The origin of the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, i.e., the Brown Scapular, can be traced to when the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock in 1251. In answer to his prayers for aid for his persecuted Order (the Carmelites), she appeared to him with a scapular in her hand and said:
“Take, beloved son, this scapular of your Order, in token of the privilege which I have obtained for you and for the children of Carmel; whoever dies in this garment will not suffer everlasting fire. It is a sign of salvation, a safeguard in time of danger, and a pledge of special protection.”
This promise made by Mary, known as the First Scapular Privilege, states that all those who out of true veneration and love for the Blessed Virgin constantly wear the Scapular in a spirit of fidelity and confiding faith, and after having been enrolled by a properly authorized priest into the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular, shall enjoy the special protection of the Mother of God unto salvation.
Whoever, therefore, even though he be now a sinner, wears the Scapular of the Mother of God throughout life as her faithful servant, not presumptuously relying on the Scapular as on a miraculous amulet, but trustfully confiding in the power and goodness of Mary, may securely hope that Mary will through her powerful and motherly intercession procure for him all the necessary graces for true conversion and for perseverance in living a good life. Such is the meaning and importance of the First Privilege of the Carmelite Scapular, which is often summarized in the words: “whoever wears the Scapular until death, will be preserved from Hell.”
The second privilege of the Scapular, otherwise known as the Sabbatine Privilege, came about when the Mother of God appeared to Pope John XXII (died 1334) and made a further promise of aid to those who wear her Scapular and fulfill certain prescribed conditions. This promise has been summed up by the Holy Roman General Inquisition under Pope Paul V, 20 January, 1613:
“Christian people may piously believe in the help which the souls of brothers and members, who have departed this life in charity, have worn in life the Scapular, have ever observed chastity, have recited the Little Hours [of the Blessed Virgin], or, if they cannot read, have observed the fast days of the Church, and have abstained from flesh meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays (except when Christmas falls on such days), may derive after death — especially on Saturdays, the day consecrated by the Church to the Blessed Virgin — through the unceasing intercession of Mary, her pious petitions, her merits, and her special protection.”
The learned and illustrious pontiff, Pope Benedict XIV (died 1758), in his treatise on the feasts of the Blessed Virgin, (II. Book, c. vi.,) confirmed that the Holy Virgin promised Pope John XXII, “that she would rescue from Purgatory as speedily as possible, and especially on the first Saturday after their decease, the members of they Confraternity of the Scapular.”
Two incredible favors given to us by the Blessed Mother which no sane person, who seriously considers death and its consequences, would ignore.