Thursday, 16 May 2013

The importance of St Simon Stock


The Shrine of Aylesford in Kent is used by the Archdiocese of Southwark for some big events, it is a place of local pilgrimage for the Union of Catholic Mothers, the Knights of St Columba and other excellent Catholic organisations. Still I feel that it is not given the prominence that it should have.

Aylesford was confiscated by Henry VIII and became a private house for several centuries before being bought back by the Carmelites in 1949 when it came on the market. The Carmelites, including the saintly Fr Malachy Lynch raised money for its purchase and fine renovation in what could justly be included in the New Liturgical Movement's "other modern" category.

But the reason Aylesford should be known and celebrated more widely is its association with the brown scapular which is used by millions of Catholics throughout the world. The story is disputed in scholarly terms, dating as it does back to the 13th century, but essentially it is St Simon Stock of Aylesford who is supposed to have had the vision of Our Lady favouring him and the Carmelites with the brown scapular which is now a worldwide devotion.

Aylesford has a place in my heart because it was the venue for some retreats in my youth that were formative of my spiritual life and vocation. I never tire of visiting, and am grateful to the Friars for their unfailing hospitality to guests. May St Simon Stock assist them with his powerful intercession.
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