Monday, 31 May 2021

An early summer walk in
the Primeval Forest and
Jurassic Park at Kells Bay

The Primeval Forest at Kells Bay is a 3 ha area of warm and damp forest (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

Kells Bay House and Gardens at Kells, near Cahersiveen, Co Kerry, is on the north loop of the Ring of Kerry, facing out to Dingle Bay and the Blasket Islands. It is just 3 or 4 km from Cahirsiveen, and I visited Kells Bay last weekend to see its sub-tropical gardens, its waterfalls, its ‘Jurassic Park’ and its dinosaur sculptures, and to cross the ‘Himalayan SkyWalk’, the longest rope-bridge in Ireland.

Kells Bay Gardens has a renowned collection of tree-ferns and other exotic plants in a unique microclimate created by the Gulf Stream. The house and gardens date back to 1838, when the Blennerhassett family built a hunting lodge at Kells Bay. Rowland Blennerhassett first laid out formal gardens, and this work was continued by later families: Preece (1940), McCowan (1971) and Vogel (1982).

The house and lands were bought in 2006 by Billy Alexander, an expert in the propagation, growth and care of ferns. Since then, he has worked to restore the gardens and house sensitively and sustainably.

Rowland Blennerhassett (1780-1854) built Hollymount Cottage as a ‘small hunting lodge’ in 1837 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

The centrepiece at Kells Bay is the ‘Primeval Forest’ of 600 Dicksonia Antarctica tree-ferns bordering the Ladies Walled Garden. It is said they are all descended from one mother fern planted in the walled garden in 1890. This Primeval Forest is a 3 ha area (7.5 acres) of warm and damp forest, with naturalised Dicksonia Antarctica, originally from Tasmania and Australia. The specimens range from those with parasol of fronds extending to 4 metres to seedlings growing in between crevices in the garden walls.

Additional plantings include Dicksonia fibrosa, Dicksonia squarrosa and Cyathea dealbata (New Zealand), Lophosoria quadripinnata (South America), Todea barbara (South Africa) and Blechnum nudnum (Australia).

At the front of the house is a new succulent garden. The most significant plant there is the Jubaea chilensis, imported from Chile in 2006 and now well established.

The Bamboo Glade was laid out in 2009 with a shaded pool to expand the variety of plants in the garden. Plantings include Dendrocalamus hookeri and Phyllostachys bambusoides (Himalaya) and Magnolia doltsopa, and Rubus linearis (China).

The Gunnera Pool is a large expanse of Gunnera manicata (South America) accompanied by Richea pandanifolia and Athrotaxis cupressoides (Tasmania).

The series of dinosaur and chair sculptures in the garden was carved from fallen trees by Pieter Koning in 2008-2015 and provide an adventure trail for young visitors.

The Skywalk, Ireland’s longest rope-bridge, opened in 2017 and is 35 metres long and 12 metres high.

The Himalayan Skywalk is Ireland’s longest rope-bridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

The land at Kells Bay has been owned by five families: four generations of the Blennerhassetts (1819-1953), followed by the Preece (1953-1973), McCowan (1973-1979), Vogel (1979-2006) and Alexander families (2006).

The Blennerhassett family has owned land in Ireland since the 16th century, and Robert Blennerhassett was granted Ballyseede Castle and 3,000 acres of land at Tralee in 1584. The token rent for the estate was one red rose presented each year on Midsummer Day. The Blennerhassett family developed the port of Blennerville, and by 1657 had also built a windmill and an iron works. The family continued to live at Ballyseede Castle, until 1966 when it became an hotel.

Sir Rowalnd Blennerhassett (1741-1821), who built the windmill at Belnnerville, was given the family title of baronet in 1809. His fourth son, Rowland Blennerhassett (1780-1854), bought land at Cappamore on the Ivergah Peninsula from the Marquis of Lansdowne in 1819, and in 1837 he built a ‘small hunting lodge’ first known as Hollymount Cottage.

Richard Francis Blennerhassett (1819-1854) of Kells was the youngest son of Rowland Blennerhassett, and in 1849 he married Honoria Ponsonby (1820-1883). Richard died in 1854, and his widow later married Dr James Barry (1800-1873).

Richard and Honoria were the parents of Rowland Ponsonby Blennerhassett (1850-1913). He was born at Hollymount Cottage and married Mary Beatrice Armstrong, a daughter of the art historian Walter Armstrong, in 1876. He was MP for Kerry (1872-1885), and one of the first elected Home Rule MPs. He extended Hollymount Cottage and renamed it Kells. They also had a house at 52 Hans Place, Chelsea, near the Chelsea Gardens.

Rowland Ponsonby Blennerhassett was responsible for additions to the garden that are still seen today. The exposed coastal location of Hollymount Cottage made planting the shelter belt necessary before creating the garden. The shelter belt trees, Abies grandis, date from about 1870. He established the Ladies Walled Garden adjacent to the front of the house for his wife Mary, planted the Primeval Forest and laid out the pathways through the gardens.

The dinosaur sculptures were carved from fallen trees by Pieter Koning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

The principal influence on the estate at Kells at this time was the rising popularity of naturalistic gardens. The Wild Garden challenged the prevailing Victorian preference for formal landscaping and expansive carpet bedding by advocating for natural gardens in which hardy perennials and self-seeding annual plants would provide a sustainable and self-perpetuating display of plants and flowers.

The second influence on the garden at Kells Bay might also have been the Victorian craze for ferns that began around 1830 and reached its peak between 1850 and 1890. The tree fern Dicksonia Antarctica was introduced to Kells Garden at the turn of the century, part of the family of terrestrial ferns. But it is also said that that tree ferns were accidentally introduced to cultivation through the use of their trunks as ballast or weight, to prevent cargoes moving about during long sea journeys in the 19th century and replanted in gardens in Devon and Cornwall.

The Kells estate remained in the hands of the Blennerhassett family after Rowland Ponsonby Blennerhassett died in 1913. His widow Mary died in 1928 and Richard Francis Ponsonby Blennerhassett (1879-1938) was their only child.

He was known to his estate workers as ‘Master Dick’ and married Silvia Myers in 1914. Their only child, Diana Mary Ponsonby Blennerhassett (1916-2000), was the last family member to live at Hollymount Cottage. Diana was born in Cambridge, and in 1939 she married Major Richard Goold-Adams (1916-1995) in Chelsea. He was the son of the Irish-born High Commissioner of Cyprus and Governor of Queensland, Sir Hamilton John Goold-Adams (1858-1920).

During this time, the Bowler family lived at Kells House as gardeners, caretaker and farm workers. The Kells estate was a working garden, growing fruit and vegetables at the front, between the house and the shoreline, and with geese, chickens and a herd of dairy cows. The estate traded as Kerry Estates and sold fruit, vegetables, and dairy produce to local hotels and retailers. A sawmill also processed wood from Kells and neighbouring estates.

The waterfall by the entrance to Kells Bay Gardens (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

When Roland and Nora Preece and the family owned Kells, they maintained the gardens and preserved the major parts of the plant collection, but there was little development of the house and gardens.

Iain McCowen bought the Kells estate in 1973. A pilot, he flew between England and Ireland on his own plane. President Erskine Childers had been a frequent visitor to Kells and local lore says he wrote his Presidential inauguration speech while staying at Kells in 1973.

McCowen planned to develop the house as a profit-making venture but sold in 1979 before marrying the Hon Phillipa Baillie in 1980; her mother was a granddaughter of the Duke of Devonshire.

Friedrich and Marianne Vogel, a German couple, bought Kells in 1979, and set up a nursery that traded as Kells Garden Centre and that was managed by Mary O’Sullivan, with John Bowler and his son, Michael Bowler, as head gardeners. But the Vogels sold Kells after the early death of their son.

William Alexander, a banker and fern enthusiast, bought the estate for €1.6 million in 2006. He has created several profitable income streams with the guest house, restaurant, plant sales and garden visitors, and he has expanded the naturalisation of rare and endangered subtropical plants.

After visiting the gardens, we sat on the terraces in front of Kells Bay House, sipping coffees from the Delligeenagh Café, and looking across the gardens to the beach at Kells Bay. It was a sunny, early summer day, and the beach was our next stop.

Looking across the gardens to the beach at Kells Bay (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
2, Almudena Cathedral, Madrid

Madrid’s Catedral de Almudena was not completed until 1993 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

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 prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

To mark Trinity Sunday yesterday (30 May 2021), my photographs were from the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar. For the rest of this week my photographs are from six cathedrals in Spain.

Earlier in this series, I returned to the Cathedral of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela (31 March 2021, HERE), and the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (10 April 2021, HERE). This morning (31 May 2021), my photographs are from Almudena Cathedral in Marid.

The interior of the Catedral de Almudena (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Almudena Cathedral or Santa María la Real de La Almudena is the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Madrid. This is a modern cathedral, facing the Royal Palace or Palacio Real, and it was consecrated by Pope John Paul II as recently as 1993.

Madrid’s history really only begins in the year 852, when the Moors built a fortress near the banks of the Manzanares River. Those Moors had crossed from North Africa in the early eighth century, conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula within a few years, and established an independent emirate based in Córdoba.

In the year 852, as part of his plans to protect the northern approaches to Toledo, Emir Muhammad I built a fortress (alcázar) on the site of the present Royal Palace in Madrid. A small community grew up around this fortress or alcázar with the name Mayrit, which gives us the present name of Madrid.

In time, the resistance to the Muslim Moors grew, and Ramiro II briefly occupied Mayrit in the 932. Eventually, in their drive to capture Toledo, the sleepy outpost of Mayrit was taken by the army of Alfonso VI of Castile in 1085. Despite these upheavals and a failed attempt by the Moors to retake the fortress in 1109, Mayrit remained a sleepy village outpost. Its remote location attracted many monks and new monastic settlements, and Madrid soon had 13 churches – more than enough for its tiny population.

It was not until 1202 that Madrid acquired the status of a town. But it was still dominated by Church interests, and when a dispute arose over hunting rights in the area, a compromise was worked out recognising that the Church owned the soil but the local people, the Madrileños, had the rights to hunt everything above the soil.

The ruling Castilian royal families made the area their own hunting ground. The first royal cortes or parliament was called in Madrid in 1309, and in 1339 Alfonso XI held court in Madrid. However, Madrid remained a provincial town, long after Columbus reached America and the Inquisition expelled the Jews from Spain in 1492.

It was another seven decades before Felipe II moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid in 1561. However, the seat of the Church in Spain remained in Toledo and the new capital had no cathedral.

Plans to build a cathedral in Madrid dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena were discussed as early as the 16th century. But the cost of expanding and keeping the Spanish Empire came first and the construction of Madrid’s cathedral was postponed. Instead, for centuries, the Colegiata de San Isidro or Collegiate Church of Saint Isidore served as the cathedral of Madrid.

Saint Isidore’s was designed by the architect Pedro Sánchez in 1620. The church was consecrated on 23 September 1651, 13 years before its completion.

When the Archdiocese of Madrid was formed in 1885, Saint Isidore’s became the pro-cathedral of the city, and so it continued until the current Almudena Cathedral was completed in 1993.

The cathedral seems to have been built on the site of a mediaeval mosque that was destroyed in 1083 when Alfonso VI reconquered Madrid.

Francisco de Cubas, the Marquis of Cubas, designed and directed the construction in a Gothic revival style. The project ceased during the Spanish Civil War and was abandoned until 1950. Fernando Chueca Goitia then adapted the plans of de Cubas to a baroque exterior to match the grey and white façade of the Palacio Real, which faces the cathedral.

The cathedral was not completed until 1993, when it was consecrated by Pope John Paul II. Saint Isidore’s then returned to the status of a collegiate church.

The Neo-Gothic interior of the new cathedral is uniquely modern, with chapels and statues of contemporary artists, in a variety of styles, from historical revivals to ‘pop-art’ decor.

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel features mosaics by the artist Father Marko Ivan Rupnik. The paintings in the apse are the work of Kiko Arguello, founder of the Neocatechumenal Way.

The Neo-Romanesque crypt houses a 16th-century image of the Virgen de la Almudena. Nearby along the Calle Mayor excavations have unearthed remains of Moorish and mediaeval city walls.

Colegiata de San Isidro seen through an arch in Plaza Mayor … it served as the Pro-Cathedral of Madrid from 1885 to 1993 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Luke 1: 39-49 (50-56) (NRSVA):

39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

46 And Mary said,

‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

56 And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.

A street sign in old Madrid (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (31 May 2021, the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary) invites us to pray:

O Lord, let us remember that through you anything is possible. Bless our sisters and brothers in their Kingdom work.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The Royal Palace faces the cathedral … its grey and white façade is matched in the baroque exterior of the cathedral (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

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Sunday intercessions on
30 May 2021, Trinity Sunday

Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick in late May sunshine (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Let us pray:

‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son’ (John 3: 16):

Heavenly Father,
we pray for the world, for the nations of the world,
and for our own country Ireland, north and south.

We give thanks for all who are involved in responding
to the pandemic crisis and the cyber attack …
for all in hospitals, vaccination centres, health centres and medical practices …
for all volunteers, medical professionals and administrators …
for all who make decisions and seek to influence public opinion for the good …
for all who hold out hope and promise for our future …
and we pray too for the people of India,
and the people of Gaza, Israel and Palestine in their suffering …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

‘So must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life’ (John 3: 14-15):

Lord Jesus Christ,
we pray for the Church,
that we may love one another as you love us.

We pray for our Bishop, Kenneth,
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 Anglican Church in Mexico,
La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico,
and the Interim Primate, Bishop Enrique Treviño Cruz of Cuernavaca.

In the Church of Ireland this month,
we pray for the Diocese of Conor and Bishop George Davison.

In the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer this week,
We pray for the growth, unity and service of Christ’s Church in our dioceses.

We pray for our own parishes and people,
We give thanks for all involved in painting this church,
and those who cleaned up …
and we pray for ourselves …

Christ have mercy,
Christ have mercy.

‘The wind blows where it chooses … So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit’ (John 3: 8):

Holy Spirit,
we pray for one another …
we pray for those we love and those who love us …
we pray for family, friends and neighbours …
and we pray for those we promised to pray for …

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

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

Ann … Daphne … Sylvia … Ajay … Ena …

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
for Victor, Kenneth and the Smyth family …
Nora Fitzgerald, Kevin, Imelda, and the Doherty family …

We remember and give thanks for those who have died …
especially Joe Smith … Catherine Doherty …
May their memories be a blessing …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

A prayer from the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) on Trinity Sunday:

Loving God,
May we be inspired by your divine partnership,
As we work with our partners.
Let us learn from each other and grow in fellowship.

Merciful Father …

An icon of the Holy Trinity in the Church of Saint Nektarios in Tsesmes, near Rethymnon in Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

‘In our struggle for human rights, we
are acting in the name of the Trinity’

A modern copy of Andrei Rublev’s icon, the Hospitality of Abraham or the ‘Old Testament Trinity’, by Eileen McGuckin

Patrick Comerford

Sunday 30 May 2021, Trinity Sunday:

Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick

11 am: The Festal Eucharist

The Readings: Isaiah 6: 1-8; Psalm 29; John 3: 1-17

There is a link to the readings HERE.

The Visitation of Abraham or the ‘Old Testament Trinity’ … a fresco in the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights, Essex, interprets a Trinitarian and Eucharistic theme (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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

This is the third Sunday since the pandemic lockdown eased that we have been able to roll-out the opening of our parish churches. And it is a particular pleasure, a delight for me, that on the third Sunday we are here in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, to celebrate what is the Festal Eucharist for this church on Trinity Sunday.

When I started training for ministry in the 1990s, I had all the required degrees, but very little practical or hands-on experience. The rector of a neighbouring parish in south Dublin took me under his wings as a sort of tutor for practical training in preaching.

He moved practically and quickly to asking me to preach.

‘About what?’ I asked.

‘About God … and about ten minutes,’ he told me.

On that first meeting, he also told me about the traditional, three-point sermon approach to preaching.

‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit?’ I quipped.

But he put that aside quickly too, and he pointed out how many of my future colleagues found it difficult to preach about the Trinity on Trinity Sunday.

They either got to such heights of theological erudition, that they left everybody else in church feeling dizzy and that the whole thing was irrelevant. Or, they tried to speak down to everyone, and ended up being banal.

So, this morning I would like to say three things about the Holy Trinity.

1, We are made in God’s image and likeness.

That means that it is not just as an individual but as humanity we are made in God’s image and likeness. We are not made as individual replicas or mannequins that look like God. We are also like God because God as Trinity is community, and we as people are made to live in community.

That creation is the work of God as Trinity, and one of the first comments God makes about our human condition is that it is not good for us to be alone (see Genesis 2: 18). We are created in God’s image and likeness, and we are created to live, like the Trinity, with one another.

2, Our human condition reflects God as Trinity.

When we are made, God compliments us by making us in God’s image and likeness.

Then, at the Incarnation, God compliments us again when Christ takes on our image and likeness.

But in Christ, God not only looks like us, God becomes truly one of us, in flesh. He suffers, dies and is buried.

Then, in Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension, God invites us once again to take on God’s image and likeness.

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is poured out not on individuals, but on all; it is a communal experience, and a promise, a pledge that we can return to being like God, what the Greeks call theosis (θέωσις).

3, Our celebration of the Eucharist invites us into a living experience with God as Trinity, and invites us into a living experience with one another, as like the Trinity.

First, we lift up our hearts to God, giving thanks and praise to God the Father, as the creator and sustainer of all things. We then recall how we are saved through God the Son. And then we pray that through ‘the power of the life-giving Spirit’ we may be made one.

Heaven and earth are truly joined in the Liturgy. The Church of heaven, the Church triumphant, and the Church here on earth, join in this grand celebration to glorify God and to be in union with God.

When we are receiving Holy Communion, our Amen is to the presence of Christ both in the Sacrament and in us, one another, the Church, as the Body of Christ.

So, in conclusion, let’s give all this some practical and social force, without descending to the banal.

Too often, preaching about the Trinity has been oppressive at the best, and unfathomable at the worst. Compared with the great social and political challenges facing the Church, discussing the Trinity may seem to many to be as relevant as debating the number of angels on the head of a pin.

But during the Nazi era, the German theologian Erik Peterson (1890-1960) argued that true Trinitarian theologies challenge absolutist and totalitarian political and social orders.

Without proper teaching on the Trinity, the Church will continue to provide answers to social and political questions that make God more like an idol than like our model for a loving community.

This is beautifully summarised by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, the pre-eminent English-speaking Orthodox theologian, who describes ‘the human person as [the] icon of the Trinity.’ He writes: ‘Our belief in a Trinitarian God, in a God of social inter-relationship and shared love, commits us to opposing all forms of exploitation, injustice and discrimination. In our struggle for human rights, we are acting in the name of the Trinity.’

And that, I hope, has been all about God, and in less that ten minutes.

So, may all we think, say and do be to the praise, honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Three in One and One in Three, Amen.

An icon of Heavenly Divine Liturgy by Michael Damaskinos in a museum in Iraklion, Crete … our celebrations of the Eucharist invite us into a living experience with God as Trinity

John 3: 1-17 (NRSVA):

3 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ 3 Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ 4 Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ 5 Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” 8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ 9 Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can these things be?’ 10 Jesus answered him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

11 ‘Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Trinitarian truths expressed in a stained-glass window in Michaelhouse, Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Liturgical colour: White.

Penitential Kyries:

Father, you come to meet us when we return to you.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Jesus, you died on the cross for our sins.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Holy Spirit, you give us life and peace.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The Collect of the Day:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you have given us your servants grace,
by the confession of a true faith,
to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity
and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the Unity:
Keep us steadfast in this faith,
that we may evermore be defended from all adversities;
for you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever.

Introduction to the Peace:

Peace to you from God our heavenly Father.
Peace from his Son Jesus Christ who is our peace.
Peace from the Holy Spirit the Life-giver.
The peace of the Triune God be always with you.
And also with you.

Preface:

You have revealed your glory
as the glory of your Son and of the Holy Spirit:
three persons equal in majesty, undivided in splendour,
yet one Lord, one God,
ever to be worshipped and adored:

Post-Communion Prayer:

Almighty God,
may we who have received this Holy Communion,
worship you with lips and lives
proclaiming your majesty
and finally see you in your eternal glory:
Holy and Eternal Trinity,
one God, now and for ever.

Blessing:

God the Holy Trinity
make you strong in faith and love,
defend you on every side,
and guide you in truth and peace:

A modern icon of the Trinity in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (Anglican Diocese of Europe) in Gibraltar (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Hymns:

321, Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty (CD 19)
373, To God be the glory! Great things he has done! (CD 22)

Three royal crowns in one circle … a Trinitarian symbol in a stained-glass window in Saint Mary’s Church, Lichfield (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

Material from the Book of Common Prayer is copyright © 2004, Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.



Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
1, Hoy Trinity Cathedral, Gibraltar

The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, the Anglican cathedral in Gibraltar, was built in 1825-1832 and is noted for its Moorish revival-style architecture (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During the Seasons of Lent and Easter and in the week after the Day of Pentecost, I took some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship that has been significant in my spiritual life;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

Today is Trinity Sunday, and since last Monday (24 May 2021), the day after Pentecost, we have been in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar. Having posted photographs from over 100 churches, cathedrals, chapels and synagogues in recent weeks, I have decided to continue this prayer diary in Ordinary Time.

To mark Trinity Sunday today (30 May 2021), my photographs this morning are from the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar, and later this week my photographs are from six cathedrals in Spain.

Inside the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity … one of three cathedrals serving the Diocese in Europe (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Cathedral Square was originally built as a church for the Anglican civilian population. The cathedrak was built in 1825-1832, and is noted for its Moorish revival architecture. It was consecrated in 1838 in the presence of Queen Adelaide. With the formation of the Diocese of Gibraltar it became a cathedral in 1842. Today it is one of the three cathedrals of the Diocese in Europe – the other two are in Brussels and Valetta, Malta.

After World War II, new vestries were added along with a second chapel dedicated to Saint George in memory of those who died in the Mediterranean during World War II, and a small stone with a cross from the ruins of Coventry Cathedral was set into the wall.

An explosion in 1951 caused substantial damage to the cathedral, lifting the roof and smashing the stained glass.

In 1980, the Diocese of Gibraltar was extended and become the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe. The Diocese in Europe, as it is generally known, is geographically the largest diocese of the Church of England, covering one-sixth of the Earth’s landmass and stretching from Morocco, through Europe, Turkey and the former Soviet Union to the Russian Far East.

The Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, Bishop Rob Innes, a former Chancellor of the Pro-Cathedral of Holy Trinity Brussels, was consecrated bishop on 20 July 2014. The Archdeaconry of Gibraltar, Italy and Malta consists of Andorra, Gibraltar, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Portugal and Spain. Archdeacon David Waller, who was appointed in 2020, is based in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol, and crosses the tiny border almost every day.

The Very Revd Ian Tarrant has been the Dean of Gibraltar since last October (13 October 2020). The cathedral ministry is a visible witness to Christian compassion and social conscience, working with migrant workers and refugees and using the cathedral space for crèche and counselling facilities.

Gibraltar is an open, tolerant society, with a large and visible Jewish community. Roman Catholics are in the majority (78 per cent), but the Anglican presence (7 per cent) remains significant.

The High Altar in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 3: 1-17 (NRSVA):

3 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ 3 Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ 4 Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ 5 Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” 8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ 9 Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can these things be?’ 10 Jesus answered him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

11 ‘Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

A modern icon of the Trinity in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (Trinity Sunday, 30 May 2021) invites us to pray:

Loving God,
May we be inspired by your divine partnership,
As we work with our partners.
Let us learn from each other and grow in fellowship.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The Annunciation depicted in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Gibraltar … tomorrow (31 May) is the Feast of the Visitation (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

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Praying in more than 100 places of
worship in Lent and Easter, 2021

The Church of Saint Mary and Saint George, Comberford, Staffordshire (Photograph: Dave Buckle, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

During the Seasons of Lent and Easter this year (2021), and in the week after Pentecost, I kept a daily prayer diary on my blog each morning, win three parts:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship that has been significant in my spiritual life;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

Beginning of Ash Wednesday (17 February), and continuing until this morning (29 May), this prayer diary continued for 15 weeks, with photographs from over 100 churches, chapels, cathedrals, synagogues and places of worship.

I thought it might be worthwhile to have links to each of these postings and sets of photographs as this phase of my prayer diary comes to an end today.

The chapter and choir stalls in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick … installed as Precentor four years ago on 19 February 2017 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Week 1: cathedrals where I have been a chapter member:

1, Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick (17 February)
2, Saint Flannan’s Cathedral, Killaloe, Co Clare (18 February)
3, Saint Brendan’s Cathedral, Clonfert, Co Galway (19 February)
4, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, where I was also ordained deacon in 2000 and priest in 2021 (20 February)

Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton … one of the four churches in the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Week 2: churches where I have been placed or served in ministry:

5, Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick (21 February)
6, Castletown Church, Co Limerick (22 February)
7, Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick (23 February)
8, Saint Brendan’s Church, Tarbert, Co Kerry (24 February)
9, Saint Maelruain’s Church, Tallaght, Co Dublin, where I was a reader and my two sons baptised (25 February)
10, Whitechurch Parish Church, Rathfarnham, Co Dublin (26 February)
11, The Chapel, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Dublin (27 February)

Saint Anne’s Church, Cappoquin, Co Waterford, was built in the 1820s on a site donated by Sir John Keane of Cappoquin House (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Week 3: Churches from my childhood:

12, Mount Melleray (public church), Cappoquin, Co Waterford (28 February)
13, Mount Melleray (Monastic Church), Cappoquin, Co Waterford (1 March)
14, Saint Anne’s Church, Cappoquin, Co Waterford (2 March)
15, Saint Mary’s Church, Cappoquin, Co Waterford (3 March)
16, Saint Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore, Co Waterford (4 March)
17, Saint Mary’s Church, Julianstown, Co Meath (5 March)
18, Saint Peter’s Church, Drogheda, Co Louth (6 March)

Stained glass windows and Stations of the Cross in the Franciscan chapel at Gormanston College, Co Meath (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Week 4: churches and chapels that have connections with my education:

19, Ballinskelligs Priory, Co Kerry (7 March)
20, The Chapel, Franciscan College, Gormanston, Co Meath (8 March)
21, Friends’ Meeting House, Tokyo (8 March)
22, The Chapel, Trinity College Dublin (10 March)
23, Kimmage Manor, Dublin (11 March)
24, The Chapel, Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co Kildare (12 March)
25, The Chapel, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (13 March)

The Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, and the Tudor East Façade of Saint John’s Hospital facing onto Saint John Street (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Week 5: seven places that influenced and shaped my spirituality and my values:

26, The Chapel, Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield (14 March)
27, Lichfield Cathedral (15 March)
28, Saint Iberius’s Church, Wexford (16 March)
29, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin (Saint Patrick’s Day, 17 March)
30, Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Johannesburg (18 March)
31, Coventry Cathedral (19 March)
32, The Chapel, USPG offices, London (20 March)

Saint Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy, Pugin’s ‘Irish Gem’ overlooking the River Slaney in Co Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Week 6: seven Pugin churches:

33, Saint Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford (21 March)
34, Saint Giles’s Church, Cheadle, Staffordshire (22 March)
35, Saint Peter’s College, Wexford (23 March)
36, Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney, Co Kerry (24 March)
37, Saint Mary’s Church, Tagoat, Co Wexford (25 March)
38, Holy Cross Church, Lichfield (26 March)
39, Saint Michael’s Church, Gorey, Co Wexford (27 March)

The katholikon or main church in the Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Week 7: seven places of pilgrimage and spiritual refreshment:

40, Saint Thomas’s Church, Dugort, Achill Island, Co Mayo (28 March)
41, Cathedral of the Presentation, Rethymnon, Crete (29 March)
42, Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome (30 March)
43, Cathedral of Saint James, Santiago de Compostela (31 March)
44, Monastery of Vatopedi, Mount Athos (1 April)
45, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem (Good Friday, 2 April)
46, Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai (3 April)

The panel depicting the Resurrection of Christ on the Royal or MacMahon tomb in the Franciscan Friary, Ennis, Co Clare (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Week 8: in Easter week, Resurrection images in seven churches

47, The Myrrh bearers, Lichfield Cathedral (4 April)
48, The Peel window, Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth, Staffordshire (5 April)
49, Saint John’s Monastery, Tolleshunt Knights, Essex (6 April)
50, Saint Michael’s Church, Greenhill, Lichfield (7 April)
51, Church of the Resurrection, Bucharest (8 April)
52, The Franciscan Friary, Ennis, Co Clare (9 April)
53, Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, Barcelona (10 April)

The Comberford Chapel in Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth … the burial place of generations of the Comberford family (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Week 9: seven family chapels and churches:

54, Saint Mary and Saint George Church, Comberford, Staffordshire (11 April)
55, The Comberford Chapel, Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth (12 April)
56, The Moat House Chapel, Lichfield Street, Tamowrth (13 April)
57, Holy Trinity Church, Quemerford, Wiltshire (14 April)
58, The Comerford family chapel, Ballybur Castle, Cuffesgrange, Co Kilkenny (15 April)
59, Saint Mary’s Church, Callan, Co Kilkenny (16 April)
60, Waterford’s two Cathedrals (17 April)

The bimah in the Etz Hayyim Synagogue in Chania (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Week 10: seven synagogues:

61, Terenure Synagogue, Rathfarnham Road, Dublin (18 April)
62, Leicester Avenue Synagogue, Rathgar, Dublin (19 April)
63, Bevis Marks Synagogue, London (20 April)
64, Etz Hayyim Synagogue, Chania, Crete (21 April)
65, Pinkas Synagogue, Prague (22 April)
66, the New Synagogue, Berlin (23 April)
67, the Old Synagogue, Kraków (24 April)

The katholikon or main church of the Monastery of Vlatádon, Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Week 11: seven monasteries, abbeys and friaries:

68, Franciscan Friary, Askeaton, Co Limerick (25 April)
69, Saint John’s Monastery, Tolleshunt Knights, Essex (26 April)
70, Saint Benedict’s Abbey, Ealing (27 April)
71, Glenstal Abbey, Co Limerick (28 April)
72, Vlatádon Monastery, Thessaloniki (29 April)
73, Stavropoleos Monastery, Bucharest (Orthodox Good Friday, 30 April)
74, Monastery of Arkadi, Crete (1 May)

Christ Pantocrator in the dome of the Church of Aghios Georgios in Panormos on Easter afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Week 12: seven churches in Crete (Easter week in Greece):

75, the two parish churches in Tsesmes and Platanes (Orthodox Easter, 2 May)
76, Church of the Four Martyrs, Rethymnon (3 May)
77, Cathedral of the Presentation, Rethymnon (4 May)
78, The Church of the Ascension and Saint George, Panormos (5 May)
79, The two churches in Piskopianó (6 May)
80, Aghios Vasilios, Koutouloufari (7 May)
81, Saint Catherine of Sinai, Iraklion (8 May)

Peterborough Cathedral seen from the Guildhall (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Week 13: seven English cathedrals:

82, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London (9 May)
83, Peterborough Cathedral (10 May)
84, Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral (11 May)
85, Liverpool’s Roman Catholic Cathedral (12 May)
86, Saint Philip’s Cathedral, Birmingham (Ascension Day, 13 May)
87, Saint Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham (14 May)
88, Ely Cathedral (15 May)

The Barn Chapel in the grounds of the High Leigh Conference Centre near Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Week 14: seven churches and chapels with links with USPG:

89, College of the Ascension, Birmingham (16 May)
90, High Leigh Conference Centre, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire (17 May)
91, Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire (18 May)
92, Westcott House, Cambridge (19 May)
93, Royal Foundation of Saint Katharine, Limehouse, London (20 May)
94, Saint Margaret’s Church, Westminster (21 May)
95, Two retreat house chapels: Saint Columba’s House, Woking, and the Kairos Centre, Maryfield Convent, Roehampton (22 May)

Inside Great Saint Mary’s, the University Church in Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Week 15: Pentecost images in churches and six churches in the Greater Churches Network in the Church of England:

96, Pentecost images (Day of Pentecost, 23 May)
97, Bath Abbey (24 May)
98, Saint Mary the Great, Cambridge (25 May)
99, Saint Mary the Virgin, Saffron Walden, Essex (26 May)
100, Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, London (27 May)
101, Saint Martin in the Bullring, Birmingham (28 May)
102, Christ Church, Spitalfields, London (29 May)

Tomorrow (30 May 2021) is Trinity Sunday, and we are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar. I plan to continue this daily prayer diary each morning in the coming weeks.

The three spires of Lichfield Cathedral seen from Erasmus Darwin’s Gardens, soaring above the backs of the houses facing onto the Cathedral Close (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Praying in Pentecost 2021:
102, Christ Church, Spitalfields

Christ Church, Spitalfields, one of London’s outstanding baroque churches, was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and built in 1714-1729 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During the Seasons of Lent and Easter this year, I took some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship that has been significant in my spiritual life;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

Sunday was the Day of Pentecost (23 May 2021), and I am continuing with photographs for this week are from six churches in the ‘Major Churches Network,’ churches once known as the ‘Greater Churches’ in England.

The Major Churches Network was founded in 1991 as the Greater Churches Network. It is a group of Church of England parish churches with exceptional significance, that are physically very large, listed as Grade I, II* or exceptionally II, open to visitors daily, have a role or roles beyond those of a typical parish church, and make considerable civic, cultural, and economic contributions to their community.

These churches are often former monastic properties that became parish churches after the English Reformation, or civic parish churches built at a time of great wealth.

Inside Christ Church, Spitalfields, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

This morning (29 May 2021), my photographs are from Christ Church, Spitalfields, on the corner of Commercial Street and Fournier Street in the East End of London. This church also has links with the old Jewish community in the East End, because the memorial plaques from the Jews Chapel in Palestine Place, Bethnal Green, were moved there in 1897 when the chapel closed.

Christ Church, Spitalfields, one of London’s outstanding baroque churches, was built in 1714-1729 to a design by Nicholas Hawksmoor. The church is on Commercial Street, on the western edge of Tower Hamlets and facing Spitalfields Market and the City of London. This is one of the first and one of the finest of the so-called ‘Commissioners’ Churches’ built for the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches, established by an Act of Parliament in 1711.

The Act aimed to provide 50 new churches to serve the new populations on the fringes of London. The commission members included Sir Christopher Wren, John Vanbrugh and Thomas Archer, and Nicholas Hawksmoor and William Dickinson were appointed as Surveyors to carry out the programme.

In 1710, the roof of Saint Alfege, Greenwich had collapsed, and its parishioners petitioned the commission to provide money for rebuilding the church. It became the first of the series that Hawksmoor designed. When the programme expired in 1731, only 12 of the proposed 50 churches had been built.

Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661-1736), a former assistant of Sir Christopher Wren, designed six of the 12 new London churches. He was a leading figure in the English Baroque style of architecture in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. He worked alongside the principal architects of the time, Christopher Wren and John Vanbrugh, and contributed to the design of some of the most notable buildings of the period, including Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Wren’s churches in the City of London, Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard.

The parish for Christ Church, Spitalfields, was carved out of the huge mediaeval parish of Stepney parish for an area then being populated by Huguenots or French Protestant refugees.

At first, some Huguenots used Anglican church for baptisms, marriages and burials, though not for everyday worship, preferring their own chapels. But increasingly they assimilated into English life and the liturgical life of the Church of England.

Work on building Christ Church, Spitalfields, began in 1715, when the foundation stone was laid by Edward Peck. Edmund Gibson, Bishop of London, consecrated the church on 5 July 1729.

Hawksmoor’s design for Christ Church shows his usual abrupt architectural style. His very plain rectangular box of the nave is surmounted at its west end by a broad tower of three stages topped by a steeple that is more Gothic than classical. The magnificent porch with its semi-circular pediment and Tuscan columns is attached bluntly to the west end: it may indeed be a late addition to the design intended to add further support to the tower.

As with Hawksmoor’s other London churches and many of Wren’s churches, the central space consists of the nave and two axes, the shorter originally emphasised by two entrances of which only that to the south remains. It has a richly decorated flat ceiling and is lit by a clerestory.

The aisles are roofed with elliptical barrel-vaults carried on a raised composite order, and this order is also used for the screens across the east and west ends. The Venetian window at the east may show the growing influence of the revival of Palladian architecture, or it may be a rhyme with the arched pediment of the entrance portico, repeated in the wide main stage of the tower.

The east window is a double window, one inside, one outside, the effect now obscured by the Victorian stained-glass window between the two.

The organ installed in 1735 was built by Richard Bridge, a celebrated organ builder of the time, and Handel once played on the organ. With over 2,000 pipes, it remained the largest organ in England for over 100 years.

Following a fire in 1836, Wallen Son and Beatson, local architects and surveyors, provided a substantial estimate to repair the church.

The church was altered in 1850 by Ewan Christian, the architect of the National Portrait Gallery. He removed the side galleries, blocked in the windows at the corners of the central space, and combined upper and lower aisle windows to make tall, thin windows. The stained-glass windows were fitted in 1876 by Ward and Hughes of Soho.

When the Jews Chapel in Palestine Place, Bethnal Green, ten plaques were moved from the chapel and hung in the vestibule of Christ Church in 1897.

The London Jews Society, now the Church’s Ministry among Jewish People (CMJ), was formed in 1809. It first worked among the poor Jewish immigrants in the East End, but soon spread to Europe, South America, Africa and Palestine.

In 1811, the society leased a five-acre field on the Cambridge Road in Bethnal Green. A school, training college and the Episcopal Jews’ Chapel were built there, and the campus was named Palestine Place. In 1813, a Hebrew-Christian congregation called Benei Abraham (Children of Abraham) started meeting at the chapel in Palestine Place.

The missionaries associated with CMJ include the Revd Joseph Wolff (1795-1862), a German rabbi’s son, who was baptised by a Benedictine abbot in Prague in 1812 and was ordained priest in the Church of Ireland in 1838 by Richard Mant, Bishop of Down and Dromore, and the Revd Moses Margoliouth (1820-1881), a former curate of Glasnevin, Dublin (1844-1847), who was born to Jewish parents in Poland and had a rabbinical education. Both had degrees from Trinity College Dublin.

Many of the plaques moved to Christ Church bear inscriptions in Hebrew and include the names of evangelical Anglicans and converted Jews who were ordained. Those named include Jane Cox, who endowed Christ Church, Jerusalem, which still remains outside the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem – some critics say it is a thorn in the side of the Anglican presence in Jerusalem.

In response to changing attitudes towards proselytising work by Christians among the Jewish people, CMJchanged its name several times over the years, first to the Church Missions to Jews, then the Church’s Mission to the Jews, followed by the Church’s Ministry Among the Jews, and finally to the current name of the Church’s Ministry Among Jewish People, which was adopted in 1995.

The missionary focus of CMJ attracts criticism from the Jewish community, which sees these activities as highly detrimental to Jewish-Christian relations, and many rabbis and Jewish organisations have called for CMJ to be disbanded. In 1992, George Carey became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in 150 years to decline to be the Patron of CMJ, a decision that was praised by Jewish leaders and reported as front-page news in the Jewish Chronicle.

During World War II, the crypt of Christ Church was used as an air raid shelter. By 1957, the church was declared unsafe, and Sunday services were moved to Hanbury Hall, a former Huguenot chapel in Hanbury Street.

Christ Church was almost derelict by 1960, and the roof was declared unsafe. The then Bishop of Stepney, Trevor Huddleston, proposed demolishing the empty building. But the Hawksmoor Committee staved off the threat of demolition.

The roof was rebuilt with funds from the sale of the bombed-out shell of Saint John’s, Smith Square, now a concert hall. The Friends of Christ Church Spitalfields was formed in 1976 as an independent charity, was formed to raise money and project manage the restoration of this Grade I listed building so it could be brought back into use.

As part of the restoration programme, the burial vaults were cleared. The Friends of Christ Church raised funds for the employment of an archaeological team, and almost 1,000 burials were excavated in 1984-1986.

The portico at the west end was repaired and cleaned in 1986, and Ewan Christian’s rearrangement of the aisle windows was replaced by a recreation of the originals, scrupulously researched.

Church services returned to the partially restored building in 1987. The 202 ft tower and spire were consolidated and cleaned in 1997, the south façade was cleaned and repaired in 1999, and Hawksmoor’s double flight of steps on the south side, removed in the 19th century, was rebuilt.

Regency style railings to the churchyard, removed in World War II, were replaced. The north and east façades were repaired and cleaned in 1999-2000.

A rehabilitation centre for homeless alcoholic men was housed in part of the crypt from the 1960s until 2000, when it relocated to purpose-built accommodation above ground.

The restoration of the interior began in 2000, and the building was finally complete in 2004, enabling a wide range of uses to run alongside the primary function of Christ Church as a place of worship.

In 2015, the crypt restoration was completed, restoring much of Hawksmoor’s original walls as well as providing a café area. In 2016, the restoration of the crypt was shortlisted in the RICS Awards.

Today, thousands of people visit Christ Church, Spitalfields, some to pray, some to marvel at its restoration and its beauty, some to soak up its history.

The richly decorated flat ceiling in Christ Church, Spitalfields, is lit by a clerestory (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Mark 11: 27-33 (NRSVA):

27 Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him 28 and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?’ 29 Jesus said to them, ‘I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.’ 31 They argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say, “Why then did you not believe him?” 32 But shall we say, “Of human origin”?’—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. 33 So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.’

The organ installed in Christ Church, Spitalfields, in 1735 was built by Richard Bridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (29 May 2021) invites us to pray:

May we work together across denominations in an ecumenical spirit. Let us recognise our differences and collaborate over shared values.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Many of the plaques from the former Jews’ Chapel bear inscriptions in Hebrew (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