Simon Stock

(c. 1165—1265) hermit and monk

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(d. 1265),

Carmelite friar. Little is known about his life before the year 1247, but it seems probable that Simon as a young man went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where he met some primitive Carmelites, then a hermit group, and joined them. When the Saracens made it impossible for them to remain there, they returned to Europe and Simon went to Aylesford (Kent); later (1254) he was elected superior-general of his Order at London. The years 1245–55 were crucial in the development of the Carmelites from a hermit order to one of mendicant friars, similar to the Franciscans and Dominicans. He founded houses in university towns, hoping to attract young graduates into the Order; he also founded other houses in various parts of England, Ireland, and Spain. A supposed vision of the Blessed Virgin to St Simon, in which she is alleged to have promised that whoever died wearing the brown scapular of the Carmelites would be saved, has been the subject of much controversy. There is little or no contemporary or near-contemporary evidence for this story. It has, however, been extremely popular, as has the devotion of the brown scapular which came from it. It has been frequently propagated by Carmelite Friars. Although he was never formally canonized his feast was approved by the Holy See for the Carmelite Order in 1564 and some dioceses. Simon's relics were brought from Bordeaux, where he died, to Aylesford, his old home, in 1951. Feast: 16 May.

AA.SS. Maii III (1680), 650–1;A. Mombrun, Vie de saint Simon de Stock (1869);B. Zimmerman, Monumenta Historica Carmelitana (1907);F. M. Xiberta, De Visione Sancti Simonis Stock (1950);B.L.S., v. 89–90.

Subjects: Christianity.

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