Pope Reveals He Wears a Carmelite
Sends Letter to Mark a 750th Anniversary
VATICAN CITY, MAR. 27, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II wrote a letter for
the 750th anniversary of the reception of the scapular by the Carmelite order,
in which he reveals that he has worn a smaller version of the scapular since his
The scapular was received by Carmelite Superior General Simon
Stock in 1251. The Virgin Mary appeared to him
and assured the eternal salvation of all those who wear the scapular with
The Holy Father sent a letter to the
generals of the two Carmelite branches: Father Joseph Chalmers, of the old, or
"shod," branch, and Father Camilo Maccise, of the discalced branch (reformed by
St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross). The Pope reminded the Carmelites that in
his apostolic letter "Novo Millennio Ineunte," he entrusted the third millennium
John Paul II wrote, "I have learned that the Carmelite order,
in its two branches, the old and the reformed, wishes to express its own filial
love to its Patroness, dedicating the year 2001 to her, invoked as the Flower of
Carmel, Mother and Guide in the Path to Holiness."
This Marian devotion,
expressed "in the humble sign of the scapular, consists in the consecration to
her Immaculate Heart," he stressed.
Popular scapulars consist of two
small squares of woolen cloth joined by strings and worn around the neck. The
original, large scapulars worn by some religious orders came to symbolize the
cross and yoke of Christ.
In his letter, the Holy Father made a personal
revelation: "I, too, have carried the Carmel scapular over my heart for a long
When he was a university student in Krakow, Poland, before
entering the seminary, Karol Wojtyla considered entering the Carmelite order,
after reading St. John of the Cross' works. The latter's mystical writings so
fascinated Wojtyla, that he based his doctoral thesis on them.