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Friday, 30 May 2014

Sabbatical retreat

This week I've had the first of my sabbatical retreats in the idyllic setting of Aylesford Priory. Set in the heart of Kent, Aylesford Priory is an ancient religious house of the Order of Carmelites dating back to the 13th Century.

In 1538, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Priory passed out of Carmelite hands until in 1949 The Friars was put up for sale and the Carmelites were able to buy back their motherhouse. 

Fr Malachy Lynch, the first Prior, began the task of restoring the buildings and within a short time The Friars became a flourishing pilgrimage centre. In partnership with Adrian Gilbert Scott, Fr Malachy conceived the idea of the open-air shrine and he gathered craftsmen and artists to help him. Outstanding among the artists were Adam Kossowski, who made the ceramics, and Philip Lindsey Clark and his son Michael Clark, both sculptors. Fr Malachy described The Friars as "a prayer in stone".

In the presence of Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop Cyril Cowderoy rededicated the Shrine in 1965 and it now serves as a centre of prayer for all Christians in Kent and a place of peace for those who search for meaning in their lives. Over 200,000 pilgrims a year make their way to Aylesford. Some as part of organised pilgrimages, some on a parish visit, others come on school trips or fellowship or hobby clubs.


Colin Burns - Linger Here.

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