30 June 2024

Ignacio Comonfort,
President of Mexico,
descended from the
Comerfords of Callan

President Ignacio Comonfort (1812-1863), President of Mexico in 1855-1858 … he was a grandson of Joseph Comerford, born in Callan, Co Kilkenny

Patrick Comerford

President Ignacio Comonfort (1812-1863) was the President of Mexico briefly in 1855-1858. He is seen as a revolutionary and a liberal who sought to introduce major constitutional and political reforms in Mexico, and he challenged the influence and power of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexican life.

However, his search for a political compromise with conservative elements led to his downfall and exile. After his return to Mexico, he was killed in a skirmish in 1863. He was a patriotic and dedicated man, who has given his name to the city where he was buried. But he has also been described as ‘one of the more tragic and unhappy figures of Mexican history.’

His name is intriguing, for it certainly does not sound Spanish, and many Comerford family members have long speculated that his name derived from Comerford. However, this long continued to be mere speculation – perhaps a genealogist’s conjecture or even a ‘good hunch’.

But I remained persistent in my pursuit, and I was keen to either prove or disprove once and for all that this key figure in the history of post-colonial Mexico was a member of the Comerford. Now, in recent weeks, trawls through Mexican genealogical sites and records and biographies, mainly in Spanish, have confirmed this speculation and prove that that Ignacio Comonfort was, in fact, the grandson of Joseph Comerford, who was born in Callan, Co Kilkenny, in the early decades of the 18th century.

Callan, Co Kilkenny … Ignacio Comonfort was descended from the Comerfords of Callan (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

President Ignacio Comonfort was born José Ignacio Gregorio Comonfort de los Ríos on 12 March 1812 in Amozoc, Puebla de los Ángeles, now Puebla de Zaragoza, then the second largest city in the Spanish Colony of New Spain or colonial Mexico.

His father, Mariano José Anselmo de la Santísima Trinidad Comonfort Carricarte, was born in Puebla in 1771. His grandfather, Joseph Comerford, was born in Callan, Co Kilkenny, and emigrated to Mexico, where the surname first became Comoforte but later morphed into Comonfort in an attempt at Hispanicisation. (In a similar way, he name O’Brien later on, became the Spanish Obregón.)

The name Comonfort continued for another few generations through the former President’s grandchildren.

Ignacio Comonfort’s parents were Lieutenant-Colonel Mariano José Anselmo de la Santísima Trinidad Comonfort Carricarte and Maria Guadalupe de los Rios. The name José recalled the future president’s Comerford grandfather, Joseph Comerford. But the name José had been given earlier to another, older child who died in infancy, and as he grew up he was known as Ignacio.

At the age of 14, he began studying at the Carolino College, a Jesuit-run school in Puebla, and went on study law in Puebla. However, his father’s death impoverished the family; he abandoned his law career and enlisted in the army.

Meanwhile, after the collapse of Spanish colonial rule and the Mexican War of Independence, Mexico was eventually proclaimed a federal republic on 4 October 1824, as the United Mexican States (Estados Unidos Mexicanos) with a new constitution.

Ignacio Comonfort was 20 in 1832 when he took part in the liberal revolt that overthrew President Anastasio Bustamante and he fought action at San Agustin del Palmar and Puebla. During the subsequent siege of Mexico City, he was already a captain of the cavalry and fought at Tacubaya, Casas Blancas, Zumpango, San Lorenzo and Posadas.

When Bustamante was overthrown and the Zavaleta Accords put an end to the revolution, Comonfort became the military commander of Izúcar de Matamoros. He was elected to the presidency of the third ayuntamiento in the capital and became prefect of western State of Mexico.

Shortly after the United States annexed Texas in 1845, the two nations sent troops to their shared border. The US declared war on Mexico in 1846 and invaded Mexico in 1847. Comonfort took part in the defence of Mexico City and the Battle of Churubusco on 20 August 1847. He became assistant to the commander-in-chief, and after the US army took the capital he was a member of the congress that met at Querétaro. He was elected a senator the following year (1848).

Comonfort’s liberal sympathies, military expertise and presence in the south gave him a key role in the Ayutla Revolution, unifying liberal opposition to Antonio López de Santa Anna and his conservative government in 1854. During the revolution, Comonfort was sent on an important mission abroad to gain war materiel. When he was in charge of the fortress of Acapulco, he resisted a siege by Santa Anna.

Santa Anna resigned in August 1855, but Comonfort refused to recognise his successor Martin Carrera. He entered Guadalajara on 22 August 1855 and demanded the recognition of Juan Álvarez, a veteran insurgent and prominent liberal, as the leader of the revolution.

Ignacio Comonfort became the interim President of the United Mexican States in December 1855, and remained in office until January 1858

Álvarez became President and named Comonfort as Minister of War in his new cabinet. When Álvarez stepped down after only a few months, Comonfort became the interim President of the United Mexican States in December 1855, and remained in office until January 1858.

During those two years, Comonfort began an ambitious liberal project to give the state a secular character and to encourage economic development. He was the leader of the moderate Liberal group, and his government introduced reforms in education, commerce and administration, along with the Juárez Law, aimed at separating church and state and ending ecclesiastical courts.

A new constitutional was introduced in February 1857 with new guarantees that included freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of association or assembly. The constitution was opposed by conservatives, who rejected its provisions controlling the economic power and privileged status of the Catholic Church. The Lerdo law stripped the Church of its property and forced the breakup of communal land holdings of indigenous communities, enabling them to resist integration economically and culturally.

The controversy escalated when the government demanded all civil servants took an oath to uphold the new constitution. Catholic public servants were faced with a choice between keeping their jobs or being excommunicated.

In fact, Comonfort considered the anticlerical provisions too radical, and he also objected to the deliberate weakening of the power of the executive branch of government by empowering the legislative branch. He had been dealing with revolts since the beginning of his administration and the new constitution left the president powerless to act.

Hoping to find a compromise with the conservatives and other opponents of the constitution, Comonfort joined the Plan of Tacubaya proclaimed by General Félix María Zuloaga, nullifying the constitution in December 1857.

Comonfort ignored the new constitutional order that he himself had sworn to months before, Congress was dissolved and he remained as president. But he was abandoned by his liberal allies. He backed out of the plan, resigned as President in January 1858, and was succeeded by the president of the Supreme Court, Benito Juárez.

Comonfort left Mexico City on 22 January and headed for the liberal-controlled state of Vera Cruz. On 7 February, he and his family left for Europe on the steamer Tennessee, going into exile as the bloody Reform War broke out.

He was living in Texas in 1861 when he made a risky and dangerous crossing of the Rio Grande and returned to Mexico. He lived with his daughters in Monterey and at first the government ordered his arrest but then accepted his services when the French invaded Mexico.

France invaded Mexico in 1862 on the pretext of collecting debts the Juárez government had defaulted on. In reality, the French plan was to install a ruler under French control, putting Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria on the throne as Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, with support from the Catholic Church, conservative elements in the upper class, and some indigenous communities.

Comonfort was defeated by the French at the Battle of San Lorenzo on 8 May 1863. He retreated to Mexico City and then followed the national government when it retreated from the capital on 31 May 1863. He returned to government office and was made Minister of War.

He was heading from San Luis Potosí to Guanajuato on 13 November 1863, when he was killed in a surprise attack between Chamacuero and Celaya at the Soria Mill, by a party under the command of Chief Gonzales Aguirre. His body was taken to San Miguel de Allende.

Ignacio Comonfort was killed on 13 November 1863 in a surprise attack near Chamacuero

Despite repeated Imperial losses to the Republican Army and ever-decreasing support from Napoleon III, Maximilian would chose to remain in Mexico rather than return to Europe. He was captured and executed on 19 June 1867, along with two Mexican supporters. After the republic was restored in 1867, Comonfort’s ashes were taken to the cemetery of San Fernando.

Most historical comment on Comonfort focuses on his role in the initial stages of the Mexican Reform, when he was a hero of the Revolution of Ayutla, became provisional president and made possible the Constitution of 1857. But he has been severely criticised for his support of the coup d’état that overthrew this constitution and set the stage for the disastrous War of the Reform. Nevertheless, he remains a key figure in the development of liberal politics and democracy in Mexico.

The town where he is buried was renamed Comonfort in his honour. Comonfort covers an area of 485.90 sq km and has a population of 67,642. In pre-Columbian times, the area that is now Comonfort was known as Chamacuero, a word of Purépecha origin that means ‘to fall down’ or ‘place of ruins.’ Since 2018, Comonfort has been a ‘Pueblo Mágico’ or tourist town of ‘cultural richness, historical relevance, cuisine, art crafts, and great hospitality.’

The grave of Ignacio Comonfort in Comonfort, previously known as Chamacuero

The genealogy of Ignacio Comonfort:

Peter Comerford from Callan, Co Kilkenny, may have been born ca 1710/1720. He married Elena Rosete (?Rothe) and they were the parents of:

Joseph Comerford was born in Callan, Co Kilkenny, perhaps ca 1740/1750. He moved from Ireland to Puebla in Mexico in the mid-18th century where he became known as José Comonfort and is described as comerciante or a businessman. He married María Gertrudis Josefa Onecífora Carricarte Ortega (1754- ), on 7 January 1770, in Puebla (witness: Ignacio José Javier Carricarte Ortega, her brother). She was a daughter of (Captain) Pedro Carricarte Juanchín and María de los Dolores Ortega-Caballero Angón.

They were the parents of eight children, five sons and three daughters:

1, Pedro José Ignacio Comonfort Carricarte (1771- ), named after his grandfather in Callan, died in infancy.
2, José Miguel Ignacio Comonfort Carricarte (1776- ).
3, Pedro de Jesús Ignacio Comonfort Carricarte (1781- ).
4, Mariano José Anselmo Comonfort Carricarte (1782- ), married María Guadalupe Ríos; see below.
5, María Josefa Atanasia Comonfort Carricarte (1785), born 1785, married 1 May 1808 in Puebla, José Ignacio Cuellar Rincón.
6, Manuel José Ignacio Comonfort Carricarte (1786- ).
7, María Antonia Ildefonsa Comonfort Carricarte (1790- ).
8, María Ignacia Juana Comonfort Carricarte (1791- ).

Their fourth son:

Mariano José Anselmo de la Santísima Trinidad Comonfort Carricarte (1782- ) was born 22 April 1782 in Puebla de Zaragoza, México and was baptised that day. He was a subteniente (sub-lieutenant) in the Batallón de Izúcar in 1812, and later a lieutenant-colonel in the Mexican army.

He married María Guadalupe Ríos (1785- ), and they were the parents of two sons and two daughters:

1, José Luis Gonzaga Comonfort Ríos (1809- ), died in infancy.
2, (President) José Ignacio Gregorio Comonfort de los Ríos (1812-1863), of whom next.
3, Juana Comonfort Ríos (1815-1899), born 1815 in Matamoros, Tamaulipas; married 11 June 1837 in Puebla, Miguel María Arrioja Freyre (1807-1867); and died 20 March 1899 in Coyoacán, México. They were the parents of six children, three sons and three daughters, who continued to hold the Comonfort (Comerford) name in the generation that followed:

1a, María de Jesús Josefa Arrioja Comonfort (1838- ).
2a, Ignacio de Jesús Toribio Arrioja Comonfort (1840- ).
3a, María Joaquina Paula Arrioja Comonfort (1843- ).
4a, Guadalupe Felipa de Jesús Arrioja Comonfort (1845).
5a, Miguel Basilio Francisco de Paula del Corazón de Jesús Arrioja Comonfort (1849- ).
6a, Emilio Antonio Arrioja Comonfort (1852- ).

4, Crescencia Comonfort Ríos.

The second but eldest surviving child was:

José Ignacio Gregorio Comonfort de los Ríos (1812-1863) was born 12 March 1812 in Puebla de Zaragoza, Puebla, México, and was baptised that day in Puebla. He died aged 51 on 13 November 1863.

He was the father of two daughters. Through his relationship with María Baamonde, he was the father of:

1, Clara Comonfort Baamonde (1837-1892), she married on 7 April 1865 in México City, Victoriano Octaviano Francisco Alcerreca Villanueva (1838- ), son of General Agustín Alcerreca Leyva (1802-1862). They were the parents of three sons who continued to hold the Comonfort (Comerford) name in the generation that followed:

1a, Ignacio Alcerreca Comonfort (1869- ).
2a, Ricardo Alcerreca Comonfort (1872- ).
3a, Enrique Alcerreca Comonfort, married Guadalupe Priego Ciprés.

Through his relationship with Carmen Lara, he was the father of:

2, Adela Comonfort Lara (1843-1911), born in México City in 1843, died 8 January 1911 in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, aged 68. She married on 14 September 1865, in México City, Francisco Oliver Soler (1836-1894), son of José Oliver and Bárbara Soler. They were the parents of one son who continued to hold the Comonfort (Comerford) name into the next generation:

1a, José Ignacio Juan Oliver Comonfort (1866-1902), born 9 July 1866, in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, baptised 22 July 1866; he married Dolores Garza Ayala in Monterrey on 17 April 1901; and he died 3 February 1902 in Monterrey.

The monument to Thomas Comerford in the ruined South Aisle of Saint Mary’s Church, Callan, with the coat-of-arms of the Comberford family … but which branch of the family did Peter and Joseph Comerford belong to? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The role of the Comerford or Comonfort family in the Mexican army and politics needs to be understand within the context of the Irish diaspora in Mexico. Although smaller compared to other diasporas, its contribution has had a lasting impact on many aspects of Mexican life.

William Lamport (1611-1659), who was born in Wexford, was the real-life 17th century adventurer whose escapades and lifestyle inspired the stories of ‘El Zorro.’

Hugh O’Conor (1732-1779) from Dublin, moved to Nueva España in the18th century. He was governor of the region of Texas and commander of the northern frontier. He was also the founder of the town now known as Tucson, Arizona.

Juan José Rafael Teodomiro de O’Donojú y O’Ryan (1762-1821) was the Viceroy of New Spain (Mexico) from 21 July 1821 to 28 September 1821 during the Mexican War of Independence. He had once been an interpreter to the Duke of Wellington and was the last Viceroy of New Spain.

James Power(1788-1852), from Ballygarrett, Co Wexford, founded a new Irish settlement under Mexican jurisdiction in Texas. Other Irish figures involved in this colonisation included James Hewetson from Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, John McMullen and James McGloin.

During the war between the US and Mexico in the 184os, the Irish division in the Mexican army, Los San Patricios, led by John Riley, took part in all the major battles and was cited for bravery by General López de Santa Anna. During the war, 85 of the Irish battalion were captured and sentenced to tortures and deaths in what is considered even today as the ‘largest hanging affair in North America.’

The historian Conleth Manning identifies the Comerfords after the Butlers as the most important family in 17th century Callan, and names Edward Comerford (ca 1600-ca 1660) of Westcourt, Callan, MP for Callan, ‘as the most prominent member of the family in the town.’ Edward Comerford was the estate manager and one of the closest confidantes of both Walter Butler, 11th Earl of Ormond, and his grandson, James Butler, 12th Earl of Ormond and first Duke of Ormond. He was Sovereign or Mayor of Callan in 1632, was twice elected MP for Callan.

However, my research has yet to show which family Ignacio Comonfort’s early 18th ancestors in Callan, his grandfather Joseph Comerford and his great-grandfather Peter Comerford, were member of. The family name has been present in that part of south Kilkenny for generations and centuries, and each of the principal branches of the Comerford family, including those of Ballymack and Castleinch, have had strong connections with Callan.

There is more work to do on the Irish background of President Ignacio Comonfort and his genealogy.

The tomb of Judge Gerald Comerford in Saint Mary’s Church, Callan, Co Kilkenny, displays symbols of the passion (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Daily prayer in Ordinary Time 2024:
52, Sunday 30 June 2024, Trinity V

The icon of the Crucifixion in the new iconostasis in the Greek Orthodox Church in Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Fifth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity V, 30 June 2024). Later this morning I hope to be involved in the readings and the intercessions at the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford.

The Annual Greek Festival takes place this afternoon (12 noon to 5 pm) at the Swinfen Harris Church Hall beside the Greek Orthodox Church in Stony Stratford. This is a get-together of members and friends of the Greek community in Milton Keyne and the surrounding district. It includes live music, dance and songs, traditional food, stalls with delicacies, artefacts and books, a Greek Deli with a tastes of an Hellenic summer, music and performances by the Delta Dancers. The Greek Festival is also a fundraising event for the community buildings, housing the Church, the Greek School, the Church Hall and church charities and organisations.

Later in the afternoon, I hope to find an apppriate venue for watching the England v Slovakia match at 5 p.m. Meanwhile, before today begins, I am taking some quiet time this morning to give thanks, for reflection, prayer and reading in these ways:

1, today’s Gospel reading;

2, a reflection on the icons in the new iconostasis or icon stand in the Greek Orthodox Church in Stony Stratford.

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary;

4, the Collects and Post-Communion prayer of the day.

The icon depicting the Crucifixion is sixth from the left among the 12 feasts depicted in the upper tier of the new iconostasis in Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024; click on images to view full screen)

Mark 5: 21-43 (NRSVUE):

21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him, and he was by the sea. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue, named Jairus, came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 and pleaded with him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from a flow of blood for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians and had spent all that she had, and she was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, “If I but touch his cloak, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her flow of blood stopped, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my cloak?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the synagogue leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the synagogue leader, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the synagogue leader’s house, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl stood up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this and told them to give her something to eat.

The women at the foot of the Cross … a detail in the icon of the Crucifixion in the iconostasis in the Greek Orthodox Church in Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

The Stony Stratford iconostasis 15: The Crucifixion (Ἡ Σταύρωση):

In recent weeks, I have been watching the building and installation of the new iconostasis or icon screen in the Greek Orthodox Church in Stony Stratford. In my prayer diary over these weeks, I am reflecting on this new iconostasis, and the theological meaning and liturgical significance of its icons and decorations.

The lower, first tier of a traditional iconostasis is sometimes called Sovereign. On the right side of the Beautiful Gates or Royal Doors facing forward is an icon of Christ, often as the Pantokrator, representing his second coming, and on the left is an icon of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary), symbolising the incarnation. It is another way of saying all things take place between Christ’s first coming and his second coming.

The six icons on the lower, first tier of the iconostasis in Stony Stratford depict Christ to the right of the Royal Doors, as seen from the nave of the church, and the Theotokos or the Virgin Mary to the left. All six icons depict (from left to right): the Dormition, Saint Stylianos, the Theotokos, Christ Pantocrator, Saint John the Baptist and Saint Ambrosios.

Traditionally, the upper tier has an icon of the Mystical Supper in the centre, with icons of the Twelve Great Feasts on either side, in two groups of six: the Nativity of the Theotokos (8 September), the Exaltation of the Cross (14 September), the Presentation of the Theotokos (21 November), the Nativity of Christ (25 December), the Baptism of Christ (6 January), the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (2 February), the Annunciation (25 March), the Entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), the Ascension, Pentecost, the Transfiguration (6 August) and the Dormition (15 August).

In Stony Stratford, these 12 icons in the top tier, on either side of the icon of the Mystical Supper, are (from left): the Ascension, the Nativity, the Baptism of Christ, the Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the Raising of Lazarus and the Crucifixion; and the Harrowing of Hell or the Resurrection, the Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Pentecost, the Transfiguration, the Presentation and the Annunciation.

The sixth in this top tier of 12 icons in Stony Stratford is the icon of the Crucifixion, and the Greek title above reads simply Ἡ Σταύρωσης (He Stavrosis), the Crucifixion.

The Crucifixion icon is similar to classic icons of this theme, including the frescoes of Theophanes the Cretan, the leading iconographer of the Cretan school of the 16th century. Traditionally in this icon Christ is surrounded by both angelic and earthly onlookers, although no angels are included in this icon in Stony Stratford.

The Blessed Virgin or the Theotokos is with three women to the left of the cross. She is the only one of the women with a halo, but the other three are to become the myrrh bearers on Easter morning, witnesses of both the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.

Saint John the Theologian or Saint John the Divine is to the right. The Beloved Disciple also has a halo, and he is the only one among the 12 who is a witness of the Crucifixion. Behind him is Saint Longinus the Centurion, who confesses that Christ is surely the Son of God.

In the background are the city walls and gates of Jerusalem. Christ has been crucified outside the gates of the city, a reference to the scapegoat ritual during the Day of Atonement when the scapegoat carries the sins of the people ‘outside the camp.’

Some icons of the Crucifixion also include the sun and moon as interesting features. The sun is generally darkened, and the moon coloured red, echoing a passage in the Book of Revelation: When he broke the sixth seal, I looked, and there was a great earthquake; the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree drops its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. (Revelation 6: 12-13)

The icon also incorporates events at the cross described in Saint Matthew’s Gospel: Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. (Matthew 27: 50-52)

At the foot of the Cross, the skull and bones are those of Adam. Tradition says that Golgotha was called the Place of the Skull not because the hill looked like a human skull, but because the bones of Adam had been brought and buried there by the descendants of Noah. Symbolically, therefore, Jesus is being crucified directly over Adam’s tomb. In the icons, this tomb is being cracked open which exposes Adam’s skull and bones.

When Christ died on the Cross, a great earthquake split apart the rocks, and his blood flowed down from the Cross and on to the bones of Adam, indicating the redemption of fallen human nature made possible to the whole human race.

Christ replaces Adam as the New Adam. A new humanity is being established over the death of the old, and death is defeated on the Cross. This is the same emphasis that leads to the Orthodox focus on the harrowing of hell at Easter.

Saint John at the foot of the Cross … a detail in the icon of the Crucifixion in the Greek Orthodox Church in Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Today’s Prayers (Sunday 30 June 2024, Trinity V):

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), is ‘Saint Luke’s Hospital, Nablus.’ This theme is introduced today with a programme update:

Ms E’s classroom is a special place. The children in her care come to learn, play, and laugh together which she knows are moments harder to come by since the conflict intensified in October 2023. When she first began to feel pain in her hand, Ms E was distraught. Teaching is her world and it had suddenly got a lot more difficult. Everyday activities like opening a jar or marking homework were now impossible.

Saint Luke’s Hospital in Nablus received the schoolteacher and monitored her situation carefully. Scans revealed that surgery was necessary to relieve her pain. Faced by the fear of high medical fees, Ms E was reluctant to receive help.

However, the hospital staff by her side informed her that Saint Luke’s would cover the cost. Ms E accepted the gracious offer and made a full recovery. ‘The next morning the horrible pain was gone!’ she explained with a weary smile.

Saint Luke’s Hospital administered by the Diocese of Jerusalem continues to serve the community with the spirit of love and care, and USPG is proud to be part of that journey for over 20 years.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (Sunday 30 June 2024, Trinity V) invites us to pray:

‘The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.’

O God, We have profoundly damaged creation.
Give us the strength to recover what we have tainted,
amplify the voices calling for renewal.

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church
is governed and sanctified:
hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people,
that in their vocation and ministry
they may serve you in holiness and truth
to the glory of your name;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion Prayer:

Grant, O Lord, we beseech you,
that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered
by your governance,
that your Church may joyfully serve you in all godly quietness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Additional Collect:

Almighty God,
send down upon your Church
the riches of your Spirit,
and kindle in all who minister the gospel
your countless gifts of grace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The new iconostasis or icon stand installed in the Greek Orthodox Church in Stony Stratford in recent weeks (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

An introduction to the Stony Stratford iconostasis (15 June 2024)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The iconic representation of the Crucifixion behind the holy altar during the Divine Liturgy on a recent Sunday in the Greek Orthodox Church in Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition copyright © 2021, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Annual Greek Festival takes place in Stony Stratford this afternoon