Wednesday February 24, 2016

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The Marian Century (1830–1960) was a century of many traditional and even more recent–sometimes innovative!–devotions. We count among the traditional ones, the rosary, known and practiced since the late 15th century. In turn, the devotion of the Miraculous Medal is a typical 19th century creation based on the apparitions of Our Lady to Catherine Labouré in 1830. The apparition led to an important popular movement in favor of the dogmatization of the Immaculate Conception. It also led to the dissemination of one of the most popular Marian medals, that of the Miraculous Medal.

Popular devotion is never abstract.  It has frequently a ritual as well as a material dimension. This is true for the Marian scapulars, some of which originated in the 19th century. The Scapular of Jesus and Mary, the white scapular, developed in 1813; that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1877. The Augustinian friars created the Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel, which was approved in 1893. The green scapular, instituted for the conversion of those without faith, was the result of Our Lady’s apparitions to Sr. Justine Bisquey-buru between 1840 and 1846.

The most popular of the eight Marian scapulars approved by the Church is that of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, also called brown scapular. There are two representations of this scapular in this exhibit: one generically called The Blessed Virgin with Scapular, the other making explicit reference to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Going back to a vision of Our Lady to Simon Stock, Carmelite, on July 16, 1251, the brown scapular promises the faithful wearer the protection of Our Lady during his life and at the time of death. A scapular consists of two square pieces of cloth, joined by two strings. One of these squares is hanging on the faithful’s chest, the other on his/her back. The deeper meaning of the scapular is that of consecration and commitment, but also of protection against temptation and evil. It has the figurative meaning of a “second skin,” that of dedication, and of “body armour” in the spiritual combat. As can be deduced from the prayers accompanying the two prints, the scapular is the commitment to a life of Christian virtues, and the entrustment to Our Lady for health in body and sanctity of the heart.

– Father Johann G. Roten, S.M., Director of Research and Special Projects

Visit the exhibit Epinal: Popular Art for Mind and Heart in the Marian Library Gallery to see 33 Images of Epinal, categorized into nine themes, from the Marian Library collection.

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