Monday, February 8, 2010

The Brown Scapular

Although, “the long-standing tradition of the Church has approved this vision as an acceptable cult, it does not authenticate it as a historical experience. “[1].  In fact, it really becomes hard to prove that the Blessed Virgin Mary has indeed appeared to St. Simon Stock due to the absence of official documentations that can prove that the event has indeed taken place.

Father Richard Copsey, O.Carm. wrote an outstanding article, astonishingly erudite actually, for the Journal of Ecclesiastical History on this question.  In which he pointed out these several problems.  The first is the historicity of Simon himself.  The second is the account of the vision, as explained here.

Nevertheless, one cannot deny the fact that the brown scapular has indeed played a great role in the development of the Carmelite Order, since embedded within its history is the pious tradition of the Brown Scapular and the supposed privilege gained by its wearer as promised by Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to St. Simon Stock believed to have taken placed at Cambridge, England, on July 16, 1251.

St. Simon Stock is an English Man, who's birthplace was traditionally been given as Kent, in which sometime in the 13th Century joined the Carmelite Order, most probably after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.[2] He became the general of the order in 1247.

As an answer to his appeal for help at a time when the Carmelite Order is in peril of being suppressed, it is believed that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Him and gave him the brown scapular as sign of the Carmelite Order.

The earliest and most authentic descriptions of the scapular vision can be found in the Viridarium, the Sanctology of Carmelite Saints composed by John Grossi sometime in the 14th Century [3] in which the following were written:

"The ninth [Saint] was St. Simon of England, the 6th General of the Order.  He continually pleaded with the most glorious Mother of God to grant some special privilege to the Order of Carmelites, which enjoys the special title of the Virgin. He prayed devoutly:

Flower of Carmel, fruitful vine,
Splendor of heaven, mother divine--None like to thee;
Mother of meekness, spotless virgin,
To the Carmelite a favor impart,
Star of the Sea.

Surrounded by a multitude of angels, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, holding in her blessed hands the scapular of the Order. She said:

"This shall be privilege for you and for all Carmelites, that whoever dies clothed in this shall not suffer eternal fire; rather, he shall be saved."[4]

Even though that the visions cannot be seen as a historical events, it does not mean that they are without meaning. [5]

Simply put, for us Secular Carmelites, it is our belief that we enjoy Mary’s special protection, with “the brown scapular serving as an outward symbol of membership to the Carmelite Order and a sign of Mary as both our mother and model.” [6]


[2] OCDS Philippines - Formation Support Manual Vol. 1 Aspirancy page 93
[3] OCDS Philippines - Formation Support Manual Vol. 1 Aspirancy page 96
[4] OCDS Philippines - Formation Support Manual Vol. 1 Aspirancy page 96
[6] OCDS Constitution 4.36-b

With excerpts from:

OCDS Philippines - Formation Support Manual
Vol. 1 Aspirancy Lesson 6, Birth of the Order 2

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Articles written in this blog, unless otherwise sourced, is the sole opinion of the writer and does not carry nor imply the opinion of the Entire order of Carmel, the Vatican nor the Universal Church. With this, all my personal writings, I hereby subject to correction by the teaching Authority of the Catholic Church, the keeper and Authority on Divine Revelations.

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