16 November 2023

Daily prayers in the Kingdom Season
with USPG: (12) 16 November 2023

Inside the Church of San Giovanni Battista dei Celestini or the Celestini in Bologna (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

In this time between All Saints’ Day and Advent Sunday, we are in the Kingdom Season in the Calendar of the Church of England. This week began with the Third Sunday before Advent and Remembrance Sunday (12 November 2023).

Today, the Calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship (16 November) celebrates the lives of Margaret, Queen of Scotland (1093), Philanthropist, Reformer of the Church, and Edmund Rich of Abingdon (1240), Archbishop of Canterbury.

Before today begins, I am taking some time for prayer and reflection early this morning.

Throughout this week, I am continuing my theme of Italian cathedrals and churches. My reflections this morning are following this pattern:

1, A reflection on a church in Bologna;

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

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

The Church of San Giovanni Battista dei Celestini or the Celestini faces Piazza De’Celestini in Bologna (Photograph: Lorenzov it / Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista dei Celestini, Bologna:

The Church of San Giovanni Battista dei Celestini or the Celestini is a Renaissance-style church on the corner of Via D’Azeglio and Piazza De’Celestini in Bologna.

The Celestine order was founded as a branch of the Benedictine by Saint Pietro da Morrone (1215-1296), who was Pope Celestine V briefly for five months from 5 July 1294 until he resigned on 13 December 1294. He died in prison on 19 May 1296 and was canonised in 1313.

The order came to Bologna in 1368 on the invitation of Antonio Galluzzi, who endowed it with a monastery and a church dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. Under his patronage, the Celestines built their church and monastery on the other side of Via San Mamolo, where the Galluzzis had their palace. The church became a parish church in 1482.

The church was rebuilt in its present layout in 1535-1554, incorporating the ancient Church of Santa Maria Rotonda dei Galluzzi. The convent was rebuilt in 1560-1561, and the bell tower was added in 1580.

The church was rebuilt once again by Carlo Francesco Dotti and Francesco Tadolini in the 18th century.

The Celestine order was suppressed in 1797. The convent was earmarked as the meeting room of the Council of Thirty, along with the demolition of some buildings to enlarge the space in front. Nothing came of these plans however, and from 1798 the convent housed variously the administration of the Lotto game, the registry office, the conscripts’ bureau, the archive of suppressed religious communities, and an engineering school.

The church continued to act as a parish church until 1806, when it was attached to a new parish centred on the Church of Santissimo Salvatore. It became a parish church once again in 1824, when the Canons Lateran returned to the Salvatore church, and the Celestini remained a parish church until 1987.

Inside the church, the fresco in the vault depicting the soul of Saint Peter Celestine being carried by angels to Heaven is by Giacomo Boni and Giacinto Garofalini (1714).

The sacristy was designed by Francisco Tadolini, and has stuccowork by his brother Petronio, Antonio Gamberini and Pier Martire Bagutti (1765) and an altarpiece by Gaetano Sabbatini.

The presbytery is by Giovanni Antonio Burrini and Enrico Haffner (1688) and the church has paintings by Marc’Antonio Franceschini, Lucio Massari, Anna Maria Crescimbeni, Giovanni Andrea Donducci (known as Mastelletta), Emilio Taruff, Lucia Casalini Torelli, Gaetano Sabbattini and Anna Mignani Grilli, and there are statues by Giuseppe Mazza.

Today, the former convent of the Celestine monks is home to the State Archives.

The fresco depicting the soul of Saint Peter Celestine being carried to Heaven is by Giacomo Boni and Giacinto Garofalini (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 altarpiece by Gaetano Sabbatini shows the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child with Saint John the Baptist, Pope Celestine V and Saint Luke (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayers (Thursday 16 November 2023):

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), draws on ‘A Prayer for Remembrance Sunday and International Day of Tolerance’. This theme was introduced on Sunday.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (16 November 2023, International Day for Tolerance) invites us to pray in these words:

Let us be inclusive and accepting of each other, whatever our differences may be.

The Collect:

God, the ruler of all,
who called your servant Margaret to an earthly throne
and gave her zeal for your Church and love for your people
that she might advance your heavenly kingdom:
mercifully grant that we who commemorate her example
may be fruitful in good works
and attain to the glorious crown of your saints;
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:

God our redeemer,
who inspired Margaret to witness to your love
and to work for the coming of your kingdom:
may we, who in this sacrament share the bread of heaven,
be fired by your Spirit to proclaim the gospel in our daily living
and never to rest content until your kingdom come,
on earth as it is in heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yesterday’s Reflection

Continued Tomorrow

The High Altar and chancel in the Celestine Church in Bologna (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

On the Via Farini in Bologna … the vaulted arcades are attractive features in the city (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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