Why Do Catholics Wear Crucifixes, Saint Medals, and Scapulars?

Have you ever been out in public and spotted someone wearing a scapular, a saint medal, or a crucifix and thought, “Hey! They must be Catholic!” It’s exciting to feel an instant connection with a stranger, knowing that they are not a stranger but a brother or sister in Christ. But why do Catholics wear these religious medals? Is it just a fashion statement, a superstition, or a way of practicing the faith?

Fr. James Kubicki stopped by Morning Air® to discuss what Catholics wear around their neck and the meaning behind a few of them.

He said, “Sometimes people think of Catholics being superstitious, and that we wear medals as kind of talisman that is designed to be almost idolatrous. But, you know, the real reason behind wearing these medals and the scapular is to declare our faith and to put ourselves under the protection and intercession of various saints.”

Fr. Kubicki wears some religious medals himself. In fact, he told Morning Air host John Harper that he would like to wear more! He said, “I have three that I wear. There’s so many more that I would like to wear, but I probably would be weighted down by the medals.”

One item that Fr. Kubicki wears is a scapular, which is a popular devotion around the world. “I wear a scapular,” he explained. “And part of that is I believe in the promises of the scapular, one of which is that if we try to live in the habits of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the virtues of Our Lady, if we clothe ourselves with this reminder that we’re called to a virtuous life, those promises will be fulfilled. So it’s a reminder to me to put on the habit of Carmel and to be a prayerful person who tries to be more and more like Mary.”

“And then I also have a Miraculous Medal, which you know, has a wonderful history from the 1800s,” Fr. Kubicki said. “People who wore this medal, or it was placed in different places, great miracles occurred. And the image on the medal is again of Our Lady, but it’s a picture of her crushing the snake. And so for me, it’s a sign of placing myself under Mary’s protection, especially with regards to opposing evil and temptation in my life.”

It is also common for Catholics to wear a crucifix, which is different from a standard cross because it includes the body of Christ on the Cross. Fr. Kubicki explained that while he wears a crucifix, the image of Jesus is worn down, because he has worn this particular crucifix for so long. And while he could get another one with a clearer image of Our Lord on it, Fr. Kubicki shared that this particular crucifix is a meaningful reminder for him.

“It’s amazing to me how wearing this crucifix around my neck, next to my heart, how worn down it has gotten,” he said. “The image of Jesus is is hard to see anymore. But for me, I guess it’s a reminder too of how I’ve tried to be with Jesus, and to carry the cross with Him, and to keep the knowledge of His love close to my heart by having that crucifix next to my heart as well. And the fact that it no longer looks very nice? That’s okay. Because the way it’s been worn down reminds me that I’ve had it for a long time. And the Lord has been close to me for a very long time as well.”

Listen to the full conversation with Fr. Kubicki below:

Morning Air can be heard weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. Central on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.