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A unique British saint

Today is the feast of St Simon Stock - for ever associated with the scapular. He was English and I would love to associate him with the village of Stock in Essex, which was the home of the Bishops of Brentwood when I visited there. But there is a legend that the name 'Stock' refers to the trunk or 'stock' of a tree, and that Simon did actually live in tree trunk for a while ... Historians have told us that not much is certain about his life, but as a historian myself I love the stories that accumulate about the saints. The most famous story about Simon is of course the one about Our Lady giving him the scapular. The custom of wearing the scapular gradually spread internationally, so it is a gift not just from Our Lady to the whole Carmelite Order, but more particularly from these islands to the worldwide Church. Simon is particularly associated with Bordeaux, where he died around 1265, and where his remains now lie in the Cathedral. It seems that he played an important role in the transformation of the early Carmelites from a hermit life to a preaching and teaching and pastoral vocation. We Seculars have then perhaps particular reasons to be grateful to him, benefiting ourselves from this vocation today.

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