29 April 2023

Morning prayers in Easter
with USPG: (21) 29 April 2023

Saint Clement’s Cathedral is the cathedral of the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church, near the Charles Bridge in Prague (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

We are still in the season of Easter, and this has been the Third Week of Easter. Today, the Church Calendar commemorates Saint Catherine of Siena, Teacher of the Faith (1380).

Before this day gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for prayer and reflection. Following our visit to Prague earlier this month, I have been 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, Saint Clement’s is one of the most beautifully decorated Baroque churches in Prague (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

The Greek Catholic Cathedral of Saint Clement, Prague:

When we were in Prague two weeks ago, I attended the Maundy Thursday liturgy in the Greek Catholic Cathedral Church of Saint Clement, where many people in the congregation were Ukrainian refugees. This church celebrates a Byzantine-rite liturgy that is similar to Orthodox Churches and follows the Orthodox calendar in the dating of Easter. But it is part of a church that is in full communion with the Pope and with the Roman Catholic Church.

Saint Clement’s is the cathedral of the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church in Prague, serving the Ruthenian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Czech Republic. Many of the people who are part of the church are of Ukrainian origin, alongside people with family roots in Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.

Saint Clement’s Church was made a cathedral by Pope John Paul II in 1996 in the Bull Quo aptius which established the Ruthenian Catholic Exarchate of the Czech Republic.

Saint Clement’s is one of three churches at the Clementinum, including Saint Salvator. This single-nave Baroque church was built for the Jesuits in the Clementinum area in 1711-1715 on the site of an older Gothic church, where the Dominicans founded a monastery in 1227.

The earlier chapel was destroyed during the Hussite wars in 1420. The Italian Chapel, or the Chapel of the Virgin, was built above the church of Saint Clement in 1590-1600 to serve the Italian resident community in Prague.

The present Baroque church was commissioned by the Jesuits and was built in 1711-1715 by Anselmo Lurago to plans by the architect Franciscus Maxmilian Kaňka. The simple exterior makes the interior even more outstanding. This is one of the most beautifully decorated Baroque churches in Prague, with work by major Baroque artists.

The interior of this single nave church is richly decorated, with stone statues by Matthias Bernard Braun of the Church Fathers and the Four Evangelists in niches in the walls. The trompe-l’œil High Altar is dominated by a painting of Saint Clement by Josef Kramolín and a painting of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

There are six side altars. At the side altar dedicated to Saint Lawrence and Saint Leonard, a painting by Peter Brandl depicts Saint Leonard healing the sick. Ignaz Raab also contributed to painting the interior, with paintings of Jesuit saints and Bohemian patrons in the alcoves and on the pilasters.

The pulpit is the work of Braun, as are the confessionals under the choir loft and other wood carvings. The decorative stucco work was created by S Götzler in 1715. Johann Hiebl’s original frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Saint Clement have been preserved in individual sections of the vaulting.

The richly decorated pews and colourful are also worth noting, and the church has outstanding acoustics.

The church was given to the Greek Catholic Church in 1931. It belonged to the Orthodox Church in 1950-1969, but since 1969 it has again served the Greek Catholic Church. The original iconostasis was replaced by a new one in 1984.

The liturgy is celebrated in Ukrainian and Church Slavonic.

Maundy Thursday in the Greek Catholic Cathedral Church of Saint Clement in Prague (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

John 6: 60-69 (NRSVA):

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65 And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.’

66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ 68 Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’

The simple exterior of Saint Clement’s makes the interior even more outstanding (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Today’s Prayer:

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

The USPG Prayer invites us to pray this morning (Saturday 29 April 2023):

Let us give thanks for the spirit of community. May we seek to build bonds of trust and friendship within our communities and support one another in good times and bad.


God of compassion,
who gave your servant Catherine of Siena
a wondrous love of the passion of Christ:
grant that your people may be united to him in his majesty
and rejoice for ever in the revelation of his glory;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

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 Catherine to the eternal feast of heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Reflections in the windows of Saint Clement’s Cathedral in the Old Town in Prague (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

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

Saint Clement’s has again served the Greek Catholic Church in Prague since 1969 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

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