24 April 2023

Morning prayers in Easter
with USPG: (16) 24 April 2023

The Church of Saint Nicholas in the Old Town Square in Prague, with the statue of John Hus in the centre of the square (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

We are still in the season of Easter, and because Saint George’s Day fell on the Third Sunday of Easter yesterday (23 April 2023), the calendar of the Church of England transfers the commemoration of Saint George, Martyr and Patron of England, today (24 April 2023).

I am hoping to visit Lichfield later today, to see a new exhibition in the Cathedral. But, before this day begins, I am taking some time early this morning for prayer, reflection and reading.

Following our recent visit to Prague, I am reflecting each morning this week in these ways:

1, Short reflections on a church in Prague;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Inside the Church of Saint Nicholas in the Old Town Square in Prague (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saint Nicholas Church, Old Town Square, Prague:

As I strolled around the Old Town of Prague earlier this month [12-14 April 2023] week, I visited the Church of Saint Nicholas, on the corner of the Old Town Square, Pařížská Street and Franz Kafka Square. Its beautiful green baroque towers and dome can be seen throughout the old town centre.

This monumental church was built in 1732-1735 to designs by Kilián Ignaz Dientzenhofer, on the site of an earlier 13th century Gothic church, also dedicated to Saint Nicholas.

The was the parish church of the Old Town until the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn on the opposite side of the square was completed in the 14th century.

After the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620, the church became part of a Benedictine monastery. The early mediaeval church was destroyed by fire, and the present church was completed in 1735, and its white façade decorated with statues by Antonin Braun.

But just a half century after the church was completed, the Emperor Joseph II closed all monasteries not engaged in socially useful activities in 1781, the church was stripped bare and the interior decorations were sold off.

The empty building was used as a granary for a while and then as a registry archive. It returned to its original purpose as a church in 1871 when it was used by the Russian Orthodox Church. During this Orthodox era, the splendid crystal crown chandelier, made in the Harrachov glass works in northern Bohemia, was donated to the church by the Russian Tsar.

The 20th century brought new decorations with neo-baroque style paintings, statues, and a life-size sculpture of Saint Nicholas was placed in the outside niche of the church.

The Czechoslovak Hussite Church was founded here in 1920, reviving the legacy of the tradition of the reformer Jan Hus. Since then, this has been the main church of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church and its Prague Diocese, and so it is often known as Saint Nicholas Cathedral.

The Czechoslovak Hussite Church began when a group of priests in former Czechoslovakia separated from the Roman Catholic Church after World War I. The church could be described as neo-Hussite, and contains Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and national elements. It claims to have revived the traditions of to the Hussite reformers and acknowledges Jan Hus as its predecessor.

During the Prague uprising in 1945, the church was used by the Czech partisans as a hidden site for Radio Prague after the main radio building was attacked by the Waffen-SS.

The baroque towers of the Church of Saint Nicholas in the Old Town Square in Prague (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 15: 18-21 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 18 ‘If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world – therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, “Servants are not greater than their master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.’

The altar and apse in the Church of Saint Nicholas (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Praying for Peace.’ This theme was introduced yesterday by the Anglican Chaplain in Warsaw, Poland, the Revd David Brown, who reflected on peace in the light of today’s International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace.

The USPG Prayer invites us to pray this morning (24 April, 2023, Saint George; United Nations International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace):

Let us pray for peace in the world. May all in positions of power actively pursue justice and peace and protect the lives of those who live in danger of war and conflict.


God of hosts,
who so kindled the flame of love
in the heart of your servant George
that he bore witness to the risen Lord
by his life and by his death:
give us the same faith and power of love
that we who rejoice in his triumphs
may come to share with him the fullness of the resurrection;
through 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.

Post Communion:

God our redeemer,
whose Church was strengthened
by the blood of your martyr George:
so bind us, in life and death, to Christ’s sacrifice
that our lives, broken and offered with his,
may carry his death and proclaim his resurrection in the world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

A statue of Saint George in the Church of Saint Nicholas (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

The main entrance to the Church of Saint Nicholas in the Old Town Square in Prague (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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