Q: What is the black scapular (Our Lady of Dolors)?
A: There are two black scapulars. One is related to the Passion of Our Lord, and is proper to the Passionist Fathers (Paul of the Cross). It shows a heart above the cross and bears the words: Jesu Christi passio sit semper in cordibus nostris [May the passion of Jesus Christ always be in our hearts.] It was last approved by the Congregation of Indulgences on May 10, 1877.
The second black scapular is called "The Black Scapular of Our Lady of Dolors" or "The Black Scapular of the Seven Dolors of Mary." It is related to the Marian devotion of the Servites. Our Lady appeared to seven young Florentine noblemen, inviting them to follow Christ through the evangelical counsels. She gave them a black habit, telling them that "these garments shall be to you a perpetual memory of the sufferings of my heart." This is the beginning of the more common black scapular. The scapular witnesses a special dedication to Mary, and indicates her protection for the order. In turn, the members honor Mary in the Seven Dolors of her life:
The black scapular shows on the front Our Lady of the Seven Dolors, her heart pierced by seven swords. The back bears the image of the Pieta. The indulgences attached to this scapular were last approved on March 7, 1888.