Among the many devotions to Mary that have developed through the ages, there is one of special significance, namely the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It has been sanctified by seven centuries of Christian tradition, approved by Church, and accepted within the Carmelite Order as an authentic expression of grateful love and filial devotion.
The word “scapular” means an apron or protective cloth worn by monks during manual work.
Traditionally it has been part of the habit of nearly all monastic orders. In course of time a symbolic meaning was attached to it. The scapular came to signify the following of Christ and became a sign of consecration and dedication to Him. Among Carmelites, the scapular – reduced in size – also represented dedication to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and an important sign and expression of association with the Order.
The importance of the brown scapular is that is an acknowledgement of Mary’s spiritual motherhood, the power of her universal intercession, and the constant teaching of the Church that those who honour Mary and model their lives on hers will never lack her assistance in life or in death. It is an acknowledgement of the significant role she plays in the continual unfolding of the saving mystery of Christ. It is a sign, too, of the spiritual bond that unites all who wear the brown scapular in her honour into the one great religious family of Carmel.