The Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary
The Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary that exists with the Congregation of Marian Fathers has existed since the 18th century to promote the devotion to the Immaculate Conception of our Immaculate Mother so her motherly love might strengthen, comfort, and fill hearts with joy, the source of which is her Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior. The external sign of belonging to the Confraternity is the Blue Scapular.
Confraternities were established in the Middle Ages when many lay people wished to participate in some way in the spiritual life of religious orders. Often investing the faithful with a scapular proper to the respective religious Order outwardly manifested the admittance to such a spiritual community.
Saint Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary Papczyński, Founder of the Congregation of Marian Fathers, considered spreading of devotion to the Immaculate Conception as one of the main goals of his Order. The Blessed Marian Founder fervently encouraged his spiritual sons to establish confraternities of the Immaculate Conception at Marian churches. The first laws of the Order of 1694-1698 speak of this already. Those confraternities were meant to provide help for Poor Souls in Purgatory. Saint Stanislaus associated devotion to the Immaculate Conception with assistance to the faithful departed. Excited by the idea of giving himself into Mary’s bondage, he wished not only to live free of evil and sin, but to provide assistance in purification from the stain of sin to all those who were suffering in Purgatory.
The Venerable Servant of God, Father Casimir of St. Joseph Wyszyński (1700-1755) was the first Marian who approached the Theatine Fathers in Rome in 1733, asking for permission to bless and invest the faithful with the Blue Scapular. This permission was granted. Father Wyszyński probably wished to make the Blue Scapular and associated practices as one of the elements of devotion of the named confraternity. Since that time, members of the confraternity were registered in the Book of Confraternity maintained by many Marian churches. In time, confraternities of the Immaculate Conception existing at the Marian churches began to be known as “Scapular Confraternities.” Preserved Marian historical documents first mention an installation of the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception on June 26, 1734. They speak of the official introduction of the Confraternity at the Marian church in Puszcza Mariańska – the Order’s cradle.
Over the years, the Theatine Fathers several times renewed the privilege originally granted to Fr. Wyszyński in the first half of the 18th century. The Renovator and Reformer of the Marian Order, Blessed Archbishop George Matulaitis-Matulewicz, also petitioned the Theatines in Rome for a privilege of blessing and conferring the Blue Scapular, which was granted on December 1, 1911.
On June 3, 1992, Father Donald Petraitis, MIC, then the Superior General of the Marians, obtained for himself and his successors from the Superior General of the Theatine Order a perpetual permission to bless and confer the Scapular of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This permission was reaffirmed on March 19, 2005, and on July 1, 2008.
Thus, according to their centuries-long tradition, the Marians promote among the faithful the wearing of the Blue Scapular, which is an outward mark of devotion and veneration of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M., by establishing numerous confraternities, which have been associated with the Congregation of Marian Fathers almost since the beginning of its history. Guiding the confraternities of the Immaculate Conception is one of the important ministries through which the Congregation spreads devotion to the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God and supports the souls in Purgatory, of whom the Immaculate Mother of Christ is a particular advocate.
Learn more about the history and spirituality of the Blue Scapular and Marian Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception:
• Apostolic Blessing from Pope John Paul II for all members of The Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception that exists with the Congregation of Marian Fathers
• Let Our Lady’s Blue Scapular Protect You
Adam Boniecki, MIC
By joining the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, the faithful take upon themselves certain obligations and receive spiritual benefits. The ceremony of admittance into the Confraternity includes the investiture with the Blue Scapular. Confraternity members ought to piously wear the Scapular always as an outward mark of veneration for the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M. and a symbol that sets them apart as people particularly dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The rite of admission into the Confraternity of the Congregation of Marian Fathers takes place during a special liturgical ceremony, which may be presided over by a Marian priest or deacon, or by the priest or deacon delegated by the Marians.
The faithful who live at a great distance from the church that hosts the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, and thus are prevented from participation in the Confraternity’s meetings but who wish to belong, may be admitted into the Confraternity. The admission is performed through a written petition addressed to the local moderator of the Confraternity and then through acceptance of the certificate of membership. In this case, a priest or deacon (either religious order member or diocesan) may confer the Blue Scapular, upon prior obtaining of a sub-delegation issued by the Superior General of the Congregation of Marian Fathers.
Also, the Congregation of Marian Fathers offers the faithful the opportunity of accepting the Scapular of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary without joining its Confraternity. The faithful who wish accept the Scapular but do not want to belong to the said Confraternity should clearly state this while asking for the Scapular. The faithful who wear the Blue Scapular but are not formally aggregated (admitted into the Confraternity at the Marian Fathers and registered in its Book) belong spiritualy to the broadly understood community of the Theatine Fathers – custodians of the Blue Scapular. In addition, they share in the spiritual benefits of the Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Conception, which is located at the Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle in Rome and run by the Theatine Fathers.
To get more information about joining the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M. at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., and to learn the ensuing duties and spiritual benefits along with the information about the Scapular itself, please send an e-mail to our Confraternity coordinator. You may also call the toll-free number 1-800-462-7426 (for U.S. and Canada only) for information, or to order the booklet on the Blue Scapular (please mention its code EBS).