Rosary and scapular

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Rosary and scapular


Rosary and scapular
The exact origins of both the rosary and scapular are subject to debate among scholars. Pious tradition maintains that both the rosary and the brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel were given by the Virgin Mary to saints Dominic and Simon Stock respectively during the 13th century.[1] Historical records document their growth during the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. By the early 20th century they had gained such a strong following among Catholics worldwide that Josef Hilgers, writing in the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1914 stated: “”Like the Rosary, the Brown scapular has become the badge of the devout Catholic.””[2]

Since the Second Vatican Council the more appropriate term for these items is “”devotional articles””, in order to distinguish them from liturgical actions and items used therewith, such as candles, chrism, or holy water. The sacramental related to them would be the rite of blessing, rather than the object blessed.[3]

As with all religious articles, the use of the rosary and the scapular are optional for Roman Catholics. They have been supported, encouraged and linked by a number of Catholic figures such as, saints and cardinals.[4] Specific indulgences have been associated with each of them.[5] This article reviews the history, Mariology and the development of the Rosary and the Scapular as important expressions of popular piety in the Roman Catholic Church.

The rosary and the scapular are viewed as devotional elements of Catholicism. Some historians suggest that the combined effect of the devotional elements and the benefits associated with them made the rosary and the scapular favored among Roman Catholics.[6] However, although many of the faithful choose to pray the rosary and wear the scapular, the linking of the rosary and the scapular is not formally reflected in church doctrine.
“”St Dominic Receives the Rosary from the Virgin Mary””, Glengarriff Church of the Sacred Heart
Traditional accounts
St. Dominic
Scholarly debates on the origins of these religious articles are not conclusive. According to the tradition of the Dominicans, the rosary was given to Saint Dominic in an apparition by the Blessed Virgin Mary in the year 1214 in the church of Prouille, the Marian apparition receiving the title of Our Lady of the Rosary.[7] However, many scholarly researchers suggests a more gradual and organic development of the rosary, and some attribute it to Bl. Alanus de Rupe.[8] Some sources question the authenticity of the apparition to Saint Dominic[9] [10] but others lend their support.[7]

A key element in the spread of the Rosary in 16th century Rome was the Battle of Lepanto (1571). Pope Pius V requested Catholics to pray the Rosary prior to the battle, held a rosary procession in St. Peter’s Square and then instituted the feast of “”Our Lady of Victory”” to commemorate the victory.[11]

Rosary promises
time-honored Dominican tradition holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary made fifteen specific promises to those who pray the rosary.[12] [13] The fifteen rosary promises range from protection from misfortune to meriting a high degree of glory in heaven.

St. Simon Stock

statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, (Chile)
Carmelite tradition holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock at Cambridge, England in 1251 in answer to his appeal for help for his oppressed order and recommended the Brown Scapular to him.[14] Originally, the scapular was a broad band of cloth over the shoulders, serving as an apron, worn still as part of the religious habit by a number of orders of monks and friars. The Brown Scapular has been a key element of Carmelite history since the late 13th century.[15]

Like the purported vision of Mary to St. Dominic, the earliest mention of Simon Stock’s vision comes over 100 years later, and there is a lack of documentary evidence that would demonstrate the truth or historicity of the apparition. While Richard Copsey questioned the fact that any apparition took place with respect to the Scapular,[16] Benedict Zimmerman proposed that an apparition did take place in the 13th century, but was to another Carmelite brother, which was later attributed to St. Simon Stock, and that the vision was not of the Virgin Mary, but of a recently deceased Carmelite.[17] Over time the Scapular took an increasingly Marian tone, became identified with Carmelite piety toward The Virgin Mary and the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel began to be called the “”scapular feast””. [18] Although the historicity of the scapular vision is rejected, the scapular itself has remained for all Carmelites a sign of Mary’s motherly protection and as a personal commitment to follow Jesus in the footsteps of his Mother, the perfect model for all his disciples.

Scapular promise
Carmelite tradition has held that in 1251 the Virgin Mary made the “”Scapular Promise”” to St. Simon Stock regarding the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, namely: “”whoever dies clothed in this habit shall not suffer the fires of Hell.””[19] This is understood to mean that anyone who remains faithful to the Carmelite vocation until death will be granted the grace of final perseverance.[20] The long-standing tradition of the Church has approved the vision of St. Simon Stock as an acceptable cult, but that is distinguishable from authenticating it as a historical experience. “”The question then, from a historical perspective, is not whether Mary appeared to Simon Stock and gave him the scapular, but rather did Simon Stock perceive the Mother of God bestowing this sign of her protection on him and his brothers in Carmel.[20] The likelihood is “”probably not””. However, wearing the scapular remains a valuable devotion as a sign of one’s commitment to Mary, and a pledge of her protection.

Historical developments
The beginning of the 18th century witnessed a significant growth in Marian confraternities, such as the Confraternities of the Rosary. A small number of such confraternities had started sometime in the 15th century, through the preaching of Alan de Rupe. Their numbers began to grow under the supervision of the Dominicans, which also helped create a more uniform format for the Rosary. An important Apostolic Constitution on the Rosary Confraternity was issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1898.[21]

The approval of the “”Confraternity of the Scapular”” for every diocese helped the spread of that devotion, reaching its culmination in 1726 via the extension of the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (July 16) to the universal Church.[22] [23]

Marian apparitions
In the 19th century, the reported Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes gathered significant attention, and provided momentum for the spread of the Rosary. The spread of the devotion to both the Rosary and the Scapular was influenced by Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima reported by three Portuguese children in 1917.[24] The Fatima messages placed a strong emphasis on the Rosary and in them the Virgin Mary reportedly identified herself as The Lady of the Rosary.[25] The visions and messages also encouraged the wearing of the Brown Scapular. In the final Fátima appearance on October 13, 1917 the Virgin Mary had a brown scapular in one hand and a rosary in the other.[26]

The 20th century witnessed the development of a number of Marian organizations. The Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima was formed in 1946 in the United States and through “”Scapular Magazine”” helped enroll one million Americans to pray the Rosary based on the Fátima messages regarding the Consecration of Russia. The Blue Army eventually reached a larger audience of several million members.[27] [28] [29]

Basis and grace
Pope Leo XIII, also known as the Rosary Pope, presented a similar Mariological view in his encyclicals Supremi apostolatus officio and Octobri mense, that were devoted to the Rosary, in which he called the Virgin Mary the mediator of peace with God and stated that she was the “”dispenser of all Heavenly graces.””[30] [31]

As stated by Christian P. Ceroke: “”The wearing of the Scapular fosters a true devotion to Mary that is based on her supernatural mission in the redemption of mankind. Two Marian doctrines are proposed in the devotion of the Brown Scapular: Mary’s Spiritual Maternity and her Mediation of Grace.””[32]

Papal endorsements
The destruction of the ethical order would then lead to disaster and war, so Leo XIII dedicated the human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. But in his analysis (based on the writings of Louis de Montfort who was beatified by Leo XIII) the re-Christianisation was not possible without Mary. So Leo XIII promulgated Marian devotions via ten encyclicals on the Rosary and instituted the Catholic custom of daily rosary prayer during the month of October. In 1883 he also created the Feast of Queen of the Holy Rosary.[33]