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Aylesford Priory and The Brown Scapular.

The Brown Scapula

Aylesford Priory and Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The Order of Carmelites originated in the Holy Land, on Mount Carmel, near the fountain of the prophet Elias (Elijah) not far from Mary's home in Nazareth. Elias was the inspiration for the early Carmelites. In a vision, he had seen the Virgin who was to give birth to the Messiah. Together with his hermit disciples he prayed for the coming of this Virgin Mother. Tradition tells us that during Her lifetime on earth, Mary visited the hermits and that they converted to Christianity after Pentecost, through Her prayers.1 The Carmelites are an Order of the Blessed Virgin, and they turned to Her when the invasion of the Saracen crusades forced many of them to leave Mount Carmel, and it was during this period that She appeared to the Carmelite Saint Cyril of Jerusalem and said:

"Carmel is to be a light, not for Syria and Palestine
alone - its rays must illumine the entire world"

Saint Simon Stock [1165-1265] was, from an early age, very devoted to the Blessed Virgin; he experienced Her Spiritual Maternity through his having dedicated himself to being close to Our Lord, through Her.
Tradition tells us that as a young man, he received a revelation from Mary; She told him that in a few years a religious order, especially dedicated to Her service, was coming from to England and whom he should join. Simon recognized the Order when they arrived, joining them and studying for the priesthood. Simon was well known for his great piety. In 1245 he was appointed Vicar-general of the Order, and it was during this period that he became fully aware of the very difficult role of transferring the Order fully to England. The Carmelites, whilst retaining a contemplative identity, were also becoming an order of mendicant friars. The Order did not adapt well. Simon found his task daunting and it looked increasingly as though devastation and ruin lay ahead.
There is a tradition that tells us that, with this dilemma to contend with, Simon, in July 1251, spent a night in fervent prayer. Throughout the night of July 15th, he prayed on his knees to Our Lady of Carmel and with these beautiful words he invoked Her protection and direction; particularly under Her title Stella Maris [Star of the Sea]:

Flower of Carmel
Blossom-laden vine,
Splendour of Heaven,
Virgin Unique!

Tender Mother
Yet Virgin too,
To the Carmelites
Grant favours!
O Star of the Sea!

Towards dawn, the Blessed Virgin appeared with the infant Jesus in Her arms "living and moving
in dazzling splendour, surrounded by hosts of bright angels." Our Lady of Mount Carmel held in Her hand a large Brown Scapula with a square opening for the head. A gift, and giving this to Simon, She said:

"Receive, My beloved son, this habit of thy Order: This shall
be to thee and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever
dies clothed in it shall not suffer eternal fire."

Simon thanked Her profusely for this great gift, this "garment of grace." The exemption from hell; The Church interprets such gifts as being the guaranteed final perseverance, or final repentance, for those who wear it whilst observing due devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
Meanwhile, The Carmelites were strengthened! The Friars, now in their distinctive brown habit, attracted many to the Order. Simon himself instituted the confraternity of the scapular to unite the devotees of the Blessed Virgin "in certain regular exercises of religion and piety."
The wearing of the brown habit or the habit in miniature;"the brown scapular;" two small pieces of brown cloth on a cord; became the badge of those associated with the Carmelite Order and with a total consecration to Jesus through Mary. The Scapular, distributed throughout Christendom, was richly indulged by many Popes.
Aylesford Priory, near Maidstone, with its open air shrine of: The Assumption, and with its chapels: to St Anne, glorious mother of the Blessed Virgin. To St Joseph. To St Jude Thaddeus. And to St Simon Stock and its Rosary Way, is the most beautiful setting in which to honour Our Lord with the help of our heavenly family. St Jude Thaddeus, kinsman and apostle of Our Lord, is the brother of the apostle James; they were sons of Cleophas; St Joseph's brother. St Jude is the patron saint of difficult cases, hopeless cases, and those in despair.

Source for St.Simon Stock and The Brown Scapula : Saints Who Saw Mary by Raphael Brown ch 6: St Simon Stock. Tan Books (St Benedict Press)1994.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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