On the evening of the 26th of July, 1846, the Octave of the Feast of St. Vincent of Paul, one of the Sisters of Charity, in France, had a vision of our Lord, which she thus relates: “I had gone to the chapel before Benediction, and when there, our Lord appeared to me. He held in His right Hand a scarlet-colored scapular, the two parts of which were joined together by worsted strings, of the same color. On one side of the scapular He was represented as crucified; the most cruel instruments of His Passion were lying at the foot of the cross—the scourge, the hammer and the robe which had covered His bleeding Body. Around the Crucifix was the inscription, Holy Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ save us. The other extremity of the scapular had depicted on it the Sacred Heart of Jesus and that of His Holy Mother; a cross placed between them seemed to spring up from both hearts, and the encircling motto was, Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary protect us.
About eighteen months ago while meditating, during Holy Mass, upon the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, I thought I saw Him hanging on the cross. The ghastly paleness of His countenance made a deep impression on me, and my whole body became covered with a cold sweat. Our Lord’s Head was inclined; I thought it was the long thorns that covered His adorable Brow, which caused it to take this posture. At the same instant our Lord suddenly raised His head, and the thorns were violently forced into His eyes and temples. . . Never can I forget that moment. There was something terrible in the pain He must have experienced in the rude shock of His sacred Head against the wood of the cross. I was filled with anguish and trembling. And the Blessed Virgin was there. O Jesus! O Mary! what sufferings. From that moment the Passion of our well-beloved Saviour has been always before my eyes. “Thou must console Me,” said our Lord to me, “in the sorrows of My Passion; thou must receive the shreds of My Flesh, torn from My Body by the Pretorian whips, and My Blood poured out on Calvary.”
The words of Jesus Christ were like so many wounds in my soul. It is almost impossible for me not to dwell on them continually, and to keep alive the terrible, yet sweet impression, they made on me. The sufferings of His sacred Humanity touch me more than the splendors of His glory, and I would feel less desire for the throne which I hope he has prepared for me in heaven, if I were not to see there the Holy Wounds of Jesus Christ glittering like so many suns. Ah! Our Lord knows well that, if it were possible for me to resist His greatness, I must needs yield myself the captive of His sufferings! I could not understand how the thought of the dolors of Jesus Christ fills my soul with such ineffable delight if He Himself had not told me. “Thou canst not comprehend My Love, but by My sufferings; and the force of this Love will so weaken the feeling of pain that it will be entirely absorbed in Love.” I do not know whether I shall be understood, when I say that my heart is so narrow, so limited, that, through excess of feeling, it becomes at times unable to feel any more.
Oh! how Our Lord wishes that we should think of His sufferings! how His Holy Mother desires it! One Sunday evening when I was making the Way of the Cross, it seemed to me, at the thirteenth station, that the Blessed Virgin put into my arms the Sacred Body of our Adorable Master and said to me: “The world is going to ruin because it does not think of the Passion of Jesus Christ; do all that you can to get it to think of it; do all that you can for the world’s salvation.”
I do not know how all this happened, but at those moments in which I believe I see our Lord, I feel that within me which I cannot express. It is like a total forgetfulness of everything that exists, a perfect solitude in which I am alone with Him: methinks I really see the object which occupies my thoughts. For example, on the occasion I have just mentioned, I felt the icy coldness of our Saviour’s corpse, I saw His gaping wounds.
It is the Passion of Jesus Christ which converts sinners and reanimates the faith of the just. Who can resist a God dead for love of men? As for me, our Lord has always inundated my soul with His sweetest favors, at those moments in which He has placed in my heart a more lively remembrance of His sufferings. People think that I am sick, but I am not so; I suffer much and yet I am content. Why hast thou wished my Adorable Saviour, that I should always think of thy Holy Passion? Why hast Thou wished that I should see Thee so often upon the cross? Ah! hast Thou not said that Thou couldst find no one to help Thee tread the wine press! Our merciful Saviour earnestly desires that we should wear the Scapular which he has shown me, that we should clothe ourselves with Him and with love of His sufferings. The Holy Cross is so powerful for the conversion of infidels and heretics! What efficacy in a Friday indulgence (which those who wear the Red Scapular gain) in re-awakening in all hearts the remembrance of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ!
On Trinity Sunday our Divine Saviour showed me, during my meditation, a beautiful and translucent river. Many persons were on its banks; those who plunged in became all resplendent with brilliancy; diamonds and gold seemed to fall from their hands. Those who fled became enveloped in a black smoke which made them most disagreeable to the sight. I asked our Saviour the explanation of the vision. He told me that this beautiful river represented His Mercy, always ready to receive the repentance of the sinner and give it a value. O my Jesus! how little we think of Thy Mercy and of Thy sufferings which have given us a claim to it.” Here ends the recital of the sister.
The apparition of our Lord, holding in His Hand the Scapular of His Passion, was renewed several times; it took place on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, 14th September, 1846, with this particular circumstance, that the sister thought she heard our Lord addressing her in these consoling words: “All those who wear this Scapular will receive on every Friday a great increase of faith, hope and charity.” When the sister was told of the great difficulty there would be in getting this devotion authorized, she replied: “Our Divine Saviour desires the establishment of the Scapular of His Passion. He will, in a moment known to Himself alone, smooth away all the difficulties which ordinarily arise against new devotions, and make the precious day of His Death a day rich in blessings for the Holy Church. I am happy in knowing that this devotion will constitute one of the treasures of the Congregation of the Mission.” [The Congregation of the Priests of the Mission, was founded in France by St. Vincent of Paul, and was approved by Pope Urban VIII., in 1632. Its members are called also Lazarists from St. Lazare, the name of their chief house in Paris. The institution of the Daughters of Charity owes its origin to the same Saint, and is under the general supervision of the superior of the Lazarists. There is, we believe, but one branch of the Daughters of Charity in the United States, that of St. Joseph’s, Emmittsburg. The Sisters of Charity, though they always revere St. Vincent as their Father, are not officially affiliated to his order,] The prediction of the holy sister was fulfilled. When the Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission was in Rome, in June 184 7, he laid all the circumstances of the case before the Vicar of Jesus Christ, Pope Pius IX. He was surprised at the favor with which the new devotion was received. Far from raising any objections, His Holiness expressed his happiness in seeing a new means employed for the conversion of sinners, and he authorized, by a rescript of the 25th of June, 1847, all the priests of the Congregation of the Mission to bless and distribute to the faithful the Scapular of the Passion of Jesus Christ.
On one side of the Red Scapular is the image of Jesus on the Cross, surrounded by the instruments of His Passion, to remind us that His sufferings have shut hell and opened heaven for us; on the other side is His Heart burning with love, to indicate that the excess of his sufferings was the effect of His excess of tenderness. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is placed beside that of Jesus. The same love consumes them, and they are immolated in one and the same sacrifice. Hence, they are represented as united, and the cross is placed between them as belonging to both. Jesus has saved the world by His Cross, and Mary has co-operated in its salvation by consenting to His death. The Heart of Jesus pierced on the Cross is the ever-flowing fountain of all good—the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the foot of the Cross is the reservoir which receives the waters of that fountain, the canal which communicates them to the souls of men.
Let us make a trinity of hearts by joining ours to those of Jesus and Mary, and may the Red Scapular of the Passion be the pledge of their eternal union.
The Indulgences granted by Pope Pius IX. to those who wear the Red Scapular are: