CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 17, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today noted that the scapular is a "particular sign of union with Jesus and Mary."
The Pope commented on the use of this devotion when he addressed Polish-speaking pilgrims gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo to pray the midday Angelus.
Saturday was the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the feast to which the scapular is linked. Simon Stock, general superior of the Carmelite Order, received the scapular in 1251, during an apparition of the Virgin, when she promised special assistance in life and in death to all those who wear it with devotion.
The word scapular originally referred to a form of clothing, which monks wore when they were working. The scapular came to symbolize Carmelite devotion to Mary; the devotion developed over time so that today, the scapular has various forms.
Benedict XVI referred to wearing the scapular as a "particular sign of union with Jesus and Mary."
"For those who wear it, it is a sign of filial abandonment to the protection of the Immaculate Virgin," he said. "In our battle against evil, may Mary our Mother wrap us in her mantle."
The Holy Father's praise of the scapular while he was greeting the Polish pilgrims brings to mind his predecessor's own devotion to the scapular.
Blessed John Paul II spoke about the sign on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in 2003. The Polish Pontiff said:
"Even I, from my youngest days, have worn around my neck the scapular of Our Lady and I take refuge with trust under the mantle of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus."