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The propagation of the Blue Scapular was confided to the great Theatine missionary, St. Andrew Avellino, famous for his two heroic vows: always to resist his own will, and always to do what was most perfect. The new devotion spread rapidly throughout the world, and it is from that bright period that Protestantism rather lost than gained ground in Europe; and that the beneficial results of the Catholic reform instituted by the Council of Trent began to be felt, and to produce in the Church one of the richest harvests of sanctity and glory she has ever known.  Nearly two centuries later the devotion was revived as an antidote to the irreligion and lax morality of his 

times by one of the greatest Saints of the Church, St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and a Doctor of the Church. 


In the present century it has been especially recommended and propagated at two centers of Catholic faith and devotion, which have witnessed the greatest prodigies of divine favor accorded to modern times Lourdes, and the miraculous altar of Notre Dame des Victoire’s.  Thus, throughout its history we find the Blue Scapular connected with great moral reforms, revivals of faith and movements of grace; and we see that the aim of its institution as given by our Lord Himself was to avert the greatest evils that menace our country today, and to forward those objects that are most for its welfare; in other words, to bring about the reformation of morals and the spread of the true Faith the conversion of sinners and the extinction of errors. 


We see now how well adapted this devotion is to our country’s needs; but can we practice it without adding an unbearable burden to what we are already carrying?  All that is required is simply the devout wearing of the Scapular in honor of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, and we need only add to this a special intention of honoring her more particularly as the Immaculate Patroness of our country.  No vocal prayers whatever are attached to the devotion.  Still, in order to gain the precious indulgences with which it is enriched, it is necessary, as the little Italian Manual of the Blue Scapular says, "to have the habit of praying from time to time, according to the spirit of the devotion, for the reformation of morals, the conversion of sinners, and the extinction of heresies." 


What objects of prayer could be more appropriate to our Country’s needs, and what could be easier than to fulfil this obligation by including these intentions in our daily morning and evening prayers, for instance, or in some pious ejaculation familiar to us, that could be made without effort at any time or in any place, such as, "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!" or the indulgence aspiration, "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!"  Those who have leisure for vocal prayers are recommended to say frequently the little chaplet of the Immaculate Conception, or Crown of Twelve Stars, composed by St. Andrew Avellino himself expressly for those who wear the Blue Scapular.  These tiny chaplets of twelve beads can be easily procured, but they are in nowise necessary to the devotion.  Each may follow his own taste in satisfying the obligation. 

The Blue Scapular with Our Lady of Lourdes as the 
Immaculate Conception on front and at the back,

the Miraculous Medal.

Those of us who have little leisure for vocal prayer may pray for our country in an admirable way by joining the intentions of the Blue Scapular to the devotions we are already practice.  We all can wear the Brown Scapular of Mt. Carmel, the Scapular, properly speaking.  The spirit of Carmel is one of intercessory prayer.  Let us remember that every night from nine o clock to eleven those hours of temptation and danger to thousands of heedless souls the nuns of Carmel 

are interceding in a special manner with the merciful God for the conversion of the sinful and the protection of the innocent.  We can think of this when we kneel down to say our night prayers, especially on Saturday; for Saturday is the American holiday, the day when probably more sins are committed, more souls lost to religion and morality, than on all the other days of the week put together.  Yet Saturday is also the day consecrated to the Blessed Virgin, and the day when many sinful souls are led back to God by the Sacrament of Penance.  Remembering these things, let us unite with the Carmelites, in all whose prayers and good works we have a share, and send 

up a sigh for souls in peril in every portion of the land. 


It may be that we belong to the Rosary Society.  Well, the Rosary was especially revealed to St. Dominic as a powerful instrument of Heaven for destroying heresies and spreading true religion and morality our very objects.  Or perhaps we belong to the Sacred Heart Confraternity and the Apostleship of Prayer.  What is their motto but "Thy kingdom come!"  Is it not the reign of Christian truth and morals what we desire for our beloved country?  Have not all the societies 

to which we may belong been established not only for our individual good, but also for the good of the community in which we live and so, ultimately, for the good of our country?  The better each one of us is individually, the better, our country will be for having such citizens; while the harder each one works and prays for the objects of his or her sodality or as sociation, the nearer is the day when true religion and Christian morality shall be supreme in the land.  There is hardly one of us who has not a distinct apostolic vocation in some one direction.  Our religion is not for ourselves alone.  We must bring the spirit of the Blue Scapular right down into everyday affairs. 

Another version of the Blue Scapular with the image of the Immaculate Conception on front and at the back, the initials A and M for Ave Maria. This one is distributed by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.

We must, however, go further than this.  True doctrine is the foundation of faith and morals.  If we wish to work for the reform of morals and the destruction of error, our dearest study should be the teachings of the Church, not only for our own guidance in thought and conduct, but for our neighbor’s sake as well.  There is no one of us so humble but may be called upon to speak the words of Catholic truth.  A number of instances come to our mind of wealthy and highly 

educated Protestant employers turning in anxious good faith to the obscure workman or the lowly servant-girl, with an honest inquiry for the Catholic teaching concerning some points of faith. We need not fear, though we may be unlearned in argument or unskilled in controversy. Argument and controversy often embitter and repel; while, as thousands of converts will testify, the simple presentation of Catholic doctrine will often win an immediate ascent.  Truth is mighty 

and will prevail.  The trouble is there are many million souls in this country so enwrapped, through no fault of their own, in clouds of ignorance, error and prejudice, that the light of 

truth never finds its way to them through the appointed channels.  They will never dream of applying to Catholic priest or teacher or controversialist or theologian. They will turn, however, to the Catholic layman who is their acquaintance in society, or their fellow worker in the office or the factory, or their companion in school or club, or perhaps their employee in shop or kitchen, and seek the truth of him. 


Then the humble apostle of the Blue Scapular, safe in the guidance of the Little Catechism of his childhood, and full of faith in the prevailing power of truth, with one quick glance toward her who is the Seat of Wisdom, and "who alone has destroyed all heresies throughout the world," as the Church has declared, will, in all simplicity and charity, sow the first small seeds of truth in the soul that Mary has led to him.  He will not expect to reap the harvest in the same day that he has sown: he knows it may be many weary years before the seed bears fruit; but he also knows that there can be no harvest without the seed; so he thanks God for the opportunity that was given him, and passes on in all patience and hope.  The history of almost all conversions dates from some word spoken or some example given, perhaps many years before, but recalled by the soul in its hours of trouble and perplexity. 


We have found that the consecration of our country to Mary Immaculate obliges us to three things: first, to honor our Holy Patroness in some special way; secondly, to implore her intercession for our country’s needs; and thirdly, to exercise a humble apostolate of good example and helpful words as far as in us lies.  We have also found that the Blue Scapular especially honors Mary in her Immaculate Conception; that its objects are especially suited to our country’s needs; and that its spirit is especially adapted to the sort of apostolate we are called to exercise.  Moreover, it is a simple devotion, that makes no great demands on us, and fits in naturally and easily with our other devotions, with the duties of our state of life.  It is full of motives for zeal and perseverance in the service of God and our neighbor, and for our own sanctification and the development of all our gifts and opportunities, adding a new interest to our usual devout practices, and penetrating our whole lives with that love of our country and of our 

neighbor which is so consonant to the spirit of religion.  We enjoy in it all the advantages and traditions of an old and long-venerated devotion, which rekindle its first fervor and give it a new and effective impulse by adapting it to the young life of a vigorous growing country, exposed to fearful dangers in all the heyday of its restless youth, a country whose chief hope lies in this: that God Himself has thrown around it the blue mantle of the Immaculate Virgin, saying to its passionate heart, "Let this be thy safeguard. Behold thy Mother!" 


Let us, then, all, Catholic Americans, unite in the face of our country’s hopes and perils, and with childlike faith and confidence draw the Blue Scapular about us, crying from our hearts, "Behold thy sons!" 

"O Mary, through thy pure and Immaculate Conception, obtain for me purity of body and sanctity of soul." 


[Indulgenced prayer.] 





Yen Ursula Benincasa

Naples, Italy



Mother of Him who bore without relief 

His heavy load of grief: 

Mother most sorrowful, guide us we pray, 

Along the thorny way 

Where Christ walked, where His worn feet have bled, 

Where we should love to tread. 


Lady C. Petre.

URSULA BENINCASA was born at Naples.  She was consecrated at her birth to Mary Immaculate, whose glory she was to spread among men.  Being left early an orphan, she lived with her brother and sister in extreme hardships, yet she was always willing and cheerful.  She would leave her sick bed to carry her brother his dinner; and the three children thus led, with no other guidance lives of religious exactness and prayer.  As she toiled at her loom, she had the picture of Mary before her, and was constantly rapt in ecstasy by visions of the Mother of God. On the death of her brother, she retired to a cell at Mt. St. Elmo, above Naples, whereby her extraordinary influence she caused a church to be built in honor of Mary Immaculate.  Moved by the Spirit of God, she visited Gregory XIII., at Rome, and declared that, unless penance were done, God would scourge the world for its sins. St. Philip Neri was charged to try her spirit; and after seven months of searching trials he formally approved her sanctity. Ursula, full of gratitude to St. Philip, returned to Naples, and there instituted a Congregation of the Theatine nuns of the Immaculate Conception and the devotion of the Blue Scapular. She died A. D. 1618. 

In the year 1616, on the 2nd day of February, Our Blessed Lady appeared with the Divine Child in her arms, clothed in a white robe and light blue mantle, and surrounded by maidens in like dress.  "Weep no more, Ursula," she said, "but listen to what my Jesus and yours will say to you."  The Holy Child then told her of the Order she was to found, of its rule, and what blessings were to be gained by wearing the blue habit.  Ursula thereupon asked whether devout persons, living in the world, might not have like benefits, and knew her prayer was granted when she saw angels scattering Scapulars about the earth. 


Pope Clement X. approved this Scapular dated January 30th, 1671. 


The Scapular should be of blue woolen stuff; and it is customary to attach to it two engravings, one representing Mary conceived without sin, and the other the Blessed Virgin with the Child Jesus in her arms.

To gain the indulgences it is sufficient to be duly enrolled, and to wear the Scapular; but additional indulgences can be obtained by reciting six Paters, Aves, and Glorias in honor of the Holy Trinity, and of Mary conceived without sin. 

The devotion of the Blue Scapular, or Scapular of the Immaculate Conception, is one that should be dear to the heart of all American Catholics.  "Mary conceived without sin" is the Patroness of the United States, and a happy inspiration it was that consecrated them to her benign protection. This the land of Mary Immaculate, and the Scapular that honors her sublime privilege should be the national badge of every Catholic who loves his country. Let us think for a few moments of all that this consecration signifies, and also to what it obliges us as Catholics and as patriots. 

Our country the promise of its future, its intelligence, its riches, its liberties, the integrity of its political and social life, the purity of its morals, the sanctity of its homes, the sobriety and virtue of its men, the honor of its women, the innocence of its children all have been confided to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mother of our Redeemer.  Does not this thought make our hearts beat high with new hope that a future of religion and morality is secure to us from the fact of her patronage alone? 


But let us see whether this consecration to Mary Immaculate does not lay some obligation upon her children.  Do we have recourse to her as we should?  Do we invoke her in the special manner that befits her as our country’s Patroness?  Do we, indeed, pray for our country at all?  Do we realize its grave dangers as well as we comprehend its marvelous promise?  Do we feel the necessity for earnest prayer, that the former may be averted and the latter fulfilled?  We need not fear that Mary will fail to do her part, but are we doing ours?  It is the will of God that much, very much, should be dependent upon our prayers; and are we not tying Mary’s hands by our neglect of prayer for our country? 


The dangers that threaten our country are insidious and powerful.  True religion and Catholic morality are held and observed by only a small proportion of its inhabitants one-sixth at the largest showing.  Moreover, the air is full of evil influences tending to undermine them moral evils which assail us all, and errors in doctrine to which five-sixths of the people are a prey, and which are not without peril even to the faithful.  We have but to name a few of these evils to appreciate their danger: intemperance, divorce, political corruption and business dishonesty, social evils, pauperism and crime, godless education, infidel literature, agnosticism and heresies, worldliness and greed of riches, enmities and strife between capital and labor, speculation, gambling and extravagance.  There are, besides, dangers arising from conditions unfavorable to the growth of traditions of piety and purity conditions brought about by constantly shifting populations, indiscriminate immigration, and the necessity of letting our young people drift out into the world alone and unprotected to seek their fortunes.  Many of these evils we share in common with all peoples, but many arise from our peculiar circumstances and temptations. 

They are American evils, or at least are felt here with exceptional force. 

These and other evils are sources of national danger.  But Mary Immaculate is our Patroness; God has willed it, and here in lies our hope.  The ship that brought Columbus, the "Christ-bearer," to the shores of America was named the Santa Maria. And as a vessel consecrated to Holy Mary first brought the Cross of Christ and the light of the true Faith to the New World, so it is consecration to the same Immaculate Mother that will bring us to the most perfect fulfilment of a glorious destiny an ideal civilization founded upon Christian morality and true religion. 


How will the devotion of the Blue Scapular forward our Country’s interests?  We have seen that its dangers arise from two sources: a perverted moral standard, and erroneous opinions and skepticism in matters of faith.  Now, let us examine the origin and aims of the devotion of the Blue Scapular, and see whether it does not furnish us with a remedy against these dangers. 


The Blue Scapular is neither a new nor an unknown devotion.  It is long established and richly indulgenced.  It was not long after the rise of Protestantism.  Corruption of morals and errors of doctrine were laying waste the fairest possessions of the Church, when our Divine Lord appeared to this chosen soul, Ursula, instructing her to wear the blue habit in honor of the Holy Trinity and Mary Immaculate, for the preservation of faith and purity; to pray ardently for the reformation of morals and extinction of heresies; and to found a religious order for these ends.  She begged of our Lord that devout people in the world might share in the benefits which He promised to those wearing the blue habit, and was answered by a vision of angels scattering Scapulars about the earth. 

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the young girl went to Rome and presented herself before Pope Gregory XIII., saying that the world was being scourged for its sins, and urging men to penance and to devotion to Mary Immaculate.  The Pontiff ordered St. Philip Neri to test her spirit, to see if there was any imposture.  For seven months St. Philip exercised her in every sort of humiliation and trial; then he declared her mission to be from God, and she was permitted to found a congregation of Theatine nuns of the Immaculate Conception, whose special task should be to pray for the objects named by our Lord.

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