Sunday, May 16, 2004

St. Simon Stock



Today is the feast of St. Simon Stock, one-time father general of the Carmelite Order and the man whom tradition says received the Order's scapular from the hands of Our Lady and the Blessed Child Jesus.

The picture at the top of this post shows a portion of the dome of the Carmelite Monastery of Stella Maris in Haifa. The painting, by Brother Luigi Poggi, shows the "Saturday Privilege". St.Simon Stock is holding up the scapular and the angels sent by Our Lady are shown rescuing the souls in Purgatory who died wearing the Carmelite scapular, which according to the artist appear still to be worn in Purgatory. [Taken from "Carmel in the Holy Land" published by Messagero di Gesu Bambino, Arenzano, Italy. I think it is still available from ICS Publications in the U.S.]

Butler in his Lives of the Saints accurately reflects the tradition of the Order in regard to St. Simon in the text found here.

This site provides this short summary of his life:

Although little is known about Simon Stock's early life, legend has it that the name Stock, meaning "tree trunk," derives from the fact that, beginning at age twelve, he lived as a hermit in a hollow tree trunk of an oak tree. It is also believed that, as a young man, he went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where he joined a group of Carmelites with whom he later returned to Europe. Simon Stock founded many Carmelite Communities, especially in University towns such as Cambridge, Oxford, Paris, and Bologna, and he helped to change the Carmelites from a hermit Order to one of mendicant friars. In 1254 he was elected Superior-General of his Order at London. Simon Stock's lasting fame came from an apparition he had in Cambridge, England, on July 16, 1251, at a time when the Carmelite Order was being oppressed.


St. Simon is said to have composed the hymns "Flos Carmeli" (shown below) and "Ave Stella Matutina", which I have never seen and have never been able to find.

The full version of Flos Carmeli, which was formerly used as sequence for the Masses of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Simon Stock, is as follows:

Flos Carmeli,
Vitis florigera,
Splendor caeli,
Virgo puerpera
Singularis:

Mater mitis,
Sed viri nescia,
Carmelitis
Da privilegia,
Stella maris.

Mater mitis
sed viri nescia
Carmelitis
esto propitia
stella maris.

Radix Jesse
germinans flosculum
Nos ad esse
tecum in saeculum
patiaris.

Inter spinas
quae crescis lilium
Serva puras
mentes fragiluim
tutelaris.

Armatura
Fortis Pugnantium
Furunt bella
tende praesidium
scapularis.

Per incerta
prudens consilium
Per adversa
jugie solatium
largiaris.

Mater dulcis
Carmeli domina,
plebem tuam
reple laetitia
qua bearis.

Paradisi
clavis et janua,
fac nos duci
quo, Mater, gloria
coronaris.
Amen

[Source]

Here is a version published by the English Carmelites of the Ancient Observance:

Flower of Carmel, tall vine blosson laden;
Splendour of heaven. Child bearing, yet maiden.
None equals thee.

Mother so tender, whom no man didst know.
On Carmel's children. Thy favours bestow.
Star of the Sea.

Strong stem of Jesse. Who bore one bright flower.
Be ever near us. And guard us each hour:
Who serve thee here.

Purest of lilies, that flowers among thorns.
Bring help to true hearts that in weakness turn:
And trust in thee.

Strongest of armour, we trust in thy might.
Under thy mantle, hard pressed in the fight.
We call to thee.

Our way, uncertain, surrounded by foes.
Unfailing counsel you offer to those -
Who turn to thee.

O gentle Mother, who in Carmel reigns.
Share with your servants. That gladness you gained.
And now enjoy.

Hail, gate of heaven, with glory now crowned.
Bring us to safety, where thy Son is found.
True joy to see.


The ancient collect for St. Simon's feast day is this:

Plebs tibi, Domine, Virginique Matri dicata, beati Simonis, quem ei Rectorem et Patrem dedisti, solemnitate laetetur : et sicut per eum tantae protectionis signum obtinuit ; ita praedestinationis aeternae numera consequatur. Per Dominum. Amen.

My own off-the-cuff translation:
O Lord, Thy people, dedicated to Thee and the Virgin Mary, rejoice in the solemnity of Blessed Simon whom Thou gavest to them as Father and Leader, and thus through him obtained so great a sign of protection; and thus may it follow that they be numbered among the eternally predestinate. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

The current collect appears not to reference the scapular promise even obliquely. I have never seen the Latin original, so perhaps it differs from the English. But in any event, here is the English:

Father, you called St Simon Stock to serve you in the brotherhood of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Through his prayers help us like him to live in your presence and to work for the salvation of the human family. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.