Brown scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel: "Any color you like, so long as it's brown"?

Was shopping for a new scapular a couple weeks back. I try to buy the better-quality versions that don’t come to pieces in a couple weeks. The ones I prefer seem most often to come with a little St. Bendedict Medal & a tiny crucifix. Parish gifft shop lady had what is obviously a scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, exactly like the ones I usually buy–in WHITE. With “Our Lady of Mt Carmel, pray for us” on one tab; “St. Simon Stock pray for us” on th’other. But . . . A WHITE “brown scapular”? I thought the different colors referred to wholly-different kinds of scapulars. Does a white “brown scapular” COUNT as a brown scapular? And: what’s the organization which priests initiate us into the first time we’re invested with the brown scapular? This same gift shop lady & I were talking about this, once, and the Third Order Franciscans came up. THAT ain’t the scapular org: but now this lady asks me about the 3rd Order Franciscans when she sees me. Wouldn’t know one if he hit me on the head. Thanks!

Was it one like this?

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The Brown Scapular may be Brown or Black, because it is like the color of the Carmelites robes. But I note that they also wear white. St. Theresa:

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No, the Carmelite scapular is always brown. It may come with pictures or embroidery, but it is not necessary.

Here is all you need to know regarding the Carmelite scapular, from the Carmelite Order itself: A Catechesis on the Brown Scapular

Review of the article I linked above:

The following catechesis was prepared in 2000 under the direction of the North American prior provincials of the Carmelite Order and the Order of Discalced Carmelites as the Carmelite Family prepared to celebrate the 750 anniversary of the Brown Scapular. The draft was prepared by Father Sam Anthony Morello, OCD and Father Patrick McMahon, O.Carm. and was then submitted to the Archdiocesan authorities in Washington DC for the imprimatur of the then archbishop, Cardinal James Hickey. After several minor modifications the imprimatur was granted. The following is the revised and approved text. It was published as part of The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Catechesis and Ritual.

Has it changed since before? From Catholic Encyclopedia:The small scapulars consist essentially of two quadrilateral segments of woolen cloth (about two and three-quarter inches long by two inches wide), connected with each other by two strings or bands in such a manner that, when the bands rest on the shoulders, the front segment rests before the breast, while the other hangs down an equal distance at the back. The two segments of cloth need not necessarily be equally large, various scapulars having the segment before the breast of the above dimensions while the segment at the back is much smaller. The material of these two essential parts of the scapular must be of woven wool; the strings or bands may be of any material, and of any one colour. The colour of the segments of woollen cloth depends on the colour of the monastic habit, which it to a certain extent represents, or on the mystery in honour of which it is worn. Here, however, it must be remarked that the so called Brown Scapular of the Carmelites may be black, and that the bands of the Red Scapular of the Passion must be of red wool. On either or both of the woollen segments may be sewn or embroidered becoming representations or other decorations (emblems, names etc.) of a different material. It is only in the case of the Red Scapular that the images are expressly prescribed.

I simply don’t know. Several things do changed. For instance, now it is not necessarily made of wool.
I think it not hard to find brown fabric, to avoid confusion with the black scapular of Our Lady of Sorrows (the Servite scapular) or with the Benedictine scapular.

Does the Brown scapular have to be wool?
It did at one time, it no longer does. Few Carmelite Religious use pure wool for their habits, including their scapulars, anymore because of the expense and the impracticality.

I saw a scapular without a picture of Our Lady on it. Is this authentic?
Actually, the most authentic form for the scapular is simply two pieces of undecorated brown cloth joined by ribbons for over the shoulders. The scapular of the Carmelite Religious is either totally devoid of decoration or has only a very small cross embroidered in white or red. The custom of decorating the scapular for the laity with elaborate embroidery or pictures began in the eighteenth century and has destroyed the visible (i.e. sacramental) link between the scapular of the Religious and the scapular worn by the faithful. Moreover, people confuse the picture for the scapular which is actually the pieces of cloth to which the pictures are sewn. It is better to have scapulars without decoration or with only a small cross.

The scapular I bought has a white leather backing on which appear the inscriptions mentioned earlier, with a woolen fronting. The cords are fairly stout, rather like heavy bootstrings. The whole thing, however, is of purest white, except for the gold imprintings invoking O.L. of Carmel and St. Simon Stock. BTW–I found two online vendors who sell the normal brown-colored brown scapulars, made fully of wool, with the Benedict medal and crucifix. So now I have three of these, and have put two away for use as the one I’m wearing wears out, in about one to two years. Since the cheap ones which sell for a couple months last about one-to-three months on average, paying for the $6.50 version just makes more sense. Value over economy.

I have come across the “white-Browns” and even seen the “blue-Browns.” :eek:

While interesting, I steer clear of them and stick to the “brown-Brown.” I have not ran across a “black-Brown” yet. I will have to keep an eye out. :slight_smile:

The link (posted above): is an excellent resource.

It’s not that hard to make your own. Go to the thrift store and get some clothing with brown wool. Cut a couple rectangles, add the cords, hem it and wear. You are ready to Go.

My wife makes the big ones for her Carmelite community. (9" x 6") and smaller ones for the kids in our parish.