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Catholic Dictionary

Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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An outer garment consisting of two strips of cloth joined across the shoulders, worn by members of certain religious orders. Originating as the working frock of Benedictines, it was adopted by other religious communities and is now considered a distinctive part of the monastic habit. It symbolizes the yoke of Christ. A scapular is worn under one's secular clothes, in abbreviated form by tertiaries associated with the religious orders. Tertiary scapulars vary in size and shape; their color corresponds to that of the monastic family. As a further development, the Church has approved some eighteen blessed scapulars as two small pieces of cloth joined by strings and worn around the neck and under the clothes. Best known are the five scapulars of: Our Lady of Mount Carmel (brown), the Passion (red), Seven Dolors (black), Immaculate Conception (blue), and the Holy Trinity (white). (Etym. Latin scapulare, scapularium, "Shoulder cloak," from Latin scapula, shoulder.)

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