26 September 2021

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
120, Saint Barbara’s Church, Rethymnon

The Church of Aghia Barbara on Aghia Barbara street is just a hundred metres from Rethymnon Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity XVII), and later this morning (26 September 2021) I am taking part in and preaching at Morning Prayer in Castletown Church, Co Limerick, and the Parish Eucharist in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale.

Before the day begins, I am taking a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading. Each morning in the time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

My theme for these few weeks is churches in Rethymnon on the island of Crete, where I spent two weeks earlier this month.

In this series, I have already visited Rethymnon Cathedral (29 March and 4 May), the Church of the Four Martyrs (3 May), the churches of Tsesmes and Platanias (2 May), Saint George, Panormos (5 May), and many monasteries in the Rethymnon area, including Arkadi (1 May), Aghia Irini (27 June), Preveli (28 June), Arsanios (29 June), Saint Anastasia near Tsesmes (30 June), and the former Saint Barbara’s Monastery or Kara Musa Pasha Mosque (1 July).

My photographs this morning (26 September 2021) are from Saint Barbara’s Church on Saint Barbara Street in the old town of Rethymnon.

Inside Aghia Barbara … the church features in ‘A Tale of the Town’ by Pandelis Prevelakis (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

From the corner of the cathedral square in Rethymnon, the Church of Aghia Barbara is halfway along Aghia Barbara Street, just a hundred metres from the cathedral.

The church was built in 1885 to replace an earlier Latin church of the same name, dating from at least 1613. That church, in turn, probably took its name from Saint Barbara’s Monastery, which once stood at the end of Arkadiou Street, on the site of the later Kara Musa Pasha Mosque.

Aghia Barbara is a cruciform church with a dome. The story of the painting of the church walls appears as an incident in A Tale of the Town by Pandelis Prevelakis. From 1898 until 1907, the church was used as the garrison church for the Russian troops in the town.

Behind the church, the former Girls’ School stands on the same grounds and has long been the town library. The blue flowers on top of the white wall that is shared by the church and library drop down on the other side into the gardens of Pepi Studios, where I have stayed in previous years.

Inside the dome of Aghia Barbara (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Mark 9: 38-50 (NRSVA):

38 John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ 39 But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. 40 Whoever is not against us is for us. 41 For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

42 ‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

49 ‘For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’

The central panels of the iconostasis or icon screen in the church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (26 September 2021) invites us to pray:

Holy Father,
We thank you for the gift of prayer.
May we pray when we are suffering,
And when we are cheerful.
Let us pray for ourselves,
For others and the world.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Aghia Barbara was the garrison church for Russian troops in Rethymnon from 1898 until 1907 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

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

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