MORE than 5,000 pilgrims are expected to converge on Aylesford Priory later this month to mark 40 years since the Carmelite friars returned to their ancient home.
They will take part in a torchlight procession through the village of Aylesford in Kent to the Shrine of Our Lady and St Simon Stock, following the route taken when the friars were reinstated in 1949 after a 400year absence.
Aylesford Priory was first established in the thirteenth century, with St Simon Stock as its prior. The Carmelites flourished there until the sixteenth century dissolution of the monasteries, when they were ousted and their buildings given to a local nobleman.
For the next 400 years the priory remained in lay hands, until in 1949 it was put up for sale and Carmelites around the world contributed to buy back their ancient home. The buildings were restored and the priory became once again a place of pilgrimage, especially after some relics of St Simon Stock were returned there from France in 1951.
Bishop John Jukes, auxiliary in Southwark, will attend the jubilee procession, which is to take place on October 29, and will be principal celebrant and preacher at a Mass of Thanksgiving.