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Is the Blue Scapular Linked to the Conceptionists?
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Dear Dr. Horvat:
Thank you for your series of articles on Saint Beatriz de Silva.
Could you please post some prayers and information on the Blue Scapular, which she introduced and popularized?
Mr. and Mrs. G.M.
Dr. Horvat responds:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. G.M.,
I am glad you benefited from the series on Mother Beatriz da Silva (1424-1492).
The blue scapular you mention did not originate with the Conceptionist Order, and Beatriz da Silva did not disseminate it. This is due to some websites/blogs that are incorrectly disseminating such misinformation.
When Beatriz received the first apparition, Our Lady was wearing the white habit and azure blue cape. Our Lady told her then that she would found an Order dedicated to her Immaculate Conception and that the nuns should wear a habit like the one she was wearing.
Conceptionist nuns with their blue capes in a Quito procession; their habit scapular is white
Some 40 years later, when Beatriz finally founded the Conceptionists, she designed a habit on those lines, which the contemplative nuns still wear – with some modifications after Vatican II. Beatriz added a cloth medallion depicting the Immaculate Conception. Today the nuns have changed the medallion to a silver medal.
It seems that because of the distinctive blue cape of the Conceptionists, which you can see in the picture above, some persons have assumed that Beatriz da Silva also introduced the blue scapular, but such assumption is wrong.
Ven. Ursula Benincasa, founder of the Theatine nuns
The blue scapular traces its roots to Ven. Ursula Benincasa, who was born in Naples in 1547, a half century after Mother Beatriz da Silva died. In 1582, Our Lord told Ursula in a revelation to transmit a message to the Archbishop and then the Pope about the urgent need to reform customs in the Church and in the world. This was the time of the Renaissance, when great luxury and extravagance had been unleashed, especially in Italy.
Blessed by the Archbishop of Naples, Ursula left for Rome, where she was amicably received by Pope Gregory XIII, who heard from her lips the message, which included a grave warning of punishment to come upon the Church and world if Our Lord’s words were not heeded. The Pope established a Church commission to examine Ursula to ascertain the authenticity of her ecstasies and visions.
After seven months of examination, the commission unanimously determined that her visions were from God. The Pope placed her under the spiritual direction of St. Philip Neri, founder of the Oratory in Rome.
Under his direction, in the year 1583 she founded the Oblate Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary - who would later be placed under the Theatine Fathers and known as the Theatines – in Naples. The women made simple vows and lived an active life working in schools and hospitals. They had a special devotion to the Immaculate Conception and Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
She receives the blue scapular
On February 2, 1617, the Feast of the Presentation, after receiving Holy Communion Mother Ursula received a vision of the Blessed Mother with the Child Jesus in her arms. Our Lady asked her to found a cloistered institution dedicated to prayer in complete retirement from the world.
Our Lady was clothed in a white garment over which she wore a blue scapular. She told Mother Ursula to model her habit after this pattern. Then the Christ Child promised many favors to those who would wear the blue scapular with devotion. He promised Mother Ursula that they would be covered by Our Lady’s Sacred Mantle; have her defense against the snares of the enemy that lead us to sin; have the light and wisdom of God in difficult times; have a good death assisted by the sacraments of Extreme Unction and Confession; and have her advocacy on the day of final judgment.
In 1617 Our Lady gives Ursula the blue scapular
Mother Ursula asked if He would grant similar favors to those who would wear a small blue scapular in honor the Immaculate Conception. In her autobiography, she states that Our Lord granted her petition and showed her a multitude of Angels distributing scapulars all over the earth as a sign that her request was heard. Ursula had scapulars made like those she saw in her vision, blessed them, and began to distribute them among the faithful.
In 1617 she founded another institution, the contemplative Hermitesses, a very strict Congregation that practiced great austerities and strictest enclosure. After admission to solemn profession, a religious could never see her relatives again. Sadly, after Vatican II, their Rule was greatly relaxed.
Both institutions founded by Ven. Ursula, the Oblates and Hermitesses, wore the blue scapular as part of their habits and made many prayers and sacrifices to avert from mankind the terrible punishments that were to fall on the world, which Ursula foresaw in her many visions.
On one side, the Immaculate Conception; on the other, the initials V.M. - Virgin Mary
The rules of the Hermitesses and those of the Oblates were approved by Pope Gregory XV in 1623.
Before her death on October 20, 1618, Mother Ursula confided her work and the spiritual direction of her two Congregations to the Theatine Fathers. At that time, the Oblates and the contemplative Order of Mother Ursula jointly and officially became the Theatines of the Immaculate Conception. On August 7, 1793, she was proclaimed Venerable by Pope Pius VI.
Indulgences and investment in the blue scapular
In January 1671 Pope Clement X approved the blessing and investing of this scapular. Several years later, Clement XI granted specific indulgences for the wearing of this scapular, and succeeding Popes increased the number of such indulgences. Gregory XIV and Pius IX also declared that the indulgences of the blue scapular could be applied to the souls of the faithful departed.
Wearers of the blue scapular should have a special devotion to the Immaculate Conception
To receive the partial and plenary indulgences that are associated with the scapular, one must be enrolled in a confraternity of the Immaculate Conception. This enrollment obliges one to wear the blue cloth scapular day and night, live a life of chastity according to one’s station in life, show special devotion to the Most Holy Virgin Mary in the mystery of her Immaculate Conception, and pray for the conversion of sinners and for God’s mercy on the world.
The Theatines erected the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception in 1894 and were given authority by the Church to bless and invest the faithful with the blue scapular. Because the number of Theatines has decreased over the years, in 1992 the Marians of the Immaculate Conception obtained a perpetual permission from the Theatine Superior General to bless and confer the blue scapular of Immaculate Conception.
The Marian Fathers in the United States started spreading the blue scapular of the Immaculate Conception in the 1960s. If you wish to be invested with the blue scapular to receive the many indulgences granted to those who wear it, you may contact them here.
Persons who wear the blue scapular are encouraged to make a daily offering of oneself to Our Lady, such as the following:
"My Lady and my Mother, I give myself entirely to thee. And, to show my devotion to thee, I consecrate to thee this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my whole being without reserve. Wherefore, Good Mother, as I am thy own, keep me and guard me as thy property and possession."
Other suggested prayers are can be found in the back of the Confraternity booklet of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conceptionhere.
Posted April 10, 2012
Related Topics of Interest
Ven. Beatriz da Silva, Founder of the Conceptionists
The Rosary & Scapular: Weapons against Pride & Sensuality
Extraordinary Facts about the Carmelite Scapular
Don’t Forget Sacramentals - Aids to the Spiritual Life
The Scapular that Saved Two Lives
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