Thursday, May 17, 2012

St. Simon Stock and England

Yesterday, May 16, was the memorial of St. Simon Stock. The Catholic Herald published this story on his life and influence, even beyond the private revelation of the Brown Scapular, a popular Catholic devotion:

Simon Stock, who died in 1265, is a shadowy figure, of whom little is known with any certainty. Tradition holds, however, that he played an important part in the spread of the Carmelite order in western Europe. . . .

The precise point at which Simon Stock joined the order is not clear. He is said to have been an Englishman, born in Kent, where he spent much of his youth living in the hollow trunk, or “stock”, of a tree. According to one account, he was with the Carmelites in Palestine. According to another he became the first member of the order to receive a degree from Oxford University. Still another tradition places him as a monk at Hulme in Northumberland.

More certainly, he became the sixth prior-general of the Carmelites in 1245. Soon afterwards he is said to have called a general chapter at Aylesford in Kent and to have instituted a revision of the Rule, better adapted to monks who were now rather mendicant friars than hermits.

Simon has also been credited with establishing Carmelite houses in Oxford, Cambridge, Paris and Bologna, as well as in Ireland and Spain.

In 1251, he was granted a vision in which the Virgin Mary instructed him to introduce into the order the wearing of the scapular. This consists of two strips of dark cloth, worn on the breast and the back, and fastened at the shoulders. Anyone who died in this garment, the Virgin assured him, would never be lost at the day of judgment.

It's not certain if the vision took place at Aylesford Priory or in Cambridge, but St. Simon Stock's relics are venerated at the Priory today. Aylesford Priory in Kent was revived in the 1950's after the Carmelites were able to purchase the lands and rededicate the buildings--it is now a retreat center and pilgrimage site. Of course, it had been suppressed during the reign of Henry VIII; the Wyatt family obtained it through the Court of Augmentations, but lost it during the reign of Mary I as a result of Wyatt's Rebellion.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds interesting. Wonder if the film will be made available. Also, from what little I have read about her perhaps had she lived to see Mary ascend the throne she might have returned to the Catholic Faith. Wonder what happened to her daughter?