31 October 2013

A day in Nottingham without meeting
Robin Hood and his merry band

Robin Hood and his merry band … forever associated with Nottingham

Patrick Comerford

What does Nottingham mean to you?

What images does the name conjure up for you?

In my childhood, I probably associated Nottingham with Robin Hood, a capricious Sheriff, and that roly-poly merry band in Sherwood Forest, including Friar Tuck, Maid Marian, Little John and Will Scarlett.

At a later stage in my childhood, I probably associated it with its two football clubs, Nottingham Forest and Notts County, or perhaps thought of it as the home of the Raleigh and Triumph bicycles, which seemed to be the only makes of bicycle any of us had as boys.

Still later, as my interests turned to cricket Nottingham was associated inseparably with Trent Bridge and test matches – and still is.

As an adult, I came to realise too that Nottingham was the home of DH Lawrence, author of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Women in Love, and the poet Lord Byron lived nearby at Mucknell Abbey.

But, while I have passed through Nottingham occasionally on my way between the Midlands and the North, and while I once supervised a thesis for an MA at Nottingham University, I have been visiting Nottingham for the first time today.

I caught an early morning train from Lichfield Trent Valley, changed at Tamworth, and travelled through Burton-on-Trent and Derby before arriving at Nottingham before 9 a.m., for a day’s visit to Saint John’s College, meeting colleagues teaching in similar fields.

In the gardens at Saint John’s College, Nottingham, today (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Nottingham is a city without an Anglican cathedral – it is part of the diocese of Southwell, and Southwell Minster is 23 km north-east of Nottingham. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Barnabas (1844), which I passed on the way from the train station to Bramcote, is a major work in the Gothic revival style by AWN Pugin.

Nottingham has the dubious distinction of being twinned with Harare, the capital of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

Nottingham is also a new city – it received its charter as a city as recently as 1897.

Yet Nottingham is the home of well-known brand names such as Boots the chemists.

And Nottingham has not one but two universities – the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University.

Apart from glimpsing Pugin’s cathedral this morning, this full and busy day at Saint John’s meant there was no opportunity to see three sights I must see in Nottingham in the future: Trent Bridge Stadium, Nottingham Castle, and Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem.

‘The Trip,’ as it is known locally, is partially built into a cave system beneath Nottingham Castle, and is one of the claimants to the title of “England’s Oldest Pub,” supposedly dating from 1189. However, this claim is challenged by The Bell Inn on the Old Market Square, and Ye Olde Salutation Inn on Maid Marian Way.

The Trip claims to date from 1189. According to local legend – probably of recent creation – it takes its name from crusades, when local knights who followed Richard the Lionheart to the Holy Land, stopped off here for a drink before beginning their journey to Jerusalem.

The legend, as it is spun in Nottingham, becomes linked with the legends about Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham. But there was no time to explore these further before catching the train this evening back through Derby, Burton-on-Trent and Birmingham to Lichfield.

In the chapel at Saint John’s College, Nottingham, today (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

‘Willowy banks of a willowy Cherwell’:
visiting the Oxford of John Betjeman

Magdalen College, Oxford ... the college of John Betjeman – and of Oscar Wilde, CS Lewis and Seamus Heaney (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

I was writing yesterday about the Oxford of TS Eliot and Louis MacNeice. But, of course, there is also the Oxford of Oscar Wilde and of John Betjeman (1906-1984), Poet Laureate.

Indeed, 20th century Oxford produced a rich crop of writers in a wide variety of genres, including TE Lawrence, Max Beerbohm, Evelyn Waugh, WH Auden, Dorothy Sayers, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams, Ronald Knox, John Wain, Iris Murdoch, Graham Greene, Michael Innes, Edmund Crispin and Robertson Davies, to name but a few whose colleges, pubs and other haunts are of interest to academics and to tourists on the bright sunny days I have experienced this week..

John Betjeman had been taught at Highgate School by TS Eliot, before going to the Dragon School in Oxford as a boarder and then on to Marlborough, where his contemporaries included Louis MacNeice.

Betjeman faced difficulties in trying to get into Oxford with difficulty. He failed the mathematics part of the matriculation exam, Responsions, but eventually was admitted as a commoner or non-scholarship student at Magdalen College, entering the newly-formed School of English Language and Literature. Famously, he brought his teddy bear, Archibald Ormsby-Gore, up to Magdalen with him, an eccentricity that inspired his Oxford contemporary Evelyn Waugh to portray the aesthete extraordinaire Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited, in which he is never seen sauntering around Oxford without his teddy bear.

Magdalen is also the college of the Dublin-born Oscar Wilde, of the Belfast-born CS Lewis, who in 1925 was elected a fellow and tutor in English Literature at Magdalen, and later of Seamus Heaney, who was a Fellow of Magdalen while he was Professor of Poetry in Oxford.

As his tutor at Magdalen, CS Lewis regarded Betjeman as an “idle prig”; Betjeman, for his part, found Lewis unfriendly, demanding, and uninspired, and described him as “breezy, tweedy, beer-drinking and jolly.”

Despite all this, Betjeman published a poem in Isis, the university magazine, and in 1927 he was editor of Cherwell, the student newspaper, founded seven years earlier. His bicycle tours of Victorian North Oxford as a young student inspired many of his later poems and instilled in him a life-long love of architecture. Much of this period of his life is recorded in his autobiography Summoned by Bells (1960).

Betjeman cultivated the common misapprehension that he did not complete his degree because he failed to pass the compulsory examination known as ‘Divinity.’ In Hilary term 1928, Betjeman failed Divinity for the second time, and had to leave Oxford for the Trinity term to prepare to resit ‘Divvers.’

He returned to Oxford in October, when he wrote to the Secretary of the Tutorial Board at Magdalen, GC Lee, asking to be entered for the Pass School. Betjeman claims Lewis told him: “You’d have only got a third.” But Lewis told the tutorial board that he thought Betjeman would not achieve an honours degree of any class.

Betjeman was given permission to sit the Pass School, but finally he had to leave at the end of the Michaelmas term, 1928. He passed Divinity on his third attempt but was sent down after failing the Pass School, having achieved a satisfactory result in only one of the three required papers, on Shakespeare and other English authors.

Meanwhile, in his rooms in Magdalen, CS Lewis was struggle with questions about faith, and returned to Christianity in 1929. In Surprised by Joy, he writes:

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.

Although Betjeman left Oxford without a degree, he had formed lasting friendships with people who would later influence his work, including Louis MacNeice and WH Auden. In 1930, he became an assistant editor of The Architectural Review, and in 1931, his first book of poems, Mount Zion, was published by an old Oxford friend, Edward James.

But his poor academic performance at Oxford continued to haunt him for the rest of his life. He was never reconciled with CS Lewis and continued to detest him bitterly.

Yet he had an enduring love of Oxford. From 1951 to 1972, he lived at The Mead in Wantage, 16 miles south of Oxford. Wantage provides the setting for his book Archie and the Strict Baptists. In the boundary changes in 1974, Wantage was transferred from Berkshire to Oxfordshire.

That year, Betjeman accepted an honorary doctorate from Oxford, and two years ago, in 2011, Betjeman was honoured by the university as one of its 100 most distinguished members from ten centuries.

The Mead is at the heart of the Betjeman Millennium Park in Wantage since 1997. Lines from his poems feature on six stones, inscribed by the sculptor Alec Peever. The week-long ‘Wantage (not just) Betjeman Literary Festival 2013’ came to an end on Sunday (27 October 2013).

The chapel tower at Magdalen looks down on the Cherwell at Magdalen Bridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Myfanwy at Oxford by John Betjeman

Pink may, double may, dead laburnum
Shedding an Anglo-Jackson shade,
Shall we ever, my staunch Myfanwy,
Bicycle down to North Parade?
Kant on the handle-bars, Marx in the saddlebag,
Light my touch on your shoulder-blade.

Sancta Hilda, Myfanwyatia
Evansensis – I hold your heart,
Willowy banks of a willowy Cherwell a
Willowy figure with lips apart,
Strong and willowy, strong to pillow me,
Gold Myfanwy, kisses and art.

Tubular bells of tall St. Barnabas,
Single clatter above St. Paul,
Chasuble, acolyte, incense-offering,
Spectacled faces held in thrall.
There in the nimbus and Comper tracery
Gold Myfanwy blesses us all.

Gleam of gas upon Oxford station,
Gleam of gas on her straight gold hair,
Hair flung back with an ostentation,
Waiting alone for a girl friend there.
Second in Mods and a Third in Theology
Come to breathe again Oxford air.

Her Myfanwy as in Cadena days,
Her Myfanwy, a schoolgirl voice,
Tentative brush of a cheek in a cocoa crush,
Coffee and Ulysses, Tennyson, Joyce,
Alpha-minded and other dimensional,
Freud or Calvary? Take your choice.

Her Myfanwy? My Myfanwy.
Bicycle bells in a Boar’s Hill Pine,
Stedman Triple from All Saints’ steeple,
Tom and his hundred and one at nine,
Bells of Butterfield, caught in Keble,
Sally and backstroke answer “Mine!”

‘Willowy banks of a willowy Cherwell’ ... punts and willows at the Cherwell beneath Magdalen Bridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

30 October 2013

Dusk in Lichfield on an
evening in late October

Fading lights on Minster Pool under the shadows of Lichfield Cathedral as evening turns to night (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

After a working day in Oxford today [Wednesday 30 October 2013], visiting theological colleges and meeting colleagues who teach in similar areas, I had a little time to walk around Oxford before catching a train and heading north, preparing for tomorrow’s visit to Nottingham.

North of Oxford, as the train headed towards Banbury and on to Leamington Spa, Coventry and Birmingham, the lands and fields were covered in surface water after the storms that swept across England last weekend.

At Shenstone, south of Lichfield, horses were placid in the bright autumn afternoon, apart from one who pranced and danced in a field beside the train, as though he was born to race the pony express.

I was in Lichfield this evening in time for Evening Prayer in Lichfield Cathedral, led by the Canon Treasurer, Canon Canon Andrew Stead. He was installed as Canon Treasurer and chaplain of Lichfield Cathedral School early last month [8 September, 2013], and is now living in No 8 Cathedral Close. I stayed in No 8 many times in recent years, when this was a bed and breakfast run by Gill Jones, in rooms looking out at the front onto the west front of the Lichfield Cathedral, or at the back across the gardens planted by Erasmus Darwin to Darwin House.

The readings for Evening Prayer provided an interesting contrast between the absurd amount of wine Holofernes had to drink as he planned to seduce Judith before he was slain by her (Judith 12), and the advice from the Apostle Paul to Saint Titus, the companion he left in Crete, about the amount of wine a bishop should drink (Titus 1).

In the fading lights of evening, I went for a walk in the countryside along Cross in Hand Lane, on the north west edges of Lichfield, strolled up and down Beacon Street two or three times, had a walk through the centre of Lichfield after the shops had downed shutters at the end of the day, stood for a while enthralled by the dim lights and shadows of late October on Minster Pool below Lichfield Cathedral, met a few old friends, and called into the George on Beacon Street, before returning in the late evening to the Hedgehog, where I am staying, on the corner of Stafford Road and Cross in Hand Lane for dinner, shared only with this morning’s edition of the Guardian.

Tomorrow is a long working day in Nottingham. But for many years I have felt at home and at ease in Lichfield, and I am looking forward to a quiet day on Friday, spending much of the day in Lichfield Cathedral, celebrating All Saints’ Day [1 November 2013], before catching the last flight from Birmingham International Airport to Dublin.

Before evening turns to dusk in fields on the edges of Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

‘Oxford is very pretty, but I don’t like to
be dead’: visiting the Oxford of TS Eliot

The Gatehouse at Merton College where TS Eliot studies briefly in 1914-1915 ... the gatehouse dates the early 15th century, when Henry V granted a royal 'license to crenellate, which allowed for the construction of the battlement tower above the present-day lodge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

In a letter to Conrad Aiken on New Year’s Eve 1914, TS Eliot wrote famously: “Oxford is very pretty, but I don’t like to be dead.”

In a similar vein, WH Auden said: “Oxford city is sheer hell. Compared with New York, it’s five times as crowded and the noise of the traffic is six times louder.”

I am in the Oxford of TS Eliot this week, but it is far from dead. Indeed, the Oxford that TS Eliot found pretty but deadening almost a century ago, and the WH Auden later found sheer hell, is very pretty but is also very much alive.

While he was still a graduate student at Harvard, Eliot received a Sheldon Travelling Fellowship to study at Merton College, Oxford, in 1914. He first visited Marburg, Germany, where he planned to follow a summer programme, but when World War I broke out, he went to Oxford instead.

So many American students were at Merton at that time the Junior Common Room proposed a motion “that this society abhors the Americanisation of Oxford.” It was defeated by two votes, after Eliot reminded the students how much they owed to American culture.

Merton College is one of the oldest and one of the wealthiest colleges in Oxford. It was founded in 1264 when Walter de Merton, Chancellor to Henry III and later to Edward I, first drew up statutes for the college and established endowments to support it, which were directly vested in the Warden and Fellows. Merton’s statues predate those of Balliol College and University College, neither of which had statutes until the 1280s.

The hall, the chapel and the rest of the front quad were complete before the end of the 13th century, has remained on the same site for almost 750 years. Visitors are often told that Mob Quad, built in the 14th century, is the oldest quadrangle of any Oxford or Cambridge college. Last year an estimate put Merton’s financial endowments at £175 million.

The college grace before formal dinners in Hall is:

Oculi omnium in te respiciunt, Domine. Tu das escam illis tempore opportuno.
Aperis manum tuam, et imples omne animal benedictione tua.
Benedicas nobis, Deus, omnibus donis quae de tua beneficentia accepturi simus.
Per Jesum Christum dominum nostrum, Amen.

In English, it prays:

The eyes of the world look up to you, O Lord. You give them food in due season.
You open your hand and you fill every creature with your blessing.
Bless us, O God, with all the gifts which, by you good works we are about to receive.
Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Amen.

It is similar to the graces in many Cambridge and Oxford colleges, and the first two verses are based on the Latin text of Psalm 145: 15-16.

The grace afterwards is brief:

Benedictus benedicat

‘Let him who has been blessed, give blessing.’

Autumn at Merton College, Oxford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

At this time of the year, Merton is also known for the traditional Time Ceremony, in which students in formal academic dress walk backwards around the Fellows’ Quad drinking port, linking arms and twirling around at each corner of the quad. The tradition is supposed to maintain the integrity of the space-time continuum during the transition from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time on the last Sunday in October.

Two toasts are associated with the ceremony. The first is to “Good Old Times!” or “A Good Old Time!” The second is: “Long Live the Counter-Revolution!” The ceremony was invented by two undergraduates in 1971, partly as a spoof on other Oxford ceremonies, and partly to celebrate the end of the experimental period of British Standard Time from 1968 to 1971, when Britain stayed one hour ahead of GMT all year round.

Merton had other literary giants apart from TS Eliot. In November 1925, the Irish poet Louis MacNeice was awarded a “Postmastership” scholarship to Merton. During his first year Oxford, he first met W.H Auden, whose circle of friends included Stephen Spender and Cecil Day-Lewis.

From 1945 to 1959, JRR Tolkien was Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at Merton College, where, no doubt, he spent many hours in the Old Library while he was writing Lord of the Rings, which he completed in 1948. During that time, he also served as an external examiner for University College Dublin, and in 1954 he received an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland.

Eliot’s remarks about Oxford being very pretty were written in a letter to Conrad Aiken on New Year’s Eve 1914, when he said: “I hate university towns and university people, who are the same everywhere, with pregnant wives, sprawling children, many books and hideous pictures on the walls ... Oxford is very pretty, but I don’t like to be dead.”

Escaping Oxford, Eliot spent much of his time in London. There, the city had a many life-altering impacts on Eliot, the most significant of which was his introduction to the Ezra Pound.

They first met on 22 September 1914, when Eliot visited Pound’s flat. Pound instantly decided that Eliot was “worth watching” and introduced him to social events and literary gatherings.

While he was at Oxford, Eliot met his future wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood, a Cambridge lecturer, and they were married in a secret ceremony on 26 June 1915.

During this time, it appears, Eliot was spending as little time as possible in Oxford and he left Merton after a year. By 1915 he was teaching English at Birkbeck College in the University of London. By 1916, he had completed his doctoral dissertation for Harvard, but he failed to return for the viva voce exam.

Despite escaping Merton and leaving Oxford life, Eliot returned to receive an honorary doctorate. He is still remembered with pride at his old college, where the award-winning TS Eliot Theatre opened in Rose Lane Gardens in June 2010. This is the most recent building in Merton College’s history of almost 750 years.

A bust of TS Eliot by Jacob Epstein was presented to the theatre by Frank Brenchley, a former fellow, who also presented Merton College with his collection of Eliot first editions and ephemera, said to be the second largest collection of its type worldwide.

29 October 2013

A theological college in Oxford
with new prize-winning chapel

The new chapel at Ripon College Cuddesdon may be the most interesting chapel in any theological college in the Church of England today and has attracted considerable media attention (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

I am visiting a number of theological colleges in England this week, with plans to meet colleagues who teach in the same areas as me, and who share the same fields of academic interests.

Apart from the mutual support of colleagues who teach in the fields of Anglicanism, Liturgy and Church History, it is also interesting to see how these colleges share community life, how they worship as communities, and the settings in which that worship life is expressed.

My room in Ripon College Cuddesdon, south of Oxford, is looking out at rolling Oxfordshire countryside, and to my left from the window is perhaps, the most interesting chapel in any theological college in the Church of England today. This new chapel has attracted considerable media attention in recent months, ranging from the BBC to the Financial Times and to professional architectural journals.

There has been a theological college at Cuddesdon for over 160 years. Cuddesdon College was established in 1854 by Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, under whose portrait I sat at lunchtime today His vision was for a college independent of any specific Church faction, and with a focus on the discipline of daily prayer and spiritual formation. The college buildings, most of them designed by GE Street, were built opposite his episcopal palace, Cuddesdon Palace. Staff members in the past have included Bishop Charles Gore, editor of Lux Mundi and founder of the Community of the Resurrection, and Robert Runcie, later Archbishop of Canterbury, both of whom have buildings named after them here.

A merger with Ripon Hall, Oxford, in the 1970s, forming Ripon College Cuddesdon, brought in new resources and fresh thinking, and helped develop a new and open approach to theological study.

With the incorporation of the Oxford Ministry Course (2006) and the West of England Ministerial Training Course (2011), the college was able to offer a wide range of additional non-residential courses. A new partnership with the Church Missionary Society (CMS), means the college also offers training for Ordained Pioneer Ministers.

Last year, the five remaining sisters from two Anglican religious orders – Saint John the Baptist and the Good Shepherd – joined the college community at Cuddesdon. They provide a praying presence throughout the year and offer spiritual direction, quiet days and guided retreats.

The Community of Saint John Baptist (CSJB), also known as the Sisters of Mercy or the Clewer Sisters, was founded by the Irish-born Mother Harriet Monsell (1811-1883), from Dromoland Castle, Co Clare, a sister of the Irish patriot William Smith O’Brien.

The chapel was voted into second place in the prestigious architectural prize, the Stirling Prize (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

With their move to Cuddesdon, they built a new Harriet Monsell House in the college grounds and endowed the new college chapel. I can see Harriet Monsell House to the right of my room in Liddon, the chapel is to the left. Earlier this month, the chapel was voted into second place in one of Britain’s most prestigious architectural prizes, the Stirling Prize, awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Harriet Monsell House seen to the right of my room in Liddon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

The BBC and the RIBA ran the online poll in conjunction with a series of television features on the six shortlisted buildings. The winning building was Astley Castle, Warwickshire; the other shortlisted buildings were the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, the Newhall Be, Park Hill Phase 1 and the University of Limerick Medical School.

I last visited Cuddesdon, about five or six miles south of Oxford, in 2007, when I was shown around the older chapels by the Very Revd Lister Tonge, now Dean of Monmouth and Newport Cathedral. The old chapel is now part of the library which is next to my room in Liddon.

The new, elliptical Bishop Edward King Chapel at Cuddesdon is the place of worship for the nuns and for the staff and ordinands. The chapel name honours the saintly Edward King, Bishop of Lincoln and a former chaplain and principal of Cuddesdon Theological College.

Ripon College Cuddesdon stands in beautiful countryside south of Oxford, and the chapel, which stands at the centre of the college, is dramatic and subtle, modern and yet crafted from natural materials. It can seat 120 people, cost £2.6 million, and took 18 months to build. It was designed by in 2009 by Niall McLaughlin Architects and was opened last February.

The outside wall is made of Clipsham stone arranged in a dogtooth style (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

The outside wall is made of Clipsham stone arranged in a dogtooth style, with alternate rough and smooth edges facing outwards. Each one was individually snapped using a hand-held tool.

Refined and restrained, timeless and serene – this new chapel projects a remarkable sense of permanence. The sophisticated design is beguilingly simple, as light streams down through the hip-high windows. The furniture and beams are made of larch and ash, the walls and ceiling, rendered in lime plaster, with subtle variations in textures and shade.

Worshippers enter the chapel at Cuddesdon through a dark hallway. There are three steps down to the polished floor of the chapel, but above, the latticed woodwork draws your eye up towards high windows with dappled light from the surrounding trees.

The elliptical shape achieves another layer of symbolic detail. On one side the window protrudes exactly between two trees, offering the only uninterrupted view across the valley. On the other, the heavy, thick wooden doorway is aligned with the trunk of a large copper beech tree.

“Much like when people come out of the cinema and it feels like they’ve been immersed in one world and are coming out into another, that's what I wanted from the chapel,” says Niall McLaughlin. “I wanted people to come out underneath the protective canopy of the beech.”

The college grounds are rich in trees, and trees are a recurring theme in the chapel. They surround the chapel, they fill the views from every window and their dappled light creates a soft and nuanced light – like moving stained glass. Inside the building, sweeping wooden arches rise up to the ceiling. They are the trees, the gothic arches and a whisper of the ship.

Part of the inspiration for the new chapel was a play on the word nave (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Part of the inspiration for the building was a play on the word nave. As well as referring to the main part of a church, nave is derived from the Latin word for boat, and also refers to the hub of a wheel and to the navel.

“It is the bit that doesn’t move, everything else swirls around it. This is a place of stillness and watchfulness. This is a place where people come to gaze,” the Principal of Cuddesdon, Canon Martin Percy, recently told the BBC. He described the acoustics inside the chapel as “seeping through your skin and into your soul.”

“This chapel with its use of light, space, glass, wood and stone captures our hope for the church and the world, and for the shaping of religious and spiritual life,” Professor Percy says.

“There is so much metaphor in this chapel,” Edwin Heathcote, architectural critic, wrote in the Financial Times. “It has all these layers of imbued meaning, perhaps there are too many. Maybe they tried too hard. But it works. It’s a very pure kind of architecture. It would have been a dream commission.”

Ripon College Cuddesdon has around 150 students training for ordained ministry on various courses. It is the largest provider of ordination training in the United Kingdom, and has trained a third of the current bishops, deans and archdeacons in the Church of England. Its strength comes from the acceptance of diversity and the students come from across the breadth of church traditions.

● The public can see the exterior of the chapel and walk in the college grounds at any time. However, access to the interior of the chapel is by appointment only.

Autumn leaves in Ripon College Cuddesdon this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

28 October 2013

The storm has passed, the skies and sea
are blue and the autumn fields are green

Blue skies, blue sea and black and deep brown sand on the beach at Greystones this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

The storm that is still battering many parts of these islands has had tragic consequences in England, where at least six people have died in the storms, and commuter traffic, business and daily life has suffered many disruptions throughout the day.

I am still hoping that air and rail traffic is back to normal for the rest of the week, and that I am able to go ahead with my planned visits to theological colleges in Oxford and Nottingham, and with my plans to spend All Saints’ Day at the end of the week [1 November 2013] in Lichfield Cathedral.

However, apart yesterday’s heavy rains, Dublin seems to have been spared the worst excesses of the passing storm, and by early afternoon, as I attended the funeral of a work colleague’s brother, there was bright sunshine and blue skies, even if there was a chill wind.

Today is the autumn bank holiday Monday in Dublin, and for decades the main event of the day has been the Dublin City Marathon. When governments were still resisting declaring a public holiday on May Day, this bank holiday was created to make up the days-off counted by other European workers. Although May has since been conceded, many people since remember this senseless Bank Holiday as “Micky O’Leary’s Bank Holiday” – or as Halloween Monday, even if Halloween falls much later in the week, as is the case this year.

Surprisingly though – and despite the mid-term break in many schools and colleges – few people seem to have taken advantage of the extra day off, and when we arrived at Greystones, Co Wicklow, later in the afternoon, the beach was almost deserted. There were just a few couples walking their dogs, but only one yacht out at sea, and no children on the beach.

We had a late lunch in the Happy Pear, before walking down to the bridge under the railway line for a short walk on the beach. Last night’s has rain left the sand black or deep brown and rightly compacted. The small waves were loud as they rolled in onto the shore, but the sea was blue and there were few clouds in the blue sky above.

On the road back through north Co Wicklow and South Dublin, the fields that had been golden during the harvest a few weeks ago were now beginning to turn green in the late autumn glow.

A print from Egypt … in a new place on a wall after the weekend (Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Earlier in the weekend, I had spent a few hours at home hanging a few pictures that had lain hidden after the house was redecorated a few months ago: an icon from Romania, another from Mount Athos, a photograph from Achill Island, prints and paintings from Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Syria, a favourite photograph of a church window in Lichfield …

Autumn brings its own pleasures by the sea and in the countryside ... and brings its own blessings too.

An icon from Romania … back on a wall at home (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

A laconic and direct ‘No’ for
the cause of Greek liberty

The Greek flag flying over the Acropolis in Athens (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today is celebrated by Greek communities throughout the world as Ohi Day (Επέτειος του «'Οχι»).

This celebration on 28 October each year commemorates the final ‘No’ delivered by the Greek Prime Minister, Ioannis Metaxas, on 28 October 1940 when he rejected the ultimatum delivered Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

The ultimatum was presented at dawn by the Italian ambassador in Athens, Emanuele Grazzi, demanding Greece allow Axis forces to enter Greece and occupy “strategic locations” or face war.

It is popularly believed the ultimatum was met with a single laconic word: όχι (No!). However, the truth is his actual reply was: “Then it is war.”

In response, Italian troops based in Albania attacked Greece at 5.30 am, drawing Greece into World War II.

On the morning of 28 October, the Greek population took to the streets in masses, chanting «'Οχι». And so, since 1942, today has been celebrated as Ohi Day by Greek communities around the world.

Ohi Day was celebrated in Dublin with live Greek music and dancing on Saturday night (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

The Greek anthem is based on the Hymn to the Freedom (Ὕμνος εἰς τὴν Ἐλευθερίαν), a lengthy, 158-stanza poem inspired by the Greek Revolution of 1821and written in 1824 by Dionysios Solomos, a poet from the island of Zakynthos, when he was only 25. He wrote the poem in a single month, May 1823, in Zakynthos in the home of his friend Loudovikos Stranis.

In1828, the composer Nicolaos Mantzaros from Corfu set the Hymn by Solomos to music. He composed two choral versions – a long one for the whole poem and a short one for the first two stanzas. His 6/4 tempo is reminiscent of the Tsamiko, a traditional Greek men’s dance.

Although King Othon decorated both poet and composer in the 1840s, he retained his Royal Anthem, which was of German origin and praised King Othon and his Germanic dynasty. However, when Othon’s Dynasty was overthrown, the new King George I adopted the Hymn to the Freedom as a new patriotic anthem on 1864.

The anthem has been performed at every closing ceremony in the Olympic Games as a tribute to Greece as the birthplace of Olympics.

Fluttering for Liberty … the Greek flag flying above the Fortezza in Rethymnon, Crete, earlier last month (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

The Liberty or Ελευθεριά (Eleftheria) of the anthem is female, and this is also a popular female name in Greece. But this Eleftheria is not as erotic and earthly as the Liberty of Delacroix. Instead she is more like an exiled ancient goddess, identified by Solomos with Greece itself.

In his hymn, the poet recalls the history of the Greek Revolution, and describes the pains and sacrifices of the rebels, criticises their dissensions, and calls for unity for the sake of Eleftheria.

However, the Greek anthem runs to only the first two of the 158 stanzas in the Hymn to Freedom. All 158 stanzas would make it the longest national anthem.

On this day, Greeks must be wondering who will say a strong and singular No to the forces of fascism in Golden Dawn that are bringing Greece to the precipice of violence? And who for the sake of Liberty will voice a strong and singular No to German and international fiscal demands that are bringing Greeks to the brink of defeat once again?

Σε γνωρίζω από την κόψη
Του σπαθιού την τρομερή,
Σε γνωρίζω από την όψη
Που με βιά μετράει τη γη.

Απ’ τα κόκκαλα βγαλμένη
Των Ελλήνων τα ιερά
Και σαν πρώτα ανδρειωμένη
Χαίρε, ω χαίρε Ελευθεριά!

Και σαν πρώτα ανδρειωμένη
Χαίρε, ω χαίρε Ελευθεριά!

Και σαν πρώτα ανδρειωμένη
Χαίρε, ω χαίρε Ελευθεριά!

I shall always recognise you
by the dreadful sword you hold
as the Earth with searching vision
you survey with spirit bold.

From the Greeks of old whose dying
brought to life and spirit free
now with ancient valour rising
let us hail you, oh Liberty!

27 October 2013

A ‘perfect day’ on the beaches
before the storms sweep in

Signs of a gathering storm on the beach at Sutton this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

We have been waiting for a hurricane-force storm to sweep across these islands, flights and ferries have been cancelled and trains are not running in southern England, throughout Greater London and East Anglia tomorrow morning [Monday 28 September 2013], causing severe commuter disruption.

The selfish gene in me is hoping that this storm passes quickly and that I can catch a flight to Birmingham early on Tuesday morning for a working week that takes me to theological colleges in Oxford and Nottingham, ending, hopefully, with All Saints’ Day in Lichfield Cathedral on Friday [1 November 2013].

I was in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, this morning, where I was deacon at the Cathedral Eucharist, reading the Gospel, and assisting at the distribution of the Holy Communion.

This is also a bank holiday weekend in Dublin, and threatening storms always bring with them the promise of brisk walks on wind-swept beaches. So, in the early afternoon, three of us headed north of Dublin, along the coast at Clontarf and Dollymount, to visit some of the beaches of Fingal and Co Meath.

We thought our first stop would be in Howth but before we reached Howth we decided to the Burrow Beach and the Claremont Beach, which run to a total length of 1.2 km west of Howth and east of Sutton Golf Club, hidden behind the Dart line and a row of elegant suburban houses.

These paired beaches face north towards Ireland’s Eye and Lambay Island. As the three of us walked along the sand in the blustery afternoon, there was a rainbow in the sky but few people braving the weather, with light sand sweeping along the surface of the beach. It was obvious a storm was brewing.

Cross Barbers at Sutton Cross ... but how cross exactly? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

We headed back to Sutton Cross, where my eye was caught a sign adverting “Cross Barbers ... Open 7 Days.”

Cross Barbers? I wondered how cross? As cross as Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street?

From Sutton Cross and Baldoyle, we drove along the coast to Portmarnock, where the tide was beginning to batter the long beach. The warnings had been heeded, it seems, and once again there were few people on the beach.

The windows in the chapel at Gormanston College ... inspired by Coventry Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

A little further north, in Malahide, the roads were flooded. We joined the M1 north of the Emmaus Retreat Centre at Swords, and decided to stop once again at Gormanston, not to walk on the beach where I have happy memories of playing beach cricket as a teenager but to see my old school at Gormanston Castle.

The school gates were locked, and everyone seemed to be away from Gormanston College for the half-term break. But we stopped to walk through the playing fields, to see the majestic castle, and to walk through the yew walks, said to have been created by a Lord Gormanston as a triangular-shaped cloister in the late 17th century for his daughter so that she would not feel the need to become a nun.

Before leaving, we stopped at the chapel, with its windows based on designs for Coventry Cathedral.

Stepping down onto the beach at Laytown (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

At Julianstown, we turned east, and joined the coast once again at Laytown, where we stopped briefly, looking out onto the Irish Sea.

Darkness was closing in early when we arrived at Bettystown – the loss of an hour with the change on the clocks last night made the afternoon so short today, and the looming storm hastened the closing in of darkness.

In Relish, we were given a table close to the window, and watched the waves and the fall of the evening shadows as we had an early dinner in this wonderful restaurant.

It was 6 p.m. when we stepped down from the terrace behind Relish onto the beach below. In the silence of the dark evening, the sound of the waves beating against the beach was another portent of the gathering storm.

But in the words of Lou Reed who died earlier today, it was Just a Perfect Day.

25 October 2013

Searching for the ‘moo-cow’ of James
Joyce’s childhood in Brighton Square

Brighton Square, where James Joyce was brought to play as a small child, has a subdued elegance, with its picket fences and mature trees (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

I finished work for the week in mid-afternoon [25 October 2013] and two of us went for coffee in Mayfield Deli and Eatery, on the corner of Brighton Square and Terenure Road North.

Although Mayfield is a local neighbourhood restaurant and café, with freshly baked scones and cakes, and an energizing double espresso, it also has a kitchenware section and Union Square restaurant is next door.

‘Pour not war’ ... a message on kitchenware for sale in Mayfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

My widowed grandmother lived around the corner in Ashdale Park for many years, and two aunts and two uncles continued to live in that house for years afterwards.

I often visited that house in my childhood and teens, but the area did not have such good coffee shops and restaurants in those lean years.

I sometimes wonder what it was like for them living in area where WB Yeats had lived as a child and where James Joyce was born.

We had parked on Brighton Square, and so before leaving, we took a walk around the square that, in reality, is a triangle. But then, Brighton Triangle does not sound as elegant as Brighton Square.

This was once a charming and respectable Victorian suburb, with terraced and paired redbrick houses that give this part of south Dublin some of its charm and character. It was an area of eminent respectability and had no room for peasants or poverty.

No 41 Brighton Square, Rathgar ... James Joyce was born here on 2 February 1882 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

John Stanislaus Joyce, a rate collector from Cork, and Mary Jane Murray, who lived on Terenure Road North, were married in the Church of Our Lady of Refuge, Rathmines, on 5 May 1880.

They first lived at 47 Northumberland Avenue, Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire), but moved to Brighton Square by 1882, and James Augustine Joyce was born on 2 February 1882 in No 41 Brighton Square, the eldest of 10 children – six girls and four boys.

In a letter to his son dated 31 January 1931, John Joyce asked James Joyce: “I wonder do you recollect the old days in Brighton Square, when you were Babie Tuckoo, and I used to take you out in the Square and tell you about the moo-cow that used to come down from the mountain and take little boys across?”

The Joyces lived in Brighton Square until 1884, when they moved to 23 Castlewood Avenue, Rathmines. Over a space of 22 years, James Joyce lived at no fewer than 19 different addresses in Dublin. The family was on the move endlessly, as John Joyce’s hopes and fortunes declined, each move bringing then down the social ladder another step. Most of those houses survive, though many of them – unlike 41 Brighton Square – are unmarked.

Front doors on Brighton Square ... notice the stucco faces on the frames of the two doors to the right (Photographs: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

As we strolled around the three sides of Brighton Square in the autumn afternoon sunshine, there was no sign of the scary “moo-cow” waiting “to come down from the mountain and take little boys across” to other side. But in that theme, many of the houses were already decorated for next week’s celebration of Hallowe’en [31 October], with pumpkins, masks, spider webs and danger signs.

Brighton Square ... with Brighton Road Methodist Church in the centre (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

One of the privileges of living on Brighton Square is the exclusive use of the park in the square, where John Joyce brought his children to play.

The park is managed by commissioners elected by the square’s resident, and its private grassed area, mature trees, pavilion and three tennis courts are enclosed by a picket fence and a low privet hedge that allow the outsider to put aside any feelings of exclusion.

A walk by the pool in Bushy Park in the late autumn afternoon sunshine (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Later, we drove past the public house where James Joyce’s mother was born, and then along the road between Rathfarnham village and Bushy Park, where mist was rising from the road, the grass and the River Dodder below as the afternoon sun continued to burn off the surface water from the heavy rain storms of the last 24 hours.

We stopped briefly to walk by the riverbank, by the pool in the park and as far as the small waterfall that was once a feature of the Shaw estate attached to Bushy Park House.

The autumn leaves are falling now, but the reflections in water were clear, and the families of swans living here were still expecting to be fed by hand by people strolling through the park.

It was a beautiful start to the autumn bank holiday weekend.

A willow by the River Dodder below Rathfarnham Village this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

24 October 2013

Combining the old and the new in
a room in the Old Library in TCD

The arched, vaulted ceiling of the Long Room in the Old Library in Trinity College Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

I spent most of this morning at a course management committee meeting in Trinity College Dublin, or – as it was officially incorporated – the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin.

In conversation over an early morning coffee in the Arts Building, some of us mused that every university and college on these islands must have its ugly building: Christ’s College, Cambridge, has its ‘Typewriter Building’ or New Court, built in 1966-1970; Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, has Blundell Court, which was built in 1967 – but inside the rooms are comfortable and the building has been greatly improved with an additional floor, the Gledhill Skyline, which was added recently; and TCD has the Arts Block, built between 1968 and 1979, and added to in 2001-2003, when a new top floor was added to the original building.

The Arts Building and Fellows’ Square in Trinity College Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

The Arts Building in TCD has two distinct elevations: one to Nassau Street where it is set back from the street behind the high railings; and to other to Fellows’ Square, which it forms with the Old Library and the Berkeley Library. The BLU (Berkeley Lecky Ussher) Arts library complex includes the Berkeley Library in Fellows Square, built in 1956, the Lecky Library, attached to the Arts Building, the James Ussher Library (2003), overlooking College Park, and the Long Room Hub, and the 1937 Reading Room.

The Library began with the founding of TCD in 1592. It was first endowed by Archbishop James Ussher, who gave Trinity his own valuable library, with several thousand printed books and manuscripts.

The Old Library is Thomas Burgh’s architectural masterpiece. At one time, it towered over the university and the city. Since 1801, this has been a copyright library, and it is now Ireland’s largest library, occupying several buildings.

The Old Library is the third most visited tourist attraction in Dublin City (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Today, the Old Library is one of Ireland’s major tourist attractions, and the Old Library, the Book of Kells exhibition and the Long Room attract more than 600,000 visitors each year, making this the third most visited tourist attraction in Dublin City.

Although it is now autumn, from early morning today tourists were queuing outside in Fellows’ Square to see the Book of Kells – by far the most famous book in the Old Library, although the exhibition area also displays the Book of Durrow and other ancient texts.

A major refurbishment was carried out on the ground floor in 1992 to provide the Exhibition Area, the Treasury Room, which now houses the Book of Kells, and the Library Shop.

Upstairs, the Long Room holds thousands of rare and very early, volumes. In the 18th century, the library received the Brian Boru harp, one of the three surviving mediaeval Gaelic harps, and a national symbol of Ireland.

The Long Room, which is the main chamber of the Old Library, is 65-metres long. Built between 1712 and 1732, it houses 200,000 of the Library's oldest books. By the 1850s, the room needed to be expanded as the shelves were filled, and so the roof was raised to accommodate an upper gallery.

Looking out onto the Chapel and Parliament Square from the Henry Jones Room in the Old Library in TCD this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Our meeting this morning in the Henry Jones Room in the Old Library, on the same floor as the Long Room, at the west end, overlooking Front Square on one side and Fellows’ Square on another.

Access to the room is restricted to TCD staff, so tourists, visitors and even students often pass through the library and the Long Room without knowing of its existence or its name. Yet the name of the Henry Jones Room survives as a reminder of the centuries-old connection between the bishops of the Church of Ireland and Trinity College Dublin – the room is named after the Bishop of Meath, Henry Jones, who in presented the Book of Kells to the college over 350 years ago in 1661.


Liturgy (2013) 6.1: Introductory Readings
from the Didache and Patristic sources

A colonnade of 14 Corinthian columns on the west side of the Stoa of Smyrna, the only surviving classical site in Izmir. Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote four of his letters, including one to the Church in Smyrna, while he was a prisoner in Smyrna (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

EM8824: Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality

Year II, 14:00 to 16:30, Mondays, Hartin Room:

11 November 2013

Liturgy 6:

Introductory Readings from the Didache and Patristic sources.

6.2: Baptism and Eucharist (1) from the early Church to the Reformers.

6.3: Seminar, the ‘Word’ expressed in music and the arts.

6.1: Introductory Readings from the Didache and Patristic sources:

Baptism and the Eucharist in the Didache

The Didache (ca 90 AD):

The Didache (Διδαχὴ, “Teaching”) is the common name of a brief early Christian treatise (ca 50–160) containing instructions for Christian communities. While the manuscript is commonly referred to as the Didache, this is short for the title used by the Church Fathers, “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” (Διδαχὴ τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων).

Some Church Fathers considered it as part of the New Testament but it others rejected it as spurious, and eventually it was excluded from the New Testament canon.

In Chapter 9, the Didache quotes prayers that might correspond with what we might call Consecration and Communion. But there is no reference to the redemptive death of Christ as formulated by Paul. The mention of the chalice before the bread (which is the opposite of the normally accepted tradition) is found in Luke 22: 17-19, in the “Western” text (which omits verse 20).

But this text also parallels what may have been the Jewish blessing of wine and bread at the time and with which the prayers in chapter 9 have a close affinity.

Chapter 10 gives a slightly longer thanksgiving after Communion, which mentions the “spiritual food and drink and eternal life through your child Jesus.” After a doxology come the apocalyptic exclamations: “May grace come, and may this world pass away. Hosanna to the God (Son) of David! If anyone is holy, let him come; if any is not so, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen.”

The prayer is reminiscent of the Hosanna and Sanctus of the liturgies, but also of Revelation 22: 17, 20, and I Corinthians 16: 22.

The words in thanksgiving for the chalice are echoed by Clement of Alexandria [Quis Dives Salvetur? 29]: “It is he [Christ] who has poured out the wine, the Blood of the Vine of David, upon our wounded souls”. And they are echoed by Origen, in Judic. Hom. vi: “Before we are inebriated with the blood of the true vine which ascends from the root of David.”

The breaking of bread and Thanksgiving [Eucharist] is on Sunday, “after you have confessed your transgressions, that your Sacrifice may be pure,” and those who are at discord must agree, for this is the clean oblation prophesied in Malachi (1: 11, 14). “Ordain therefore for yourselves bishops and deacons, worthy of the Lord … for they also minister to you the ministry of the prophets and teachers.”

Chapter 7:

1 περι δε του βαπτισματος, ουτω βαπτισατε, ταυτα παντα προειποντες, βαπτισατε εις το ονομα του πατρος και του υιου και του αγιου πνευματος εν υδατι ζωντι.
2 εαν δε μη εχης υδωρ ζων, εις αλλο υδωρ βαπτισον, ει δ' ου δυνασαι εν ψυχρω, εν θερμω.
3 εαν δε αμφοτερα μη εχης, εκχεον εις την κεφαλην τρις υδωρ εις ονομα πατρος και υιου και αγιου πνευματος.
4 προ δε του βαπτισματος προνηστευσατω ο βαπτιζων και ο βαπτιζομενος και ει τινες αλλοι δυνανται, κελευεις δε νηστευσαι τον βαπτιζομενον προ μιας η δυο.

Chapter 8:

1 αι δε νηστειαι υμων μη εστωσαν μετα των υποκριτων. νηστευσουσι γαρ δευτερα σαββατων και πεμπτη, υμεις δε νηστευσατε τετραδα και παρασκευην.
2 μηδε προσευχεσθε ως οι υποκριται, αλλ' ως εκελευσεν ο κυριος εν τω ευαγγελιω αυτου, ουτω προσευχεσθε, πατηρ ημων ο εν τω ουρανω, αγιασθητω το ονομα σου, ελθετω η βασιλεια σου, γενηθητω το θελημα σου ως εν ουρανω και επι γης, τον αρτον ημων τον επιουσιον δος ημιν σημερον, και αφες ημιν την οφειλην ημων, ως και ημεις αφιεμεν τοις οφειλεταις ημων, και μη εισενεγκης ημας εις πειρασμον, αλλα ρυσαι ημας απο του πονηρου, οτι σου εστιν η δυναμις και η δοξα εις τους αιωνας.
3 τρις της ημερας ουτω προσευχεσθε.

Chapter 9:

1 περι δε της ευχαριστιας, ουτως ευχαριστησατε,
2 πρωτον περι του ποτηριου, ευχαριστουμεν σοι, πατερ ημων, υπερ της αγιας αμπελου δαυιδ του παιδος σου, ης εγνωρισας ημιν δια Ιησου του παιδος σου, σοι η δοξα εις τους αιωνας.
3 περι δε του κλασματος, ευχαριστουμεν σοι, πατερ ημων, υπερ της ζωης και γνωσεως, ης εγνωρισας ημιν δια Ιησου του παιδος σου. σοι η δοξα εις τους αιωνας.
4 ωσπερ ην τουτο [το] κλασμα διεσκορπισμενον επανω των ορεων και συναχθεν εγενετο εν, ουτω συναχθητω σου η εκκλησια απο των περατων της γης εις την σην βασιλειαν, οτι σου εστιν η δοξα και η δυναμις δια Ιησου Cριστου εις τους αιωνας.
5 μηδεις δε φαγετω μηδε πιετω απο της ευχαριστιας υμων, αλλ' οι βαπτισθεντες εις ονομα κυριου, και γαρ περι τουτου ειρηκεν ο κυριος. μη δωτε το αγιον τοις κυσι.

Chapter 10:

1 μετα δε το εμπλησθηναι ουτως ευχαριστησατε,
2 ευχαριστουμεν σοι, πατερ αγιε, υπερ του αγιου ονοματος σου, ου κατεσκηνωσας εν ταις καρδιαις ημων, και υπερ της γνωσεως και πιστεως και αθανασιας, ης εγνωρισας ημιν δια Ιησου του παιδος σου, σοι η δοξα εις τους αιωνας.
3 συ, δεσποτα παντοκρατορ, εκτισας τα παντα ενεκεν του ονοματος σου, τροφην τε και ποτον εδωκας τοις ανθρωποις εις απολαυσιν, ινα σοι ευχαριστησωσιν, ημιν δε εχαρισω πνευματικην τροφην και ποτον και ζωην αιωνιον δια Ιησου του παιδος σου.
4 προ παντων ευχαριστουμεν σοι, οτι δυνατος ει, σοι η δοξα εις τους αιωνας.
5 μνησθητι, κυριε, της εκκλησιας σου του ρυσασθαι αυτην απο παντος πονηρου και τελειωσαι αυτην εν τη αγαπη σου, και συναξον αυτην απο των τεσσαρων ανεμων, την αγιασθεισαν, εις την σην βασιλειαν, ην ητοιμασας αυτη, οτι σου εστιν η δυναμις και η δοξα εις τους αιωνας.
6 ελθετω χαρις και παρελθετω ο κοσμος ουτος. ωσαννα τω θεω δαυιδ. ει τις αγιος εστιν, ερχεσθω, ει τις ουκ εστι, μετανοειτω, μαραν αθα, αμην.
7 τοις δε προφηταις επιτρεπετε ευχαριστειν, οσα θελουσιν.

Chapter 7: Of Baptism

1 The procedure for baptizing is as follows. After repeating all that has been said, immerse in running water ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’. 2 If no running water is available, immerse in ordinary water. This should be cold if possible; otherwise warm. 3 If neither is practicable, then pour water three times on the head ‘In the name of Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’. 4 Both baptiser and baptised ought to fast before the baptism, as well as any others who can do so; but the candidate himself should be told to keep a fast for a day or two beforehand.

Chapter 8: Of Fast-Days and Prayer

1 Do not keep the same fast-days as the hypocrites. Mondays and Thursdays are their days for fasting, so yours should be Wednesdays and Fridays.

2 Your prayers, too, should be different from theirs. Pray as the Lord enjoined in His Gospel, thus:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
As in heaven, so on earth;
Give us this today of our daily bread,
And forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors,
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from the Evil One,
For thine is the power and glory for ever and ever.

3 Say this prayer three times a day.

Chapter 9: the Eucharist

1 At the Eucharist, offer the Eucharistic prayer in this way. 2 Begin with the chalice: ‘We thank to thee, our Father, for the holy Vine of thy servant David, which thou hast made known to us through they servant Jesus.’

‘Glory be to thee, world without end.’

3 Then over the broken bread: ‘We give thanks to thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge thou hast made known to us through thy servant Jesus.’

‘Glory be to thee, world without end.’

4 ‘As this broken bread, once dispersed over the hills, was brought together and became one loaf, so may thy Church be brought together from the ends of the earth into this kingdom.’

‘Thine is the glory and the power, through Jesus Christ, for ever and ever.’

5 No one is to eat or drink of your Eucharist but those who have been baptised in the Name of the Lord; for the Lord’s own saying applies here, ‘Give not that which is holy unto dogs.’

Chapter 10

1 When all have partaken sufficiently, give thanks in these words:

2 ‘Thanks be to thee, holy Father, for thy sacred Name which thou hast caused to dwell in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which thou hast revealed to us through thy Servant Jesus.’

‘Glory be to thee for ever and ever.’

3 ‘Thou, O Almighty Lord, hast created all things for thine own Name’s sake; to all men thou hast given meat and drink to men to enjoy, that they may give thanks to thee, but to us thou hast graciously given spiritual meat and drink, together with life eternal, through thy Servant. 4 Especially, and above all, do we give thanks to thee for the mightiness of thy power.’

‘Glory be to thee for ever and ever.’

5 ‘Be mindful of thy Church, O Lord; deliver it from all evil, perfect it in thy love, sanctify it, and gather it from the four winds into the kingdom which thou hast prepared for it.’

‘This is the power and the glory for ever and ever.’

6 ‘Let Grace come, and this world pass away.’

‘Hosanna to the God of David.’

‘Whoever is holy, let him approach. Whoso is not, let him repent.’

‘Maranatha. Amen.’

7 (Prophets, however, should be free to give thanks as they please.)

(see Maxwell Staniforth and Andrew Louth, Early Christian Writings (London: Penguin), 1988 ed, pp 194-195.)

The Early Father of the Church on the Eucharist:

The Coliseum ... Saint Clement, Bishop of Rome ca AD 80, is one of the earliest Patristic writers (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saint Clement, Bishop of Rome (80 AD):

Saint Clement refers to the Eucharist as the “offering of the gift” (Corinthians 36: 1).

Corinthians 40:

Since then these things are manifest to us, and we have looked into the depths of the divine knowledge, we ought to do in order all things which the Master commanded us to perform at appointed times. He commanded us to celebrate sacrifices and services, and that it should not be thoughtlessly or disorderly, but at fixed times and hours. He has Himself fixed by His supreme will the places and persons whom He desires for these celebrations, in order that all things may be done piously according to His good pleasure, and be acceptable to His will. So then those who offer their oblations at the appointed seasons are acceptable and blessed, but they follow the laws of the Master and do not sin. For to the high priest his proper ministrations are allotted, and to the priests the proper place has been appointed, and on Levites their proper services have been imposed. The layman is bound by the ordinances for the laity.

The 42-hectare Kültürpark was laid out on the ruins of the Greek quarter of Smyrna ... Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote his Epistle to the Smyrnaeans ca 110 AD (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saint Ignatius of Antioch (ca 35-ca 98/117)

Saint Ignatius of Antioch ... referred to the Church as a “Eucharistic community” which realises its true nature when it celebrates the Eucharist, and defined the Church as the local community gathered around its bishop, celebrating the Eucharist

Ignatius (ca 35-ca 98/117), who succeeded Peter and Evodius ca 68 as the third Bishop or Patriarch of Antioch, may have been a disciple of the Apostle John. He is one of the Apostolic Fathers, the earliest authoritative group of the Church Fathers, and it is argued that his understanding of the nature of the Church and the Eucharist was close to the Apostles and the Apostolic Church. Ignatius, who died as a martyr in Rome, wrote six letters to the churches in the region and one to a fellow bishop, Polycarp of Smyrna.

He referred to the Church as a “Eucharistic community” which realises its true nature when it celebrates the Eucharist, and defined the Church as the local community gathered around its bishop, celebrating the Eucharist:

“Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful to baptise or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his approval is pleasing to God. Thus, whatever is done will be safe and valid.” – Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8.

Ignatius, therefore, is the first known Christian writer to put great stress on loyalty to a single bishop in each city, who is assisted by both presbyters (priests) and deacons. He also stressed the value of the Eucharist, calling it “a medicine to immortality.” He is also claimed as the first known Christian writer to argue in favour of replacing the Saturday Sabbath with the Lord’s Day, and he is responsible for the first known use of the Greek word katholikos (καθολικός), meaning “universal,” to describe the church.

Ignatius is also the first of the Church Fathers to speak about the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Ignatius, “thought of the Church as a Eucharistic society which only realised its true nature when it celebrated the Supper of the Lord, receiving His Body and Blood in the Sacrament.” [Ignatius, quoted in Metropolitan Kallistos (Timothy) Ware, The Orthodox Church, p 21.]

Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, Chapter 6 (110 AD):

Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God ... They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes.

Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, 8:1 (110 AD):

Let that Eucharist be held valid which is offered by the bishop or by the one to whom the bishop has committed this charge. Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.

Epistle to the Romans, 7 (110 AD):

I desire the Bread of God, the heavenly Bread, the Bread of Life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; I wish the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life.

Epistle to the Philadephians, 4:1 (110 AD):

Be ye careful therefore to observe one Eucharist (for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup unto union in His blood; there is one altar, as there is one bishop, together with the presbytery and the deacons my fellow-servants), that whatsoever ye do, ye may do it after God.

Justin Martyr (100-165):

Justin Martyr (100-165) was an early Christian apologist, and his works represent the earliest surviving Christian apologies of notable size. He was born in Flavia Neapolis (modern Nablus) in Palestine, and, according to tradition, he was martyred in Rome under Marcus Aurelius (ca 162-168).

The most important of all early allusions to Christian worship is the locus classicus of Justin Martyr in his First Apology. [Cresswell, The Liturgy … of ‘The Apostolic Constitutions,’ p 18.] The First Apology was written ca 151 to the Emperor Antoninus Pius to explain the practices and beliefs of Christians and to prove the injustice of the persecution of Christians. He defends Christianity as the only rational creed, and includes an account of the Eucharist, probably to counteract distorted accounts from anti-Christian sources. Chapters 61-67 give accounts of Baptism, Eucharist, and Sunday worship.

Justin emphasises the requirements of baptism and the need to approach the Eucharist prayerfully and with a pure heart. In the Eucharist he shows his devotion by offering bread and wine and by prayer, receiving in return the food consecrated by a formula of Christ’s institution, which is the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus, and by which our flesh and blood are nourished through a kind of transformation (kata metabolen).

In Chapter 67, Justin directly refers to the Eucharistic prayer of “considerable length” and to the active participation of the community. He points out that the Apostles handed down the teaching of Christ’s words at the Last Supper. The Eucharistic celebration is described by Justin in Chapters 65-67:

“And this food is called among us the Eucharist … , as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of his word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.

“For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, said, ‘This do ye in remembrance of me, this is my body;’ and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, he said, ‘This is my blood;’ and gave it to them alone …

“Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.”

Justin Martyr, in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew (ca AD 155), writes of how the Church, “in every place offer sacrifices to him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist, affirming both that we glorify his name.”

Apology, I.66-167 (2nd century):

Communion in the Body and Blood of Christ

It is allowed to no one else to participate in that food which we call Eucharist except the one who believes that the things taught by us are true, who has been cleansed in the washing unto rebirth and the forgiveness of sins and who is living according to the way Christ handed on to us. For we do not take these things as ordinary bread or ordinary drink. Just as our Saviour Jesus Christ was made flesh by the word of God and took on flesh and blood for our salvation, so also were we taught that the food, for which thanksgiving has been made through the word of prayer instituted by him, and from which our blood and flesh are nourished after the change, is the flesh of that Jesus who was made flesh. Indeed, the Apostles, in the records left by them which are called gospels, handed on that it was commanded to them in this manner: Jesus, having taken bread and given thanks said, “Do this in memory of me, this is my body.” Likewise, having taken the cup and given thanks, he said, “This is my blood,” and he gave it to them alone.

The Sunday Assembly:

Furthermore, after this we always remind one another of these things. Those who have the means aid those who are needy, and we are always united. Over everything which we take to ourselves we bless the Creator of the universe through His Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

On the day called after the sun [Sunday] there is a meeting for which all those dwelling in the cities or in the countryside come together. The records of the Apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time allows. When the reader has stopped, the one who is presiding admonishes and encourages us by a sermon to the imitation of those good examples.

Then we all stand up together and lift up our prayers and, as I said previously, when we have finished our prayer, bread is brought forth and wine and water. The one who is presiding offers up prayers and thanksgiving according to his ability and the people acclaim their assent with “Amen.” There is the distribution of and participation on the part of each one in the gifts for which thanks has been offered, and they are sent to those who are not present through the deacons.

We all come together on the day of the sun since it is the first day, on which God changed darkness and matter and made the world. On that day, Jesus Christ our Saviour arose from the dead. They crucified him on the day preceding that of Saturn, and on the day of the sun he appeared to his Apostles and disciples and taught them these things which we have presented also to you for inspection.

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (ca 130-202):

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons ... appealed to the Eucharist to sustain faith in the resurrection of the body

In the 2nd century, Irenaeus of Lyons (ca 130–202) was Bishop of Lugdunum, Gaul (now Lyons, France). His writings were formative in the early development of theology, and he is one of the Fathers of the Church. A disciple of Polycarp, who himself was a disciple of John the Evangelist, Irenaeus is thought to have been a Greek from Polycarp’s hometown of Smyrna (Izmir) in Asia Minor, where he was raised in a Christian family.

Irenaeus, who was rigid in his adherence to orthodoxy, was an important figure defending the place of the four main Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament.

Against Heresies, 5,2,2 (180 AD):

If the body be not saved, then in fact, neither did the Lord redeem us with His Blood; and neither is the cup of the Eucharist the partaking of His Blood nor is the Bread which we break the partaking of His Body … He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be His own Blood, from which He causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, He has established as His own Body, from which He gives increase to our bodies.

Against Heresies, 4,17,5:

Again, giving counsel to His disciples to offer to God the first-fruits from among His creatures, not as if He needed them, but so that they themselves might be neither unfruitful nor ungrateful, He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, “This is My Body.” The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, He confessed to be His Blood.

He taught the new sacrifice of the New Covenant, of which Malachi, one of the twelve prophets, had signified beforehand: “‘You do not do my will,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun to its setting My name is glorified among the gentiles, and in every place incense is offer to My name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is My name among the gentiles,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Malachi 1: 11). By these words He makes it plain that the former people will cease to make offerings to God; but that in every place sacrifice will be offered to Him, and indeed, a pure one; for His name is glorified among the gentiles.

Against Heresies, 4, 18, 2:

It is not oblations as such that have met with disapproval. There were oblations of old; there are oblations now. There were sacrifices among the people of Israel; there are sacrifices in the Church. Only the kind of oblation has been changed: now it is offered by freemen, not by slaves. There is one and the same Lord, but the character of an oblation made by slaves is distinctive, so too that of an oblation made by sons: their oblations bear the mark of freedom.

We must make oblation to God, and in all things be found pleasing to God the Creator, in sound teaching, in sincere faith, in firm hope, in ardent love, as we offer the first fruits of the creatures that are his. The Church alone offers this pure oblation to the Creator when it makes its offering to him from his creation, with thanksgiving.

We offer him what is his, and so we proclaim communion and unity and profess our belief in the resurrection of flesh and spirit. Just as bread from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread but the Eucharist, made up of two elements, one earthly and one heavenly, so also our bodies, in receiving the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, for they have the hope of resurrection.

Against Heresies, 5,2,2:

If the body be not saved, then in fact, neither did the Lord redeem us with His Blood; and neither is the cup of the Eucharist the partaking of His Blood nor is the Bread which we break the partaking of His Body … He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be His own Blood, from which He causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, He has established as His own Body, from which He gives increase to our bodies.

Saint Clement of Alexandria (ca 150-ca 211/216):

Clement of Alexandria, who was born in the middle of the 2nd century, perhaps in Athens, and died between 211 and 216, is one of the most distinguished teachers in the Church of Alexandria. There he was the head of the Catechetical School, and his pupils included Origen. Clement was the first writer to attempt to set out Christianity in the traditional forms of secular literature. The trilogy into which his principal works are divided are: the Protrepticus (“Exhortation to the Greeks”), the Paedagogus (“The Instructor,” ca 202 AD), and the Stromata (“Miscellanies”)

In The Instructor, Clement of Alexandria says those who take part in the “in faith are sanctified in body and in soul. By the will of the Father, the divine mixture, man, is mystically united to the Spirit and to the Word.”

The Instructor of Children, 1,6,41,3 (202 AD):

When the loving and benevolent Father had rained down the Word, that Word then became the spiritual nourishment of those who have good sense.

The Instructor of Children, 42,1:

O mystic wonder! The Father of all is indeed one, one also is the universal Word, and the Holy Spirit is one and the same everywhere; and one is the Virgin Mother. I love to call her the Church. This Mother alone was without milk, because she alone did not become a wife. She is at once both Virgin and Mother: as Virgin, undefiled; as a Mother full of love.

Calling her children about her, she nourishes them with holy milk, that is with the Infant Word … The Word is everything to a child: both the Father and Mother, both Instructor and Nurse. ‘Eat My Flesh,’ He says, ‘and drink My Blood’ The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutriments. He delivers over His Flesh, and pours out His Blood; and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children. O incredible mystery!

The Instructor of Children, 2,2,19,4:

The Blood of the Lord, indeed, is twofold. There is His corporeal blood, by which we are redeemed from corruption; and His spiritual Blood, that with which we are anointed. That is to say, to drink the Blood of Jesus is to share in His Immortality. The strength of the Word is the Spirit, just as the blood is the strength of the body.

The Instructor of Children, 2,2, 20,1:

Similarly, as wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man. The one, the Watered Wine, nourishes in faith while the other, the Spirit, leads us on to immortality. The union of both, however – of the drink and of the Word – is called Eucharist, a praiseworthy and excellent gift. Those who partake of it in faith are sanctified in body and in soul. By the will of the Father, the divine mixture, man, is mystically united to the Spirit and to the Word.

Tertullian (ca 155-230):

Tertullian (Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus) was born, lived, and died in Carthage, in present-day Tunisia. He denounced Christian doctrines he considered heretical, but later in life adopted views that came to be regarded as heretical themselves. Tertullian left the Church of Rome late in his life and joined the Montanists, which explains why he has never been regarded as a saint.

He was the first great writer of Latin Christianity, and is sometimes known as the “father of the Latin Church.” He introduced the term Trinity and probably also the formula “three Persons, one Substance.”

In recalling the Last Supper, Tertullian does not mention either giving thanks or breaking the bread, and locates the giving before the interpretative words.

The Resurrection of the Dead, 8,2 (ca 208-212):

The flesh, then, is washed, so that the soul may be made clean. The flesh is anointed, so that the soul may be dedicated to holiness. The flesh is signed, so that the soul too may be fortified. The flesh is shaded with the imposition of hands, so that the soul too may be illuminated by the Spirit. The flesh feeds on the Body and Blood of Christ, so that the soul too may fatten on God. They cannot, then, be separated in their reward, when they are united in their works.

In his treatise on Prayer (6,2), ca 200/206, Tertullian quotes John 6 in connection with a spiritual understanding of the Lord’s Prayer “give us this day our daily bread.” In a spiritual sense, Christ is our daily Bread, presumably because of the practice of the daily reception of the Eucharist.

Later, in the same treatise (19,1), Tertullian writes:

Likewise, regard to days of fast, many do not think they should be present at the sacrificial prayers, because their fast would be broken if they were to receive the Body of the Lord. Does the Eucharist, then, obviate a work devoted to God, or does it bind it more to god? Will not your fast be more solemn if, in addition, you have stood at God’s altar? The body of the Lord having been received and reserved, each point is secured: both the participation in the sacrifice and the discharge of duty.

On worship on the Lord’s Day, Tertullian writes in The Crown (3,4) in 211:

We take anxious care lest something of our Cup of Bread should fall upon the ground.

Origen (185–ca 254):

Origen (Ὠριγενης Ἀδαμαντιος) was one of the most distinguished of the early fathers of the Church. His writings are important as one of the first intellectual attempts to describe Christianity. In 203 he revived the Catechetical School of Alexandria, where Clement of Alexandria had taught.

Contra Celsum, 8:57:

We are not people with ungrateful hearts; it is true, we do not sacrifice ... to such beings who, far from bestowing their benefits upon us, are our enemies; but to God who has bestowed upon us an abundance of benefits ... we fear being ungrateful. The sign of this gratitude towards God is the bread called Eucharist.

Homilies on Exodus, 13,3:

I wish to admonish you with examples from your religion. You are accustomed to take part in the divine mysteries, so you know, when you received the body of the Lord, you reverently exercised every care lest a particle of it fall, and lest anything of the consecrated gift perish. You account yourselves guilty, and rightly do you so believe, if any of it be lost through negligence. but if you observe such caution in keeping His Body, and properly so, how is it that you think neglecting the word of God a lesser crime than neglecting His Body?

Saint Cyprian of Carthage of Carthage (ca 200-258):

Saint Cyprian was consecrated Bishop of Carthage in 248, was banished in 257 and was later beheaded. He argued that the sacraments are only valid within the Church, and identified the Christian ministry with the priestly and sacrificial functions in the Old Testament. He was the author of the dictum: “Habere non potest Deum patrem qui ecclesiam non habet matrem” (“he cannot have God as his father who does not have the Church as his mother”).

In his account of the Last Supper, Saint Cyprian only quotes part of a Gospel narrative. He uses “blessed” (the word used by Matthew for the bread) rather than “give thanks” (used by both Matthew and Mark) for the cup. He also uses the future tense “will be poured out” rather than the present.

Cyprian, in his Letter of Cyprian to a Certain Magnus (ca 255 AD), wrote: “Finally, the sacrifices of the Lord proclaim the unity of Christians, bound together by the bond of a firm and inviolable charity. For when the Lord, in speaking of bread which is produced by the compacting of many grains of wheat, refers to it as his body, He is describing our people whose unity He has sustained, and when He refers to wine pressed from many grapes and berries, as his blood, He is speaking of our flock, formed by the fusing of many united together.”

In Ephesians (ca 258 AD), he wrote: “The priest who imitates that which Christ did, truly takes the place of Christ, and offers there in the Church a true and perfect sacrifice to God the Father.”

The Lord’s Prayer, Chapter 18 (252 AD):

As the prayer proceeds, we ask and say: ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ This can be understood both spiritually and simply, because either understanding is of profit in divine usefulness for salvation. For Christ is the bread of life and the bread here is of all, but is ours. And as we say ‘Our Father,’ because He is the Father of those who understand and believe, so too we say ‘our Bread’' because Christ is the bread of those of us who attain to His body.

Moreover, we ask that this bread be given daily, lest we, who are in Christ and receive the Eucharist daily as food of salvation, with the intervention of some more grievous sin, while we are shut off and as non-communicants are kept from the heavenly bread, be separated from the body of Christ as He Himself declares, saying: ‘I am the bread of life which came down from heaven. If any man eat of my bread he shall live forever. Moreover, the bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world.’

Since then He says that, if anyone eats of His bread, he lives forever, as it is manifest that they live who attain to His body and receive the Eucharist by right of communion, so on the other hand we must fear and pray lest anyone, while he is cut off and separated from the body of Christ, remain apart from salvation, as He Himself threatens, saying: ‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.' And so we petition that our bread, that is Christ, be given us daily, so that we, who abide and live in Christ, may not withdraw from His sanctification and body.

Letter of Cyprian to a Certain Magnus, 6 (76), 5 (255 AD):

Finally, the sacrifices of the Lord proclaim the unity of Christians, bound together by the bond of a firm and inviolable charity. For when the Lord, in speaking of bread which is produced by the compacting of many grains of wheat, refers to it as His Body, He is describing our people whose unity He has sustained, and when He refers to wine pressed from many grapes and berries, as His Blood, He is speaking of our flock, formed by the fusing of many united together.

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (ca 313-386):

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (Κύριλλος Α΄ Ἱεροσολύμων) was a distinguished theologian of the early Church, and came into conflict with his immediate superiors for his opposition to the Arian party in the Church, and a thorough adherent of Nicene Orthodoxy.

Mystagogic Catechesis 4,1 (ca 350 AD):

1. “I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread, etc. [I Corinthians 11: 23].” This teaching of the Blessed Paul is alone sufficient to give you a full assurance concerning those Divine Mysteries, which when ye are vouchsafed, ye are of [Ephesians 3: 6] and blood with Christ. For he has just distinctly said, [I Corinthians 2: 23-25] Since then He Himself has declared and said of the Bread, who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has affirmed and said, who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood?

2. He once turned water into wine, in Cana of Galilee, at His own will, and is it incredible that He should have turned wine into blood? That wonderful work He miraculously wrought, when called to an earthly marriage; and shall He not much rather be acknowledged to have bestowed the fruition of His Body and Blood on the children of the bride chamber?

3. Therefore with fullest assurance let us partake as of the Body and Blood of Christ: for in the figure of Bread is given to thee His Body, and in the figure of Wine His Blood; that thou by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, mightest be made of the same body and the same blood with Him. For thus we come to bear Christ in us, because His Body and Blood are diffused through our members; thus it is that, according to the blessed Peter, [II Peter 1: 4]

4. Christ on a certain occasion discoursing with the Jews said, [I John 6: 53] They not receiving His saying spiritually were offended, and went backward, supposing that He was inviting them to eat flesh.

5. Even under the Old Testament there was showbread; but this as it belonged to the Old Testament, came to an end; but in the New Testament there is the Bread of Heaven, and the Cup of Salvation [cf. Psalm 116:13], sanctifying soul and body; for as the Bread has respect to our body, so is the Word appropriate to our soul.

6. Contemplate therefore the Bread and Wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lord's declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ; for though sense suggests this to thee, let faith establish thee. Judge not the matter from taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that thou hast been vouchsafed the Body and Blood of Christ.

7. The blessed David also shall advise thee at the meaning of this, saying, [Psalm 23: 5] What he says, is to this effect. Before Thy coming, evil spirits prepared a table for men, foul and polluted and full of all devilish influence; but since Thy coming, O Lord, When the man says to God, , what other does he mean but that mystical and spiritual Table, which God hath prepared , that is, contrary and in opposition to the evil spirits? And very truly; for that had fellowship with devils, but this, with God …

9. These things having learnt, and being fully persuaded that what seems bread is not bread, though bread by taste, but the Body of Christ; and that what seems wine is not wine, though the taste will have it so, but the Blood of Christ ...

The Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos has the skull of Saint John Chrysostom (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saint John Chrysostom (ca 347-407):

Saint John Chrysostom (Ἰωάννης ὁ Χρυσόστομος), Patriarch of Constantinople, is known for his eloquence in preaching and oratory, his denunciation of the abuse of authority by the authorities in both Church and State. He has given his name to the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom. After his death he was given the name Χρυσόστομος (chrysostomos), or “golden mouthed.”

In the Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos, I was shown the skull of Saint John Chrysostom.

The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom became the liturgical form favoured in the cathedrals and churches of Constantinople

PG 59: 61

This blood is the salvation of our soul; it cleanses our souls, it beautifies our soul; ... it makes it shine even more than gold. Through the pouring out of this blood, it becomes possible to walk the path of heaven.

Saint Ambrose of Milan (ca 337/340-397):

Saint Ambrose (Aurelius Ambrosius) was Bishop of Milan at the end of the fourth century, elected without having been already ordained priest. He is one of the great influential figures of his time, and is one of the four original Doctors of the Church, alongside Augustine, Jerome and Gregory the Great.

On the Mysteries, 9, 50-52, 58 (391 AD):

Let us be assured that this is not what nature formed, but what the blessing consecrated, and that greater efficacy resides in the blessing than in nature, for by the blessing nature is changed … Surely the word of Christ, which could make out of nothing that which did not exist, can change things already in existence into what they were not. For it is no less extraordinary to give things new natures than to change their natures … Christ is in that Sacrament, because it is the Body of Christ; yet, it is not on that account corporeal food, but spiritual. Whence also His Apostle says of the type: “For our fathers ate spiritual food and drink spiritual drink.” [I Corinthians 10: 2-4] For the body of God is a spiritual body.

De Sacramentis:

Whenever the blood of Christ is being poured out, it flows for the forgiveness of sins.

Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430):

Sermons (227):

“I promised you, who have now been baptised, a sermon in which I would explain the Sacrament of the Lord’s Table, which you now look upon and of which you last night were made participants. You ought to know what you have received, what you are going to receive, and what you ought to receive daily. That Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ. Through that bread and wine the Lord Christ willed to commend His Body and Blood, which He poured out for us unto the forgiveness of sins. If you receive worthily, you are what you have received.

Sermons (272):

What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the Body of Christ and the chalice the Blood of Christ … How is the bread His Body? And the chalice, or what is in the chalice, how is it His Blood? Those elements, brethren, are called Sacraments, because in them one thing is seen, but another is understood. What is seen is the corporeal species, but what is understood is the spiritual fruit ... “You, however, are the Body of Christ and His members.” If, therefore, you are the Body of Christ and His members, your mystery is presented at the table of the Lord, you receive your mystery. To that which you are, you answer: “Amen,” and by answering, you subscribe to it. For you hear: “The Body of Christ!” and you answer: “Amen!” Be a member of Christ’s Body, so that your ‘Amen’ may be the truth.

Explanations on the Psalms (33, 1, 10):

“And he was carried in his own hands” [3 King 20: 13 Septuagint?]. But, brethren, how is it possible for a man to do this? Who can understand it? Who is it that is carried in his own hands? A man can be carried in the hands of another; but no one can be carried in his own hands. How this should be understood literally of David, we cannot discover; but we can discover how it was meant of Christ. For Christ was carried in His own hands, when, referring to His own Body, He said: “This is My Body.” For He carried that Body in His hands.

Explanations on the Psalms (98, 9):

“And adore the footstool of His feet, because it is holy” [Psalm 98: 9, Septuagint 99: 9] … In another place in the Scripture it says: “The heavens are my throne, but the earth is the footstool of My feet” [Isaiah 66: 1] Is it the earth, then, that He commands us to adore, since in this other place the earth is called the footstool of God’s feet? … I am put in jeopardy by such a dilemma (Anceps factus sum): I am afraid to adore the earth lest He that made heaven and earth condemn me; again, I am afraid not to adore the footstool of My Lord’s feet, but because the Psalm does say to me: “Adore the footstool of My feet.” I ask what the footstool of His feet is; and Scripture tells me: “The earth is the footstool of my feet.” Perplexed, I turn to Christ, because it is He whom I seek here; and I discover how the earth is adored without impiety, how without impiety the footstool of His feet is adored. For He received earth from earth; because flesh is from earth, and He took flesh from the flesh of Mary. He walked here in the same flesh, and gave us the same flesh to be eaten unto salvation. But no one eats that flesh unless he adores it ; and thus it is discovered how such a footstool of the Lord’s feet is adored; and not only do we not sin by adoring, we do sin by not adoring.

Explanations on the Psalms (98, 9):

“Unless he shall have eaten my flesh he shall not have eternal life” [John 6: 54-55]. [Some] understood this foolishly, and thought of it carnally, and supposed that the Lord was going to cut off some parts of his body to give them ... But he instructed them, and said to them: “It is the spirit that gives life; but the flesh profits nothing: the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” [John 6: 64]. Understand spiritually what I said. You are not to eat this body which you see, nor to drink that blood which will be poured out by those who will crucify me. I have commended to you a certain sacrament; spiritually understood, it will give you life. And even if it is necessary that this be celebrated visibly, it must still be understood invisibly.

The Trinity, (3, 4, 10):

Paul was able to preach the Lord Jesus Christ by means of signs, in one way by his letters, in another way by the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood; for when we speak of the Body of Christ and of his blood, certainly we do not mean Paul’s speaking, nor his parchments nor his ink, nor the meaning of the sounds issuing from his tongue, nor the signs of letters written on skins. By the Body and Blood of Christ we refer only to that which has been received from the fruits of the earth and has been consecrated by the mystical prayer, and has been ritually taken for our spiritual health in memory of what the Lord suffered for us.

Homilies on the Gospel of John (26, 13):

O Sacrament of piety! O sign of unity! O Bread of love! He who desires life finds here a place to live in and the means to live by. Let him approach, let him believe, let him be incorporated so that he may receive life. Let him not refuse union with the members, let him not be a corrupt member, deserving to be cut off, nor a disfigured member to be ashamed of. Let him be a grateful, fitting and healthy member. Let him cleave to the body, let him live by God and for God. Let him now labour here on earth, that he may afterwards reign in heaven.

The City of God (10, 5; 10, 20):

The fact that our fathers of old offered sacrifices with beasts for victims, which the present-day people of God read about but do not do, is to be understood in no way but this: that those things signified the things that we do in order to draw near to God and to recommend to our neighbour the same purpose. A visible sacrifice, therefore, is the sacrament, that is to say, the sacred sign, of an invisible sacrifice. . . . Christ is both the Priest, offering Himself, and Himself the Victim. He willed that the sacramental sign of this should be the daily sacrifice of the Church, who, since the Church is His body and He the Head, learns to offer herself through Him.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria (ca 376-444):

Saint Cyril of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. He came to office when the city was at its height of influence and power within the Roman Empire. He wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological debates of the later 4th and 5th centuries. He was a central figure in the First Council of Ephesus in 431, which led to Nestorius being deposed as Patriarch of Constantinople.

Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew 26, 27 (428 AD):

Christ said indicating (the bread and wine): ‘This is my Body,’ and ‘This is my Blood,’ in order that you might not judge what you see to be a mere figure. The offerings, by the hidden power of God Almighty, are changed into Christ’s Body and Blood, and by receiving these we come to share in the life-giving and sanctifying efficacy of Christ.

Sources include:

William A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers (3 vols, Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1970, 1980, 1994).
JB Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers (London: Macmillan, 1907).
CC Richardson, Early Christian Fathers (vol 1, London: SCM Press, 1953).
Maxwell Staniforth and Andrew Louth, Early Christian Writings (London: Penguin, 1988 ed).
JWC Wand, The Greek Doctors (London: The Faith Press, 1950).

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute. These resources were prepared for the Module EM8824: Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality, on the MTh course, on 24 October 2013 in advance of lectures on 11 November 2013