Anyway, here's a bit of an insight into a rather arcane bit of catholicism that I have actually had first-hand experience of - The scapular.
The Scapular is a type of necklace worn by many Catholics. It is worn across the scapular bones (hence its name) and it consists of two pieces of wool connected by string. One piece of wool rests on the back while the other piece rests on the chest. When a Catholic wishes to wear the scapular, a Priest says a set of special prayers and blesses the scapular. This only occurs the first time a person wears one.
For wearing the scapular, Catholics believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus, will ensure that they do not die a horrible death (for example by fire or drowning) and that they will have access to a priest for confession and the last rites before they die. As a condition for wearing the scapular and receiving these benefits, the Catholic must say certain prayers every day. The Catholic Encyclopedia says this:
According to a pious tradition the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock at Cambridge, England, on Sunday, 16 July, 1251. In answer to his appeal for help for his oppressed order, she appeared to him with a scapular in her hand and said: “Take, beloved son this scapular of thy order as a badge of my confraternity and for thee and all Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire. It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant”.(Personally I think that Simon Stock was like an early version of Richard Branson or other successful marketers and and he set up a manufacturing and sale business of these scapulas and made a killing. He most likely retired to the south of France or Spain.)
The brown scapular, known as the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the most commonly worn scapular, though others do exist. When the scapular is worn out it is either buried or burnt and a new one is worn in its place.
I wore a scapula when I was a kid going to St. Anne's primary school and Marist Brother's Newtown up until about Standard Four. I didn't have a choice in this as it was my mother who bought the damn things and commanded that I and my siblings wear them. To Mum, apart from the catholic teaching aspect it was the promise that we wouldn't " die a horrible death (for example by fire or drowning) and that they will have access to a priest for confession and the last rites before they die." It was kind of like the instruction to put on clean underwear each morning 'in case you get run over and be taken to hospital'. To be fair, I didn't die a horrible death by drowning or being burnt by fire so maybe the scapula worked.
I don't know what happened to my scapulas. I certainly don't recall burying them or burning them when they were worn out although that would have been fun - kind of like witchcraft or pagan ceremonies where we would dance about at full moon burning and burying our scapulas - but I digress. They probably got a bit dirty and smelly from being worn too long or more likely faded away after being put through the wash too often.
I wonder if Richard and Robert had to wear these at school?
Robert probably still does.