Since prayer is at the heart of Carmelite life, one of the ministries undertaken by the Order in Britain and around the world is that of organising pilgrimages, and running shrines and sanctuaries.
The first Carmelites on Mount Carmel around the year 1200 were quite possibly pilgrims to the Holy Land who decided to settle near the places where Jesus had walked. We know from pilgrim accounts that the hermits on Mount Carmel offered hospitality to passing travellers.
When the Carmelite friars developed communities in western Europe, they often took on or set up shrines where pilgrims would come in devotion to God and the saints.
At Aylesford Priory, for example, the medieval Carmelites would welcome pilgrims making the journey towards the shrine of St. Thomas Becket at Canterbury. Today Aylesford has become a place of pilgrimage in its own right, closely associated with St. Simon Stock.
Not far from Aylesford the British Province of Carmelites also cares for the National Shrine of Saint Jude the Apostle.
The British Province of Carmelites also organises pilgrimages to shrines. Within Britain there are occasional Carmelite pilgrimages to holy sites at: Hulne in Northumberland (the Order's first foundation in England); South Queensferry near Edinburgh (a Carmelite friary established in the Middle Ages to welcome pilgrims going to St. Andrew's); and Doncaster (a place of medieval devotion to Our Lady). British Carmelites are also involved in pilgrimages to shrines such as Walsingham and Carfin. Looking abroad, there is an annual British Carmelite pilgrimage to Lourdes, and occasional pilgrimages to places such as Rome and Avila.
Other important places of Carmelite pilgrimage around the world can be found in France, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and elsewhere.