The Immaculate Virgin Mary
ABOUT THE BLUE SCAPULAR
The word Scapular comes from the Latin scapula [meaning an arm,
shoulders, and back] and is made of two small pieces of cloth joined by
strings. It is worn under the clothes by us Roman Catholics as a sign
of our religious devotion and is one of many Sacramentals.
In the Middle Ages, when many lay people wished to participate in some
way in the spiritual life of religious orders, associations, such as
confraternities, were established. The vesting of the Scapular
identified members accepted into the spiritual community of various
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SCAPULAR
The role of the Scapular in the history of the Church is similar to
that of the Rosary: it is one of the oldest and most popular
forms of devotion to the Most Holy Virgin, who gave it to us as a means
of sanctification and salvation, thus the title of Sacramental.
The Scapular represents the external garment which Mary places over her
children as a sign of trust that Our Lord Jesus and Our Lady shower
those who wear it with graces and protect them in many ways against
temporal and spiritual evils. With the Church's blessing, those who
wear it assume important and
serious obligations focused on prayer, devotion, trust, and dedication
to the Mother of God.
THE ORIGINS OF THE BLUE SCAPULAR
The Blue Scapular originated in Spain and is connected with Saint
Beatrice da Silva Menesses (1426-1492), a Gstercian nun. In 1484, she
founded the Order of Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of
the Most Blessed Virgin Mary [Conceptionists].
One of the requirements of the Rule of Life for these nuns was to
the Scapular of the Immaculate Conception beneath their white habits.
The growing popularity of this form of devotion to Mary among the
faithful encouraged the Conceptionist Sisters to approach the Holy See
with the request for
special indulgences and privileges for all those who piously wore their
A century later, the practice of wearing the Scapular of the Immaculate
Conception began to spread in Italy. There, the Venerable Servant of
God, Ursula Benincasa [1547-1618], founded the Congregation of Oblates
of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the year
1583. In Naples, Italy, after receiving Holy Communion on the Feast of
the Presentation of the Lord in 1617, Sister Ursula received a vision
of the Blessed Mother clothed in a white garment over which she wore
another garment of azure blue. [The Scapular of the Immaculate
Conception has since traditionally been made of blue cloth, thus, it is
called the "Blue Scapular."] In her arms, Mary held the Infant Jesus.
She was surrounded by many people, all attired in a similar manner.
The Blessed Mother addressed Sister Ursula with these words: "Cease
weeping, Ursula, and change your sighs into heartfelt joy. Listen
attentively to what Jesus, Whom I am holding in my lap, will say to
you." Then Jesus revealed to Sister Ursula that she would found a
convent where 33 nuns would live a life of solitude and seclusion and
be dressed in the same attire as the Blessed Virgin Mary of her vision.
The Savior promised many special graces and spiritual gifts to those
who would zealously follow this way of life. From 1633, Sister Ursula's
community accepted the title, Theatines of the Immaculate Conception of
In 1910, Pope Pius X gave his permission for substituting the blue
cloth scapular with a medal. On the face of the medal, there should be
an image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception; on the reverse side,
there should be an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Both the cloth
and medal scapulars should be worthily worn both day and night.
THE CONFRATERNITY OF THE
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
The Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M.,
like the Conceptionist Sisters, wore the scapular under their white
habits. Obliged by their vocation to spread devotion to Mary's
Immaculate Conception, they also wished to propagate the scapular among
the faithful. In 1681, Pope Innocent XI granted the founder of the
Marians, the Venerable Servant of God Father Stanislaus Papczynski, the
privilege of establishing Confraternities of the Immaculate Conception
of the B.V.M. at Marian churches.
RECEIVING THE BLUE SCAPULAR
When the faithful discern to join the Confraternity of the
Conception of the B.V.M., a rite of acceptance is performed whereby
they are invested with the Blue Scapular. Since the Blue Scapular is a
sacramental of the Church, receiving it is connected with this special
ceremony that emphasizes the scapular's significance, the obligations
ensuing from its acceptance, and the graces enjoyed by those who wear
it. If one is joining the Confraternity, this rite must be performed by
a priest from the Congregation of Marians, or by a priest or deacon
delegated by them. The person receiving the Blue Scapular should also
receive the Sacrament of Holy
Communion on the day of investiture. Upon acceptance into the
Confraternity, all Members receive a special certificate confirming
their membership, and their names are recorded in the Registry of the
Confraternity at the Marian Helpers Center in Stockbridge,
WEARING THE BLUE SCAPULAR
Those who wear the Blue Scapular declare solemnly that they want to
dedicate their lives to God alone, just as Mary did, by participating
in the spirituality and privileges of the Theatine and Marian orders.
Although lay people accepted into the Confraternity are not obliged to
abide by the strict disciplines of these religious orders, they are
obliged to avoid sin and to live in union with God with Mary
Immaculate as their model.
Members of the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception who wear the
Blue Scapular are recommended to follow these practices:
- Become worthy of the maternal love of the Immaculate Queen of the
Scapular by living a life free from the stain of sin;
- Imitate the virtues of the Blessed Mother and spread her honor;
- Visit churches frequently and pray to the Most Holy Mother;
- Spread the scapular devotion and encourage others to join the
Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception; Practice voluntary
self-denial, mortification, and active love of neighbor as often as
- Invoke Mary's protection with short, ardent prayers;
OBLIGATIONS OF THE MEMBERS OF
THE CONFRATERNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
- Participate in and support the spirituality and work of the
Congregation of Marians through prayer and alms and pray for good, holy
The acceptance of the Blue Scapular means the assumption of specific
responsibilities that refer to the rule of life of the Congregation of
Marian priests and brothers. Those who wear the Blue Scapular promise
to fulfill certain obligations as Members of the Confraternity of the
Immaculate Conception, namely to:
+ Show special devotion for the Most Holy Virgin Mary in the mystery of
her Immaculate Conception;
+ Wear the Blue Scapular;
+ Live a life of chastity according to one's state in life [religious,
+ Pray for the sick and dying, for the souls suffering in Purgatory,
for the conversion of sinners, for God's Mercy on the whole world, and
for the Souls of the deceased Members of the Confraternity;
+ Receive the Sacraments frequently, especially on the Feasts and
solemnities of the B.V.M.;
+ Recite [daily, if possible] The Chaplet of the Ten Evangelical
Virtues of the B.V.M.,
Little Office of the Immaculate
Conception of the B.V.M.
INDULGENCES ATTACHED TO THE BLUE
Those who wear the Scapular of the Immaculate conception can receive a
Plenary Indulgence under the ordinary conditions [reception of the
Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion, a visit to a church,
and prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father] on the following
*The day of investiture with the Blue Scapular;
*The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple-----February
*The Feast of the Ascension;
*The Feast of Saint Cajetan [founder of the Theatine Order]-----August
*The Feast of the Assumption of the B.V.M.-----August
*The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M.-----December
*Christmas Day-----December 25th;
*At the moment of death.
Kissing the Blue Scapular or medal
carries a partial indulgence granted by the Church.
SPIRITUAL BENEFITS OF MEMBERS OF THE CONFRATERNITY
Members of the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception
share in all the spiritual benefits of the Order of the Clerics Regular
[the Theatines] and of the Congregation of Marians, both during their
lifetime and after death.
The Marian priests and brothers exclusively remember all Members of the
Confraternity on the 8th day of each month at the National Shrine of
The Divine Mercy, commemorating the Feast of Mary's Immaculate
Conception which is celebrated on December 8th.
In addition, all Confraternity Members are remembered in daily Mass, a
special Mass offered on First Fridays and First Saturdays and on Feast
Days of Our Lord and Our Lady, in the rosary, and in the continuous
Novena to The Divine Mercy.
HOW TO BECOME A MEMBER OF THE
If you wish to become a Member of the Confraternity of the
Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, please contact:
Fr. Joseph, MIC, Director
Association of Marian Helpers Stockbridge, MA 01263
The picture of the Immaculate Virgin Mary above was commissioned by
the Marians and painted by Franciszek Smuglewicz [1745-1807]: It was
placed in Saint Vitus Church in Rome, Italy, in December of 1781 which
was the property of the Marians at that time.
THE CHAPLET OF THE TEN EVANGELICAL
VIRTUES OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
This prayer, contained in the Rule of the Ten Virtues of the Blessed
Virgin Mary, has been passed on by tradition in the Marian Order. It is
meant for private recitation on the Rosary.
First we make the Sign of the Cross and recite one Our Father, followed
by ten Hail Marys.
After the words, Holy Mary, Mother of God, mention one virtue in the
1. most pure,
2. most prudent,
3. most humble,
4. most faithful,
5. most devout,
6. most obedient,
7. most poor,
8. most patient,
9. most merciful,
10. most sorrowful,
pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
V. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
R. As it was in the beginning,
is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
V. In thy Conception, O Virgin Mary, thou wert Immaculate.
R. Pray for us to the Father,
Whose Son, Jesus, thou didst bring forth into the world.
V. Let us pray.
Father, Thou didst prepare the Virgin Mary to be the worthy
Mother of Thy Son. Thou didst let her share beforehand in the salvation
Christ would bring by His death and kept her sinless from the first
moment of her Conception. Help us by her prayers to live in Thy
presence without sin. We ask this in the Name of Jesus the Lord.
V. May the Virgin Mary's Immaculate Conception
R. Be our health and
PURCHASE THE SCAPULAR