Carmelites celebrate return to Aylesford

  • Ellen Teague

The 70th anniversary of the Carmelites' return to Aylesford Priory in Kent has been celebrated with a special Mass presided by Archbishop John Wilson of Southwark and attended by around 300 people. The Carmelite Friars, first came to Aylesford in 1242, but left at the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538. However, they were able to return in 1949.

The Mass on 31 October was described as "a very happy occasion". The prior Fr Francis Kemsley said, "it was good to welcome so many Carmelites from around Britain and Ireland, local clergy and our many friends and volunteers".

Archbishop Wilson spoke of remembering the past with gratitude, living the presence with enthusiasm and looking forward to the future with hope. Emeritus Archbishop Peter Smith, of Southwark was also present. Two people in the congregation had been present in 1949. After the mass the congregation processed along the Rosary Way to the Scapular Vision Shrine, singing the litany of Saints which the Carmelites had done at the opening 70 years earlier.

Aylesford Priory currently has a resident community of six friars. Visitors can enjoy the breathtaking grounds and stunning medieval buildings, enjoy walks down the Peace Garden and Rosary Way. The priory is a popular venue for retreats and pilgrimages. The Pilgrims' Hall is the oldest building in the Great Courtyard, probably late 13th century, and served as a shelter for pilgrims on their way to Canterbury.

Set in the heart of Kent by the Medway River, Aylesford Priory is an ancient religious house of the Order of Carmelites dating back to the 13th century. It receives over 200,000 visitors a year.

The Priory is also on the route of the Augustine Camino from Rochester to Canterbury and Ramsgate.
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Tags: Aylesford, Carmelites

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