Scapulars of St Francis

On this day of the feast of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, Archbishop Eric Michel blessed the scapular of St. Francis at the Chaplaincy.

Amidst confusing evidence, it has been suggested that some other Carmelite than Simon Stock had a mystical vision, the story of which was later associated with him. A Dominican history compiled by Gerard of Frachet in 1259–1260 tells of the 1237 drowning death of the Dominican Jordan of Saxony off the coast of Acre, Israel (near Mount Carmel), and mentions "a certain brother of the Order of Carmel" who was tempted to abandon his vocation because God had permitted this to happen to so holy a man; Jordan was said to have appeared then to the brother in a vision, reassuring him that "all who serve the Lord Jesus Christ to the end will be saved." Gerard concludes: "The brother himself, and the prior of the same Order, brother Simon, a religious and truthful man, have related these things to our friars." This story, which bears a notable similarity to the traditional story of the scapular vision and promise of salvation, with apparent differences, is one of the very few known references.

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Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (also known as the Brown Scapular) belongs to the habit of both the Carmelite Order and the Discalced Carmelite Order, which have Our Lady of Mount Carmel as their patroness. In its small form, it is widely popular as a religious article in the Latin Church of the Catholic Church. It has probably served as the prototype of all the other devotional scapulars. The liturgical feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16, is popularly associated with the devotion of the Scapular.

According to the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship, the Brown 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."

The first mention of the vision appears in the late 14th century, almost 150 years after the date in 1251, when it is sometimes stated to have occurred and is not noted in the earliest accounts of Simon Stock's life and miracles. The history of the Carmelite habit and legislation and discussion relating to it within the order during that period do not mention nor seem to imply a tradition about the Blessed Virgin giving the Scapular to the Carmelites, nor do the notable Carmelite writers of the 14th century, such as John Baconthorpe, mention the scapular. History even records an instance in 1375 when an English Carmelite named Nicholas Hornby engaged in a public debate with a Dominican friar in which Hornby ridiculed Dominican claims to have received their habit from the Blessed Virgin—this was a claim common to several different orders in the Middle Ages. Hornby showed no sign of being aware of any similar claim made by a fellow English Carmelite in the preceding century

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With regard to the scapular as a conventional and sacred sign, the Church has intervened at various times in history to clarify its meaning, defend it, and confirm its privileges. From these Church documents, the nature and meaning of the Carmelite scapular emerge with sufficient clarity.

1. The scapular is a Marian habit or garment. It is both a sign and a pledge. A sign of belonging to Mary, a pledge of her motherly protection, not only in this life but after death.

2. As a sign, it is a conventional sign signifying three elements strictly joined: first, belonging to a religious family mainly devoted to Mary, especially dear to Mary, the Carmelite Order; second, consecration to Mary, devotion to and trust in her Immaculate Heart; third an incitement to become like Mary by imitating her virtues, above all her humility, chastity, and spirit of prayer.

This is the Church's officially established connection between the sign and that which is signified by the sign.

No mention is made of the vision of St. Simon Stock or of that of Pope John XXII about the Sabbatine Privilege, which promises that one will be released from Purgatory on the first Saturday after death