Sunday, 25 July 2021

The sad role played by
the Comerford family
in famine-era Kinvara

Delamaine Lodge, on the west side of Kinvara Bay, was owned by the Comerford family in the mid-19th century (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

The summer ‘road trip’ brought me to Spanish Point on the west coast of Clare, where I visited Comerford Lodge, a former Comerford family home now known as ‘Clare Cottage.’

I promised myself then I would return to the area to see some more houses once associated with the Comerford family, including Delamaine Lodge in Kinvara, Ballykeel House in Kilfernora, and some Comerford houses in Ennistymon.

Delamaine Lodge takes its name from the de la Maine or Delamaine family, although it is said the house was built on or from the remains of the 16th century Kinvara Castle. Kinvara Castle and Dunguaire Castle have been referred to by some writers as the ‘twin towers of Kinvara.’

Kinvara Castle, or Ballybranaghan, was one of several castles in the area once owned by the O’Heyne family. Kinvara Castle is said to have been destroyed in the 17th century conflicts, although its destruction may date from the tsunami caused by the Lisbon earthquake in 1755. By the early 1850s, Kinvara Castle was said to be on the verge of complete decay.

Delamaine Lodge, built ca 1775, takes its name from the de la Maine or Delamain family (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Delamaine Lodge is a villa-style house with a strong sense of symmetry, established by its central doorway, sidelights and associated steps. Other details, such as its unusual chimney pots and the retention of timber sash windows add further interest. This five-bay, single-storey house over half-basement, was built ca1775, with a gabled return at the rear or west elevation.

Captain William Delamain (1713-1793) was involved in contraband trade in Kinvara. His son, James Delamain, was sent to France in 1751 at the age of 13, to learn French and the Cognac trade. He married Marie Ranson and established the Jarnac cognac firm, known today as Delamain and Co.

Captain William Delamain also moved to France in 1788 and lived with his son’s French family until he died in 1793. The lease of Delamaine Lodge, with its furniture, was sold by auction on 25 March 1793.

There was another important connection linking Kinvara and France at that time: The French family of Doorus Demesne were the landlords of Kinvara in the 18th century. James French conformed to the Church of Ireland in 1762, but he lived most of his life in his chateau at Chaillot near Paris. While he was living in France, his daughter Frances married Bartholomew de Basterot in 1770.

At the end of the 18th century, James French sold part of his large estate at Doorus and Kinvara to Robert Gregory (1727-1810) of Coole, who became the new landlord of Kinvara. French’s great-great grandson, Count Florimond de Basterot, observed, ‘In this way, the splendours of Chaillot were financed by a sale in Kinvara.’

Robert Gregory’s grandson, Robert Gregory (1790-1847), worked to improve the town of Kinvara. He made substantial improvements to the pier in 1807 and 1808, and probably built the large grain store that faces the quay. According to Samuel Lewis, in his Topographical Dictionary (1837), some of the stone used in the pier was taken from the ruined Kinvara Castle near the quay.

The stone used in building Kinavra Pier in 1807-1808 may have come from the ruins of Kinvara Castle (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Sir William Henry Gregory (1817-1892) was the only son of Robert Gregory and his wife Elizabeth O’Hara. Gregory was heavily addicted to gambling and horseracing, and he was so heavily indebted after the Famine that his portions of the Kinvara estate were sold in the Encumbered Estates Court in 1857. Kinvara was reported to be on the verge of complete decay, and the Kinvara estate was bought by Henry Comerford (1795-1861), a Clare-born Galway merchant who had inherited Ballykeel House, Kilfenora, Co Clare, after his marriage to Margaret McDonagh in 1824.

Henry Comerford was born in Co Clare, the son of George Comerford, and lived in Galway. He was a merchant, landowner and magistrate. He is also remembered as the proprietor of the St John, a Galway brig whose shipwreck was one of the most tragic events during the mass exodus from Galway and Clare in the aftermath of the Great Famine. The St John left Galway on 7 September 1849, was wrecked near Cohasset off the coast of Massachusetts on Sunday 7 October 1849, with almost 100 deaths.

Henry Comerford’s purchase in 1857 included the Tolls and Customs of Kinvara, Delamaine Lodge, the area known as Town Parks, the Fair Green, the gatehouse and the animal pound, totalling 331 acres. By then, he was also leasing the house and demesne at Doorus to Count de Bastertot, and he had acquired property in the surrounding area, including Rineen, Kilcummin, Killannin, and Kilmoylan. He paid over £35,000 for 4,440 acres of land in Co Galway in the 1850s, and also owned lands in Drumcreehy and Kilfenora in the Burren, Co Clare.

Henry Comerford raised a bank loan in Dublin to buy the Kinvara estate on the strength of raising the rents paid by the tenants. The mortgage was arranged with Messrs Cobb & Moore of Dublin on the strength of increased rentals.

Henry Comerford bought the Gregory estates in Kinvara in 1857 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

The former tenants of the Gregory estate in Kinvara had no security of tenure when Henry Comerford increased their rents drastically. As soon as he took possession of the estate, he started to double and even treble existing rents.

According to Jerome Fahy, in his History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Kilmacduagh, the results were disastrous: ‘the comparatively short interval of about twenty years witnessed the ruin of over a thousand homesteads in one parish’ on Comerford property. The parish priest, Father Arthur observed, ‘The change of landlords for the greatest portion of this place has rendered this one of the most wretched and deplorable parishes in Ireland.’ It was, he said, impossible to obtain aid even from the merchants of Kinvara because, as a result of Comerford’s actions, they were ‘bereft of all hope.’

Henry Comerford died on 6 December 1861. His brother, Isaac Comerford, a merchant in Galway and a draper and general shopkeeper in Kinvara, was adjudged a bankrupt, and his assets were seized on behalf of Todd Burns & Company, Mary Street, Dublin.

Henry Comerford and his wife Margaret McDonagh were the parents of a large family of 12 children. One daughter, Mary Josephine, married Captain Francis Blake Forster of Forster Street, Galway. Another daughter, Henrietta Emily (1837-1881), had first married Isaac Breen Daly (1835-1871) of Dalysfort, Galway, and they seem to have lived at Delamaine Lodge for a time. Isaac Breen Daly also owned 1,225 acres in Co Clare.

The Galway Vindicator in 1855 named Daly ‘among the good and charitable landlords of the parish,’ along with Henrietta’s brother-in-law, Captain Francis Blake Forster, who had bought the Doorus Demesne house and estate and later also portions of Kinvara to the west of the glebe lands.

Henrietta (Comerford) and Isaac Daly were the parents of three children, Henry J O’Daly (1858-1903) of Corrib Castle, Galway; Michael Joseph Daly (1860-1894) of Castleblakeney, Co Galway; and Ida Elizabeth (Walsh).

Delaiane Lodge overlooking Kinvara Bay (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

When Isaac Breen Daly died at Sea Road, Salthill, on 16 December 1871, his estate was declared bankrupt and was sold by at auction court order in 1873. The Daly Estate was bought for £13,000 by William Henry Sharpe and Henrietta Sharpe. But they never lived in Kinvara, and the property was almost immediately leased to Henrietta’s brother-in-law, Captain Francis Blake Forster of Doorus Demesne, who also acquired the Tolls and Customs and Fairgreen fees.

By then, the widowed Henrietta (Comerford) Breen had married the younger John Joseph Ireland (1849-1876) in Galway on 28 November 1872: he was 23 and living at Dominick Street; she was 30 and living at Montpelier Terrace, Sea Road, Galway, and at their wedding she was described as ‘Lady.’

John Ireland died in 1876 at the age of 27, and the widowed Henrietta moved to live with her sister Mary Josephine (Comerford) and her brother-in-law Captain Francis Blake Forster in Forster Street, Galway. These two Comerford sisters, Henrietta and Mary, handed on many of the Comerford family legends to Mary’s son, the antiquarian and genealogist, Charles ffrench Blake Forster (1851-1874).

Henrietta Emily (Comerford) Ireland, formerly Breen, died on 20 April 1881 at the age of 43 in Forster Street, Galway.

The ground rents of Kinvara were finally bought by the tenants in the 1940s.

As for Delamaine Lodge, it was leased to Roman Catholic Church in mid-19th century, and served as the parish presbytery in Kinvara. Father Francis Arthur lived there while he was Parish Priest of Kinvara (1847-1866). Canon Fahy, Parish Priest of Kinvara in 1918, replaced the thatch roof with a slate roof and raised the gables, installed the first back door, and added a small extension that included the first bathroom.

Canon Mulkerrrin was the last parish priest to live in the house. Bishop Michael Browne sold the house in 1976 to Galway business interests. By 1979, the house was owned by the Branick family from California.

The next Comerford family home to search for in the area was Ballykeel House, Kilfenora, Co Clare, once the home of Henry Comerford.

Kinvara and Delamaine Lodge, seen from Dunguaire Castle, on the east side of Kinvara Bay (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Sunday intercessions on
25 July 2021, Trinity VIII (Saint James)

Feeding the 5,000 … a modern Greek Orthodox icon

Let us pray:

‘The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the children of earth’ (Psalm 14: 2):

Lord God, who hears the cry of the poor and the cry of creation,
we pray for the world, for the kingdoms and the nations of the world,
that they too may hear the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth,
that those with power and privilege may turn their hearts to justice, mercy and love.

We pray especially for those nations suffering
the destruction caused by climate change, by violence, racism and oppression.

We pray for justice, mercy and peace,
for all prisoners, especially prisoners of conscience,
for all people and families living with addictions.

We pray for Ireland, north and south,
We give thanks for all who are responding
to the pandemic crisis …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

‘It is I; do not be afraid’ (John 6: 20):

Lord Jesus Christ,
we pray for the Church,
in ‘A Time Such as This’,
marked by pandemic, racism and violence,
that we may not be afraid to speak out
for those who need relief and deliverance.

We pray for our Bishop, Kenneth,
we pray for our neighbouring churches and parishes,
and people of faith everywhere,
that we may be blessed in our variety and diversity.

In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer,
we pray this week for the Scottish Episcopal Church,
and the Primus, the Most Revd Mark Strange,
Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness.

In the Church of Ireland this month,
we pray for the Diocese of Tuam, Killala and Achonry,
with which we will be united,
and for Bishop Patrick Rooke.

In the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer,
we pray for the Clonfert group of parishes,
the Revd Olive Henderson, and the congregations of
Saint Brendan’s Cathedral, Clonfert,
St Paul’s Church, Banagher,
Saint John the Baptist, Eyrecourt, and Christ Church Portumna.

We pray too for our own parishes and people …
and we pray for ourselves …

Christ have mercy,
Christ have mercy.

‘God is in the company of the righteous … the Lord shall be their refuge’ (Psalm 14: 5, 6):

Holy Spirit,
we pray for one another …

We pray for those we love and those who love us …
we pray for our families, friends and neighbours …
we pray for all on holidays …
and we pray for those we promised to pray for …

We prayer for those preparing for baptism and for marriage.

We pray for those who feel rejected and discouraged …
we pray for all in need and those who seek healing …

We pray for those who are sick or isolated,
at home, in hospital …

Ruby … Ann … Daphne … Sylvia …
Ajay … Adam … Pat … Trixie …

We pray for all who grieve and mourn at this time …
for all who are broken-hearted,
trying to come to terms with the loss of loved ones,
including the Killick, Gilliard and Blennerhassett families …
We remember and give thanks for those who have died …
giving thanks for the lives of Gill Killick … Arthur Gilliard … Yvonne Blennerhassett …
May their memories be a blessing …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

The Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) held its annual conference this past week. On this, the Eighth Sunday after Trinity, USPG invites us to pray:

Almighty Lord,
May we rejoice in Your name.
Fill our mouths with laughter,
And our tongues with shouts of joy.

Merciful Father …

‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ (John 6: 5) … bread on sale in a bakery in Platanias near Rethymnon in Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Who hears the Cry of Creation
and the Cry of the Poor
in ‘Such a Time as This’?

‘The Cry of Creation: Creativity in the Church’ … an image used by some of the speakers at the USPG conference last week

Patrick Comerford

Sunday 25 July 2021

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity VIII); Saint James the Apostle

11:30:
The Parish Eucharist, Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick

The Readings: II Samuel 11: 1-15; Psalm 14; John 6: 1-21

There is a link to the readings HERE.

‘It is I, be not afraid’ (John 6: 20) … the central window above the altar in Christ Church, Spanish Point, Co Clare, shows Christ calming the winds and waves (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

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

This week has been the hottest I have ever experienced in Ireland. Yet, this week’s heat, and the recent deluge experienced by people in Germany and other parts of Europe, are sharp reminders that Climate Change is posing threats to the lives of all of us.

But, instead of basking in the sunshine in the rectory gardens, I spent three days this week indoors, in front of a computer screen, having an online presence at the annual three-day conference of the Anglican mission agency USPG, United Society Partners in the Gospel.

This year’s conference theme has been ‘For Such a Time as This’: the title comes from the story of Esther in the Bible, where Mordecai asks Esther to consider whether she has found herself in her privileged position at ‘such a time as this,’ a time of great crisis, so that she can do God’s will and stop a looming catastrophe (Esther 4: 14).

‘Such a Times as This’ … Mordecai uses the phrase twice in one verse.

And, in a similar way, we were challenged to think whether the Church has a voice that must speak out at ‘such a time as this’: this time when we are aware of potential catastrophes created by the pandemic, by racism, by political extremism, by gender violence, by climate change … and so on.

But Mordecai warns Esther that she if stays silent at such a time as this, she and her family may perish, but God will raise up ‘relief and deliverance … from another quarter.’

We were challenged, day after day, in such a time as this, whether the Church is going to speak out today, or whether we are going to wait silently for God to provide ‘relief and deliverance … from another quarter.’

The Cry of Creation could be heard all Wednesday morning throughout presentations that invited us to listen to ‘The Cry of Creation.’

Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, drew on the opening word of the Rule of Saint Benedict – ‘Listen’ – as he urged us to listen to the groan and cry of creation, to listen to the cry of the dispossessed, and to listen to God’s voice on how we can live more simply so that others might simply live.

Sadly, he quoted a survey that finds eight out of ten young people say they have never heard a sermon on climate change. Yet the Fifth Mark of Mission in the Anglican Communion calls on us ‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.’

If the Church engages with climate change, he suggested, then we may find we are evangelising the young.

He quoted from Thomas Merton: ‘From the moment you put a piece of bread in your mouth you are part of the world. Who grew the wheat? Who made the bread? Where did it come from? You are in relationship with all who brought it to the table. We are least separate and most in common when we eat and drink.’

Our Bible study that morning was led by Suchitra Behera, an Indian theologian working with the Diocese of Barishal in the Church of Bangladesh.

She told a moving story of hearing that ‘Cry of Creation’ in a group of elephants, grieving the death of one elephant killed by a car or a truck on a road. The elephants staged their own protest on the road against the destruction of their habitat, blocking traffic in an organised protest. And she quoted the Prophet Jeremiah on the groaning of creation:

How long will the land mourn,
and the grass of every field wither?
For the wickedness of those who live in it
the animals and the birds are swept away,
and because people said, ‘He is blind to our ways.’

They have made it a desolation;
desolate, it mourns to me.
The whole land is made desolate,
but no one lays it to heart (Jeremiah 12: 4, 11, NRSVA).

Drawing on the liberation theologian Leonardo Boff, she linked the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.

The cry of creation and the cry of humanity are not separate cries.

And this close link between these two cries is clear in our Gospel reading this morning (John 6: 1-21).

Christ hears the cry of the poor, and calls on the disciples, the Church, to share what they have. They are surprised to find they have more than enough in resources they thought too meagre to feed the 5,000 with barley loaves, the bread of the poor.

And immediately after hearing and responding to the cry of the poor, Christ hears the cry of creation. He calms the waves and the waters, he brings his light into their darkest fears.

‘It is I; do not be afraid.’

We can be transfixed by fear or paralysed into inaction in ‘such a time as this.’ But if the Church remains silent at such a time as this then, perhaps, as Mordecai tells Esther, God raise up ‘relief and deliverance … from another quarter.’

As this year’s conference closed, the Revd Duncan Dormor, general secretary of USPG, reminded us that in the breaking of bread we are one body. Poverty and the assault on the earth challenge us to hear the groaning of creation, he said, and he repeated that there can be no salvation for humanity that does not include creation.

The breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup takes us to the heart of creation.

Let us break bread together. Amen.

A quotation from Thomas Merton shared by Bishop Graham Usher at the USPG conference last week

John 6: 1-21 (NRSVA):

1 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ 10 Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.’

15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 got into a boat, and started across the lake to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The lake became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20 But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ 21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land towards which they were going.

‘Strengthen for service, Lord, the hands that holy things have taken’ (Post-Communion Prayer) … Communion vessels in the chapel of Westcott House, Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Liturgical colour: Green (Ordinary Time, Year B)

Penitential Kyries (Saint James):

Lord, you are gracious and compassionate.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

You are loving to all,
and your mercy is over all your creation.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Your faithful servants bless your name,
and speak of the glory of your kingdom.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The Collect of the Day:

Blessed are you, O Lord,
and blessed are those who observe and keep your law:
Help us to seek you with our whole heart,
to delight in your commandments
and to walk in the glorious liberty
given us by your Son, Jesus Christ.

Collect (Saint James the Apostle):

Merciful God,
whose holy apostle Saint James,
leaving his father and all that he had,
was obedient to the calling of your Son Jesus Christ
and followed him even to death:
Help us, forsaking the false attractions of the world,
to be ready at all times to answer your call without delay;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Preface (Saint James):

In the saints
you have given us an example of godly living,
that rejoicing in their fellowship,
we may run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
and with them receive the unfading crown of glory …

The Post-Communion Prayer:

Strengthen for service, Lord,
the hands that holy things have taken;
may the ears which have heard your word
be deaf to clamour and dispute;
may the tongues which have sung your praise be free from deceit;
may the eyes which have seen the tokens of your love
shine with the light of hope;
and may the bodies which have been fed with your body
be refreshed with the fulness of your life;
glory to you for ever.

Post-Communion Prayer (Saint James):

Father,
we have eaten at your table
and drunk from the cup of your kingdom.
Teach us the way of service
that in compassion and humility
we may reflect the glory of Jesus Christ,
Son of Man and Son of God, our Lord.

Blessing:

God give you grace
to share the inheritance of Saint James the Apostle and all his saints in glory …

Bread in the window of Hindley’s Bakery and CafĂ©, Tamworth Street, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Hymns:

39, For the fruits of his creation (CD 3)
612, Eternal Father, strong to save (CD 35)

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.



Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
57, The Rotunda, Thessaloniki

The Rotunda is the oldest church in Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Eighth Sunday after Trinity. Later this morning, I am leading Morning Prayer in Castletown Church, Co Limerick, and presiding and preaching at the Parish Eucharist in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale.

Before the day gets busy, I am taking a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading.

During this time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am taking some time each morning to reflect 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.

This week’s theme is seven churches in Thessaloniki. Earlier in this series, I visited Vlatadon Monastery in the hills above Thessaloniki (29 April 2021). This morning (25 July 2021), my photographs from the Rotunda in Thessaloniki.

Inside the Rotunda in Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Rotunda is the oldest church in Thessaloniki, and some Greek sources claim this is the oldest Christian church in the world, although there are competitors for that title. It is the most important surviving example of a church from the early Christian period in the Greek-speaking part of the Roman Empire.

The Rotunda, which is close to the Arch of Galerius is, built by the Emperor Galerius as his future mausoleum. But he died in Serbia, he was never buried here, and the Rotunda stood empty for several decades.

The Emperor Theodosius I ordered the conversion of the Rotunda into the Church of Asomaton or Archangelon in the late fourth century. The church has eight barrel-vaulted niches and was decorated with high quality mosaics. Some fragments of the frescoes and mosaics survive.

After the city fell to the Ottomans, it was converted into the Mosque of Suleyman Hortaji Effendi in 1590, and a minaret was added to the building. It continued to be used as a mosque until 1912, when Thessaloniki was incorporated into the modern Greek state.

The Rotunda was reconsecrated as the Church of Aghios Georgios (Saint George), although the Ottoman minaret was left standing. The building was damaged in the 1978 earthquake, and has restored once again.

It is now an historical monument under the Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities of the Greek Ministry of Culture, and the Greek Orthodox Church continues to use it for festivities on some days during the year.

The dome inside the Rotunda (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 6: 1-21 (NRSVA):

1 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ 10 Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.’

15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 got into a boat, and started across the lake to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The lake became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20 But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ 21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land towards which they were going.

Some fragments of the mosaics in the Rotunda depict peacocks, an early symbol of the Resurrection (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (25 July 2021) invites us to pray:


Almighty Lord,
May we rejoice in Your name.
Fill our mouths with laughter,
And our tongues with shouts of joy.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The Rotunda is close to the Arch of Galerius and was built by the Emperor Galerius as his future mausoleum (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

The Rotunda seen through narrow streets in Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)