Over the last decade The Life Ascending has had their annual retreat at Aylesford. We have either taken our own priest or used the Friars.
The retreat is at Aylesford Priory as it is more easily accessible for those living in the South and is always a very special moment in our calendar. It is a time to relax, spend time in prayer and reflection, learn from the retreat director and enjoy the company of fellow Life Ascending members from other groups.
The Carmelites arrived at Aylesford in 1242 and in 1247 a General Chapter was held in Aylesford and this marks the transition of the Carmelites into an International Order of Friars. They followed a new monastic life begun by Sts Francis and Dominic. They would go out among the local people in order to serve and care for them.
A local Kentish man, Simon Stock, became Prior General. He left a great reputation of holiness and devotion to Our Lady as during his life he had had a vision of Our Lady. She touched his scapular (the short monastic cloak, covering his shoulders) promising her protection to whoever wore a scapular. 700 years later, some of St Simon’s holy remains were brought to Aylesford from Bordeaux and now rest in the St Simon’s chapel.
Aylesford has had a chequered history passing through the tumult of the Reformation and for a period becoming a fine mansion until in June 1930 it was destroyed by fire. In 1949 Fr Malachy Lynch O.Carm, the first Prior began the miraculous work of restoration and from then until the present day, The Friary has slowly become a place of pilgrimage, reflection and peace.
We are so fortunate to be able to use Aylesford for our Southern retreat as it has so much to offer the present day pilgrims. There are plenty of places left for this year’s retreat. You will find a booking form on this website.