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Monday, October 17, 2011
LMS Pilgrimage to Aylesford
On Saturday the LMS Pilgrimage to Aylesford took place, and I was there. It hasn't happened for a couple of years, and has been revived by the new(ish) LMS Rep for Southwark North, Matthew Schellhorn. Fr Timothy Finigan celebrated a Sung Mass in the Relic Chapel at the Priory, gave a very edifying talk about the Four Last Things, gave us Benediction and blessed Brown Scapulars. A packed coach came from London, and in all over 130 people attended Mass. The Relic Chapel, where St Simon Stock's skull is kept (in the tall ceramic structure behind the altar), was full, including the Reluctant Sinner, the Mulier Fortis, Smeaton's Corner and Juventutem London.
Aylesford is the place where St Simon had his famous vision of Our Lady, who encouraged him - the Carmelites had recently been ejected from their historic centre, Mount Carmel in the Holy Land - and gave him the promises associated with the Brown Scapular. So Aylesford is an important shrine both to Our Lady and St Simon Stock, and is the world centre for the Brown Scapular, worn by millions of Catholics all over the world - and so popular among Traditionalists that it forms almost a (usually hidden) uniform. It was recommended by Our Lady again at Fatima.
Music was provided by the superb newly formed choir, Cantus Magnus, which sings at the Juventutem London Masses. Here are the polyphonists being led by Matthew Schellhorn. They sang Machaut's Messe de Nostre Dame the earliest complete polyphonic setting of Mass by a single composer.
(Fr Tim sprinkling new scapular-wearers with holy water.)
Aylesford Priory is extremely impressive. Here is the main chapel.
The High Altar faces an open-air church, with chapels of varying sizes all around it. There is a Retreat Centre, tea shop and so on. There is a Rosary Walk with charming ceramic representations of each mystery.
The Priory was of course dissolved at the Reformation, but some of the buildings were incorporated into a Manor house, and the Carmelites got the site back in 1949. They completed the complex of chapels, with a vast amount of art in them, in time for the Shrine to be rededicated in 1965. (See the History page of the Aylesford website for more information.) There are many very interesting things to see: a side chapel to the Relic Chapel, for example, is dedicated to the English Martyrs: here is the Tyburn Tree.
The weather was glorious, and the place is beautiful, peaceful, and prayerful. If you missed it, I expect it will be at the same time of year in 2012!
(The Priory cloister.)