Friday, 13 December 2019

Can conservation efforts
save the ruined church
at Castletown Conyers?

The church ruins in the graveyard at Castletown Conyers are all that survive of the mediaeval parish church of Corcomohide (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

I was at a funeral earlier this week in Castletown Conyers, 5 km south of Ballingarry, on the road from Rathkeale to Charleville.

The church ruins in the graveyard at Castletown Conyers are all that survive of the mediaeval parish church of Corcomohide. But the history of this unique mediaeval settlement is being uncovered slowly and revealed as part of an effort to preserve the remains of the building known locally as ‘the Abbey.’

‘The Abbey’ was, in fact, a parish church, and with a neighbouring motte and a castle or manor house it formed the centre of a mediaeval borough of up to 300 people that dates back to the 13th century.

The church ruins at Castletown Conyers seen from the south-west (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Castletown or Corcomhide was the ancestral or tribal area of the Mac Eniry family, and was known as Baile Caisleáin Mhic an Oighre or the town of Mac Eniry’s castle. The Mac Eniry remained a force in this area until the late 17th century.

Castletown became the site of a mediaeval borough, with a church, a motte, and a castle or manor house. The manor of Corkemoyd was granted by Maurice FitzMaurice to his son-in-law Thomas de Clare and his wife Juliana, who in turn granted the church, in 1276, to the Cathedral of Limerick.

Inside The church ruins at Castletown Conyers, looking east (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

The manor was holding a weekly market by 1284, but it was destroyed by war in 1302, and the early church was destroyed that year too.

An inquisition of 1321 suggested that about 290 people were living there. Lewis suggests the Castle at Castletown was built by the chieftain of the Mac Eniry family in 1349, and says the Mac Eniry family founded an abbey.br />
There are a number of references to the castle during the 14th century, when it was held by the de Cliffords, amongst others.

The later church, built in the late 14th or early 15th century, was dedicated to the Purification of the Virgin Mary on 2 February 1402 or 1410.

The east end of the church ruins at Castletown Conyers, shrouded in cladding (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

After the Reformation, the church served for some time as a Church of Ireland parish church and there are some alterations to the church were made in the 16th century.

The Book of Survey and Distribution in the 1660s referred to the area as Castleinenry.

Castletown Conyers acquired its present name when the estate was bought by Captain George Conyers in 1703, although Lewis said the parish of Castletown Conyers was granted to George Conyers by William III.

The church ruins at Castletown Conyers from the north-east (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

There are some early 18th century headstones in the churchyard, the earliest marking the grave of Cornelius Ryan, who died in 1737 at the age of 34.

There is a still a reference in 1763 to ‘Castletown McEnyry.’

The Conyers vault was inserted in the west end of the church in the late 18th or early 19th century (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

The Conyers vault was inserted in the west end of the church in the late 18th or early 19th century, although it is likely that the church was a ruin at this point.

Samuel Lewis in his Topographical Dictionary of Ireland in 1837, noted that Corcomohide was an ecclesiastical union, including the civil parishes of Castletown Conyers, Drumcolloher, and Kilmeedy, and had 10,742 inhabitants.

The tithes totalled to £900, of which £570 was payable to the Countess of Ormonde, as lessee under the Vicars Choral of Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, and £330 to the incumbent.

There were two public schools, supported by Mr Stevelly and Colonel White, and 12 private schools.

The church was certainly a ruin by the time of the first Ordnance Survey in the 1830s and 1840s (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

The church was certainly a ruin by the time of the first Ordnance Survey in the 1830s and 1840s, there was neither glebe nor glebe house, and the vicarage was united with the vicarages of Kilmeedy and Dromcolloher.

In the mid-19th century, the Conyers estate was mainly in the Parish of Kilcolman, Barony of Shanid, but also in the Parish of Corcomohide, Barony of Connello Upper, Co Limerick.

Castletown Conyers, the seat of the Conyers family was the home of Charles Conyers (1758-1837) in the early 19th century, and he was succeeded by his son, Conyers (1787-1854). By the time of Griffith’s Valuation, the house was in use as an auxiliary workhouse, held by the Croom Guardians from Dr William Bailey, medical doctor, and valued at £25.

Members of the Conyers family still held considerable estates in the area in the 1870s, when Charles Conyers of Castletown Conyers owned 2,425 acres, Grady FitzGerald Conyers of Liskennet owned 1,023 acres and Edward Conyers of Liskennet owned 95 acres.

The Revd Edward Fitzgerald Conyers (1787-1854) and his wife Catherine Blennerhassett were the parents of the Revd Charles Conyers, who died in 1872. He was married twice – to Agnes Graham, and Margaret Drew. Castletown Conyers was the residence of Charles Conyers in 1894.

The remains of the piscina can be traced at the east end of the south wall (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Major Charles Conyers (1867-1915) of the Royal Munster Fusiliers was wounded at the Battle of Ypres in 1915 and is buried at Bradhoek Military Cemetery in Belgium. There is a memorial tablet with his name in Limerick Cathedral. The family Conyers family appears to have continued to live at Castletown Conyers until the 1920s.

Major Conyers had married Dorothea Blood-Smith (1869-1947) of Fedamore, Co Limerick, in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, on 2 February 1892. She was the author of 54 novels and one autobiographical work of sporting reminiscences, published between 1900 and 1948.

The widowed Dorothea Conyers married Captain John Joseph White of Nantinan, Co Limerick, in University Church, Saint Stephen’s Green, Dublin, on 25 February 1917. When Captain White died at Nantinan on 14 April 1940, he was buried at Cappagh Church. Dorothea died on 26 May 1949 and was buried at Saint Mary’s Cathedral.

In places, the roots of trees and the ivy clinging to the walls appear to be the only things holding the fabric of the church together(Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Today, trees are growing within the walls of the church, and in recent years a number of large stones have fallen from a height. Indeed, in places, the roots of trees and the ivy clinging to the walls appear to be the only things holding the fabric of the church together.

The archaeologist Sarah McCutcheon, who has carried out some investigations on the site, has told Norma Prendiville of the Limerick Leader that the work to stabilise the building would need to be done in several phases.

The first phase involves cutting back the trees and then drilling and treating the boles and roots. Later phases would involve repairing the cavities left by the roots, removing other vegetation, consolidating the south-east corner and north wall chancel and capping the walls. Some work on clearing the trees and ivy has been carried out under the direction of Ms McCutcheon and the north wall has been propped up.

The conservation works on the church ruins have been promoted by the Castletown Conyers Development Association and Limerick City and County Council.

An opening at the east end of the north wall (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

A nearby holy well, known locally as Lady’s Well, is still visited regularly, and large numbers of people attend an annual Mass at the well on 15 August.

Another well, Saint Gobnait’s Well, also known as Saint Debora’s Well or Saint Deriola’s Well, was the venue for an annual pattern on 11 February, but this came to an end around 1870. The site of this well was in a high field, north of Ballagran to the left of the road to Castletown, and has long dried up.

A survving lancet window in the south wall (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Reading Saint Luke’s Gospel
in Advent 2019: Luke 13

‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard’ … (Luke 13: 6) … a fig tree in Córdoba (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

During the Season of Advent this year, I am joining many people in reading a chapter from Saint Luke’s Gospel each morning. In all, there are 24 chapters in Saint Luke’s Gospel, so this means being able to read through the full Gospel, reaching the last chapter on Christmas Eve [24 December 2019].

Why not join me as I read through Saint Luke’s Gospel each morning this Advent?

Luke 13 (NRSVA):

1 At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them – do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.’

6 Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7 So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” 8 He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down”.’

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’ 13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.’ 15 But the Lord answered him and said, ‘You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?’ 17 When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

18 He said therefore, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.’

20 And again he said, ‘To what should I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’

22 Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, ‘Lord, will only a few be saved?’ He said to them, 24 ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, “Lord, open to us”, then in reply he will say to you, “I do not know where you come from.” 26 Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” 27 But he will say, “I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!” 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. 29 Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.’

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.’ 32 He said to them, ‘Go and tell that fox for me, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33 Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem.” 34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord”.’

A prayer for today:

A prayer today from the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG, United Society Partners in the Gospel:

Let us pray for all people who are suffering from hunger, poverty, discrimination and neglect, that they may find their way out of their predicaments.

Tomorrow: Luke 14.

Yesterday: Luke 12.

‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem … How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings’ … (Luke 13: 34) … ‘The Holy City’, by Thetis Blacker in the Royal Foundation of Saint Katharine, Limehouse (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Tales of the Viennese Jews:
13, Gustav Mahler and
the ‘thrice homeless’ Jew

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) … a 1902 portrait by Emil Orlík (Wikipedia/Galerie Bassenge, Public Domain)

Patrick Comerford

The Tales from the Vienna Woods is a waltz by the composer Johann Strauss II (1825-1899), written just over a century and a half ago, in 1868. Although Strauss was baptised in the Roman Catholic Church, he was born into a prominent Jewish family. Because the Nazis had a particular penchant for Strauss’s music, they tried to conceal and even deny the Jewish identity of the Strauss family.

However, the stories of Vienna’s Jews cannot be hidden, and many of those stories from Vienna are told in the exhibits in the Jewish Museum in its two locations, at the Palais Eskeles on Dorotheergasse and in the Misrachi-Haus in Judenplatz.

Rather than describe both museums in detail in one or two blog postings, I decided after my visit to Vienna last month to post occasional blog postings that re-tell some of these stories, celebrating a culture and a community whose stories should never be forgotten.

The composer Gustav Mahler, who studied in Vienna and later lived there for the last 20 years of his life in Vienna, is linked inextricably with the city. Yet he once described himself as ‘thrice homeless, as a native of Bohemia among Austrians, as an Austrian among Germans, and as a Jew throughout the world – always an intruder, never welcomed.’

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) was one of the leading conductors of his generation, but his music was banned in much of Europe during the Nazi era. As a composer, he is a bridge between the 19th century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century, and has influenced composers such as Arnold Schoenberg, Dmitry Shostakovich, and Benjamin Britten.

Gustav Mahler was born in Bohemia, then part of the Austrian Empire, to German-speaking Jewish parents on 7 July 1860. He later converted to Roman Catholicism to secure a prestigious appointment in Vienna, but always saw himself as Jewish and throughout his career, especially in Vienna, was constantly the target of hostility in the anti-Semitic press.

The Mahler family had humble origins in east Bohemia: his grandmother had been a street pedlar. The family belonged to a German-speaking minority among Bohemians, and were also Ashkenazic Jews.

His father, Bernhard Mahler, a coachman and later an innkeeper, and bought a house in Kalischt (Kaliště), a village halfway between Prague in Bohemia and Brno in Moravia, in the geographic centre of today’s Czech Republic. Bernhard’s grandfather had been a shohet or Jewish ritual slaughterer.

Gustav Mahler, the second son, was born on 7 July 1860. Three months later, in October 1860, the family moved 25 km south-east to the town of Iglau (Jihlava), where Bernhard Mahler built up a distillery and tavern business and was one of the founders of the local synagogue.

Gustav Mahler began playing the piano at four, gave his first public performance at 10, and was accepted as a pupil at the Vienna Conservatory at 15.

After graduating from the Vienna Conservatory in 1878, he held a succession of posts in the opera houses of Europe. From conducting musical farces in Austria, he rose through various provincial opera houses, including important engagements in Prague, Leipzig, Budapest and Hamburg.

Mahler was baptised early in 1897, making it easier to secure his appointment later that year, at the age of 37, as director of the Vienna Court Opera (Hofoper), a post he held for 10 years.

His innovative productions in Vienna and his insistence on the highest standards ensured his reputation as one of the greatest of opera conductors, particularly as an interpreter of the stage works of Wagner, Mozart and Tchaikovsky. But it was a testing time too for Mahler, who often had to prove his German cultural credentials to appease his employers and did so with some storming concerts conducting Wagner.

His ten years at the Hofoper represent his more balanced middle period. His new-found faith and his new high office brought a full and confident maturity. He married Alma Maria Schindler in the baroque Saint Charles Church in Vienna on 9 March 1902, and they were the parents of two daughters, born in 1902 and 1904.

By then, anti-Semitism in Vienna had become ‘a virtual obsession.’ Mahler became the target of an outrageous anti-Semitic campaign in a press that questioned whether a Jew could maintain the German character of the opera. This in part drove from the company in 1907, and at the of age 47 he became a wanderer again. He moved to New York, where he directed performances at the Metropolitan Opera and became conductor of the New York Philharmonic.

Nonetheless, he returned to the Austrian countryside each summer to compose his last works. On 21 February 1911, he conducted his final concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. He was severely ill afterwards and confined to bed. He travelled back to Vienna and died there on 18 May 1911.

In the 1930s, Mahlerstrasse in Vienna was renamed, the Nazis decreed Mahler’s work was degenerate and it could be played only by Jewish musicians for Jewish audiences.

After periods of neglect, his music gained wide popularity and his reputation soared in the mid-20th century. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Leonard Bernstein, his music received international attention, and a recent survey of conductors placed three of his symphonies in the top ten symphonies of all time.

The religious element in Mahler’s works is highly significant. His disturbing early background, coupled with his distance from his ancestral Jewish faith, brought about a state of metaphysical torment that he resolved temporarily by identifying with Christianity. But his Jewish background remained a source of much of the hostility he suffered.

Many say they can identify the influence of Jewish folk music in some of his work, including the third movements of his first and second symphonies. One critic is convinced these were used as models for Fiddler on the Roof, although it is probably difficult to argue that Jewish folk music was central in Mahler’s musical project. Others say Jewish clichés make his music unmistakable, including the klezmer theme in the first symphony, the possible shofar blast in the second, the sighs and whispers of the ninth.

The thrice-homeless Mahler felt most homeless as ‘a Jew throughout the world.’ Scholars are going to keep asking Mahler’s ‘Jewish question,’ continue searching for Jewish musical themes in his symphonies and continue to ask the extent to which he continued to feel he was a Jew.

Mahler’s grave is in the Catholic cemetery in Grinzing, a wine-making village now on the northern outskirts of Vienna, and his gravestone is a simple upright slab. In Jewish tradition, visitors regularly place small stones on top of the gravestone in his memory.

A decorative plate with the Ten Commandments for a Torah Scroll in the Jewish Museum at the Palais Eskeles on Dorotheergasse in Vienna (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Reading Saint Luke’s Gospel
in Advent 2019: Luke 12

‘I will pull down my barns and build larger ones’ (Luke 12: 18) … a large barn at Comberford Manor Farm in Staffordshire (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During the Season of Advent this year, I am joining many people in reading a chapter from Saint Luke’s Gospel each morning. In all, there are 24 chapters in Saint Luke’s Gospel, so this means being able to read through the full Gospel, reaching the last chapter on Christmas Eve [24 December 2019].

Why not join me as I read through Saint Luke’s Gospel each morning this Advent?

Luke 12 (NRSVA):

1 Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered in thousands, so that they trampled on one another, he began to speak first to his disciples, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.

4 ‘I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. 7 But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

8 ‘And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; 9 but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.’

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ 14 But he said to him, ‘Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?’ 15 And he said to them, ‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’ 16 Then he told them a parable: ‘The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” 18 Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” 20 But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.’

22 He said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you – you of little faith! 29 And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

35 ‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36 be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

39 ‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’

41 Peter said, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?’ 42 And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 45 But if that slave says to himself, “My master is delayed in coming”, and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. 47 That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. 48 But one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

49 ‘I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided:

father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’

54 He also said to the crowds, ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain”; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat”; and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

57 ‘And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.’

‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit’ … (Luke 12: 35) … the lamp before the Aron haKodesh in the Kadoorie Synagogue in Porto (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

A prayer for today:

A prayer today from the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG, United Society Partners in the Gospel:

Let us pray for the UN and all agencies and bodies working for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially on hunger and poverty.

Tomorrow: Luke 13.

Yesterday: Luke 11.

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

A reference and footnote in
two newly-published books

‘A World Divided’ by Eric D Weitz … a reference to a song of protest by Vassilis Rotas, Mikis Theodorakis and Maria Farantouri

Patrick Comerford

It is always a pleasure to find your name as a footnote in a book, particularly a scholarly book. During my academic career, references and footnotes in books by other academics were important when it came to appraisals of your research and workload.

This was not a matter of vanity, still less one of self-promotion. But it was an important measure of the impact and acceptance of your research. In recent weeks, I have been pleased to come across my name in two recently published books.

A World Divided: The Global Struggle for Human Rights in the Age of Nation-States by Eric D Weitz was published by Princeton University Press on 24 September 2019.

Eric D Weitz is Distinguished Professor of History and the former Dean of Humanities and Arts at the City College of New York (CCNY). He trained in modern German and European history, has a PhD from Boston University Weitz, and has also worked in international and global history. His research interests include Modern Europe, Germany, Labour, International Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity.

This 576-page book is a global history of human rights in a world of nation-states that grant rights to some while denying them to others.

The world was once dominated by vast empires, but today it is divided into almost 200 independent countries with laws and constitutions proclaiming human rights. This transformation suggests that nations and human rights inevitably developed together. But the reality is far more problematic, as Professor Weitz shows in his global history of the fate of human rights in a world of nation-states.

Through vivid histories drawn from virtually every continent, A World Divided describes how, since the 18th century, nationalists have struggled to establish their own states that grant human rights to some people. At the same time, they have excluded others through forced assimilation, ethnic cleansing, or even genocide.

From Greek rebels, American settlers, and Brazilian abolitionists in the 19th century to anticolonial Africans and Zionists in the 20th century, nationalists have confronted a crucial question: Who has the ‘right to have rights?’

In A World Divided, Dr Weitz tells these stories in colourful accounts focusing on people who were at the centre of events. He shows that rights are dynamic. Rights were proclaimed originally for propertied white men, but were quickly demanded by others, including women, American Indians, and black slaves.

This book also explains the origins of many of today’s crises, from the existence of more than 65 million refugees and migrants worldwide to the growth of right-wing nationalism. He argues that only the continual advance of international human rights will move us beyond the quandary of a world divided between those who have rights and those who do not.

In his discussion of the Greek struggle for human right (pp 74-79), he refers to my posting two years ago on the Greek singer Maria Farantouri, who began working closely with the Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis and singing the songs of resistance to the colonels’ regime, which came to power in a coup in 1967 and was toppled in 1974.

Her version of Το γελαστό παιδί (The Laughing Boy) celebrates the uprising in the Athens Polytechnic on 17 November 1973 that led to the downfall of the colonels within a year. The song, composed by Mikis Theodorakis, was first included on the soundtrack of the Costas-Garvas movie Z (1969), and was quickly linked with resistance to the junta.

For Greeks, it is a song about the death of so many young people killed resisting the regime. When the regime was toppled in 1974, Mikis Theodorakis and many singers organised a concert to celebrate the return of democracy to Greece, and Maria Farantouri sang one of the most touching songs of the time.

There was a palpable response when she intentionally changed the original reference to August to the month of November to honour the students killed in November 1973. The original Greek lyrics are by the poet Vassilis Rotas, but they are based on earlier poem by the Irish playwright Brendan Behan.

Some years ago, my friends Paddy Sammon, a former Irish diplomat once based in Athens, and Damian Mac Con Uladh, an Irish journalist from Ballinasloe now based in Corinth, have researched the Irish background to this great Greek classic of resistance to oppression.

The original laughing boy in Brendan Behan’s poem is Michael Collins. Theodorakis adapted the Greek translation, and adapted it in the context of Grigoris Lambrakis, the pacifist activist killed by far-right extremists in Greece in the years before the colonels seized power. As Damian Mac Con Uladh has written, every Greek knows the song can sing some of, which they learned at school commemorations.

Behan adapted the poem in his play The Hostage (1958). The play first came to the attention of Theodorakis while he was living in Paris, and he was inspired to compose a cycle of 16 songs in 1962 with Greek lyrics by Vasilis Rotas (1889-1977).

Rotas’s translation of The Hostage was staged in Athens in 1962 at a time when the Greek civil war was still a taboo topic and left-wing activity was under close police surveillance. The play became a way for people to identify with their struggle against a repressive regime.

Maria Farantouri went into exile after the coup in 1967, and sang this song at solidarity concerts across Europe. ‘It became a hymn not only for the Irish liberation movement, but also for every liberation movement in the world, and Greek democracy,’ she told an RTÉ documentary.

When the junta sent in tanks against protesting students at the Athens Polytechnic on 17 November 1973, killing at least 24 people over a number of days, Maria Farantouri added a couple of stanzas to the song, and changed the date from August to November, deliberately linking the song to that event.

The second reference in recent weeks is in Irish Anglicanism 1969-2019, a collection of essays edited by Kenneth Milne and Paul Harron to mark the 150th anniversary of the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland and published by Four Courts Press, Dublin. This new book was launched in Belfast last week [4 December 2019].

In his chapter on ‘The Church of Ireland dialogue with other faiths,’ Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin refers to my Embracing Difference: the Church of Ireland in a Plural Society, written for the Church in Society Social Justice and Theology Group, and published by Church of Ireland Publishing in 2007.

Archbishop Jackson says in his chapter this book ‘recognizes that the Church of Ireland takes its place within a pluralist society in Ireland today.’

The essays in the new book cover topics including the role of women in ministry; the Anglican Communion; dialogue with other churches and faiths; the covenant with the Methodist Church; architecture and art; pastoral care; theological education; the Church and education; liturgy and worship; music in the life of the Church; canonical and legal change; the Irish language; archives and publishing; and the Church and the media.

Maria Farantouri sings ‘Το γελαστό παιδί’ (‘The Laughing Boy’) at the first concert by Mikis Theodorakis in Greece after the fall of the colonels in 1974

Reading Saint Luke’s Gospel
in Advent 2019: Luke 11

‘Give us each day our daily bread’ (Luke 11: 3) … bread in the rectory kitchen in Askeaton (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

During the Season of Advent this year, I am joining many people in reading a chapter from Saint Luke’s Gospel each morning. In all, there are 24 chapters in Saint Luke’s Gospel, so this means being able to read through the full Gospel, reaching the last chapter on Christmas Eve [24 December 2019].

Why not join me as I read through Saint Luke’s Gospel each morning this Advent?

Luke 11 (NRSVA):

1 He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ 2 He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.’

5 And he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.” 7 And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

9 ‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit[f] to those who ask him!’

14 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute; when the demon had gone out, the one who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. 15 But some of them said, ‘He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.’ 16 Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. 18 If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? – for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. 19 Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists[g] cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. 22 But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armour in which he trusted and divides his plunder. 23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

24 ‘When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting-place, but not finding any, it says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” 25 When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.’

27 While he was saying this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!’ 28 But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!’

29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, ‘This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise at the judgement with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! 32 The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!

33 ‘No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays.’

37 While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. 38 The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.

42 ‘But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practised, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honour in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the market-places. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.’

45 One of the lawyers answered him, ‘Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.’ 46 And he said, ‘Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. 48 So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute”, 50 so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.’

53 When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile towards him and to cross-examine him about many things, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

A prayer for today:

A prayer today (International Mountain Day) from the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG, United Society Partners in the Gospel:

Let us give thanks to God for the gift of natural resources such as the mountainous regions of our world that play critical roles for food, water, ecosystems and recreation.

Tomorrow: Luke 12.

Yesterday: Luke 10.

‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread’ … (Luke 11: 5) … bread in a shop in St Ives, Cornwall (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Tales of the Viennese Jews:
12, Salomon Mayer von Rothschild
and the railways in Vienna

Salomon Mayer von Rothschild (1774-1855) … his statue in the Nordbahnof station was the first sight to greet immigrants arriving in Vienna (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

The Tales from the Vienna Woods is a waltz by the composer Johann Strauss II (1825-1899), written just over a century and a half ago, in 1868. Although Strauss was baptised in the Roman Catholic Church, he was born into a prominent Jewish family. Because the Nazis had a particular penchant for Strauss’s music, they tried to conceal and even deny the Jewish identity of the Strauss family.

However, the stories of Vienna’s Jews cannot be hidden, and many of those stories from Vienna are told in the exhibits in the Jewish Museum in its two locations, at the Palais Eskeles on Dorotheergasse and in the Misrachi-Haus in Judenplatz.

Rather than describe both museums in detail in one or two blog postings, I decided after my visit to Vienna last month to post occasional blog postings that re-tell some of these stories, celebrating a culture and a community whose stories should never be forgotten.

In my teens I was surprised to come across a Rothschild family in Dublin, at rugby matches in the Clontarf/Raheny area. The Rothschild family in Ireland came to Dublin from Altona in Germany in 1839. At first, they were involved in the cigar and tobacco business, and many of the early generations are buried in the Jewish cemetery in Ballybough.

The late Asher Benson, in his Jewish Dublin, says there is no known connection between this Rothschild family and the famous Rothschild banking family that has spread across Europe.

The Rothschild banking family traces its ancestry back to 1577 and to Izaak Elchanan Rothschild, who took his name from the German for the red shield that was a sign outside his family home for many generations. The name Rothschild means ‘Red Coat,’ as in an heraldic coat of arms. His grandchildren and descendants used this as their family name, and kept it even after they moved house in 1664.

A statue in the Jewish Museum in at the Palais Eskeles on Dorotheergasse in Vienna depicts Salomon Mayer von Rothschild (1774-1855), the German-born banker and founder of the Austrian branch of the Rothschild banking family.

Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) of Frankfurt had built the family banking business in Germany. In recognition of the Rothschild family’s services to the Habsburg Empire, the Emperor Francis I posthumously made Mayer Amschel Rothschild a member of the Austrian nobility. This privilege was inherited by his sons, although Nathan Meyer Rothschild, ancestor of the English branch of the family, declined the honour.

Mayer Amschel Rothschild’s third child and second son, Salomon Mayer von Rothschild, was born in Frankfurt-am-Main on 9 September 1774 and was the ancestor of the Austrian branch of the banking family.

As the family business expanded across Europe, the eldest Rothschild son remained in Frankfurt, while each of the other four sons were sent to different European cities to establish a banking branch.

Salomon von Rothschild became a shareholder of the de Rothschild Frères bank in Paris when it was opened by his brother James Mayer de Rothschild in 1817. Salomon was sent to Austria in 1820 to engage in financing Austrian government projects and established SM von Rothschild in Vienna.

Salomon von Rothschild and his brothers were further honoured in 1822, when the Emperor gave them the hereditary title of freiherr or baron. In 1843, Salomon became the first Jew to ever be given honorary Austrian citizenship. He made connections with the Austrian aristocracy and political elite through Prince Klemens Metternich and Friedrich von Gentz.

The Viennese bank was highly successful under the direction of Salomon von Rothschild, and played an integral role in the development of the Austrian economy. The bank in Vienna financed the Nordbahn rail transport network, Austria’s first steam railway, and funded many government undertakings.

Salomon von Rothschild’s personal wealth was enormous. But by the time of the revolutions of 1848 in the Habsburg areas, anti-Rothschild sentiments increased. With the fall of Metternich, Salomon von Rothschild lost some of his political influence and his bank lost a considerable amount of money.

At the age of 74, he handed over the bank to his son Anselm Salomon von Rothschild (1803-1874), left Vienna and retired in Paris. He died there on 28 July 1855.

The marble statue of Salomon von Rothschild in the current exhibition in the Jewish Museum on Dorotheergasse is the work of the Austrian sculptor Johann Meixner (1819-1872) in 1869/1870. Meixner was one of the founding members of the Vienna Künstlerhaus in 1861, and this statue originally stood in the hall of Nordbahnof station in Vienna.

The Nordbahnof station was built in 1865, ten years after Salomon’s death. In the second half of the 19th century, this station became the means of transport for Viennese transport, and its terminus became their point of entry. When they arrived in Vienna, the first thing they saw on their arrival was this statue of Rothschild, with its optimistic promise of unending possibilities.

The statue was removed in 1938 at the time of the German-Austrian Anschluss and the Nazi seizure of power, and was given to the Historisches Museum. It was transferred to the Railway Museum, later incorporated in the Technical Museum, and is on loan to the current exhibition in the Jewish Museum.

The crown of a Torah scroll in the Jewish Museum on Dorotheergasse in Vienna (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Reading Saint Luke’s Gospel
in Advent 2019: Luke 10

The Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 30-37) … a stained glass window in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

During the Season of Advent this year, I am joining many people in reading a chapter from Saint Luke’s Gospel each morning. In all, there are 24 chapters in Saint Luke’s Gospel, so this means being able to read through the full Gospel, reaching the last chapter on Christmas Eve [24 December 2019].

Why not join me as I read through Saint Luke’s Gospel each morning this Advent?

Luke 10 (NRSVA):

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. 3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” 6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.” 12 I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.

13 ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But at the judgement it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum,

will you be exalted to heaven?
No, you will be brought down to Hades.

16 ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.’

17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’ 18 He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’

21 At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’

23 Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.’

25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 26 He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ 27 He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ 28 And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’

29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ 30 Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ 37 He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’

38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ 41 But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’

An Orthodox icon of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, interpreting the parable according to the Patristic and Orthodox tradition (Click on image for full-screen viewing)

A prayer for today:

A prayer today (Human Rights Day) from the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG, United Society Partners in the Gospel:

Let us pray for people who have suffered various forms of human rights abuse, that the Lord should guide us to respect the rights of all people irrespective of their sex, race and religion.

Tomorrow: Luke 11.

Yesterday: Luke 9.

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Good Samaritan … a stained glass window in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Monday, 9 December 2019

Sad to hear of the plans to close
Saint John’s College, Nottingham

Saint John’s College, Nottingham … due to close next summer (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

It was sad to read in the Church Times at the weekend that Saint John’s College, Nottingham, is to close after 156 years.

While I was on the staff of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, I worked closely with Saint John’s and the college staff. The principal, Canon Christina Baxter, was an external examiner at CITI and a regular visitor, and I also worked closely with other staff members, including the Revd Dr Tim Hull, tutor in theology.

With other members of academic staff at CITI, I lectured on the three-year course for NSM ordinands leading to Certificate in Christian Studies awarded by Saint John’s in association with the Open University and the University of Chester. I also supervised post-graduate research leading to the MA in theology and art from Saint John’s College and the University of Nottingham.

I regularly visited theological colleges in England, to compare notes and network with academics who were teaching in the same fields as I was teaching in, including Church History, Liturgy and Patristics, and I was welcomed to Saint John’s in 2013.

A statement last week said the college council agreed last month [11 November 2019] ‘that the operation of the current configuration of St John’s is no longer financially viable in the long term,’ and that the process of closure would begin.

It now looks as though most of the 28 people working at Saint John’s, including tutors, are to transfer to new posts in institutions that continue the college’s distance-learning and youth-ministry work. But, inevitably, there will be job losses and redundancies by next summer.

Students have been reassured that their courses will continue until they have completed them.

The Principal of the Eastern Region Ministry Course, the Revd Dr Alex Jensen, a former lecturer at the Church of Ireland Theological College, suggested there is ‘great fear’ in the Theological Education Institutions (TEI) sector that other closures could follow. ‘Hardly any college or course is financially sustainable,’ he told the Church Times last week, wondering when ‘the next college or course falls by the wayside.’

The broader context for theological education was illustrated by figures seen by the Church Times, suggesting a target in the Church of England of a 50 per cent increase in ordained vocations is unlikely to be met by 2020.

The Church Times said there have been ‘signs of trouble’ at Saint John’s ‘for some time.’ The college had 60 students last year, compared with 108 in 2016-2017, and 223 in June 2016.

Saint John’s decided in 2014 to stop recruiting students, including ordinands, to study on campus. Plans were announced for ‘remodelling the college to meet the future training needs of the Church.’ It was renamed Saint John’s School of Mission in 2015, although it later returned to calling itself Saint John’s College.

Plans were made to place students with a church and to study for two days a fortnight at the campus. All recruitment was suspended for the academic year 2016-2017, and the last ordinands finished training in June 2017.

Healthier finances were secured in 2017 when land was sold for a new housing development. The college reported a surplus of £1.3 million in 2018, compared with a deficit of £612,853 the previous year. The Revd Dr David Hilborn, who welcomed me to Saint John’s six years ago, resigned as principal at the end of last year, and is now Principal of Moorlands College, Christchurch, an evangelical college in Dorset.

As far back as 1997, the college was facing financial pressures and falling student recruitment. But a ‘mixed-mode’ delivery of ordination training was introduced, and two years later the Midlands Institute for Children Youth and Mission (MCYM) was opened on site, in partnership with Youth for Christ, offering two undergraduate degrees. This became the college’s main source of income.

However, the MCYM announced in October it was moving to Leicester to merge with the Institute for Children Youth and Mission. That move includes moving a collection of 10,000 books, while discussions are taking place way with the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, and Saint Mellitus College, East Midlands, to ensure the Saint John’s library has ‘a new home in Nottingham.’

The last remaining building owned by Saint John’s will be sold, and the three parts of the legacy – MCYM, distance-learning, and the library – will be given funds to help to secure their future in new homes.

The Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham, is to take over the Extension Studies department, offering distance-learning courses and degrees validated by the University of Durham. The majority of staff, including tutors, are expected to transfer to Leicester or Birmingham.

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

Saint John’s was originally founded as the London School of Divinity, an evangelical college, in 1863. Former principals include Donald Coggan, later Archbishop of Canterbury, and the evangelist and theologian Michael Green. Another Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, trained at Saint John’s, as did Bishop Christopher Cocksworth of Coventry, Bishop Vivienne Faull of Bristol, Archbishop Janani Luwum of Uganda, and the recently retired Bishop Harold Miller of Down and Dromore.

The college was founded by the Revd Alfred Peache and his sister, Kezia, after they inherited their father’s fortune. The college was established to provide an evangelical theological education to ordinands who could not go to university. Canon Thomas Boultbee was the first principal and Lord Shaftesbury became the first president of the college council.

The first premises near Kilburn High Road Station were known as Saint John’s Hall, and Saint John’s became an informal name for the college, perhaps because Boultbee was a graduate of Saint John’s College, Cambridge.

The college moved to Highbury in 1866 and remained there for almost 80 years, with close links to Arsenal FC and their grounds at Highbury. During World War II, the faculty, staff and students were evacuated to Wadhurst School in Sussex in 1942 when the Highbury buildings were damaged by air-raids.

The future Archbishop of Canterbury, Donald Coggan, became principal in 1944, and for the 10 years he was principal, the college was based at Harrow School and then at Ford Manor in Lingfield, Surrey.

Under Dr Coggan’s successor, Canon Hugh Jordan, discussions began on moving away from London. Canon Jordan believed the future of the college was outside London but near a university. A site was available in Nottingham, where the university’s theological department was growing in reputation. His successor as principal, Canon Michael Green, oversaw the move from London to Bramcote in Nottingham in 1970.

With the move from London, the London College of Divinity changed its name to Saint John’s. As Saint John’s, the college pioneered distance learning programmes in theology in the late 1970s, and made new theological thinking and research accessible to a wide audience through its A5-sized Grove Booklet series.

Later principals included Colin Buchanan, who became Bishop of Aston, Professor John Goldingay, Canon Christina Baxter, the first lay principal, Dr David Hilborn and Dr Sally Nash.

Former staff members include Dr George Bebabwi, an Egyptian scholar who was one of my lecturers at the summer school on ‘The Ascent to Holiness,’ organised by the Institute for Orthodox Studies at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, in 2008. I still recall how he barely managed to stick to his script as he delivered his paper on ‘Discernment’ with great style, compassion and humour.

Dr Bebabwi warned against what he described as ‘learning wisdom.’ He quoted from the Egyptian Desert Father, Abba Poemen, who said: ‘A man who teaches without doing what he teaches is like a spring which cleanses and gives drinks to everyone, but is not able to purify itself.’

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

Reading Saint Luke’s Gospel
in Advent 2019: Luke 9

The Transfiguration (Luke 9: 28-36) … an icon in the parish church in Piskopianó in Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

During the Season of Advent this year, I am joining many people in reading a chapter from Saint Luke’s Gospel each morning. In all, there are 24 chapters in Saint Luke’s Gospel, so this means being able to read through the full Gospel, reaching the last chapter on Christmas Eve [24 December 2019].

Why not join me as I read through Saint Luke’s Gospel each morning this Advent?

Luke 9 (NRSVA):

1 Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3 He said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money – not even an extra tunic. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. 5 Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’ 6 They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

7 Now Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, 8 by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. 9 Herod said, ‘John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?’ And he tried to see him.

10 On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.

12 The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.’ 13 But he said to them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish – unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.’ 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, ‘Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.’ 15 They did so and made them all sit down. 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

18 Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ 19 They answered, ‘John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.’ 20 He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered, ‘The Messiah of God.’

21 He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, 22 saying, ‘The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’

23 Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. 25 What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? 26 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.’

28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’ – not knowing what he said. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ 36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 Just then a man from the crowd shouted, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39 Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It throws him into convulsions until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40 I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.’ 41 Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.’ 42 While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astounded at the greatness of God.

While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples, 44 ‘Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.’ 45 But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

46 An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, 48 and said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.’

49 John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.’ 50 But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.’

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53 but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. 54 When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 Then they went on to another village.

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ 58 And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ 59 To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ 60 But Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ 61 Another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ 62 Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’

A prayer for today:

A prayer today (International Anti-Corruption Day) from the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG, United Society Partners in the Gospel:

Let us pray in penitence for how we have allowed corruption to affect equal distribution of natural resources and perpetuate poverty.

Tomorrow: Luke 10.

Yesterday: Luke 8.

‘Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest’ (Luke 9: 48) … a window in Saint Mary’s Church, Nenagh, Co Tipperary (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Sunday, 8 December 2019

How can we compare
Santa with the Prophets
and Saint John the Baptist?

Saint Nicholas in a stained-glass window in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick … how did Saint Nicholas become Santa Claus? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

Sunday 8 December 2019,

The Second Sunday of Advent.


11.30 a.m., Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Morning Prayer 2

Readings: Isaiah 11: 1-10; Psalm 72: 1-7, 18-19; Romans 15: 4-13; Matthew 3: 1-12.

‘In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea’ (Matthew 3: 1) … a mosaic in Saint John’s Monastery, Tolleshunt Knights, shows Saint John the Baptist with his parents Saint Zechariah and Saint Elizabeth (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

May I speak to you in the name of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

In this season of Advent, we are preparing for the coming of Christ, not just the Christ Child in the crib, but Christ the challenging king, Christ at his second coming.

This morning, as we light the second candle on the Advent Wreath, we think of the prophets and kings who prepared the way for the coming of Christ.

In the Old Testament reading, the Prophet Isaiah looks to the coming Messiah, ushering in a kingdom in which the wolf shall live with the lamb, the calf with the lion, ‘and a little child shall lead them’ – a Messianic image that has inspired poets, painters and hymn writers.

The psalm prays that the coming king may bring righteousness and justice, defend the poor, crush the oppressor, so the earth will be blessed with prosperity, justice and peace.
In our epistle reading, Saint Paul urges us to welcome one another, just as Christ has welcomed us in fulfilment of the promises to the Patriarchs and Prophets of old. He asks that God may fill us with joy, peace and hope.

In our Gospel reading (Matthew 3: 1-12), Saint John the Baptist is described in words from the Prophet Isaiah as ‘the voice … crying out in the wilderness’ (verse 3).

Saint John the Baptist is compared with the Old Testament prophets, particularly Isaiah and Elijah, and he emphasises the coming of the Kingdom of heaven (βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν, basileía tou ouranou, see verse 2). When God’s kingdom comes, his will indeed shall be done on earth as in heaven, and justice shall be firmly and truly established.

Advent is our time to prepare for the coming of those days.

As Saint John the Baptist prepares the people for the coming of the Kingdom, he may be trying to shock the Pharisees and Sadducees out of their false sense of security, and into spiritual awareness by using strong language: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’

If Saint John the Baptist is drawing up a list before the coming of Christ, there is no doubt that he knows who’s naughty and who’s nice.

With his long beard and his unusual clothing, his rare appearance, his cajoling and cautioning, could we compare Saint John with Saint Nicholas, with Santa Claus?

Now, I know Saint John is not handing out gifts, moving around with haste before the arrival of Christ – but is there a way in which Santa Claus also prepares us for the coming of Christ? A way he teaches us some truths about who Christ truly is?

The feast day of Saint Nicholas does not fall on Christmas Day, or even on Christmas Eve. His feast day was on Friday, on 6 December, even if he does not make an appearance in the Calendar of the Church of Ireland.

Saint Nicholas was such a favourite saint in mediaeval Ireland that many of our principal ports and towns have large churches named after him, including one in mediaeval Limerick, on Nicholas Street, close to Saint Mary’s Cathedral.

He is an important figure, not because of the roly-poly figure used by Coca-Cola and advertising.

Saint Nicholas, whose name means ‘Victory of the People,’ was born in Myra in Lycia, now known as Demre, near Antalya on the south coast of present-day Turkey. He had a reputation as a secret giver of gifts, such as putting coins in the shoes of poor children, so you can see his links with our Santa Claus today.

Saint Nicholas is the patron of sailors, seafarers, merchants, pawnbrokers, children and students, and the patron of many port cities. King’s College, Cambridge, known for the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve, was founded in 1441 as the King’s College of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas.

Legend says young Nicholas was sent to Alexandria as a student. On the voyage, it is said, he saved the life of a sailor who fell from the ship’s rigging. In one version, on their arrival back in Myra, Nicholas took the sailor to church. The previous Bishop of Myra had just died, and the freshly-returned, heroic Nicholas was elected his successor.

Another story tells how during a famine, a butcher lured three small children into his house, slaughtered and butchered them, and put their bodies in a pork barrel to sell as meat pies. Saint Nicholas, who heard of the horrific plans, brought the three boys back to life through his prayers.

The best-known story tells how a poor man had three daughters but could not afford proper dowries for them. They would either remain unmarried or become victims of the trade in women and people trafficking. Saint Nicholas secretly went to their house at night and threw three purses filled with gold, one for each daughter, through the window – or down the chimney.

There are stories too of Saint Nicholas and the defence of true doctrine. In the year 325, the Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea, attended by more than 300 bishops, to debate the nature of the Holy Trinity.

It was one of the most intense theological debates in the early Church. Arius from Alexandria was teaching that Christ was the Son of God but was not equal to God the Father, not God incarnate. As Arius argued at length, Nicholas became agitated, crossed the room, and slapped Arius across the face.

The shocked bishops stripped Nicholas of his episcopal robes, chained him and jailed him. In the morning, the bishops found his chains on the floor and Nicholas dressed in his episcopal robes, quietly reading his Bible. Constantine ordered his release, and Nicholas was reinstated as the Bishop of Myra.

As the debate went on, the Council of Nicaea agreed with his views, deciding against Arius and agreeing on the Nicene Creed, which remains the symbol of our faith.

In 1863, the cartoonist Thomas Nast began a series of drawings in Harper’s Weekly, based on the descriptions in Washington Irving’s fiction and Clement Clarke Moore’s poem, ‘A Visit from Saint Nicholas’ or ‘The Night Before Christmas.’ His drawings gave us a rotund Santa with flowing beard, fur garments, and a clay pipe, and the saint’s name shifted to Santa Claus – a phonetic alteration from the German Sankt Niklaus and the Dutch Sinterklaas.

Coca Cola, advertising and Hollywood later made Santa a commercial success, and the North American Santa Claus has since travelled around the world.

But for me, Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, remains the protector of children, the giver of gifts that make this a good world for children to live in. As the free-giver of gifts, without expecting anything in return, he is a reminder that God’s love is given freely and unconditionally at the Incarnation in his Son, Christ Jesus.

As the defender of the doctrine that Christ is God Incarnate, Saint Nicholas makes Christmas more than the birth of another prophet or someone who was important in history, and gives meaning to our celebrations of Christmas.

The stories of bringing the victims of murder back to life are reminders that Christmas is without meaning unless we connect it with Good Friday and Easter Day, that the significance of the Incarnation is found in our Redemption and the Resurrection.

If Santa gives good gifts at Christmas, then he prepares, he makes way, for the gift of love that God gives to us, all of us, freely, in the gift of Christ, the best of all gifts.

Enjoy preparing for Christmas.

Enjoy the anticipation and the excitement.

Enjoy the gifts – giving and receiving.

And prepare for the greatest gift of all.

And so, may all we think, say and do be to the praise, honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

How was Saint Nicholas transformed into the modern Santa Claus? … a scene in Little Catherine Street, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Matthew 3: 1-12 (NRSVA):

1 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2 ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,

‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight”.’

4 Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9 Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 ‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

An icon of Saint Nicholas, celebrated on 6 December, in a church in Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Liturgical Colour: Violet

Liturgical resources for Advent:

The liturgical provisions suggest that the Gloria may be omitted during Advent, and it is traditional in Anglicanism to omit the Gloria at the end of canticles and psalms during Advent.

Penitential Kyries:

Turn to us again, O God our Saviour,
and let your anger cease from us.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Show us your mercy, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.

Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Your salvation is near for those that fear you,
that glory may dwell in our land.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The Collect of the Day:

Father in heaven,
who sent your Son to redeem the world
and will send him again to be our judge:
Give us grace so to imitate him
in the humility and purity of his first coming
that when he comes again,
we may be ready to greet him with joyful love and firm faith;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Advent Collect:

Almighty God,
Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness,
and to put on the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and ever.

This collect is said after the Collect of the day until Christmas Eve

The Collect of the Word:

God of all peoples,
whose servant John came baptising and calling for repentance:
help us to hear his voice of judgment,
that we may also rejoice in the word of promise,
and be found pure and blameless in the glorious day when Christ
comes to rule the earth as Prince of Peace;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Introduction to the Peace:

In the tender mercy of our God,
the dayspring from on high shall break upon us,
to give light to those who dwell in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1: 78, 79)

Blessing:

Christ the sun of righteousness shine upon you,
gladden your hearts
and scatter the darkness from before you:

An icon of Saint Nicholas of Myra in the Collegiate Church of Saint Nicholas, Galway (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Hymns:

535, Judge eternal, throned in splendour (CD 31)
162, In the bleak mid-winter (CD 10)
134, Make way, make way, for Christ the King (CD 8)

Saint Nicholas defended doctrine that are central to the Incarnation and that make Christmas worth celebrating … the word homoousios (ὁμοούσιος) means ‘same substance,’ while the word homoiousios (ὁμοιούσιος) means ‘similar substance’; the Council of Nicaea affirmed the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are of the same substance, rather than of a similar substance

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Material from the Book of Common Prayer is copyright © 2004, Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.