A fierce storm threatened all on board until a young Irishman held out the Brown Scapular he was wearing.
Jesus said in the Gospels, “if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from hence to yonder place,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible to you” (Matthew 17:20). With this in mind, it’s not surprising that there have been countless reports of miracles that display the extraordinary intervention of God in response to the “mustard seed” sized faith of an individual throughout history.
One such story is recounted in the booklet Garment of Grace, which narrates how God saved a ship in the middle of a storm through an individual’s faith in the power of the Brown Scapular (a piece of brown cloth that is worn over the neck and is considered a sacramental in the Catholic Church).
In 1845 the English ship “King of the Ocean” was on its way to Australia. When the ship reached the Cape of Good Hope off the coast of South Africa, it encountered a deadly storm. It didn’t look like they would survive.
When many on the ship lost all hope, a young Irishman from the county of Louth named John McAuliffe stepped forward onto the deck and unbuttoned his shirt. He took the Brown Scapular around his neck and held it out towards the sea, making the sign of the cross with it. McAuliffe then threw the scapular into the raging waters.
Immediately the winds stopped, and the waves calmed down, except for one final wave that tossed the scapular back on deck, bringing it before McAuliffe’s feet.
The other passengers were stunned, especially a Protestant minister who was on board. He learned from McAuliffe the history and meaning of the Brown Scapular. When the ship arrived in Sydney, he and his family went to St. Mary’s Chapel (now St. Mary’s Cathedral). They were all received into the Catholic Church by Bishop Polding, the Archbishop of Sydney.
McAuliffe possessed that “mustard seed” type of faith and trusted in God’s ability to calm the waves. God responded generously to that display of faith and interceded to save the ship.
As Jesus said, with that type of faith, “nothing will be impossible to you.”