According to the Carmelite tradition, a group of pious men built a temple to the Virgin Mary on the summit of Mount Carmel, wanting in some way to imitate the life of the prophet Elijah, who was especially known for his fidelity to God. It was from Mount Carmel that Elijah saw the cloud which was a sign of the fruitfulness of the Mother of God. They eventually called themselves the Brothers of Holy Mary of Mount Carmel. They spread to Europe in the thirteenth century and their rule was approved by Innocent IV in 1245, while the Order was under the generalship of St. Simon Stock, a native of England.
On July 16, 1251, the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock and gave him the habit which was to be a distinctive sign of the Carmelites. Innocent blessed the habit and it was given several privileges, not only for the religious of the Order, but also for all those who would wear the scapular.
Whosoever should wear the scapular, faithful in observing the conditions imposed on it for its use, would also participate in all of its merits and could expect to quickly be freed from Purgatory by the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Our Lady said to St. Simon Stock, “Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular, shall not suffer eternal fire.” Seventy years later, Our Lady appeared to Pope John XXII and made a new promise to him: “I, as tender Mother of the Carmelites, will go down to Purgatory on the first Saturday after their death, free them, and take them to the Holy Mount of eternal life.”
The scapular means that one belongs to the Mother of God forever; it is a symbol of dedication and consecration to Mary. The person who wishes to wear it, allows himself to be guided, taught, and molded by Her in Her Immaculate Heart.
The Blessed Virgin Mary said, “Persevere in devotedly wearing the Holy Scapular because it is my habit. The fact that you are wearing my habit means that you are continually thinking of me; and I, in turn, am always thinking of you and helping you to gain eternal life.”