On July 16, we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This day commemorates the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Simon Stock to save the Carmelite Order from extinction and to grant graces to the universal Church.
On the night of July 15, 1251, the Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock asking him to change his habit for a new one, promising him that: “Whoever dies wearing this scapular will not suffer from the eternal flames.”
This privilege, as well as a special apparition of the Virgin to Pope Honorius III, consolidated the existence of the Carmelites in Europe, and favored the diffusion of their scapular in miniature among non-Carmelites and throughout Christendom.
Thus, each time a person receives the imposition of the brown scapular by a priest, he automatically becomes a member of the Confraternity of the Holy Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and thus participates in all the graces and merits of this Confraternity and the Carmelite Order.
What we retain most often from the Scapular is the great grace of being preserved from the fires of hell by the all-powerful intercession of the Mother of God. But what is forgotten is the significance of the scapular itself and the many indulgences granted by the popes to those who put on the scapular.
The scapular is a part of a religious habit and, as such, it signifies the adoption of the virtues of Jesus and Mary, and the adoption of the religious discipline of the Holy Family in Nazareth.
The first Carmelites were the disciples of Elijah of Mount Carmel and they were at St. Peter's sermon after Pentecost. Following their conversion, they were presented to the Blessed Virgin and her instructions were brought back to Mount Carmel where, with renewed zeal, they followed the monastic life by imitating its virtues.
The scapular is the habit of Mary, reminding her adopted children to follow her paths which infallibly lead to the perfection that her Son preached to the world.
The scapular is also the bearer of very many indulgences, because the popes, the first sons of Mary in dignity, have carefully endowed this scapular with the richest indulgences, in order to concretely remind the faithful of Mary's all-powerful intercession.
These peculiar indulgences from ancient times were curtailed and reformed by Pope Paul VI in 1968. Nonetheless, there is one that is so important and relevant that it deserves mention here.
In the past, members of the Confraternity of the Scapular held a monthly procession in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and participation in this procession earned a plenary indulgence.
Today, members of the Confraternity can come together and make this procession, accompanied by the recitation of the rosary (the new rules grant a plenary indulgence for the recitation of the 5 decades of the rosary in common), thus being able to obtain a plenary indulgence.