Simeon Stock (DNB00)

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SIMEON STOCK, Saint (1165?–1265), general of the Carmelite friars, is said to have been born in Kent of noble parents about 1165. From his earliest years he was devoted to religion, and, according to the legend, owed his surname to the fact that from his twelfth year he lived a hermit's life in the trunk or stock of a tree for twenty years. In 1201 he is alleged to have entered the Carmelite order, and afterwards to have studied at Oxford, graduating as bachelor in theology. In 1215 he became vicar-general of the order in the west, and on 30 Jan. 1226 obtained from Honorius III a confirmation of the Albertine rule, which was renewed by Gregory IX on 6 April 1229. Afterwards Simeon went to Palestine, and was present at the general meeting of the order in 1237, when the migration to the west was determined on. Simeon came to England with Alan the general in 1244, and at a chapter held at Aylesford in the following year was chosen sixth general of the order in succession to Alan. As general he obtained a revision of the Carmelite rule from Innocent IV in 1248. He died at Bordeaux on 16 May 1265. In 1276 Nicholas III sanctioned the celebration of mass in Simeon's honour in the Carmelite church at Bordeaux. The privilege was extended to all the churches of the order by Paul V. St. Simeon Stock is famous as the propagator of the ‘scapular,’ a garment consisting of two woollen bands worn over the shoulders—a peculiar distinction of his order, which is said to have been revealed to him by the Virgin in a vision in 1251, with the assurance that no one who died wearing it could be lost. The legend was contested by Launoy, the famous French theologian in the seventeenth century, who asserted that it was not to be found before John Palæonydorus, who wrote about 1480. The legend seems to be of older date than this, and possibly originated in the fourteenth century; but the ascription of it to Peter Swaynton, a disciple and contemporary of Simeon Stock, is not well founded. Simeon is credited with having written: 1. ‘Canones cultus divini.’ 2. ‘Homiliæ ad populum.’ 3. ‘De Christiana pœnitentia,’ inc. ‘Amos super Tribus sceleribus.’ 4. ‘Epistolæ ad fratres.’ 5. ‘Ad Christoparam Virginem Antiphonæ,’ inc. ‘Ave Stella Matutina.’ His writings are of little extent and less importance.

[Bale's Heliades in Harl. MSS. 1819 ff. 98, 129–32, and 3838 ff. 10–19, 54–5, and Centuriæ, iv. 7; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.-Hib. pp. 673–4; Launoy's De Simeonis Stockii Viso et … de Scapularis Sodalitate, Paris, 1653; Villiers de St. Etienne's Bibl. Carmelitana, ii. 750–61; Bollandists' Acta Sanctorum, Maii iii. 653–4, 762; Hist. Littéraire de la France, xix. 66–8.]

C. L. K.