02 October 2022

Praying in Ordinary Time with USPG:
Sunday 2 October 2022

The Abbey of Saint Mary is a ruined Benedictine abbey in York and was once one of the most prosperous abbeys in Northern England (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Sixteenth Sunday Trinity (Trinity XVI). Later this morning, I hope to attend the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford.

Before today gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for reading, prayer and reflection.

This morning, and throughout this week, I am continuing last week’s theme of reflecting each morning on a church, chapel, or place of worship in York, where I stayed in mid-September.

In my prayer diary this week I am reflecting in these ways:

1, One of the readings for the morning;

2, Reflecting on a church, chapel or place of worship in York;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’

York Abbey stood on an extensive site immediately outside the city walls, between Bootham and the River Ouse (Photograph Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Luke 17: 5-10 (NRSVA):

5 The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ 6 The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea”, and it would obey you.

7 ‘Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, “Come here at once and take your place at the table”? 8 Would you not rather say to him, “Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink”? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, “We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!”’

The abbey church was 110 metres (350 ft) long and consisted of a nave with aisles, north and south transepts with chapels, and a presbytery with aisles (Photograph Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Saint Mary’s Abbey, York:

The Abbey of Saint Mary is a ruined Benedictine abbey in York and a scheduled monument. It was once one of the most prosperous abbeys in Northern England. Today, its remains lie in York Museum Gardens, on a steeply-sloping site to the west of York Minster.

The original church on the site was founded in 1055 and dedicated to Saint Olaf. After the Norman Conquest the church came into the possession of the magnate Alan Rufus who granted the lands to Abbot Stephen and a group of monks from Whitby.

The abbey church was refounded in 1088 when King William Rufus visited York and gave the monks additional lands. The following year he laid the foundation stone of the new Norman church and the site was rededicated to the Virgin Mary.

The monks moved to York from a site at Lastingham in the 1080s and are recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086. Following a dispute and riot in 1132, a party of reform-minded monks left to establish the Cistercian monastery at Fountains Abbey. The abbey was badly damaged by a great fire in 1137. The surviving ruins date from a rebuilding programme in 1271-1294.

The abbey stood on an extensive site immediately outside the city walls, between Bootham and the River Ouse. The walls were nearly three-quarters of a mile long, and a stretch of this wall still runs along Bootham and Marygate to the River Ouse.

The abbey church is aligned northeast-southwest, due to restrictions of the site. The original Norman church had an apsidal liturgical east end, and its side aisles ended in apses, although they were square on the exterior.

Rebuilding began in 1270, under the direction of Abbot Simon de Warwick, and was swiftly completed during a single 24-year building campaign, such was the financial strength of the abbey.

When it was completed, the abbey church was 110 metres (350 ft) long, consisted of a nave with aisles, north and south transepts with chapels in an east aisle, and a presbytery with aisles. To the east of the cloister and on the line of the transepts were a vestibule leading to the chapter house, the scriptorium and library. Beyond the church lay the kitchen, novices’ building and infirmary.

A 15th-century account records that the Abbey's library originally contained over 750 books. The abbot’s house, built of brick in 1483, survives as the King’s Manor because it became the seat of the Council of the North in 1539.

Saint Mary’s was the largest and richest Benedictine house in the north of England and one of the largest landholders in Yorkshire. It was worth over £2,000 a year (£1.5 million today) in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries at the Tudor Reformation. The Abbey surrendered £2,085 and 50 monks to the Crown on 26 November 1539. It was closed and subsequently substantially destroyed.

All that remains of the abbey today are the north and west walls, and a few other remnants, including the half-timbered Pilgrims’ Hospitium, the West Gate and the 14th-century timber-framed Abbot’s House, now called the King’s Manor.

A 13th-century gilt, Limoges enamel figurine depicting Christ, the Saint Mary’s Abbey Figurine, was discovered in the abbey in 1826. It is now on display in Yorkshire Museum.

The Yorkshire Museum stands in part of the abbey cloister. Parts of the east, south and west cloister walls were temporarily excavated in 1827-1829. Part of the richly carved chapter house vestibule (1298-1307) is incorporated into Tempest Anderson Hall lecture theatre (1911-1912).

The chapter house was excavated in 1912 by the curator of mediaeval archaeology, Walter Harvey-Brook and the York architect Edwin Ridsdale Tate. Further excavations in the abbey were carried out in 1952-1956.

Excavations in 2014 and 2015 discovered an apse in the south transept, large parts of the wall foundations, and numerous residual small finds dating from the Roman to Modern periods.

The Yorkshire Museum stands in part of the abbey cloister (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Today’s Prayer (Sunday 2 October 2022, Trinity XVI):

The Collect:

O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers
of your people who call upon you;
and grant that they may both perceive and know
what things they ought to do,
and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Post Communion Prayer:

Almighty God,
you have taught us through your Son
that love is the fulfilling of the law:
grant that we may love you with our whole heart
and our neighbours as ourselves;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week is ‘Mission in a Crisis.’ This theme is introduced this morning by Father Rasika Abeysinghe, Priest in the Diocese of Kurunagala, Church of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), who writes:

‘The Diocese of Kurunagala is unique in its mission and context. Its founding mission was to work among farmers/plantation sector workers/labourers and to work with people of other religions.

‘We strive steadfastly to acknowledge this in all our work, both day-today work and reacting to major events. The current economic crisis we are living through has had a huge impact on us – nobody here has experienced an event like this before. The diocese is considering this impact as we plan our mission activities. Right now, our work is split between advocacy towards transformation on a national level and being grounded on a community level. We have extended our outreach work to reach the most vulnerable in the worst affected regions.

‘Emergency rations are being deployed from time to time. Good mental health and the protection of children are also key areas which we are working on, through seminars and small group visits. To do this, we partner with local Buddhist temples as this enables us to reach more people.’

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today (Trinity XVI) in these words:

Loving God,
Grant us patience in testing times.
May we trust in you,
that justice and peace will come to reign.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The half-timbered Pilgrims’ Hospitium in the grounds of York Abbey (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

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 14th-century Abbot’s House at York Abbey is now the King’s Manor (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

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