25 November 2021

Sharing experiences of
Irish CND activism at
a peace history seminar

Sharing experiences of CND activism at this week’s webinar organised by the Irish Network for Nonviolent Action Training and Education

Patrick Comerford

Earlier this week, I took part in the latest INNATE peace history seminars, organised by Rob Fairmichael, editor of Nonviolent News and Coordinator, INNATE, an Irish Network for Nonviolent Action Training and Education.

The INNATE seminar on international peace work in Ireland involved Joe Murray of AfrI, John Lannon of Shannonwatch, Peter Emerson, who was involved in Northern Ireland CND, Sylvia Thompson, who has been involved with Pax Christi, the Diocese of Kerry Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation Committee, and other groups working in the areas of spirituality, biodiversity and inclusion, and myself.

The ‘Zoom’ webinar invited each of us to speak for about 10 minutes about our work in international peace work in the past. As President of the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, I spoke about my time as chair and also secretary of Irish CND between 1979 and 1984.

CND was active in Ireland from 1959, but went into abeyance in the mid-1960s. I was involved in relaunching Irish CND in 1979 and it remains active today. Northern Ireland CND was re-formed in 1981, but went into abeyance in the 1990s, although there are still CND members in Northern Ireland.

In my short contribution, I recalled Irish CND’s origins and inspiration in the late 1970s from the Carnsore Point sit-ins, the failed actions in organising protests on behalf of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), lobbying around the second special session on disarmament of the UN General Assembly, my student days in Japan, including a visit to Hiroshima, and the support of a half-dozen remaining CND members in Ireland.

Irish CND organised at the time Cruise, Pershing and SS-20 missiles were being deployed on Continental Europe and at the time of the Reagan and Bush visits to Ireland. The movement grew spontaneously, with branches in every city and major town throughout Ireland, on every university campus, and saw the formation of Trade Union CND, Women’s CND, Student CND and Christian CND.

I shared stories about the packed-out theatre in Liberty Hall for a showing of Peter Watkins’s move The War Game and of the CND visitors turning up unexpectedly at the Ronald Reagan pub in Ballyporeen, Co Tipperary.

Perhaps the major success of the time was the story of the women’s peace camp at Greenham Common. The camp was not created by CND, and the Irish women in CND who became involved were criticised even within Irish CND. But they were successful, and nonviolent direct action can work: there are no Cruise missiles there today, and Greenham Common is open, public space once again.

Even before my involvement in CND, Rob and I were involved in the Dawn group, producing Dawn magazine, an Irish journal of nonviolent activism. Following the demise of the Dawn group, INNATE – an Irish Network for Nonviolent Action Training and Education – was set up in 1987 and has produced Nonviolent News newssheet since 1990.

Nonviolent News has been monthly since 1994, and is a source of information on different groups and events; all issues are online https://innatenonviolence.org/.

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
180, Santa Maria di Nazareth, Chiesa degli Scalzi

The Chiesa di Santa Maria di Nazareth or the Church of Saint Mary of Nazareth is better known as the Scalzi (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

We are in the last week of Ordinary Time, the week before Advent. Before a busy day begins, I am taking some time early this morning for prayer, reflection and reading.

Each morning in the time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I have been 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 on this prayer diary this week is seven more churches in Venice. Earlier in this prayer diary, I illustrated my morning reflections with images from churches in Venice and on Murano and Burano. While I was in Venice this month, I reflected on the synagogues in the Ghetto in Venice (7-13 November)

As part of my reflections and this prayer diary this week, I am looking at seven more churches I visited in Venice earlier this month. This theme continues this morning (25 November 2021) with photographs of the Chiesa di Santa Maria di Nazareth or the Church of Saint Mary of Nazareth, known as the Scalzi, beside Santa Lucia railway station and facing the Ferrovia waterbus stop.

Inside Chiesa degli Scalzi, the church of the Discalced Carmelites in Venice (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

The Church of Santa Maria di Nazareth is also known as the Church of the Scalzi (Chiesa degli Scalzi) because this is the church of the Discalced Carmelites.

The façade of the church, in the Late Baroque Venetian style, was financed by Gerolamo Cavazza and built by Giuseppe Sardi in 1672-1680. The statues of the Virgin and Child, Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Thomas Aquinas were sculpted by Bernardo Falconi.

Inside, the church has statues of Saint John of the Cross and Saint Sebastian attributed to Falconi, and statues of Faith, Hope, and Charity by Tommaso Rues.

The vault of the nave was once filled with a major fresco by Giambattista Tiepolo in 1743-1745 depicting the Translation of the House of Loreto. Tiepolo had previously worked in the church, decorating the vaults of the chapel of Saint Teresa in 1727-1730 and chapel of Crucifix in 1732-1733.

Tiepolo’s fresco was destroyed during World War I by an Austrian bombardment of Venice on 24 October 1915. From 1929 to 1933, Ettore Tito painted canvases and frescoes to repair the damage. The remains of the fragments of Tiepolo’s work are now in the Gallerie dell'Accademia.

The altar was completed by Giuseppe Pozzo, and the choir ceiling by Giuseppe and Domenico Valeriani. The organ above the main door has carved and gilded decorations and reliefs. Above the organ, the lunette showing Santa Teresa crowned by the Saviour is by G. Lazzarini (18th century).

The side chapels were provided by prominent Venetian families, including the Mora Chapel, Ruzzini Chapel, Manin Chapel and Venier Chapel. They include works by Baldassare Longhena, Melchior Barthel, Pietro Liberi, Giuseppe Pozzo, Heinrich Meyring, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Niccolò Bambini.

The last Doge of Venice, Ludovico Manin, who died on 23 October 1802, is buried in the Manin Chapel, built by Giuseppe Pozzo. The altarpiece shows a sculpture of ‘The Virgin and Child and Saint Joseph in the Clouds’ by Giuseppe Torretto. The statues on the side walls of the chapel of Archangel Michael and Archangel Gabriel are also by Giuseppe Torretto. The two blue glass candelabras are Murano glassworks.

Other works of art include ‘Saint Theresa in Ecstasy’ (1697) by Heinrich Meyring, a Crucifixion by Giovanni Maria Morlaiter, and canvases by Tiepolo.

The choir ceiling is the work of Giuseppe and Domenico Valeriani (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Luke 21: 20-28 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 20 ‘When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; 22 for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfilment of all that is written. 23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; 24 they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

25 ‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’

The ceiling of the nave was once filled with a major fresco by Tiepolo, destroyed by Austrian bombardment in 1915 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (25 November 2021, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) invites us to pray:

Let us pray for victims of gender-based violence, as they seek healing and justice. May we keep them in our prayers. Today also marks the start of the 16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which we encourage you to get involved with.

Above the main door, the organ has carved and gilded decorations and reliefs, and the lunette above the organ, ‘Saint Teresa crowned by the Saviour,’ is by G Lazzarini (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

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

The last Doge of Venice, Ludovico Manin, who died in 1802, is buried in the Manin Chapel (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)