Scapular Medals

Written by Kevin Little
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Scapular medals draw on the history of Catholic fashion for their designs. Scapulars are a key part of the traditional garb of many Catholic orders. Large and at times bulky, these scapulars were eventually made in miniature for lay people to wear and are now available as medals.

A scapular in the original sense is a large piece of cloth fourteen to sixteen inches wide and nearly long enough to brush the floor on both sides when placed on the shoulders. In the middle of the cloth is a hole for the head, so that the garment may be worn in conjunction with other liturgical items of clothing. Some orders, such as the Carthusians, require the scapular to be worn even during sleep!

Those who do not belong to a religious order might look a bit silly walking around in a scapular, a situation which led to the creation of a small version of the scapular made to hang upon a chain or rope necklace. Such an item proved to be a much more feasible option for most people. These small cloth scapulars made way for metal versions, known as scapular medals.

Designing Scapular Medals

Since scapular medals deviate from the cloth format of other scapulars, more liberties can be taken with their design. Many scapulars are associated with a particular order, so a key image related to an order can be depicted on a scapular. Don't be surprised--a medal may not, in fact, look like an original scapular at all!

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