3 – The scapular that calmed a storm in the sea
In 1845, the ship King of the Oceanleft the Port of London for Australia. Among the passengers was English Protestant pastor James Fisher, with wife and two children, ages 9 and 7. The weather was fine in the first few weeks of travel, but when the Indian Ocean was already in, a strong storm from the northwest swept across the ocean. The waves erupted furiously, the sails ripped, and on board the wood looked like nothing more than reeds at the mercy of the winds and waves of that memorable night. They ordered the passengers to go down to their cabins.
There was nothing to do. There were orders of command, cries of despair, and pleas for mercy. Mr. Fisher, with his family and others, climbed the deck and asked everyone to join in prayer, begging forgiveness and mercy.
There was a young Irish sailor from the county of Louth, John McAuliffe, unbuttoning his shirt, and drew a scapular from his neck. He brandished it in a cross and threw it into the sea. Soon the waters overcame his wrath, the tempest calmed down, and a small wave sent to the young sailor the same scapular which, a few minutes earlier, he had thrown into the escaped sea. So the ship arrived safe and sound at the port of Botany.
Now the only people who had noticed the sailor’s gesture and the return of the scapular to the deck were the Fishers. With deep reverence, they approached the boy and asked them to explain the meaning of those simple pieces of brown cloth, marked with the letters BVM. Once informed, they promised to embrace the faith whose protector and lawyer is the powerful Virgin of Carmel, Our Lady, Mother of Jesus.
Already in the Australian city of Sidney, they went to the small chapel of Santa Maria, then made of wood in the place where a magnificent temple stands today, and were received into the bosom of the Church by Fr. Paulding, later archbishop.