Around 1247, St. Simon Stock joined a community of hermits, (consisting of pilgrims and crusader monks) who lived on Mount Carmel in Palestine. St. Simon returned to England and established the Carmelite order in Aylesford, becoming its first Prior General. By all accounts he was a very prayerful and holy man, who had a particular devotion to the Blessed Mother. The order experienced many problems and were not well received by the local clergy. St. Simon prayed that Our Lady would grant their order some special privilege. Tradition has it, that on 16th July 1251, his prayers were answered. Our Lady appeared to him with the child Jesus and holding a small brown scapular in her hand. It was a small version of the Carmelite habit i.e., a double-sided garment, much like an apron. “This shall be the privilege for you and all Carmelites, that anyone dying wearing it will be saved.”
This scapular is Our Lady’s livery – her uniform. The Blessed Mother has granted fifteen promises to those who wear her scapular with devotion. On January 13th 1252 Pope Innocent IV sent a letter of protection to the Carmelites which confirmed Our Lady’s special patronage of the Order. The brown scapular is a sacramental and well loved by the faithful.