Pope St. John Paul II said, “Over time this rich Marian heritage of Carmel has become, through the spread of the Holy Scapular devotion, a treasure for the whole Church.”
By Larry Peterson
There is a place near where e prophet Elija lived, and it is one of the most biblical places on earth. It is 1,742 feet above sea level and hovers high over the coast of the Mediterranean. It was here where Elija prayed to God, asking Him to save Israel from the onslaught of an ongoing drought.
He prayed and prayed and would ask his servant to go up the mountain and look for signs of rain. On the seventh try, Elijah’s servant returned, exclaiming, “Behold, a little cloud that looked like a man’s foot rose from the sea.” Soon after, torrential rains fell upon the parched land. The crops grew, the animals thrived, and the people were saved. The place was called Mount Carmel.
Elijah saw the cloud as the symbol mentioned in the prophecies of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14) Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: the Virgin shall be with Child, and bear a Son and name Him Emanuel.”
Many hermits lived on Mount Carmel, and following Elijah’s example would continually pray for the advent of the much-awaited Virgin who would become the mother of the Messiah. The very beginnings of the Carmelite Order can be traced back to Elijah and the hermits of Mount Carmel. Many consider these hermits as the first Carmelites.
These hermits lived on Mount Carmel during the 12th and 13th centuries. In the midst of their hermitages, they built a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, whom they called the Lady of the Place. In the 13th century, Simon Stock was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He had been elected as the 6th superior-general of the Carmelites.
He joined a group of hermits on Mount Carmel. On Sunday, July 16, 1251, Simon Stock was kneeling in prayer when Our Lady appeared to him. The Blessed Mother said to Simon, “Hoc erit tibi et cunctis Carmelitis privilegium, in hochabitu moriens salvabitur.” (This shall be the privilege for you and for all the Carmelites, that anyone dying in the habit shall be saved.”
It is said that the Blessed Mother gave the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (also known as the Brown Scapular) to Simon Stock. Six months later, on January 13, 1252, the order received a letter of protection from Pope Innocent IV, defending them from any harassment or denial of this event.
Most of us know of the Sabbatine Privilege. This is attached to the wearing of the Brown Scapular. The name, Sabbatine Privilege, comes from a papal bull issued by Pope John XXII on March 3, 1322. According to the Holy Father, the Blessed Virgin gave him the following message in a vision which was directed to all those who wear the Brown Scapular. “I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday (Sabbath) 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.”
Based on Church tradition, three conditions must be fulfilled to obtain the benfeits of this Privilege and the Scapular: 1) wear the Brown Scapular; 2) Observe chastity according to one’s state in life; 3) pray the Rosary. Also, to receive the spiritual blessings associated with the Scapular, it is necessary to be formally be enrolled in the Brown Scapular by either a priest or a layperson who has been given the authority to do so. Once enrolled, no other scapular needs to be blessed before wearing. The blessing and imposition are attached to the enrolled person for life.
The feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is July 16, the same day she appeared to Simon Stock. Interestingly, Simon Stock was never officially canonized. He has been venerated by the Carmeilites since 1564. And with Vatican approval, he has been given the feasr day of May 16. He is also called Saint Simon Stock and churches and schools have been named after him,
On the 750th anniversary of the bestowal of the Brown Scapular, Pope St. John Paul II said, “Over time this rich Marian heritage of Carmel has become, through the spread of the Holy Scapular devotion, a treasure for the whole Church.”
copyright©Larry Peterson 2020