Among the numerus clergy and laity people, lovers of the scapular service, St. John Paul II was the famous one – recalls Fr. Dr hab. Szczepan Praśkiewicz OCD, Consultor of the Vatican Congregation for the Cause of Saints.
As Father points out, Polish Pope also known as “Carmelite”, took the sign of the protection of the Mother of God as a young boy at the Barefoot Carmelites Church in Wadowice. It was during the meeting in 1999, in his hometown the Pope recalled, beside the famous cream puffs, the moment when he took the scapular as a young boy at the Górka in Wadowice.
These Papal words are now reflected on a marble plaque on the wall next to the altar of Our Lady of the Scapular in the church in Wadowice. Also, there in a decorative reliquary is the scapular of the Holy Father. After the death of the Pope, the monastery received this relic from Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz.
When Karol Wojtyła received the scapular?
Father Praśkiewicz recalls other words of the young Bishop Karol Wojtyła, directed to the Barefoot Carmelites. I always wear the scapular, which I received from Father Sylwester, and although I lived in the shade of the parish church, your church on Górka was always very dear to me. Among many prayers, which touched my child’s soul, I the most enthusiastically prayed the novena before the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It was vacation time, the month of July. In the past, people were not going on vacations as it is now. I spent my vacations in Wadowice, so I was always attending the afternoon Church services during the novena until I left Wadowice for good. Sometimes, it was difficult to leave my friends, to go out from the refreshing waves of beloved Skawa, but the melodic voice of Carmelite bells was so strong, so penetrating to the depths of my soul, that I was going there. Yes, yes, I was living next to the parish church, but I grew up in your Carmelite church – said at that time the future Pope.
According to the monk, so numerous photographs document that St. John Paul II always wore the scapular. “The most well-known are three: on one we can see the woolen scapular on the shoulders of Karol Wojtyła, who poses for a commemorative photo with his friends; on the second one there is the scapular at the neck of the Cardinal who was resting in Mazury; on the third one we can see the brown scapular of Carmel on the neck of John Paul II who was at the Gemelli Polyclinic in 1981, just after the assassination attempt. He was stripped of all clothes and left only in a hospital gown; he did not allow to remove from his neck the brown Carmel scapular – emphasized Barefoot Carmelite.
Scapular as a habit
Father Praśkiewicz explains that Saint John Paul II left also doctrinal statements that contain the theology of the holy scapular. In the message, issued on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of this gift of Mary, which took place in 2001, the Pope emphasized, among other things, that the sign of the scapular, remaining constantly on our shoulders, reminds us and obliges us not only to pray and honor Mother of Christ on special occasions. “…the awareness that devotion to Her cannot be limited to prayers and tributes in her honor on certain occasions, but must become a “habit”, that is, a permanent orientation of one’s own Christian conduct” – explains Fr. Praśkiewicz, referring to the lexical connotations of the word habit. “After all, a scapular is a habit; in Italian it is called Abitino and abito is the habit, so a scapular in Italian is habcik” – he added.
The scapular movement began to evolve after the apparitions
The Carmelite tradition states that the scapular movement began to evolve after the apparitions, which St. Simon Stock, the Prior of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel religious order had in 1251. The acceptance of the scapular, total entrustment to the Mother of God, brings with it the promises of Mary’s special protection in the dangers of life as well as a happy death and preservation from eternal damnation.
At the end of the fifteenth century, so-called Saturday privilege was added. According to it, the Mother of Jesus after their death releases from purgatory those who during their lifetime practiced scapular devotions on the first Saturday.