15 October 2022

Praying in Ordinary Time with USPG:
Saturday 15 October 2022

The Saint Thomas the Apostle Window in All Saints’ Church, North Street, York, dates from ca 1410 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022; click on images for full-screen viewing)

Patrick Comerford

The Calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today [15 October] recalls Saint Teresa of Avila (1582), Teacher of the Faith, with a Lesser Festival.

Before today gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for reading, prayer and reflection.

During the last two weeks, I was reflecting each morning on a church, chapel, or place of worship in York, where I stayed last month. This week I have been reflecting on the windows in one of those churches: All Saints’ Church, North Street, York.

In my prayer diary this week I am reflecting in these ways:

1, One of the readings for the morning;

2, A reflection on the windows in All Saints’ Church, North Street, York;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’

Saint Thomas the Apostle in the Saint Thomas Window in All Saints’ Church, North Street, York (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022; click on images for full-screen viewing)

Saint Teresa was born into an aristocratic Spanish family in 1515. Following her mother’s death, she was educated by Augustinian nuns and then ran away from home to enter a Carmelite convent when she was 20. After initial difficulties in prayer, her intense mystical experiences attracted many disciples. She was inspired to reform the Carmelite rule and, assisted by Saint John of the Cross, she travelled throughout Spain founding many new religious houses for men as well as women. Her writings about her own spiritual life and progress in prayer towards union with God include The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, which are still acclaimed. She knew great physical suffering and died of exhaustion on 4 October 1582. Her feast is on 15 October because the very day after her death the reformed calendar was adopted in Spain and elsewhere and 10 days were omitted from October that year.

Luke 12: 8-12 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 8 ‘And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; 9 but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.’

The Risen Christ in the Saint Thomas Window in All Saints’ Church, North Street, York (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022; click on images for full-screen viewing)

The Saint Thomas Window and the Coat-of-Arms Window, All Saints’ Church, York:

All Saints’ Church, North Street, York, which I described in this prayer diary recently (28 September 2022), is said to be ‘York’s finest mediaeval church.’ It dates from the 11th century and stands near the River Ouse.

The church has an important collection of mediaeval stained glass, including ‘The Pricke of Conscience’ window, depicting the 15 signs of the End of the World; the window depicting the Corporal Works of Mercy (see Matthew 25: 31ff); the Great East Window, originally in the north wall and the Lady Chapel Window, which I was looking at on Thursday (13 October 2022); the Saint James the Great Window (which I was looking at yesterday (13 October 2022); and the Saint Thomas Window and the Coats-of-Arms window, which I am looking at this morning.

All Saints’ Church, on North Street, York, is known particularly for two early 15th century windows: the window depicting ‘The Pricke Of Conscience’ or ‘The Fifteen Signs of Doom’ window, which I was looking at earlier this week (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday); and the window depicting the ‘Corporal Works of Mercy’ (see Matthew 25: 35-46), which I was looking at on Wednesday.

This morning, I am reflecting on the Saint Thomas Window and the Coats-of-Arms window.

The Saint Thomas Window:

The 15th century Saint Thomas Window dates from ca 1410. William Vescy left money in his will in 1407 for the Chantry Chapel of Saint Thomas the Martyr, or Saint Thomas Becket.

1, The Left Light: Saint Thomas the Apostle, known as ‘Doubting Thomas’ because, according to Saint John’s Gospel, he refused to believe in the resurrection of Christ until he saw and touched him. The scroll behind his head reads Dominus meus et Deus meus (‘My Lord and my God’), Saint Thomas’s confession of faith when he saw the risen Christ.

2, The Centre Light: The Risen Christ, who shows to Saint Thomas the visible wounds in his hands, feet and side.

3, The Right Light: Saint Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. He was declared a saint three years later, and was very popular in the 15th century.

As a chantry was founded on this spot at the altar of Saint Thomas the Martyr, Saint Thomas Becket, ca 1407-1409, there certainly was an image of Saint Thomas Becket in this window. However, Henry VIII ordered the destruction of all images of Saint Becket in churches in 1538.

This archbishop, however, does not quite fit in this window. The ‘floor’ level on which he stands is wrong compared to the other two lights. In addition, he was placed here only in the 1970s.

Before that, this light was in another position in the church and identified as Saint William of York, the Archbishop of York murdered, allegedly by his archdeacon, by sipping from a poisoned chalice was while celebrating Mass in York Minster in 1154.

The Coat of Arms Window:

The shields in Coat of Arms Window date from the 15th century, and were originally in the East Window in the Lady Chapel. Some are believed to be connected with the Visions Of Our Lady received in All Saints’ Church by the anchoress Emma Raughton in 1421, the best-documented visions in mediaeval English history.

Emma was an anchoress in York who lived a life of prayer away from the ordinary world in a small building attached to All Saints’ Church during the 1420s and 1430s.

In particular the shield at bottom right containing six pears belongs to the Beauchamp family. In her visions, Emma said, Our Lady instructed that Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, was to have care of an as-yet-unborn infant son of King Henry V. She also foretold the king’s death.

At the time, Henry V and his pregnant wife were in York. Henry V died the following year on a military campaign in France in 1422.

As she predicted, the promised son was educated by Beauchamp and was crowned as King Henry VI in England and also in Notre-Dame in Paris in 1431.

In the top of each of the three lights is an exuberant architectural fantasy known as a ‘canopy’. Similar canopies can be seen in many of the windows in All Saints’ Church. The canopies in this window originally went with a different, now unknown, window.

The shield with the fleur-de-lys of France and the lions of England represents the coat-of-arms of Henry V. The six golden pears on a shield represent an alternative coat-of-arms of the Beauchamp family.

Saint Thomas Becket, or Saint William of York, in the Saint Thomas Window in All Saints’ Church, North Street, York (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022; click on images for full-screen viewing)

Today’s Prayer (Saturday 15 October 2022):

The Collect:

Merciful God,
who by your Spirit raised up your servant Teresa of Avila
to reveal to your Church the way of perfection:
grant that her teaching
may awaken in us a longing for holiness,
until we attain to the perfect union of love
in Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Post Communion Prayer:

God of truth,
whose Wisdom set her table
and invited us to eat the bread and drink the wine
of the kingdom:
help us to lay aside all foolishness
and to live and walk in the way of insight,
that we may come with Teresa to the eternal feast of heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week has been ‘Day of the Girl Child.’ This theme is introduced this morning by the Revd Benjamin Inbaraj, Director of the CSI-SEVA department, which runs the Church of South India’s social ministries.

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:

We pray for those who work within UK churches to make these environments safe and enjoyable for children.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The Coat of Arms Window in All Saints’ Church, North Street, York (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022; click on images for full-screen viewing)

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

Further reading:

‘Church of All Saints with Anchorage Attached, Historic England List Entry 1257067, <https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1257067> [accessed 8 October 2022].
‘The Stained Glass of All Saints’, All Saint Church, <https://www.allsaints-northstreet.org.uk/stainedglass.html> [accessed 8 October 2022].

The royal arms and the Beauchamp arms in the Coat of Arms Window in All Saints’ Church, North Street, York (Photographs: Patrick Comerford, 2022; click on images for full-screen viewing)

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