01 July 2023

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (34) 1 July 2023

Trinity Hospital, or the Hospital of the Holy Trinity, in New Ross, Co Wexford, was founded in 1578 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

We are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar, and tomorrow is the Fourth Sunday after Trinity. The Calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today (1 July 2023) recalls Henry, John, and Henry Venn the younger, Priests, Evangelical Divines (1797, 1813 and 1873).

Before today becomes a busy day, I am taking some time for prayer, reading and reflection.

Over these weeks after Trinity Sunday, I have been reflecting each morning in these ways:

1, Looking at relevant images or stained glass window in a church, chapel or cathedral I know;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

The seal of the Hospital of the Holy Trinity … a copy on the fa├žade of the hospital, sculpted by Seamus Furlong in 1592 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Trinity Hospital, or the Hospital of the Holy Trinity, New Ross, Co Wexford:

Between Trinity Chambers, the former Saint Catherine’s Church on South Street in New Ross, Co Wexford, and the neglected courthouse on Priory Street, Trinity Hospital or the Hospital of the Holy Trinity is an interesting collection of houses that tells the story of an Elizabethan charity and a foundation dating back almost 450 years to the late 16th century.

The Trinity Hospital was founded in 1578 by a bequest of a local merchant, Thomas Gregory, a merchant who had been granted the sites of all churches and monasteries in New Ross. The Hospital of the Holy Trinity was incorporated by a charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1584, when the sites of two churches – Saint Saviour, which had been granted to Dunbrody Abbey in 1370, and Saint Michael – were transferred to the new foundation.

The hospital or almshouse was supported by an income from lands of Glen Saint Saviour – now known as called Glensensaw – in Rosbercon, on the west bank of the River Barrow.

The seal of the Hospital of the Holy Trinity bears the initials ‘GC’ of George Conway, the first master, and the date 1587. The tomb of Patrick Conway, ‘formerly burgess of the New Town of Ross,’ who died in 1587, and who perhaps was the father of George Conway, and his wife Katherine Archer, could be seen in Saint Mary’s Church.

The conditions for entry to the hospital were simple: poor women who were in need, and natives of New Ross or residing in the town for 12 months. Religion was to play no part in considering candidates for residence.

At the time, it was alleged that many hospitals were continuing as chantry chapels, and it was suspected in its early decades that the former priests of Saint Saviour’s continued to say Mass in Trinity Hospital.

At first, the hospital or almshouse consisted of six houses in Priory Street, providing accommodation for 14 poor women. Each woman had two rooms and an annual allowance of £18.1.

Almost 200 years after its foundation, Trinity Hospital was rebuilt in 1772 by Charles Tottenham (1716-1795) of nearby Delare House.

By the 19th century, New Ross had several charitable institutions, including the Fever Hospital, founded by H Houghton of Ballyane and completed by his widow in 1809, and the Vicar’s Almshouse, provided accommodation for three poor Protestant widows and endowed by Charles Tottenham and Lord Callan, as well as a Temperance Society, founded in 1829 and said to be the first of its kind in Europe, a Bible Society founded in 1804, and the Rumsey Lending Library, founded with a grant from Mrs Rumsey, the wife of a doctor in Amersham, Buckinghamshire.

The houses at Trinity Hospital were renovated at the beginning of the 20th century, but they retain many of their 16th and 18th century architectural features. These include their compact rectilinear plan form, their feint battered silhouette, the solid massing, the timber sash windows, the uniform proportions of the windows, the high-pitched roofline, and glazed tongue-and-groove timber panelled double doors or replacement iron double doors.

One of the houses has ground floor openings remodelled to accommodate a pair of square-headed carriageways. The range also included an extension that possibly formed part of the larger living quarters of the governor or master of the hospital or almshouse.

Almshouses such as these are found in many English towns and cathedral cities. I am reminded, quite naturally, of Saint John’s Hospital in Lichfield. But they are a rarity in Irish towns.

Although the ground floor of the original house is now boarded up, Trinity Hospital continues to provide a link with the Tudor period in the history of New Ross and it is an important component of the late 18th century architectural heritage of the town.

In a letter to The Irish Times in 2004, Breda Fitzgibbon of New Ross, writing as the Representative of Thomas Gregory and Master of Hospital of the Holy Trinity, challenged a claim that the Royal Hospital Donnybrook, founded in 1743, is the oldest charity in Ireland.

She pointed out that the ‘Master Brethren and Poor of the Hospital of the Holy Trinity,’ was founded in the late 16th century by Thomas Gregory and granted a Royal Charter by Elizabeth I.

With voluntary help, this charity has continued the work of caring for the poor since its foundation without State aid or health board subvention thanks to the continued support of the people of New Ross who have responded generously with their support.

‘Trinity Hospital Erected in the year 1772 Char[les]s Tottenham Esqr Master Give Alms of thy Goods and never turn thy face from a Poor Man’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 8: 5-17 (NRSVA):

5 When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him 6 and saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralysed, in terrible distress.’ 7 And he said to him, ‘I will come and cure him.’ 8 The centurion answered, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go”, and he goes, and to another, “Come”, and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this”, and the slave does it.’ 10 When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, ‘Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, ‘Go; let it be done for you according to your faith.’ And the servant was healed in that hour.

14 When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever; 15 he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were possessed by demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.’

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), has been ‘Freeing people from the Traps of Human Trafficking.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday.

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (1 July 2023) invites us to pray:

We pray for strength and steadfastness in the work of repairing the world. In all things may we honour you and the dignity of each person. Amen.

Collect:

Almighty God,
you have broken the tyranny of sin
and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts
whereby we call you Father:
give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service,
that we and all creation may be brought
to the glorious liberty of the children of God;
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.

Post Communion:

O God, whose beauty is beyond our imagining
and whose power we cannot comprehend:
show us your glory as far as we can grasp it,
and shield us from knowing more than we can bear
until we may look upon you without fear;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

The Tottenham extension to Trinity Hospital, built in 1772 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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

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