Saint Simon Stock: Recipient of the Brown Scapular
The saint of the day for May 16, Saint Simon Stock, was born in Aylesford in County Kent, England in 1165. Although we know little about Simon Stock’s early life, tradition has it that starting at age twelve, he lived as a hermit. He received the name “stock” because he lived in the hollowed trunk or stock of an oak tree. He ate herbs, roots, and wild apples and drank only water. In 1212, he joined the Carmelites and three years later, he was appointed Vicar General.
Simon Stock helped the Order spread throughout Europe; he founded many Carmelite Communities, particularly in university towns such as Cambridge, Oxford, Paris, and Bologna. He revised the Rule of the Order to make them mendicant friars instead of hermits. He was elected as the sixth superior general of the Carmelites in 1247 around age 82. Simon governed the order with great sanctity and prudence for twenty years. He had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother and was known for his gifts of miracles and prophecy. He wrote several hymns and decrees for his order. Simon Stock died on May 16, 1265, at the age one hundred and was buried in the cathedral of Bordeaux. He is the patron of Bordeaux, France.
Saint Simon Stock’s is best known for an apparition he had in Cambridge, England, on July 16, 1251, during a time of oppression of the Order. Simon withdrew to his monastic room or ‘cell’ to pray to Mary; it was then that he had a vision of her bringing the Brown Scapular to him with the following words: In it the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him holding the brown Scapular in one hand. Her words were: “Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of your Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for you and for your children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection.”