Green Scapular or Scapular of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (Paulists)
At last the day had come for Sister Justine Bisqueyburu. Today was January 28, 1840, the day of the great retreat. She had arrived at the convent of the Sisters of Charity November 27, 1839, but the retreat had ended a few days before so she had to wait. But now it had come again. The retreat would take place in the hall above the chapel where she was now, praying as she knelt in front of Our Lady’s altar. On Our Lady’s altar was a statue of Mary, which was commonly known as miraculous equally as much as it was known old.
Then while Sister Justine was praying, Our Lady appeared to her. She was wearing a long white dress which fell down to her bare feet, over her dress she wore a light blue mantle. She wore no veil though, and instead her hair hung loosely about her. In her hands, she held her heart and from the top of her heart flowed abundant flames. The Blessed Virgin had a loveliness that was heavenly which added to her beauty. The young nun was shown this vision at the end of the retreat, and still 4 - 5 times more on the main feasts of Mary during her time as a postulant.
After she made her vows, she was then sent to teach at Blangy. On the feast of the Nativity of Mary September 8, 1840, soon after she had arrived, Our Lady appeared to her in the manner that she usually did. But this time she was holding her heart in her right hand and in her left she held a scapular. The scapular consisted of a simple piece of green material which was rectangle in shape and was hanging from a green string. On one side was an image of Our Lady the way she had appeared the first and other times to her. On the other side of the scapular was a picture of her Immaculate Heart all ablaze and transparent as crystal, with rays pouring out that were brighter than the sun. The heart was surmounted by a golden cross and was pierced with a sword. The heart was encircled by an inscription in the form of an oval which read: "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death".
While seeing this, a voice inside of Sister Justine told her that God wanted to establish in the world a more tender and confident appreciation and love of His Blessed Mother through the devotion of her Immaculate Heart. When invoked under this title and through this holy image, Our Lady would obtain great favors from her Divine Son - especially in the areas of physical health, peace of mind and spiritual conversion. She, who is the Refuge of Sinners, would especially obtain the conversion of those who had fallen away from the True Faith, or who had never possessed it.
Our Lady wanted copies of this new scapular to be made immediately and to be distributed with great confidence.
Sister Justine wrote to Sister Buchepot (her directress) of what she saw. Sister Justine had the most recent vision again on August 15 and September 18, 1841. Sister Buchepot wrote to Father Aladel about what Sister Justine had told her. But for some reason Father Aladel did not bother so much about the matter. Our Lady appeared to Sister Justine on May 13, 1842 and complained of the delay. Sister Justine wrote of this to Sister Buchepot who in turn wrote to Father Aladel. Sister Buchepot also asked him if she should write to Mr. Letaille the artist, which would now-a-days be called a printer. During this time, the bishop had been deciding whether or not these apparitions were from God. Finally, after much thought and prayer, the bishop gave his permission to distribute the new sacramental. Father Aladel told Sister Buchepot to write to Mr. Letaille.
Now the scapulars were able to be made. But they were given out as an experiment, a try out - only in small amounts and not with the confidence that Our Lady had requested. As a result, the miracles were little. The Blessed Mother appeared to Sister Justine during the year of 1846 and told her that she was not happy. Sister Justine wrote this to Sister Buchepot. The scapular was then printed faster, and given out with more confidence.
Our Lady however had never been clear about certain aspects of this new devotion. Questions needed to be answered. What circumstances were necessary to make the scapular effective? Was there a special blessing for it? Was there a ceremony for enrolling persons in its use? Were there any obligations for those who used it? Was the scapular for use only by certain groups of people or in certain situations?
To resolve these difficulties it was decided that Sister Justine would ask Our Lady herself what God’s Holy Will was in these matters. Our Blessed Mother’s response was given during an apparition on September 8th, 1846 - exactly six years after her initial request for this “Badge of the Immaculate Heart”.
According to Our Lady’s own words, we know the following requirements and purposes regarding the Green Scapular. As she herself said, this scapular is not like others (that is, it is not the habit of confraternity), but merely two holy pictures on a single piece of material. Therefore, no special formula is required to bless it or enroll someone in its use. It suffices that it be blessed by a priest and worn by the one whom we desire to benefit by Our Lady’s intercession. If, on the other hand, the person is unable or unwilling to wear it or carry it, it may even be slipped unknown to them in their clothes, bed, room, or possessions, etc. Our Lady of the Green Scapular has promised to be especially helpful when we pray to her for health of body, peace of mind, or the conversion and salvation of souls.
As to the prayers to be recited, there is only one that needs to be said and it should be prayed at least once a day. It is the prayer on the scapular’s back: “Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.”
If the person who needs Our Lady’s help does not say the prayer themselves, then someone else can say it in their place. The Green Scapular may be used anywhere, for anyone. The greatest graces are attached to its use; but, as Our Lady explained, these graces are more or less great in proportion to the degree of confidence of the person praying. This was the meaning of the different kinds of rays that fell from Our Lady’s hands at the last apparition.
The Church investigated the visions and approved the Green Scapular for the faithful to use. Immediately there were many miracles of all types, and so it continues to this day. Many “average” people experience extraordinary miracles of healing or conversion, like those you read about in the lives of the Saints. Mary is our most loving mother. Pray to her always with the greatest confidence, especially under the title of “the Immaculate Heart of Mary” and the image of her Green Scapular.
- Wear or carry the scapular
- To help another, place it in their vicinity (i.e. their room)
- Pray, at least daily: "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death"
- The prayer should be said for oneself and separately for each person to whom it has been given (unless they pray themselves)
- No enrollment of any kind is necessary, but each scapular should be blessed by a priest (general blessing of sacramentals)
- Have confidence in the effects of the scapular: "The greatest graces come from using the scapular but these graces come in direct proportion to the degree of confidence in me which the user has."
- Conversion of those who do not have the faith
- Reconciliation to the Church for those who have lost/strayed from the faith
- Assurance of a happy death
- Strengthening of the faith for those already in the Church
- Protection from Satan for those who wear or promote the scapular
The Green Scapular
By Robert A. Macdonald, C.Ss.R., written 1948
It is my conviction, that despite all the wars, the threats and the horror of Communism, we are living in the happiest of centuries. Never since the days that she taught the Infant Jesus to pray has the Mother of God been closer to the earth. We are living in the Age of Mary. Countless signs show us that she has come down from the Galilean hills of heaven to give us a new Bethlehem, a reborn Christ in the hearts of men. Germany, Italy, Portugal and France have been singularly blessed by her gentle presence. From all sides witnesses spring up to attest with wondrous proofs, her presence among us. She is walking on the earth!
However, there is a dark side to the picture today, the darkness of the beast. He prowls to trample and destroy. Never has he been so apparent. His time is growing short. No one knows better than he. He has never forgotten the prophecy in the garden: "I will put enmities between thee and the woman... she shall crush thy head" (Gen. 3:15).
He realizes well what the coming of Mary means to him and his empire. God alone knows the furious activity of hell, the rage with which it strives to make this world a madhouse of hate. How he must hate the tender Virgin as she journeys from country to country. His power has been so great that he thought God had abandoned the world because of its unbelief. He was hopeful of finally conquering the world, of snatching souls from the nail-scarred Hands of Christ. Then came Lourdes, then Fatima and, today, the Mother of God sitting at the bedside of a sick world.
For years he has succeeded in hiding the beautiful devotion of her Immaculate Heart in the Green Scapular. I am sure that most of you have heard of this matchless devotion only lately. Yet the good Sister to whom it was revealed died over forty years ago. This is not surprising. See how well the evil spirit hid the marvels of Fatima although Our Lady's power flamed in the heavens before fifty thousand men and women.
Let me tell you the story of how I discovered the Green Scapular. This is my only way of trying to spread a true and tender love to her Immaculate Heart and of paying my debt to her. Seven years ago, before penicillin was in use, I was lying in a hospital very ill with pneumonia. I began to hemorrhage and the doctors decided to operate as a last resource. Then a little nun came into my room.
"Father, have you great faith in the Mother of God, especially in her Immaculate Heart? If so, you can be cured."
"Through the Green Scapular."
"What is that?"
"Four years ago, Father, I was operated on for cancer. I was so filled with it, that they just closed me up and sent me away to die. Then I prayed to Our Lady of the Green Scapular; grew tired of waiting to die and came back to work. I am cured, Father. Do you want me to give you a Scapular?"
With that she put one over my head. A feeling of tremendous confidence poured into me and the bleeding stopped. Two days later, in the X-ray room, they asked me when the hemorrhage had ceased. When I replied that it was a matter of a couple of days, they expressed great surprise.
"Your have a wound that is six months healed and there is no other mark." Today even the scars are gone. No wonder I speak of an un-payable debt to her Immaculate Heart. Since then I have done everything possible to foster this devotion. To my great joy and amazement, those to whom I have spoken of the Green Scapular have become more zealous than I. Never have I seen the equal of the faith and confidence of these new apostles of Mary. The tremendous fervor of the crusades must have been like it.
During May I asked the rector of St. Patrick's, Toronto, for permission to speak of it at the Wednesday devotions. I had a thousand Green Scapulars on hand, but no one thought that more than thirty would be asked for. The thousand were gone the first morning. The room where we distributed them was so jammed that I feared someone would be injured. The rest of the day I was besieged on all sides for more. Foolishly, I showed the one I had for myself and it was quickly snatched from my hand.
The spirit in Toronto today is beyond belief. Ten thousand more have been too few. Over twenty-five priests have come to our monastery begging for scapulars. I have been stopped on the streets and accosted on trains by total strangers asking where these Scapulars could be obtained. Montreal has since shown a like fervor.
I am stunned at the response. I have no explanation for it. Certainly it was not due to the simple little sermon that I preached. I believe the explanation of it was given by a priest with all the simplicity of the priesthood: "She wants her heart loved."
Those who doubted in the beginning are today the most devoted to the Green Scapular. It has become something priceless. They love to say the beautiful prayer which we learned from Mary's lips: "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death." Toronto today is feeling the warmth of that heart. A man, who had refused for years to see a priest, remained adamant on his deathbed. One of the family brought the Scapular into his room, said the prayer twice and, suddenly out of a clear sky, he begged for a priest.
I must insist that the peculiar power of this Scapular is that of conversion. To bring her Son into the hearts of men. To give Him a new birth there. Although there are many cures like my own, I repeat, her greatest desire is to give her Son birth in the cradle of your soul.
The Green Scapular is the story of Sister Justine Bisqueyburu. An orphan in early life, she was adopted by a wealthy relative who left her his fortune. Her greatest day of joy was November 27, 1839, when she entered the novitiate of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent of Paul in Paris. Her Sisters in religion are stationed in Maryland. Address: Sisters of Charity, Central House, Emmitsburg, Maryland.
They can tell you much better than I the story of a Sister who inspired love and emulation in everyone who met her. One who was a confidante of Pope Pius IX in the dark days preceding his imprisonment in the Vatican; one who was the admiration of the Mohammedans of North Africa; the recipient of the flattering imitation of the famous Florence Nightingale on the battlefields of the Crimea. They can tell you the great efforts she made to keep her identity unknown; how her secret was revealed. How the Green Scapular found its way to the desk of Pope Pius XI. They will repeat the description of the Mother of God, standing in all her beauty before the young novice, and returning again and again until the Scapular was made and distributed. Telling the young Sister that the Scapular could be blessed by any priest, carried or worn on the person, even left in one's room, the only obligation being to say, once a day (and this can be said in favor of another): "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death."
(The above article was published in the Madonna Magazine, August 1948, and was copied with permission by the Quarterly Bulletin of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Agony. March, 1949. It also appeared in Fatima Findings, September, 1949, published by the Reparation Society of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Baltimore, Maryland.) The Green Scapular or Scapular of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is, like the Miraculous Medal, a gift of our Blessed Mother to the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.
On November 27, 1839, Justine Bisqueyburu, destined by Providence to make known this devotion, enters the Seminary, or Novitiate of the Daughters of Charity, 140 rue du Bac, Paris. On January 28, 1840, during her first retreat, the young Sister was favored with a celestial vision. Our Lady appeared to her clothed in a long white robe over which hung a bright blue mantle. Her hair, which fell loosely over her shoulders, was not covered with a veil, and in her hands she held her Heart, from the top of which issued brilliant rays. To the dignity of her bearing was joined the dazzling brightness of celestial beauty. The young Sister, seized with admiration and fear, could scarcely repress an explanation.
The same apparition was repeated four or five times during her Seminary on the principal feast of the Blessed Virgin. This favor seemed to have no other end than to increase in the Sister herself tender devotion to Mary Immaculate. Clothed with the habit, Sister Bisqueyburu was sent to Blangy and shortly after her arrival, September 8, 1840, feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, she was favored during prayer with an apparition of the Mother of God, who held in her right hand her heart surrounded by flames, and in her left a sort of scapular, consisting of a single piece of green cloth suspended from a cord of the same color. On one side was a picture of the Blessed Virgin as she had shown herself in the apparitions; on the other, a Heart all inflamed with rays more brilliant than the sun, and clearer than crystal.
This Heart pierced with a sword was surrounded by an oval inscription, surmounted by a cross. The inscription read: "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death." At the same time an interior voice revealed to the Sister the meaning of this vision. She understood that this new Scapular, through the medium of the Sisters of Charity, would contribute to the conversion of those who have no faith, and above all, procure for them a happy death, and that it should be distributed immediately with confidence.
For various reasons the execution was long delayed, in consequence of which the Blessed Virgin in several apparitions between 1840 and 1846 complained to the Sister. As obstacles were removed, the Scapular was distributed, producing wonderful conversions and some bodily cures.
Among favors obtained are the following: A sick man, a declared enemy of all religion, was thrown into frenzy by the mere sight of a priest. He accepted a Green Scapular on September 19, 1842. Eleven days later, arising from dinner, he withdrew into an adjoining room, fell on his knees and took out his Scapular which he called an intermediary agent. Kissing it and bathing it with tears, he promised Our Lady to go to Confession within a week. That delay seemed too long, for the next day he received the Sacraments.
In 1844, a child of fourteen with depraved morals received the Scapular and in a few days his conversion was affected.
The manner of using the Scapular was indicated by the Blessed Virgin. Since it is not the badge of a confraternity but simply a double image attached to a single piece of cloth and suspended from a cord, the formalities of a Scapular are not required for the Benediction and Imposition. It suffices that it be blessed by a priest and worn by the one for whom it is intended. It may be placed in the clothing, on the bed, or simply in the room. The only prayer to be recited is the inscription surrounding the Heart on the reverse of the Scapular: "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death." This should be repeated daily, if not by the one wearing it, by the one giving it. The Scapular may be distributed everywhere. Although wonderful graces are attached to it, they are proportionate to the confidence with which it is given, as signified by the rays of different lengths which in the last apparitions, issued from the hands of the blessed Virgin.
The Green Scapular was twice approved by Pope Pius IX, in 1863, and again in 1870 when he said: "Write to these good Sisters that I authorize them to make and distribute it."
An exact account of any conversion or cure which may be attributed to the Green Scapular should be sent to Marian Center, Saint Joseph Central House, Emmitsburg, Maryland, with all circumstances of time, place and persons. Names should not be withheld under pretext of humility, for there is question of the glory of God and of His Holy Mother.
Nihil Obstat: E. A. Cerny, S.S., S.T.D., Censor Librorum
Imprimator: Francis P. Keough, D.D., Archbishop of Baltimore
Feast: Immaculate Heart of Mary, August 22, 1950