10 September 2021

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
104, Saint Martin within Ludgate, London

Saint Martin within Ludgate, a Guild Church and a Wren Church just a few steps west of Saint Paul’s Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Good morning from Crete, where I am staying this week and next on the eastern fringes of Rethymnon.

Before the day begins, I am taking a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading. Each morning in the time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

My theme for the coming weeks is Wren churches in London, and my photographs this morning (10 September 2021) are from Saint Martin within Ludgate, near Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Inside Saint Martin within Ludgate … rebuilt by Wren after the Great Fire (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saint Martin within Ludgate is a Guild Church and a Wren Church on Ludgate Hill, just a few steps west of Saint Paul’s Cathedral and almost opposite City Thameslink station (Ludgate Hill exit). After the Great Fire of London, the church was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren in 1677-1684.

The church takes its name from Saint Martin of Tours, a patron saint of travellers. Churches dedicated to him often stand within city gates. Ludgate was the westernmost gate in London Wall. The name survives in Ludgate Hill, an eastward continuation of Fleet Street, Ludgate Circus and Ludgate Square.

William Penn, who was married in the church in 1643, was the father of William Penn, the Quaker founder of Pennsylvania.

The Great Fire of London engulfed Saint Martin’s on 4 September 1666. Rebuilding was not immediate, was largely completed by 1680, but not finally until 1703. At the same time the church was set back from the old site, as Ludgate Hill was widened.

Saint Martin’s is one of Wren’s later rebuildings and its slender lead spire was most carefully considered in relation to the dome of Saint Paul’s Cathedral. The view eastward from Ludgate Circus towards Saint Paul’s is one of the most memorable in London.

From the lower part of Fleet Street, the steeple of Saint Martin’s stands between the viewer and the dome of Saint Paul’s. Wren’s steeple at Saint Martin’s has a sharp obelisk steeple that has been described as ‘somewhat like an exclamation mark!’

An interesting feature inside is the 17th century baptismal font has a Greek palindrome: Νιψον Ανομηματα Μη Μοναν Οψιν (Nipson anomemata me monan opsin, ‘Cleanse my sin and not my face only’).

The altar and reredos in Saint Martin within Ludgate (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Luke 6: 39-42 (NRSVA):

39 [Jesus] also told them a parable: ‘Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your neighbour, “Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye”, when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.’

The 17th century baptismal font has a Greek palindrome (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (10 September 2021) invites us to pray:

Let us pray for schoolchildren across the world. Over the past year, they have endured severe disruptions to their education. May they be filled with enthusiasm for learning and equipped with skills for life.

The organ is a Bernard Schmidt design dating from 1684 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Saint Mary Magdalen, Saint Martin and Saint Gregory … recalling the names of three united parishes (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

Saint Paul in a stained glass window … the church is in the patronage of the Chapter of Saint Paul’s Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford,)

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