Under Our Lady’s Mantle

When I was growing up, there was a Carmelite monastery in my diocese. My mother brought me with her for the special Mass and blessing of the roses several times on the Feast of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Years later, a Secular Carmelite gave us a beautiful painting of Our Lady of Mount Carmel which hung there. It depicts the Blessed Mother holding the Baby Jesus with great tenderness, while He is caressing her face. Both Virgin and Child have the same aqua colored eyes that seem to look at you entreatingly, beckoning for you to enter their love. As I’m saying my nightly prayers, I’ve developed the habit of gazing on this image for a few moments and entrusting everything to them. Draped on the right hand of Our Lady, which is also cradling the Baby Jesus’, is a Brown Scapular.

While on a World Youth Day pilgrimage in 1997, I was blessed to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Aylesford, England. This marks the site where Our Lady appeared to Saint Simon Stock on July 16, 1251. He was eighty years old and, after praying for years for a sign from Mary and help for the Carmelite Order, was discouraged. Fr. Albert H. Dolan, O. Carm recounts that:

“The bountiful heart of God’s Mother could not resist the prayers and tears of the General of the Order called by Her name, and towards morning just as the dawn was breaking, She appeared to the Holy man. The sight was entrancing, for the Queen of Heaven was surrounded by a great company of angels of dazzling brightness. It was only with great difficulty, then, that Simon could gaze on the glorious vision. There, in answer to his prayer, She presented him with a garment, formed after the manner of a scapular, saying ‘This shall be a privilege for thee and all Carmelites; whosoever shall die wearing it shall not suffer everlasting fire.’” (Scapular Facts)

The Carmelite monks made the great gift of the Scapular known to people worldwide and Scapular Confraternities were organized. Any Catholic priest is able to enroll the faithful in the Scapular and many are enrolled at their First Holy Communion. It is only necessary to be enrolled once and the Scapular medal may be worn instead of the cloth Scapular. Our Lady asked us to remember certain conditions when wearing the Scapular, which include observing chastity according to one’s state in life and offering prayers or sacrifices, as detailed here

Pope Saint John XXII saw a vision of Our Lady on March 3, 1322. In a papal letter, he wrote that Mother Mary promised to those who wear the Brown Scapular: “I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death and whomsoever I shall find in Purgatory, I shall free, so that I may lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting.”

In his new book How They Love Mary, Fr. Edward Looney writes of miracles that occurred through Our Lady’s Scapular. For example, when Blessed Solanus Casey almost drowned:

He was somehow pulled up, even though he was being plunged under. Was it the hand of Mary, in whose garment he was clothed that resisted the force of being pulled? Such a conclusion might not be far-fetched as there are many stories available to us pertaining to the scapular’s power. Homes have been saved from fire. A scapular dropped in a body of water calmed the waters which seemed to bring about an almost certain death. A bullet became lodged in the scapular thus preventing death. Given miraculous phenomena in the life of believers, it is quite plausible that Solanus is right, the scapular did indeed save his life. So often we are unaware of the supernatural going on around us.

Many conversions also occur when a non-Catholic, or fallen away Catholic, wears the scapular.

Saint Peter Claver (1580-1654) spent forty years of his missionary life ministering to forgotten slaves with boundless charity. Inspired by the Eucharist, he organized catechists, administered the Sacraments and enrolled the slaves in the Scapular. By God’s grace, his prayers, penances and indefatigable labors were responsible for over 300,000 converts. Saint Peter was beatified on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel!

The Scapular is not a good luck charm. A blessed Scapular is a sign of our baptismal consecration and Our Lady’s protective care. Her mantle reminds us of what we believe in our hearts. When we take refuge in the arms of Mary, she teaches us to cherish the Christ Child within our souls and caress Him with her love. Wear the scapular and give one to your family members and loved ones to wear. Wear it with love and with confidence in your Heavenly Mother.

Act of Consecration to Our Lady of Mount Carmel

O Mary, Queen and Mother of Carmel, I come today to consecrate myself to you, for my whole life is but a small return for the many graces and blessings that have come from God to me through your hands. Since you look with special kindness on those who wear your Scapular, I implore you to strengthen my weakness with your power, to enlighten the darkness of my mind with your wisdom, and to increase in me Faith, Hope and Charity that I may repay each day my debt of humble homage to you.

May your Scapular bring me your special protection in my daily struggle to be faithful to your Divine Son and to you. May it separate me from all that is sinful in life and remind me constantly of my duty to imitate your virtues. From now on, I shall strive to live in God’s Presence, and offer all to Jesus through you. Dearest Mother, support me by your never-failing love and lead me to paradise through the merits of Christ and your own intercession. Amen.

Hail, Flower of Carmel, Hail, Fruitful Vine, Hail ever Immaculate Queen, in whom all virtues shine! O Mother mild, implore your Son to hear our prayers now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

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Mary Beth Bracy is a writer who is blessed to research, publish, and speak extensively on various aspects of Catholic spirituality. Her books include Behold the LambBread of Life and The Little Way of Healing Love Through the Passion of Jesus: The Stations of the Cross with St. Thérèse of Lisieux. She is also co-author of the book Stories of the Eucharist. She has written articles for numerous Catholic publications and recorded some Catholic talks. For more information or to view her blog visit The Little Way

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