot. Also, particular prayers are not mandated but you are required to practice Carmelite spirituality at least in a minimal form of devotion to the Eucharist and to Our Lady.

        St John of the Cross and St Teresa are my favorite saints and I always wear my scapular to be close to the Carmelite Order and under the loving protection and gudiance of Our Lady in her role as patroness of the Order.

        • Gary Zimak says:

          Thanks for that helpful information, Elizabeth! I remember that doctrinal statement some time ago, but couldn’t remember where. I really appreciate the assist!

        • Hold on a minute. The New Advent article, which is a bit old, states that scholars today reject the idea that the Sabbatine privilege ever existed. Should this surprise us? Further, the article concludes, in part, with these words:

          “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.”

          This is essentially the Sabbatine privilege without the promise that the Virgin descends into Purgatory on the Saturday after one’s death to liberate the soul.

          The Sabbatine privilege was never a “Get out of Jail for Free” card. One must adhere to some rather difficult conditions, including the daily (that’s DAILY) recitation of the Little Office (now substituted with the rosary, if desired), have a special devotion to the Madonna, and a few other things. If one were to fulfill these things during a lifetime, it is not unreasonable to assume that one would at least be on the road to sainthood. Keep in mind the words of St. Alphonsus of Liguori: ?Habitual sin and prayer cannot co-exist. Either we will stop sinning or stop praying.? Let’s not be too quick to throw a tradition under the bus because of the conclusions of some “scholars.”

      • veronica says:

        The Sabbatine Promise is MARY’S Promise. & I can tell you – on the Saturday after my mother’s death (at 95 years of age), I went to the vigil Mass. After receiving Holy Communion, as I returned to the pew, I saw my mother in the arms of Jesus. They were both esctatically happy. Jesus showed me that my mother was safe with Him. Mom wore Mary’s Brown Scapular through life & at her death. Here was the Promise fulfilled. Trust Mary; not theological quibbling.

  5. Dcnsteve says:

    My luggage is tagged, so it is obvious to whom it belongs. With the brown scapular, I am tagged so that I remember to whom I belong.

    Mary, our Mother, always leads us to her son.

  6. Bill Kovacs says:

    “I wouldn’t be caught dead without it!”

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  8. Tom Morris sr. says:

    Why not go to the source for your questions? The Carmelites at sisters@sistersofcarmel.com I know you have to be enrolled which is a short prayer a priest can say while having your scapular blessed. And when it wears out you can replace it and the blessings go with it. When and who changed the rules? You must wear the scapular at all times. I’m not sure we have to say the little office, but I say the Rosary everyday. The scapular must be the size of the one on your picture and can’t be replaced by the scapular medal, only in tropical areas because it would not last. I t must be made of 100% wool. MAY THE LORD BE WITH YOU ALWAYS

    • Michael Brown says:

      I was told the same thing you said, when I was enrolled. I also was told in grade school by a nun that a person who dies wearing a scapular will not suffer eternal fire.

      • Gary Zimak says:

        I need all the help I can get, Michael. If Our Lady wants to help me get to Heaven, I’m more than willing to take her up on the offer 🙂

      • Charles Earley says:

        If you are the Michael Brown of Sprit Daily…You may remember, I wrote you about my mother who died in Jan. of this year. I believe the promises of the brown scapular are real.
        Mom always wore the brown scapular, after her fall and up to here death. Even though she could not say the rosary, because of brain trauma and a stroke her last year or so. I tried to say it for her, especially those lsat few days.

        As she was dieing I asked Jesus to let me know somehow that she was in heaven.

        She died early on a Saturday morning, and within a few days I begain to wake up each morning with two different Christmas Carols already in my head, playing away. For the life of me I can not remember them both.

        Hark the Herald Angels Sing, is the only one I remember and after the funeral I did a web search for the lyrics. The last verse is as follows:

        Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
        Hail the Son of Righteousness!
        Light and life to all He brings
        Ris’n with healing in His wings
        Mild He lays His glory by
        Born that man no more may die
        Born to raise the sons of earth
        Born to give them second birth
        Hark! The herald angels sing
        “Glory to the newborn King!”
        This has given me peach and verification.

        I too would never be caught dead with out my scapular and have even placeed a similar statement in my living will.
        God Bless;

  9. this is my faith to mother mary,because she is my mother.god bless you all.

  10. Catherine Alexander says:

    Scapular medals may be worn in place of a scapular, so long as they are blessed and worn in the same manner.


    • Andy says:

      The Scapular medal is really only to be used in places of High heat and humidity which can fray the woolen Scapular, and if it is worn just as a fashion choice, that would be wrong. There are zero miracles attributed to The Scapular Medal, and countless ones attributed to the Wool Scapular. I agree that if i was living in a hot humid place that could really fray a wool scapular, I would think about a medal one, but that would be the Only way I would ever think about it.

  11. Catherine Alexander says:

    Be advised that even many Carmelites, unfortunately, are confused about the brown scapular. This web site has the best information about the scapular; it is current and provides sources:


    It points out that the scapular is no longer required to be wool, and is most appropriately plain, unadorned brown cloth. It should NOT be labeled with the so-called “Sabbatine Privilege.” In 1619 the Holy See admonished the Carmelite order not to preach this doctrine, because it was determined that it had no historical foundation and the decree which established it was therefore also unfounded.

  12. Louis says:

    Whenever I am asked by someone who sees my scapular “what is that you are wearing?” or “Why are you wearing that?” – I answer them quickly and with a big smile – “It’s my FIRE INSURANCE” I tell them! And this will often start a friendly conversation which frequently leads to one more person wearing the Scapular of Our Lady.

    • Gary Zimak says:

      Excellent point, Louis! Thank you for sharing it and thank you for promoting devotion to Our Lady!

  13. Mark Marcia says:

    Have you considered wearing your scapular at night also?
    I’m afraid I might die at night from a heart attack or something.I wear my scapular everywhere and all the time except in the shower.

    • Gary Zimak says:

      That’s a very good practice, Mark, and I admire your love and devotion for our Blessed Mother!

    • Andy says:

      Mark, yes, you should wear it at night. You are absolutely correct, people do die in their sleep. When i got introduced to The Scapular 5 years ago, My Friend explained the start of it, and i have read everything I can on it since. I also now do the same thing my friend does, I shower in a scapular, and change it for a dry one when i get out. Rose Scapular in California makes scapulars that JPII wore, and they also make them with a shorter string, which is my favorite one now, and very easy to sleep in:)

  14. THERESA says:

    Wearing the brown scapular brings me so much joy, comfort, and peace.

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  17. Bob says:

    I have been wearing my brown scapular for more then 20 years now. I can not go any where without it. Another thing that I do is to Consecrate myself to Jesus thru Mary by using the St Louis De Montforts method each year. There is a 33 day novena that is said before a feast day of Mary. You should also read True Devotion to Mary by St Louis De Monfort which explains this devotion. You will find that giving everything to Mary will bring you closer to Our Lord, His Father, the Holy Spirit and all the Saints. Mary shows you her family. They become your family too.

  18. Barb says:

    For reliable information on the Sabbatine privilege please go to this site.

    For the woman above who questioned the Papal Bull and called it fake, please do your research a little more thoroughly. This is totally untrue. But I just need to add that I agree that this is not a “get out of jail free card”. It requires a lifestyle choice and a devotion to Our Blessed Mother Mary. Yet, do not be deceived the devil hates the scapular and will try to keep people from wearing it. Please arm yourselves with this most wonderful garment and shield of love in your life! God bless.

  19. Sue Sidey says:

    Thank you so much for your article, Gary! My wearing the scapular has led me to join the discalced carmelites secular and I have just received in Feb. the woolen scapular that one wears on the outside (about a foot sqaure) during carmelite days of prayer, retreat, funerals, etc. The idea of tagging my suitcase with a scapular is such a good idea, as She, my Mother and Sister, will protect not only my person but also my travels in Sept.! Praised be Jesus Christ!

  20. Suzette says:

    Thank you Gary for your article. I am trying to let people know the wonderful graces that come through the scapulars including the healing power of the Green scapular. I have recently witnessed two healings with the help of the green scapular. The first was my mother , who contacted strep A then went into septic shock and was on life support for 27 days. On Holy Thursday of this year the Doctors were preparing us to remove her from life support as there was nothing more they could do. I chose to believe that God would heal her and thanked God for her healing continously during her illness. (plus read every bible verse on healing, prayed to alot of saints and of course our beautiful Mother Mary) On Good Friday she woke up! Close to the 3 o`clock hour! She is almost back to her old self with no serious complications ( she was on dialysis daily for and was supposed to have brain damage as well as lung issues) Praise God. Also my girlfriend who is an Anglican, was diagnosed last year with 2 rare types of cancer with a O % chance of survival the first year wore a green scapular during her chemo as well as never feared or doubted God`s healing graces. I am so glad she accepted and wore the scapular as she in the past had been critical of us Catholics and our devoution to Mary. She recently purchased 2 scapulars and gave them to cancer patients. Spread the word. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful Mother. God bless Suzette, Ontario, Canada

  21. March 23, 2010


    My good friend Kieth was cooking Thursday night when he had a vision… He said saw Brandon laying in his casket . He said God told him to call me immediately and tell Pam and I what he saw and was said. God told him what he saw was not the son Norman and Pam raised, that the son Norman and Pam raised was in the palm of his hand…Last night Kieth told me the vision of Thursday night and what he saw in person was exactly the same…
    Everything in the BIBLE and especially the GOSPELS is TRUE.
    THE MERCY OF GOD can be witnessed by this: PAM ,BRETT and I do not have the human stength to bear this.
    THE MERCY OF GOD IS THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO OVERCME UNBEARABLE BURDENS. (ever say God’s Mercy made me strong , gave me strength).
    CALL ON THE TRINITY,ASK GOD THE FATHER who art in Heaven, GOD JESUS ,OUR REDEEMER , TO ASK THE FATHER to send GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT ,OUR COMFORTER to help us in our time of trial and need.
    He will ask you for your will. When you give your will all the POWER IN HEAVEN IS AVAILABLE TO YOU HERE ON EARTH………….

  22. John says:

    I am a weak but loving son of Mother Mary and have been wearing the scapular day and night, showers too, since 1981. Over the years, several people have inquired about it but my most fond memory is of a young boy of about 8 years in age asking if I had an extra. I gladly gave him one and explained about the scapular and Mary’s love for us. About three years or so later my wife got a call from the boy’s mother explaining that her son had finally worn out the scapular and wanted another one. Having moved from the town, we provided her a source and although this happened about 15 years ago, I still think of it with great thankfulness to our Blessed Mother.

  23. There is just something about the scapular that is hard to explain. I have worn mine for about 4 years and it is faded and threadbare but it doesn’t make a difference. If I forget to put it on I am LOST. So fortunate to know that the Carmelite Monks of Wyoming are nearby. The Love of God and Our Mother is obvious and there for all.

  24. Bernardine DeFrancesco says:

    I wouldn’t be without it! When my oldest daughter received First Communion, the class was inducted into the Brown Scapular. Father explained it as wearing the Blessed Mother’s dress and that while wearing it, they belonged to her in a very special way. I also had a 3 and 2 year old at the time. My 3 year was experiencing night screams and would scream uncontrollably from about 2 to 4 AM. I could not wake her.The doctor was of no help and said she would grow out of it. He even insinuated that I wanted her drugged to sleep. So after giving it a lot of thought, I asked my priest if I could have my 3 and 2 year old wear the scapular. He said there was no age limit. So after explaining to my daughter what it was and why I wanted her to wear it and asking her if she would agree to it, she said she would wear Blessed Mother’s dress. The 2 year old had no objections. At night when she was screaming I held her and put the scapular she was wearing in her hand and asked Blessed Mother to comfort her. A few days went by and soon she was calming down and within a few short weeks, the night screams were gone. My 2 year old also understood what it was, wore hers like a trooper. There were my 3 little girls with brown scapulars hanging out of T-shirts, bathing suits, sun suits and I knew they were safe in the arms of the Blessed Mother. They still are. People asked and we simply told them it was Blessed Mother’s dress. We also said the rosary at night and when my 2 year old landed in the hospital and I was saying the rosary by her crib, she reached out for it and when I handed it to her, she took it and started saying “Mary had a little lamb” repeatedly. My kids aren’t angels, but they know who their Mom really is. I couldn’t have raised them with the brown scapular and rosary. I don’t know how I would have managed without Her.



  26. Jana says:

    I read through most all of the comments. I loved the article. I am allergic to wool. I wear a miraculous medal and a crucifix. Seriously, does that mean Our Lady would ignore me at the moment of my death? Really?

    We must be very careful to not make the devotion OUR focus. Many have pointed out that to LIVE the life of a Catholic is the most important resolution. Our Lady will always be there to intercede for us……IF we love God, follow the Commandments, and live a life trying to remain in a state of grace. The scapular will always be an important positive action in the goal to reach Heaven. Don’t be stressed about all the minor devotions. The best devotion is from the Baltimore Catechism: “How do you get to share God’s love in Heaven?” Answer: “We must know, love, and serve God in this world.”

  27. Daniel says:

    Good article. I enjoyed reading the comments. God bless you all.

  28. My wearing of the Brown Scapular is as constant as the beating of my heart. With it I am clothed with the mantle of Our Lady’s love and intercession and with her in the constant company of her Son Jesus Christ. It has become for me an important sacramental, a reminder of not only Our Blessed Mother’s love but also of Christ’s love for each and every one of us in the redemptive grace of His Passion and Death by which we have received reconciliation with God the Father. Praise and Glory be to the Holy Trinity now and forever! Amen

  29. Janine Taylor Bryant says:

    My mother introduced me to Mary. As a child, my mom was given an Our Lady of Grace statue by a Catholic friend–but upon walking home she realized that my Southern Baptist Grandmother would not permit her to keep it; so she hid it in a rosebush in the back yard! Every day she would play with it and venerate Mary in her way. She gave birth to me in a hospital named for Mary, and, although a protestant, she was buried with her rosary. I have worn the scapular (brown) for thirty five years…as well as saying the rosary…and it is hard to imagine life without it! I love it and to hear and read the word of God, and to recieve Jesus in the Sacrament of The Altar. I look forward to that great Eucharistic feast someday in heaven as I approach my golden years. My mom had the right idea..she followed her heart to Mary. And a Catholic priest and friend was kind enough to enroll me in the Scapular–even though I happen to be a Lutheran. We recently celebrated the birthday of Mary in September…and now we are looking toward the birthday of her Son and God’s. Christmas was mom’s favourite time of the year…and I am blessed to remember all about her…and Mary does the same for all of us with her scapular I suppose. She puts her arm around us and says: “Now let me tell you about my Jesus! His birth…His circumcision….His Passion and Ressurection! In the end…..Mother’s always know what our hearts are asking. Thank you God for sharing your Theotokos with us…as we recieve our Immanuel…God with us.

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