Our Lady of Mount Carmel,
St. Simon Stock and devotion to the Brown Scapular

Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Feast Day 16 July
St. Simon Stock: Feast Day 16 May

To the left you can see the largest stained glass window in the chapel of our Carmel at Kilmacud.
It shows Our Lady giving the Brown Scapular to St. Simon Stock. This is a very common Carmelite image, and in this page we hope to explain the connection between Our Lady and the original Carmelites on Mount Carmel, and the importance of the Brown Scapular.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Video about Our Lady of Mount Carmel
(from YouTube)

Who was St. Simon Stock?

The Brown Scapular

Prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Further Reading

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The identity of all Carmelites is shaped by a conscious intimacy with the Blessed Virgin Mary. The first hermits on Mount Carmel built a small chapel which was dedicated to Mary. By the mid-13th century, after their migration to Europe, the Carmelite friars bore the title: "Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel". This title has been preserved in one form or another ever since, and creates a devotion within the Order to Mary as Sister as well as Mother. Historical records show that towards the end of the 13th century, the Carmelites stated that their Order had been founded to honour Mary, and in their struggle for identity in the Middle Ages, the Carmelites looked more and more to Mary. She has always been a gentle presence and a refreshment in the harshness of secular society.

In the 15th century, devotion to Mary developed around the figure of Simon Stock and his Scapular vision (see more on the scapular below). In the 17th century a certain Marian mysticism developed in the Carmelite Order. The Carmelite Saints have always shown a great dedication to Mary as Patroness of the Order - for example, St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila) calls herself "a nun of Our Lady of Mount Carmel". St John of the Cross writes of Mary's mystical experience. St Therese of Lisieux had a deep familiar relationship with the one she called "more Mother than Queen". St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), coming from a Jewish culture and an early feminist, gives us rich insights into Mary as mother and as woman. All Carmelites make their profession of vows to God and also to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Carmelites reflect on Mary under five different titles:

1. Mary is our Mother, and Carmelites even add another title - "Mother and Beauty of Carmel"
2. Mary is Patron of Carmelites - we love and serve her, and she protects us.
3. Mary is Sister of Carmelites. This idea was found in the first millenium and also in the teaching of
Pope Paul VI. It reminds us that she is one like us, and that she cares for us and guides us.
4. Mary is the Most Pure Virgin. This title is common in Carmelite saints and writers and points to her undivided and pure heart.
5. Mary is a Model for Carmelites - we try to imitate her in all our thoughts and actions.

Every new generation discovers more insights into the riches of God and His Mother Mary, and the Carmelite Order is no different as we continue our own exploration of our beautiful Marian heritage.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us. 

Watch a beautiful video about Our Lady of Mount Carmel here:

Who was St Simon Stock?
A brief biography

Little is known about St. Simon Stock, who is associated so closely with Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Brown Scapular. It is thought that Simon was born in the county of Kent, England, in approximately 1165, and story has it that he left his home when he was twelve years of age, to live as a hermit in the hollow trunk of a tree, whence he was known as "Simon of the Stock". Here he presumably passed twenty years in penance and prayer, and learned from our Lady that he was to join an Order not then known in England. He waited in patience till the White Friars came, and then entered the Order of our Lady of Mount Carmel. Some biographies state that he was elected Prior General of the Order in the general chapter held at Aylesford, near Rochester, in 1245. Other reports state that it is more likely that his election was at the London Chapter of 1254.  St. Simon Stock died at Bordeaux, France in 1265.

Simon is chiefly known for his famous vision of the brown scapular. In the many persecutions raised against the Order, Simon, renowned for his holiness, prayed with filial confidence to the Blessed Mother of God. As he knelt in prayer in the White Friars' convent at Cambridge, on July 16th, 1251, she appeared before him and presented him with the scapular, in assurance of her protection, saying: "This is your privilege: whoever dies in it, will be saved". This account helped to spread the devotion of wearing the Brown Scapular among the faithful from the 16th century onwards. 

During the Middle Ages, Simon's feast was celebrated in several Carmelite monasteries. The whole order accepted it only in 1564, when the feast was approved by the Vatican. He has not been officially canonized; however, his relics are venerated in the cathedral of Bordeaux and in the Carmelite monastery of Aylesford, England.

The Brown Scapular

The Brown Scapular is a small garment made of two pieces of brown woven wool joined by strings and worn over the shoulders. It is actually a reduced form of the Carmelite habit. Devotion to the Brown Scapular began in the 15th century and has been a sign of affiliation with the Carmelite Order ever since. The wearing of the Scapular became widespread in the 19th and early 20th century. 

Many Popes have recommended the Brown Scapular and have worn it themselves (including Pope John Paul II). Pope Paul VI wrote in 1967: "Among the practices commended by the Second Vatican Council we would mention by name the Marian Rosary and the devout use of the Scapular of Carmel".
A recent document of the Holy See on popular devotions (2002) has strongly recommended the scapular, saying: "It is an external sign of the filial relationship established between the blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of 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."

There is a promise of Our Lady associated with the Scapular. Legend goes that when she appeared to St. Simon Stock in 1251, she said: "Receive this habit of your Order; this shall be a sign to you and to all Carmelites. Whoever dies wearing this habit shall not suffer eternal fire". This promise means that those who wear the Scapular devoutly in Our Lady's honour, will through her intercession receive the grace to die well. The Scapular is not "magic" - the wearer should try to have a true devotion to Mary. Those who wear the Scapular share in the prayers and good works of the entire Carmelite Order.

It is necessary for a person to be enrolled in the Scapular the first time they decide to wear it. Here in Kilmacud Carmel we have public enrollment in the Brown Scapular each year after our Mass on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (16th July). We also encourage our friends and visitors to make the "Scapular Novena" in the days leading up to this feast (7th-15th July). The novena is also available on this website - click here.

Prayer on putting on a Scapular

In the name of the Father who is in heaven
and of the Son who suffered the passion,
the Holy Spirit who strengthens me
and the Glorious Virgin who is my guide.
May we rise with God and may God rise with us,
may the cross of the nine angels be from sole to head,
the Scapular of Mary round us,
and behind us the sins of the world.

Prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Dear Mother of Carmel,
we pray you to commend to your divine Son
all the cares and anxieties
of those who have asked our prayers:
help and restore those suffering
in body or mind,
pity those who are tried by ill-health and disease,
give them light in darkness,
and in your great compassion
for the afflicted and unhappy
lead them close to the strength
of Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord.

Further Reading

Wikipedia listing:

Information about the Brown Scapular:

Information on this page has been taken from the Calendar of Carmelite Saints by the Carmelite Friars, Singapore, and also from "Meeting God" - a book of Carmelite Reflections and prayers.

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