Pastor’s Column

THE PURPLE SCAPULAR

From time to time, we receive requests to bless the so- called purple scapular, more officially known as the Scapular of Benediction and Protection. The scapular is associated with the mystic Marie-Julie Jahenny, who lived in the region of Brittany in France from 1850 until 1941.

We do not bless these.

The Church has not ruled definitively on Marie-Julie Jahenny, on her visions, or on the purple scapular itself. Websites in favor of the purple scapular will almost invariably claim that Marie-Julie Jahenny was approved by her local ordinary, the bishop of Nantes. This claim always rests on the following words of His Excellency:

The reports that I receive daily on Marie-Julie show me more and more the action of God on this soul. He grants her graces of an obvious supernatural order. At the same time she grows in virtue and noble sentiments… She is sincere: what she manifests is supernatural. I see nothing but good, edifying, and in conformity with the principles of spirituality.

However, the bishop wrote these in a private letter addressed to the doctor assigned to the case of Marie-Julie Jahenny; furthermore, this letter was written in 1875 – at the time, the mystic was only twenty-five years old, and the phenomena surrounding her case had only begun in 1873. She lived to be ninety-one years old. Clearly a private letter written at the very onset of mystical phenomena, which would continue for at least another sixty years, can hardly be construed as ecclesiastical approbation.

Websites in favor of the purple scapular will also claim that the scapular itself is approved. Their evidence for this, however, is also less than satisfying – the scapular is approved, they say, because it has never been officially condemned.

I have several reservations about Marie-Julie Jahenny and the purple scapular. First, there is a confusion about what prophecies are actually attributable to her. The Diocese of Nantes has noted this in a press release of 2019 which warned the faithful against a spurious group called the Friends of Marie-Julie Jahenny, to wit, “A review of the accounts attributed to Marie-Julie Jahenny by a theologian calls for caution.” Furthermore, some of her more striking prophecies seem to be published post-humously and after the events in question actually happened. Second, the scapular seems to be wrapped up with things such as the three days of darkness of which I am quite skeptical.

Given all of the above, I am not willing to assist in the promotion of this devotion until such time as my own reservations are dispelled, or clear ecclesiastical approval is granted. I would note, however, that other priests in good faith may arrive at different conclusions.

Categories Latest News | Tags: | Posted on September 18, 2022

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