Virgo, Flos Carmeli

Venerable Francis Ypes coerced the devil to confess that there are three things the demons are most afraid of: the Holy Name of Jesus, the Holy Name of Mary and the Holy Scapular of Carmel.

I am compelled to write this post, to prove to everyone why the Scapular is Our Lady’s favorite devotion. I want to share a few miracle stories attributed to this holy object or “shield” as it has so often been called which tends to leave even non-Catholics baffled. Saint Claude de la Colombiere, the spiritual director of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque said this about the Scapular:

All the forms of our love for the Blessed Virgin and all its various modes of expression cannot be equally pleasing to Her, and therefore do not assist us in the same degree to reach Heaven, I say, without a moment’s hesitation, that the BROWN SCAPULAR IS THE MOST FAVORED OF ALL! No devotion has been confirmed by more numerous authentic miracles than the Brown Scapular.

Having been a part of Our Lady’s order of Carmel, you might say I am simply being prejudice; this is not the case because even while in Carmel, I didn’t really place all that much importance on the Scapular even when I was wearing the large one over my Holy Habit. I was so blind then; I understand now more than ever why THIS precious gift given by Our Lord through His Holy Mother is the best. There are so many other devotions to honor Mary, but nothing compares to this one.

What follows are four incredible and miraculous stories that I want to share (and credit to the FreeBrownScapular website) of what can happen to one for wearing the Holy Scapular of Carmel. These are all true tales that are hard to explain to those who don’t have faith and simply can’t be explained by science.

1.) The Scapular That Saved Two Lives (War story):

“My battalion was a member of the Irene Brigade. We were just about to advance. After we passed Eindhofen, our trucks and tanks went through Uden. In the evening we encamped on an old farm near Nijmegen. Behind the house there was an old wooden pump surrounded by bricks, to wash away the sweat and dust of hours of fighting. You can well imagine that we made good use of this opportunity. I was one in the group and so I tossed my jacket on the ground and hung my Scapular on the pump while I washed. An hour later we received orders to proceed about a mile and a half further and to occupy a trench there. We were looking forward to being able to get a peaceful night’s sleep in that trench. I was about to lie down and was unbuttoning my collar when to my horror I realized that I no longer had my Scapular. It had been a gift from my mother. I had it with me all during the war and now that we were approaching the lion’s den was I to be deprived of it?

To go fetch it was unthinkable, so I tried not to think about it any more and to go to sleep. I pitched and tossed from side to side, but I couldn’t get to sleep. All round me, my buddies were sleeping like logs even though from time to time shells fell dangerously close. Finally I was overcome by the desire to get my Scapular back and I crept out among my sleeping companions. It wasn’t so easy to get past the sentry but I managed to do it and ran back the way we had come. It was pitch dark, but nevertheless I had good luck and in a short time I was back on the farm and at the pump. My hands glided searchingly all over the pump but the Scapular was gone. I was just about to strike a match when there was he sound of a dreadful explosion. What was I to do? Was that the sign of an enemy attack? As fast as I could I ran back to our trench. Maybe I could do something for my buddies there. Near the trench I saw the engineers busily removing piles of dirt and barbed wire.

At the very spot where my companions had been sleeping there yawned a gigantic shell-hole. Before the enemy had vacated this trench they had placed a time bomb in it and it had exploded during my absence. Nobody survived the explosion. If I had not set out to fetch my Scapular, I would have been buried under that rubble, too. On the following morning I went to the field kitchen and met a buddy there. He looked at me with astonishment. “I thought you were in that trench! And I thought you were buried there!” My friend continued, “I was lying in the trench, but before I went to sleep I went looking for you. But I couldn’t find you. The corporal saw me hunting around and asked me what I wanted. When I told him what I was doing there he said, “Be sensible! Instead go to that inn nearby and get me a bottle of water.” And while I was on the errand the explosion occurred. “Well, I escaped it by a hair’s breadth too,” I replied.

But why on earth were you looking for me so late at night?’ ‘To give you this’ he replied, and handed me my Scapular which he had taken from the old pump.

2.) A Priest’s Life Is Saved:

Still another Scapular miracle concerns a French priest who had gone on pilgrimage. On the way to say Mass, he remembered that he had forgotten his Scapular. He knew he would be late if he went back to retrieve it, but he could not envision offering Mass at Our Lady’s altar without Her Scapular. Later, as he was offering the Holy Sacrifice, a young man approached the altar, pulled out a gun, and shot the priest in the back. To the amazement of all, the priest continued to say the prayers of the Mass as though nothing had occurred. It was at first presumed that the bullet had miraculously missed its target. However, upon examination, the bullet was found ADHERING TO THE LITTLE BROWN SCAPULAR, which the priest had so obstinately refused to be without.

3.) A Train Accident:

One of the most extraordinary of all Scapular incidents took place right here in the United States. It happened around the turn of the century in the town of Ashtabula, Ohio when a man was cut in two by a train; he was wearing the Scapular. Instead of dying instantly as would be expected, he remained alive and conscious for 45 minutes – just enough time until a priest could arrive to administer the Last Sacraments. These, and other such incidents, tell us that Our Blessed Mother will take personal care of us in the hour of our death. So great and powerful a Mother is Mary that She will never fail to keep the Scapular contract, as She assures us who wear it that we will die in God’s grace.

4.) Saved From The Sea:

Another Scapular story that bears repeating took place in 1845. In the late summer of that year, the English ship, king of the Ocean found itself in the middle of a wild hurricane. As wind and sea mercilessly lashed the ship, a Protestant minister, together with his wife and children and other passengers, struggled to the deck to pray for forgiveness and mercy, as the end seemed at hand. Among the crew was a young Irishman, John McAuliffe. On seeing the urgency of the situation, the youth opened his shirt, took off his Scapular, and, making the sign of the Cross with it over the raging waves tossed it into the ocean. At that very moment, the wind calmed. Only one more wave washed the deck, bringing with it the Scapular, which came to rest at the boy’s feet. All the while the minister, a Mr. Fisher, had been carefully observing McAuliffe’s actions and the miraculous effect of those actions. Upon questioning the young man, they were told about the Holy Virgin and Her Scapular. Mr. Fisher and his family were so impressed that they were determined to enter the Catholic Church as soon as possible, and thereby enjoy the same protection of Our Lady’s Scapular.

These are (for now) my top four favorite Scapular stories that are most memorable and striking. At my clothing ceremony in Carmel I was very impressed with my non-Catholic relatives who,  and after hearing some of the miracles attributed to the Scapular, insisted on having one to wear and being sent one as soon as possible. We sewed all our own Scapulars and that was the first time I really realized the power of this holy object. As powerful as the Rosary and the Miraculous Medal are (I would never question that) those non-Catholics specifically wanted the Scapular. My former spiritual director used to say that the Scapular is like Catholic “underwear”, nobody sees it, but God and Our Lady. Thus, we have a duty to wear it as part of the faithful.

A quick added thought: I have talked to a lot of Catholic friends of mine who have given reasons for not wearing the scapular: “I pray the rosary, I already wear the miraculous medal, it’s too itchy”, etc. I think we naturally overlook the Scapular because the Rosary and Miraculous medal are appealing to the eye and are seen as stylish pieces of jewelry. We can even pick the style of beads we want for our own Rosaries, but here is food for thought: both Our Lady and Our Lord seem to like what is most poor in appearance. Christ though a King, was born in a stable. Joseph, although the holiest man alive besides Christ, appeared only as a simple carpenter. Our Lady usually chooses the poorest village and poorest children to appear to and reveal Her secrets . And now She chooses a poor simple brown cloth, but with that same cloth come the greatest promises of salvation.

If we really love Mary and want to honor Her, why not have all three? The Rosary, Scapular and Miraculous Medal are, in a way, inseparable.  Enough said…

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