25 June 2021

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
27, Santa Sofia, Venice

The Tower of Santa Sofia rises above the shopfronts that hide the church (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).

My photographs this week are from churches in Venice. This morning (25 June 2021), my photographs are from the Church of Santa Sofia in Cannaregio.

Inside the Church of Santa Sofia … brought back to life in 1836 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Church of Santa Sofia or the Chiesa dell Divina Sapienza is near the traghetto or gondola ferry of Santa Sofia on the Grand Canal. It should be confused with the Palazzo Ca’ d’Oro on the Grand Canal, which is also known as the Palazzo Santa Sofia.

There was a wooden church dedicated to Sant Sofia or the Wisdom of God in Venice from as early as 886.

A new church was built in the 11th century through the patronage of the Gussoni family. Building work began in 1020, and this church appears to have survived the great fire of 1105. Major rebuilding took place in 1507-1534, and the architect Antonio Gaspari designed another reconstruction in the late 1600s.

When the Strada Nova was laid out in the 1800s, the church was shortened in length. Then, when Napoleon captured Venice, this was one of the churches here celebrations of the liturgy were suppressed. The church was converted into a warehouse and its contents were dispersed.

The church has lost many of its original art works and paintings, including ‘The Last Supper’ by Paolo Veronese, ‘The Birth of the Virgin’ by Titian, ‘Christ preaching to the Masses’ by Francesco da Ponte, ‘The Crucifixion’ by Tintoretto, ‘The Marriage of the Virgin’ by Tintoretto, and paintings attributed to Francesco and Leandro Bassano and Jacopo Palma the Elder. These works are now in the Gallerie dell’Accademia.

The church now has two paintings by Bassano’s school at the side of the presbytery, and ‘The Baptism of Christ’ by Girolamo Heinz above the main altar, as well as four statues of saints, attributed to Antonio Rizzo.

The church was bought back in 1836, it was cleared of debris, and was re-consecrated. However, the ground floor of the fa├žade and bell tower of the church are screened behind the buildings on the street front, making it easy to pass this church without noticing it. The discreet entry to the church is through what looks like a shop door.

‘The Baptism of Christ’ by Girolamo Heinz above the main altar in Santa Sofia (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 8: 1-4 (NRSVA):

1 When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; 2 and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ 3 He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4Then Jesus said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’

The discreet entrance to Santa Sofia could be mistaken for a shop door (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (25 June 2021) invites us to pray:

We pray for those who have lost a spouse or partner, both recently or long ago. May their wounds heal and their memories bring happiness.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The Church of Santa Sofia is not to be confused with the Palazzo Santa Sofia, also known as Ca’ d’Oro (Photographs: 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

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