AYLESFORD BEGINS A GREAT MARY YEAR RESTORATION
Bishop lays stone in the garden sanctuary after evening Mass
Catholic Herald' Reporter
WTH a special blessing from the Pope, the fourth great stride in the restoration of St. Simon Stock's Priory and Shrine of Our Lady on the banks of the River Medway at
Aylesford in Kent was taken on Wednesday evening—Our Lady's Birthday in her Year.
There, watched by a big gathering of people who had travelled into the countryside from homes and offices in London and from many towns in the Southwark diocese, Bishop Cowderoy, having presided at Mass in the ancient Jerusalem Rite at the altar in the garden sanctuary, laid the foundation stone of the new Church of Our Lady of the Assumption.
This great building will rise on the site of the church founded by St. Simon Stock. who himself must often have stood to celebrate Mass on the very spot where the celebrant was standing on Wednesday.
St. Simon, had he returned this day, would of course have found himself in familiar surroundings even in 20th-century Aylesford.
But what a surprise he would have had—to find himself assisting at Mass at 6 o'clock in the evening....
The Mass was celebrated by the Carmelite Prior General. Fr. Killian Lynch, brother of Aylesford's Prior.
Aylesford is growing in men as well as in stone. On Tuesday night four new Carmelite postulants received the brown and white habit, and on Wednesday morning two novices were professed.
Less than five years have passed since the first stride towards the restoration was taken—when after their long exile the friars returned to Aylesford.
Two years later, when a Carmelite Cardinal came from Rome, Aylesford received the relics of St. Simon. now awaiting their shrine in the new church.
Then only last month came the third stride—the first ordination at Aylesford.
Many people regard the work already done at Aylesford as a perfect piece of restoration. an achievement which the inspired artists and craftsmen of olden days would have come to approve and admire.
Fine rain was falling when in the early afternoon groups of friars and nuns gathered in the courtyard outside the Pilgrims' Hall for a procession along the Rosary Way, with three coach-loads of Carmelite tertiaries and a billowing group of nursing nuns in white habits.
Inside the ancient hall, 20th-century pilgrims were drinking from thermos flasks.
Three Chinese priests, cameras slung from their shoulders, looked and listened to a Carmelite friar trying to explain with gestures the story of Aylesford in olden days—the story that still goes on today.
Talking to the Polish sculptor Zielinsky, who has been working on a series of life-size Stations of the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem. I asked him to describe the general shape of the new church designed by Adrian Gilbert Scott.
"The shape of a cross," he said— "a massive pile twice as high as the clock tower."
Zielinsky himself is designing a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel after the original in Palestine to stand on the right of the high altar.
Other well-known sculptors represented at Aylesford are Michael Lindsey Clark and Kossowski, a Pole whose original ceramics for the Rosary Way make a touch of colour echoed by roses planted below by the Carmelites—white. red and gold roses for the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries.
The procession was followed by Solemn Benediction in the open air by a secular priest of the Southwark diocese assisted by two priests from Indo-China.
It was about this time that we heard that a telegram had come to the Prior, Fr. Malachy Lynch, from the Vatican. Mgr. Montini, Pro-Secretary of State, told him of the Holy Father's gratitude at the news of the evening's ceremony, that His Holiness sent his heartfelt felicitations, and imparted to the Prior, to the community and to all who were gathering at Aylesford his fatherly blessing.
When the stone had been laid and darkness was beginning to fall, a torchlight procession wound its way
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