To the Carmelites, she is Our Lady of Mount Carmel, cradling her Son in one arm and offering the Brown Scapular with the other. To the Franciscans, she is Our Lady of the Angels, whose serene face looks out from the twelfth-century mural in the Portiuncula. In Dominican (Order of Preachers) religious art, Mary is depicted either as handling the Rosary to Saint Dominic or as Mary, Queen of Preachers, spreading her motherly mantle wide over all the saints of the Order of Preaching Friars. While it is impossible to say that any religious order loves Mary the most, each of the great religious orders honors Our Lady in a way fitting with its charism. The Dominicans are especially known for popularizing that quintessential Marian prayer, the Rosary.
The Dominican habit, too, like that of the Carmelites, incorporates a full-length scapular which symbolizes humility and service and is thus associated with Mary. The white Dominican scapular was added to the canons’ traditional white tunic and cape after Our Lady appeared to a mortally ill Blessed Reginald of Orleans and healed him by anointing. She asked that the scapular be worn by members of the Order from that time onward.
A number of traditional Dominican convent customs are rooted in the Order’s devotion to Mary. Since the earliest days of the Order, it has been the custom to bless the cells in the dormitory with holy water shortly before the friars or the sisters retire. This custom comes from a tradition that Our Lady, accompanied by Saint Cecilia and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, was seen blessing the friars’ dormitory cells with holy water. A few years later, Our Lady appeared to Blessed Jordan of Saxony to tell him that every night when the friars sang the Salve Regina at Compline, she prostrated herself before her Son at the words, “Eia, ergo advocata nostra” (meaning, “Therefore, O [Mary] our advocate”) and interceded for the Dominican Order.
The Rosary was born from medieval popular devotion to Mary, especially the repeating of the “Angelic salutation” from Luke 1:28 (“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!”) so as to bring back to Mary the joy she received in the angel’s first greeting. Other medieval practices allowed for meditation on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Dominicans in the 15th and 16th centuries, especially Alan de la Roche, are credited with the popularizing of the Rosary, to the extent that the New Catholic Encyclopedia entry on the Rosary also calls it the “Dominican Rosary.”
The first community prayer each day is our Morning Offering, which give all of works and prayers to the will of God through Mary, followed by three mysteries of the Rosary and the Angelus: “The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, and she conceived of the Holy Spirit.” Our community custom weaves Marian devotions into our prayer life throughout the day. We pray a community Rosary together every evening and our night prayers begin with a series of prayers to Our Lady.
Regardless of the nature of one’s Marian devotion in the world, once one enters Dominican life, the Blessed Mother of God becomes a friend, mother, and patroness in an entirely new way. Dominicans have a tender love for the Blessed Mother, a pure and chivalrous and childlike love characteristic of the High Middle Ages that gave birth to our Order of Preachers.
"It may justly be said that the Rosary of Mary is, as it were, the foundation on which the very Order of Saint Dominic rests for making perfect the life of its members and obtaining the salvation of others."
Pope Pius XI, In Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 1934
The Rosary – In the Dominican Tradition
The image of Our Lady handing the Rosary to her white-robed son is a familiar one that reflects a devotion that is continued by the Dominican. The beginning of October brings a time-honored tradition we call Rosary Sunday. On the first Sunday in October in our Saint Joseph House of Prayer, the community members recite the mysteries of the Rosary continually throughout the day. Beginning immediately after Mass, the community take their places for half an hour each before the altar of our Blessed Mother. There, until evening prayer, each community member offers his or her prayers for the needs of the Church and for the conversion of the world.
Tradition has long connected Saint Dominic and his Order with the preaching of the Rosary. Dominic’s followers have been called the “Friars of Mary.” The fifteen-decade Rosary adorns our habit with the frequent reminder that we are united to the Son of God in the living presence of our Blessed Mother.
Pope St. Pius X said: "If you want peace in your heart, in your home, in your country, assemble together every night and say the ROSARY". Many complain that it is a tireless repetition-that they cannot meditate on the mysteries. Our Blessed Mother gave this advice to St. Dominic: "This is why, before doing anything else, priests should try to kindle a love of prayer in people's hearts and especially a love of my rosary. If only they would all start saying it and persevere, God, in His mercy, could hardly refuse to give them His grace. So I want you to preach my Rosary!"
The Brown Scapular
Sabbatine Privilege, Blessing and Investiture
"Those who die wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire!"
-Our Lady to St. Simon Stock
"Wear it devoutly and perseveringly; It is my garment. To be clothed in it means you are continually thinking of me, and I, in turn, am always thinking of you and helping you to secure eternal salvation."
THE BROWN SCAPULAR - A SIGN OF DEVOTION TO MARY
The Brown Scapular is a Roman Catholic devotion to Mary under her title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It is worn as a sign of love and devotion for the Mother of God. The Carmelite Order, to which the Scapular belongs, originated on Mt. Carmel in the Holy Land and the Scapular is itself a reflection in miniature of the habit (scapular: a sleeveless outer garment falling from the shoulders) which the monks wear as a sign of their vocation and devotion. Over the years the scapular, at least for lay people, became much smaller in size and made of small pieces of wool cloth suspended front and back.