QUAERITUR: Five-fold scapular

I had a question from a reader.  Perhaps some priests might chime in with their experiences.  Personally, I have never been asked to bless one of these or invest anyone.  But… lets get to the question.

I recently purchased a five-fold scapular at the Midwest Catholic Family Conference in Wichita.  However, I find no "rules" for enrollment in the scapular(s).  I looked in the little booklet contained in the package in which I purchased it, but it simply gave the enrollment formula, but not the conditions to be enrolled.  I have searched on the internet as well, and cannot find anything.  I do know that those enrolled in the brown scapular must say the Divine Office, or the Rosary, etc. but what about those enrolled in the five-fold scapular?  Your help would be greatly appreciated.

There is a site which describes the investiture of the five-fold scapular as well as the history of each one.  There is also this site with a bit more elaborate information, including statements about the indulgences attached to this work.  I am sure those are out of date.  Also, the obligations mentioned are to pray the Rosary daily, wear the scapular, a Crucifix, and St. Benedict medal, which I believe both some with the five-fold scapular.

You know… bad things always have happened to me whenever I have blessed a St. Benedict medal.  Devils hate those things, I think.  But I digress.

Otherwise, I suppose that each of these scapulars has its own obligations, which could be looked up separately. 

The form for blessing and investing is in the Rituale Romanum (Titulus IX – Caput XI – #14).  There are blessings and forms there for all the scapulars approved at that date (1953).

Keep in mind that these are sacramentals, not sacraments.  But the devils and his minions hate sacramentals, which cause them pain as they strengthen you. 

Sacramentals are very good things and we should make use of them regularly and with well-thought out purpose!

Here is what the above mentioned site provides.


Blessings and investiture by any Priest.
(Rite now assigned to all priests by the head of various orders.)
The Five-Folds :

    * Outer – the red or the "Passion Scapular"
    * Back – the white, or "Blessed Trinity"
    * Between the brown – or "Our Lady of Mount Carmel"
    * The black – or "Our Lady of Sorrows"
    * The blue – or "The Immaculate Virgin Mary"

Blessing and Investiture:

[The priest should wear cassock, surplice and white stole.]

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.

R. Who made heaven and earth.

V. The lord be with you.

R. And also with you. [And with your spirit!]

Let Us Pray
Lord Jesus Christ, head over all the faithful and savior of the human race, who has condescended to clothe Thyself with our wounded nature, we beg Thee of Thine innumerable goodness to bless + and sanctify these garments, designed in homage to the most Blessed Trinity, as well as in memory of Thy most bitter passion, and in honor of the Virgin Mother of God, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

Grant that they who may be invested therewith may deserve, through the intercession of thy Blessed Mother, likewise to clothe themselves in body and soul, with Thee, for salvation, who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.

(The priest then sprinkles the scapulars with Holy Water) and invests each one individually holding their scapular over them (he may use one scapular for all if they don’t have one) and saying the following once for all in common.

1. Receive the habit of the Order of The Most Holy Trinity unto an increase of Faith, Hope, and Charity, that you may put on the new man, created in the likeness of God, in holiness and righteousness.

2. Receive the Scapular of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, so that having laid aside the old man and put on the new, you may wear it worthily and come to Life Everlasting.

3. Receive the Scapular of the devoted clients of the Blessed Virgin Mary, conceived without sin, that by her intercession you may be cleansed from every defilement and attain Life Everlasting.

4. Receive the Scapular of the devoted Servants of Our Lady of the Seven Dolors, so that, through diligent meditation on her sorrows, you may be imbued in heart and body with the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and always remain steadfast in your devotion.

5. Receive the habit of the Society and Confraternity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, beseeching the Most Holy Virgin, that through her merits you may wear it without stain, and be protected by her from all adversity and brought to the joys of Life Everlastng.

By the faculty delegated to me by the Holy See, I receive you as partakers of all the spiritual favors of these Orders and Congregations, as well as the Indulgences granted by privilege of the Holy See to the aforesaid Scapulars. [I am not sure what, if any they may be.  The old indulgences were pretty much swept away.  This would need, perhaps, clarification from the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, which has competence in the matter of indulgences.] In the name of The Father,+ and of The Son,+ and of The Holy + Spirit. R. Amen.

V. Preserve Thy Servants.
R. Who trust in Thee, my God.

V. Send them aid, Lord, from on high.
R. And from Sion watch over them.

V. Be Thou unto them a mighty fortress.
R. In the face of the enemy.

V. Let the enemy be powerless against them.
R. And the son of iniquity do nothing to harm them.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.  [That’s better.]

Let Us Pray

Bow down, O lord, to our supplications, and deign to bless+them on whom we have conferred the sacred habits in Thy name. May they cooperate with Thy grace, and thus deserve to attain Life Everlasting. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen

May the blessings of Almighty God, + Father, Son, and Holy Spirit come upon you and remain for all time.

R. Amen.

Taken from the Roman Ritual Volume II. Nihil Obstat: Stephen Anderi, Censor Librorum. Imprimatur:+Joannes P. Troacy, S.T.D. Episcopus Crossensis 18 June 1950)

Looking through the Rituale I found quite a few different forms for different scapulars, some of which I was unaware of. 

Did you know there was a scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel?  I didn’t.  And there is an Augustinian connection.

So, I learned a couple things today because of this question.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Iosephus says:

    Wow, interesting. Though much fascinated with the notion of a scapular, I always thought that the five-fold took the practice to almost superstitious extremes. It seemed to me that each scapular was representative of the spirituality of a particular order and, as such, you would have plenty of work to do just living up to that one particular spirituality. I would think that one worn well – that is, consciously, with prayerful attention to the spiritual practices of the order – would be better for the soul than five worn as though they could each confer benefits from just being worn, ex opere operato as it were.

  2. Suaso says:

    I bought one of these at the Diocese of Charlotte’s Eucharistic Congress. I later tried to get one of the older monks at my college to invest me. He came out with his own book and invested me for the borwn scapular only. I don’t think he had ever seen a 5-fold one, so he just assumed it was a really hefty brown scapular (that was red?). I didn’t have the heart to interrupt him, as he was quite old and seemed to be enjoying himself, as I assume not to many of the college community ask for this very often. I’ll have to copy the abbove instructions and lend them to another monk I reckon.

    Word of caution, these things bleed dye all over the place. I found out after ending a night in a very sweaty mosh pit at a Flogging Molly show. I had a red-ring stain all around my white shirt, which I naturally thought was a cool souviner until my mother washed it. Definately run this through water a few times before wearing your best white blouse on a warm day.

  3. Lucia says:

    I’ve played against the basketball team of a parish called Our Lady of Good Counsel…it’s in Northern Virginia (USA)… [?!? Okaaaayyyy…. were they wearing scapulars?]

  4. Fr. Z: I don’t know how to embed in the combox or I would have tried, at least with the photo in this post, of Fr. Perrone investing one of his altar boys in the Scapular. [? Which scapular? There are quite a few. Brown is probably most common.]
    He is dressed in the cassock, surplice and stole. Edit one or more of the pics into your post if you would like.

    Just a few moments prior, Fr. Perrone had invested several Missionaries of Charity, also photographed in that blogpost. They have a mission in our downriver area.

    Those pics were taken on August 15th, 2006.

    As an aside: It is actually Rev. Eduard Perrone, OCDS. He is a secular Carmelite and the chaplain of the community at Assumption Grotto of which I am a member.

    We need more priests who know how to do these kinds of things. The scapular is gaining popularity and few priests truly know what to do when someone approaches them.

  5. Fr. BJ says:

    Regarding indulgences, the current Enchiridion Indulgentiarum has this to say, which I think applies to this situation:

    Norm 15 (page 16 of the new USCCB edition): “The fiathful can acquire an indulgence if they use devoutly one of the following properly blessed pious objects, namely: a crucifix or cross, rosary, scapular, or medal.”

    Then there is the first Grant of the Enchiridion, which could perhaps equally apply to the scapular devotion, supposing one makes the requisite daily prayers: “A partial indulgence is granted to the Christian faithful who, while carrying out their duties and enduring the hardships of life, raise their minds in humble trust to God and make, at least mentally, some pious invocation.”

    In any event, it would seem that even notwithstanding any specific indulgences that may be granted for the use of this or that scapular, yet by using them properly (with the requisite prayers or other words each day), it is possible to gain at least a partial indulgence.

  6. Tomás López says:

    I did not know that the white scapular could also be for the Holiest Trinity. Here in Puerto Rico, the white scapular is identified with the one for “La Merced” (In English, Our Lady of Ransom). If you have ever met a lady named “Mercedes” or “Maria Mercedes,” she is named after the Virgin Mary under this title.

    Our Lady gave St Peter Nolasco this white scapular in the year 1218. Here is a clear picture of it: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuestra_Se%C3%B1ora_de_la_Merced

  7. In the seminary of one of the more famous “traditionalist” clerical societies of apostolic life, we called the five-fold scapular simply, “The Sandwich.”

  8. Tomás: St Peter Nolasco

    Now there’s a serious saint!

  9. QC says:

    In regards to indulgences, this is in the Enchiridion:

    35. Use of Articles of Devotion (Obiectorum pietatis usus)

    The faithful, who devoutly use an article of devotion (crucifix or cross, rosary. scapular or medal) properly blessed by any priest, obtain a partial indulgence.

    But if the article of devotion has been blessed by the Sovereign Pontiff or by any Bishop, the faithful, using it, can also gain a plenary indulgence on the feast of the Holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, provided they also make a profession of faith according to any legitimate formula.

  10. Fr. Z asks: ? Which scapular? There are quite a few. Brown is probably most common.

    Agreed – that there are many. I was referring to the Brown Scapular and the prayer and instructions you have listed in your post appears to be very much like how Fr. Perrone handles it.

  11. Oops – your prayer was on the fivefold. Dunno how I missed it.

    So sorry.

    But, the ritual described seems very similar to what I’ve experienced and witnessed with the brown, except for some of the wording.

  12. Gregg the Obscure says:

    So when I finally get a St. Benedict medal, I should have it blessed by a priest that I don’t really like too well, eh? ;-)

  13. Maureen says:

    This is pretty interesting. When I was a kid, they gave everybody at school a Brown Scapular to wear, but nobody invested us or told us there were obligations to go along with it. (Other than wearing the thing, of course.) Nobody ever told us to get our rosaries blessed, either.

    Re: stuff devils don’t like, I’ve had some “interesting” stuff happen when I podcast certain books. Particularly St. Irenaeus’ Against Heresies and St. Athanasius’ biography of St. Anthony of Egypt. Nothing really blatant, but more than Murphy’s Law can account for. I find it encouraging, in a perverse way. :)

  14. dcs says:

    Re: the obligations of the brown scapular

    I believe the “obligations” of the brown scapular (saying the Little Office of the BVM every day – or the Rosary if dispensed by a priest with faculties – and observing chastity according to your state in life) have to do with the Sabbatine Privilege, not the Scapular Promise itself. And the Carmelites do not promote the Sabbatine Privilege any more to the best of my knowledge.

  15. Sorry, Father, but in my opinion the five-fold scapular represents one of THE WORST manifestations of an excessive devotionalism. To be vested in a scapular is, according to the mind of East (the schema) and West, to take on certain spiritual obligations, as you alluded to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favor of the use of sacramentals – but FIVE distinct scapulars with five distinct sets of obligations “bundled” together?

    I think it risks encouraging a mindset that moves beyond a healthy sacramentalism and into the borderline ridiculous and magical.

    Why not profess as an Oblate of St. Benedict, a Dominican Tertiary, a Secular Carmelite and a Secular Franciscan all at the same time just to be sure that you get the full sweep of spiritual benefits associated with the various lay associations?

    Or perhaps better yet, pick one, focus there and go deeper.

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  16. Matt Q says:

    Thanks for the investiture prayers, Father Z. Put it in Latin. That would really seal the deal. :)

  17. Matt Q: They are in Latin, of course, in the Rituale Romanum. Look them up.

  18. Bo says:

    So, Fr. Daniel, what if, in our convert zeal, we were invested with the 5 fold scapular, but as we have been catholic a bit longer, we agree with your assessment of the 5 fold scapular? I mean, I wouldn’t think there are any “penalties” for admitting that we should just focus on one, but is there are proper way to do this? to we need to “deinvest” ourselves or something? Because saying all the prayers that the sheet I had recommends is somewhat difficult, and I do feel I am merely giving them lip service….

  19. Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. says:

    The wearing of multiple scapulars has been a practice with a long history in the Church. It was very strongly recommended by St. Alphonsus Liguori and until the middle of the last century was a devotion encouraged by the Redemptorists. St. Alphonsus himself wore a four-fold scapular as the Red Scapular of the Passion was unknown to him and added after his lifetime. It has become the common practice to unite the five scapulars of the Passion (Red), Trinitarians, Carmelites, Servites, and Theatines. The Red Scapular of the Passion and the Theatine Sacapular of the Immaculate Conception are “devotional” scapulars. The other three are based on the habits of the respective religious orders.

    The obligations and privileges one incurs by enrollment in the five-fold scapular are the same as for each scapular individually. By enrollment in each scapular one is actually enrolled in a confraternity or archconfraternity of which the scapular is an external sign. However, by omitting the prayers or practices of any of the five confraternities one does not sin but does forgo the privileges associated with the confraterinities. The same is true of being enrolled and then later not wearing the scapulars. If one leaves off wearing the scapulars and/or the practices of each confraternity and then takes them up again he once again enjoys the privileges of being a member of the confraternity and wearing the scapulars. There is no obligation to wear a crucifix or St. Benedict medal associated with any of the five confraternities.

    It is also permissable, after enrollment, to substitute a scapular medal for the scapulars if one may lawfully do so. The medal must be blessed once for each scapular. One blessing does not cover all five scapulars. The medal must have a representation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on one side and may have any representation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the other. Thus, one wears one medal in place of all five scapulars. It is highly recommended, however, that one wear at least one cloth scapular according to one’s devotion and the medal to replace the other four. Thus if one is especially devoted to our Lady of Sorrows or connected to the Servites one would wear the Servite Scapular and the medal for the other four.

    The indulgences one may gain are those of the general grants and those specific to each confraternity.

    Note that:
    – One may add the scapulars of other confraternities or other devotional scapulars.
    – The scapulars must be of wool.
    – All scapulars are attached to one pair of cords. If the Red Scapular of the Passion is one of the scapulars, the cords must be of red wool.
    – Images are only required for those scapulars that demand them. Thus the Carmelite Scapular or the Servite Scapular need have no images on them.
    – Chains may never substitute for the cords.
    – The scapulars may be enclosed in plastic.
    – After blessing and enrollment, subsequent “replacement” scapulars need not be blessed.
    – Scapulars that can no longer be worn should be burnt and the ashes buried or otherwise properly disposed of.

  20. Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    You seem to misunderstand the meaning of the wearing of the small scapulars in the Western Church. They have no connection with the schema in the monastic practices of the Eastern Church. There is nothing in the Eastern Church that is akin to them that I have been able to uncover. Neither do they have the same significance as the scapular that is worn as part of a full religious habit, though they do take their origin from that.

    In the context discussed here they are external signs of membership in a devotional confraternity which may or may not be attached to a religious order. They are rooted in the devotional practices of the West during the Middle Ages by which one affiliated with a confraternity to share in the prayers and privileges thereof. These devotional confraternities are similar but distinct from the confraternities which required one to care for the sick or instruct the ignorant. Some scapulars come to us from heaven, such as the Red Scapular of the Passion which was given to Sr. Apoline Andreveau, DC by our Lord in the same way the Miraculous Medal was give to St. Catherine Laboure by our Lady. And some come from the hearts of the faithful.

    The Church has ever encouraged membership in devotional confraternities and has never seen fit to limit the number to which one can belong. That is because they do not come close to Third Orders, as you seem to imply. Their only requirements are usually to recite certain prayers and wear the scapular. Third Orders are very different and entail a way of life that devotional confraternities do not.

    I know this is not the clearest explanation. Perhaps the articles in the online Catholic Encyclopedia may also be helpful.

  21. Bo says:

    I appreciate the helpful comments. Does anyone know specifically what the prayers are? I know of the rosary/office for the brown scapular, and the “6 our fathers/hail marys/glory bes” for the blue and white scapular…what about the red and the black?

  22. Fr. Bailey,

    I thank you for your patient and detailed explanation. I recognize that there are differences between membership in a Confraternity and membership in a Third Order or other type of Association of the Faithful.

    Church Law may not limit membership in confraternities and various apostolates (nor should it), but pastorally I would think it unwise and excessive to take on too many obligations, especially through the wearing of five distinct sacramentals as a bundle.

    My issue, again, is not with the use of multiple sacramentals per se, but rather the need for balance and the need to avoid the excesses of devotionalism which may (incorrectly) be substituted for an authentic spiritual life.

    And from what I have been able to discover, the roots of the scapular as a sacramental are very much linked to monasticism (and its “schema”) in East and West. (I am searching in vain for a wonderful article on this subject written by Dr. Alexander Roman. Alas!)

    As to Bo’s great question, (“are there penalties?”) I would think not. These devotional aids are intended solely for our spiritual good – as means to serve our heavenly end. It is difficult to imagine our Heavenly Father punishing His children for excess and perhaps misdirected zeal inspired by a desire to please Him. Remember that Our Lord Himself says that His yoke is easy and His burden light.

    For my part, I wear the Scapular of Saint Michael the Archangel as a sign of my dedication to him and the outreach I am helping to form under his patronage. I have been vested in the Brown Scapular, but decided to change in light of the circumstances. I’m sure Mother Mary won’t mind! She knows that I still love her desire the covering of her holy mantle over all that I do – even what I do poorly!

    Here is an interesting article on various scapulars.


    Here is also a few images of the Byzantine Schema:


    Scroll down to the end of the page and look to the right…

    God bless!

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  23. Trevor says:

    This site has updated indulgence information. Its not an offical Roman soure, but it does make note of the changes in norms for indulgences after VII. Thus, I suspect its accuate.


    1. Four plenary indulgences* on the day of reception
    2. Four plenary indulgences at the hour of death upon reception of the Sacraments
    3. Plenary indulgence every Friday (with meditation on the Passion) and two other days of the week
    4. Plenary indulgence on feast days of the individual confraternities, the Apostles, the Virgin Mary, the Lord
    5. Sabbatine privilege of the Brown Scapular
    6. The 433 daily plenary indulgences from Rome, Portiuncula, Jerusalem and Galicia for the Blue Scapular referred to by St. Alphonsus Liquori are no longer valid according to the Apostolic Penitentiary in a letter, 2002.

  24. Rouxfus says:

    Here is a good source of information on the Brown Scapular, including a history, the prayers (in Latin and English) for investiture in the confraternity, and the devotional requirements to receive the blessings:


    Interesting tidbit: Benedict XV granted an indulgence of 500 days for devoutly kissing your brown scapular.

    I purchased mine one fine Saturday after noon Mass at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin about a month ago. It was blessed, and I follow the requirements of the confraternity, but haven’t yet been invested. At first I would take it off to swim or bathe, but now I rarely remove it.

    I’m usually sensitive to wool against my skin, and I thought this might be an issue with wearing the scapular. So far it hasn’t been uncomfortable, but what I find is that when I do notice the scapular, it becomes a reminder to say a short prayer which might not have been there otherwise. (I reckon hair shirts function the same way, but at a whole ‘notha level.)

  25. Daniel says:

    I’m a bit confused. What prayers or devotions must one do for each individual scapular in the five-fold?

  26. Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. says:

    The Indulgences listed by Trevor as found on the website he links to are a translation (if you will) of the old indulgences according to the new norms by someone not familiar with the new norms. This forementioned website and most of those that deal with the scapular indulgences are misleading and in error. All of the previous indulgences were abrogated and rendered null and void as of January 1, 1969 (Indulgentiarum Doctrina, Paul VI).

    First, one can gain only one plenary indulgence per day, whether for one’s self or a soul in purgatory (Norms for Indulgences, 3rd Edition, May 18, 1986, 21.1), thus one cannot gain four plenary indulgences on the day of reception or at the hour of death. One can only gain a second plenary indulgence on the same day if one receives, either from a priest or due to the general grant, the plenary indulgence at the moment of death, and one has already gained a plenary indulgence on that day (Norms, 21.2).

    In order to find out what the current conditions and privileges (including indulgences) are for membership in the confraternities associated with the five-fold scapular, as well as those associated with the devotional scapulars, one must look to the current regulations.

    For the Scapular Confraternity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Brown Scapular): http://www.ocarm.org/eng/ord4/4con-eng.htm
    For the Servite Confraternity of Our Lady of Sorrows (Black Scapular): http://www.servite.org/confrat.htm
    For the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception (Blue Scapular): http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/blue-scapular.htm
    For the Red Scapular of the Passion one need wear the scapular and consider the Passion to receive the promises of our Lord, namely an increase of the virtues of faith, hope, and charity every Friday. Additionally, in the words of Sr. Appoline Andriveau who received the scapular from our Lord, it “will prove to us a strong armor against infernal assaults, an impenetrable buckler against the arrows of our spiritual enemies and, according to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all who wear it with faith and piety it will be a pledge of pardon, a source of grace.”
    For the Scapular of the Most Blessed Trinity (White):

  27. Nicholas says:

    There is the full blessing in Latin in the Rituale Romanum Father.

    I think it is just the same as the one you posted here in English.

  28. AnthonyT says:

    I am a high school student trying to be enrolled in the Saint Michael Scapular. The priests in my school do not know how to enroll me (they need the text). i do not know where to find it.
    From my research, only a Latin text from the 1925 Roman Ritual appears. If this is the correct text, where can I find such a thing! It seems outdated; the new ritual does not include the Saint Michael blessing for the scapular (from my understanding). Please correct me if I am wrong. Any help would be great.
    God Bless,

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