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Simon Stock, St.


General of the Carmelite Order; b. England; d. Bordeaux, France, May 16, 1265. The only contemporary evidence seems to be a notice in Vitae fratrum (ca. 1260) of Gerard of Frachet; "Simon, the prior of this Order, a religious and veracious man"; it seems to indicate also that he was in the Holy Land (1237). Two 14th-century necrologies attest to his English origin, his generalate, his death, and his reputation for sanctity. In the earliest redaction of the Catalogues of Saints of the Carmelites about the same time, he is called Simon of Gascony; his generalate is not mentioned, but the reference is undoubtedly to Simon Stock. The earliest (ca. 1400) list of Carmelite generals by John Grossi, places his generalate from 1200 to 1250, but Grossi's chronology has no historical basis. The commonly accepted report that Simon was elected general at the chapter of Aylesford in 1247 (or 1245) cannot be maintained, because in 1249 a certain Geoffrey was general; consequently the change of the Carmelite rule from eremitical to mendicant in 1247 was not the work of Simon. He was perhaps elected at the chapter of the order in London in 1254. The year of his death as 1265 is first recorded at the end of the 15th century but is corroborated by the foundation of the convent of Bordeaux shortly before and by the election of his successor in 1266. In iconography and from the Catalogues of Saints, Simon is chiefly known for his famed scapular vision. While he was praying to Our Lady for privileges for his order, she appeared to him, holding the Carmelite scapular in her hand and saying: "This is your privilege: whoever dies in it, will be saved." The obvious sense is that whoever lives and dies as a Carmelite, will not be lost. This account helped spread the devotion of the scapular among the faithful, especially from the 16th century onward. The so-called documents of Swanyngton concerning this vision are a 17th-century fabrication. Other particulars of Simon's life, such as his living in a hollow tree, his joining the Carmelite Order in England, and performing various miracles, can be discarded as 15th-century legends. During the Middle Ages his feast was celebrated in several Carmelite convents; the whole order accepted it only in 1564, when the feast was approved by the Vatican. He has not been officially canonized; however, his relics are venerated in the cathedral of Bordeaux and in the Carmelite monastery of Aylesford, England.

Feast: May 16.

Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum May 3:650651. b. m. xiberta y roqueta, De visione Sancti Simonis Stock (Rome 1950).

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