11 November 2021

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
166, the Scuola Italiana, Venice

The Scuola Italiana was built in 1575 by newly-arrived, destitute Italian Jews who had fled Spanish-occupied southern Italy (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

I am staying in Venice this week, spending a few days at the Hotel San Cassiano in the Ca’ Favretto in the Santa Croce district just a few minutes’ walk from Rialto, and celebrating some important family birthdays and anniversaries.

Before the day begins, I have taken 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.

As part of my reflections and this prayer diary this week, my photographs are from the ghetto in Venice. I am looking at each of the five historic synagogues in the Ghetto in turn each morning this week.

My photographs this morning (11 November 2021) are from the Scuola Italiana or Italian synagogue, built in 1575.

The Scuola Italiana or Italian synagogue is a simple, rooftop synagogue, built in 1575 by newly-arrived, destitute Italian Jews who had fled Spanish-occupied southern Italy. They were the poorest group living in the Ghetto, and theirs is the smallest, and the most simple of the five surviving synagogues in Venice.

This was a clandestine synagogue, tolerated on the condition that it be concealed within a building that gives no appearance outside of being a place of worship, although the interior is elaborately decorated.

The synagogue is so small that it can hold only 25 people. The main features are the Bimah and the Ark. It was restored in 1970.

Save Venice celebrates its 50th anniversary this year (2021). Save Venice was founded in 1971 in response to the devastating floods of 1966. Since then, it has been the leading US-based non-profit organisation dedicated to conserving at-risk art and architecture in Venice.

To mark this jubilee, Save Venice has launched two campaigns for important Venetian artworks and monuments: to restore the 16th-century Italian Synagogue in the Ghetto, and to restore the Byzantine apse mosaics in the church of Santa Maria Assunta on the island of Torcello.

Save Venice has launched a campaign this year to restore the 16th-century Italian Synagogue in the Ghetto (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Luke 17: 20-25 (NRSVA):

20 Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; 21 nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.’

22 Then he said to the disciples, ‘The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 They will say to you, “Look there!” or “Look here!” Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. 25 But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation.’

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (11 November 2021, Armistice Day) invites us to pray:

Today we remember all who have died or been injured in conflict. May we strive for a more peaceful world.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

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 Scuola Italiana is recognised by the five large windows that face onto the Ghetto Square (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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