Over time, few devotions have been so extensively promoted as the devotion to the Holy Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
It is so intimately connected with the life of the Catholic, that it provokes more attention when particular Catholics do not practice it, than when it is visibly part of their life.
In 1595, however, Mag. Joseph Falcone published a work on the history of the Order, in which as a contemporary he declared that this devotion blossomed, especially in Spain, and that there was no house where people did not wear the garment of Carmel, indeed, through the common wearing of that garment, the whole of Spain and Portugal could be said to be one great cloister of Carmelites.
For a long time, people believed that when it came to the Netherlands, any indication that the Scapular was also worn here was missed.
Admittedly, not many traces of this devotion have remained but, all the same, they do tell us that the Netherlands did not trail behind other countries.
We possess a poem by a layperson, from the end of the fifteenth-century, which sings the praises of the Scapular.
The translation of this text reads as follows:
We see the Carmelites clothed with Scapulars who—from the hands of the Holy Simon Stock when he, as a foretaste of the reward for his devotion to the Holy Virgin Mary, having been graced to contemplate her, Mary, with this garment in her virginal hands—have accepted the cited Scapular with incredible zeal as their garment.
We can say frankly that in our country all priests could be said to be promoters of this beautiful devotion and, thanks to the piety of their priests, nearly all Catholics in the Netherlands have received the garment of the Lady of Mount Carmel. What Falcone said of Spain at the end of the 16th century may surely be said of the Netherlands today: There is no house where, to be blessed with the countless indulgences and privileges of the Carmelite Order, one does not wear the garment of Carmel.
Blessed Titus Brandsma
Promoting the Holy Scapular in the Netherlands (excerpts)
English translation of fragments of ‘De verspreiding van het H. Scapulier in Nederland’ by Susan Verkerk-Wheatley / Anne-Marie Bos Translation: Susan Verkerk-Wheatley / Anne-Marie Bos © Titus Brandsma Instituut 2019