16 July 2023

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (49) 16 July 2023

The Church of the Trinità dei Monti stands at the top of the Spanish Steps in Rome (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

We are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar, and this is the Sixth Sunday after Trinity (16 July 2023). Later this morning I hope to be at the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford.

Before this day begins, I am taking some time this morning for prayer, reading and reflection.

Over these weeks after Trinity Sunday, I have been reflecting each morning in these ways:

1, Looking at relevant images or stained glass window in a church, chapel or cathedral I know;

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

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

The Spanish Steps lead from the Piazza di Spagna up to the Church of Trinità dei Monti (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Trinità dei Monti, Spanish Steps, Rome:

The church of the Santissima Trinità dei Monti, often called merely the Trinità dei Monti, stands at the top of the Spanish Steps which lead down to the Piazza di Spagna. The church and its surrounding area, including the Villa Medici, are French state property.

Saint Francis of Paola, a hermit from Calabria, founded a monastery for the Minimite Friars here in 1494. Louis XII of France began building the Church of the Trinità dei Monti next to this monastery in 1502 to celebrate his successful invasion of Naples.

The present church was eventually built here and was consecrated in 1585 by Sixtus V, whose Via Sistina connected the Piazza della Trinità dei Monti outside the church to the Piazza Barberini across the city. This has been a titular church since 1587 and has been held ever since by a French cardinal.

The double staircase in front of the church was designed by Domenico Fontana. The Obelisco Sallustiano in front of the church is one of the many obelisks in Rome, and was moved here in 1789.

The kings of France were patrons of the church until the French Revolution and the church continued to be the church of the Minimite Friars until its partial destruction in 1798. During the Napoleonic occupation of Rome, the church was despoiled of its art and decorations. After the Bourbon restoration, the church was restored in 1816 at the expense of Louis XVIII.

By diplomatic Conventions in 1828, the church and monastery were entrusted to the Religieuses du Sacré-Coeur de Jésus (Society of the Sacred Heart), a French religious educational order.

Early in the 21st century, the order decided to withdraw from the Trinità and in 2005, the Vatican and the French Embassy agreed to transfer the church, convent and school to the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem. These communities were founded in 1975 by Brother Pierre-Marie Delfieux with the aim of promoting the spirit of the monastic desert in the heart of cities.

The communities’ Rule of Life, advices, ‘Be vigilant to keep in your heart a true concern for communion with all the sons of Abraham, Jews and Muslims, who are like you worshippers of the one God and for whom Jerusalem is equally a holy City.’

Close to the church, at the bottom of the steps, the Column of the Immaculate Conception is a 19th-century monument in Piazza Mignanelli, towards the south-east part of Piazza di Spagna. It stands in front of the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide and the offices of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

The column was designed by the architect Luigi Poletti, commissioned by Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies, and was dedicated on 8 December 1857. Since 1953, the Popes have visited the monument each year the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and offered a bouquet of flowers at the base of the column.

The fresh water fountain at the bottom of the Spanish Steps, the Fontana della Barcaccia (‘Fountain of the Ugly Boat’), was commissioned by Pope Urban III and built by father and son Bernini.

Babington’s English Tea Rooms is a traditional English tea shop at the foot of the Spanish Steps, in the Piazza di Spagna. The shop was founded in 1893 by Isabel Cargill and Anne Maria Babington with the intention of catering for the many English-speaking people in Rome.

Isabel Cargill was a granddaughter of Captain William Cargill (1784-1860), the founder of Dunedin in New Zealand; Anna Maria Babington was a descendant of Anthony Babington, who was hanged for plotting against Queen Elizabeth I. Their tea shop remains a ‘must-see’ site for many tourists and visitors to Rome.

The Column of the Immaculate Conception, close to the Spanish Steps, was dedicated on 8 December 1857 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23 (NRSVA):

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. 2 Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 Let anyone with ears listen!’

18 ‘Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.’

Babington’s Tea Rooms beside the Spanish Steps … a ‘must-see’ for many visitors to Rome (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), is ‘Abundant life – A human right.’ This theme is introduced today:

‘Abundant Life is a programme that USPG has been supporting since 2019 alongside the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI). It seeks to empower the Filipino Church to respond to the issues indigenous people face. The IFI had been standing in solidarity with indigenous people for many years prior and Abundant Life builds on the work those ministries have already established. The programme operates in three areas: Manila, the Caraga Region of Mindanao and the Western Mindanao Region.

‘Throughout the history of the Philippines, indigenous people have been subjected to discrimination, violence and human rights abuses. Some communities have been forcibly removed from ancestral lands. Many live below the poverty line - “abundant life is not a reality in the Philippines today”.

‘Abundant Life’s approach is two-fold. Alongside indigenous communities, it offers education and advocacy: people can explore and learn more about their rights whilst lobbying the authorities when these rights are threatened. Within the church, Abundant Life mobilises Christians to stand in solidarity with indigenous peoples and fight for a more just society.’

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (16 July 2023, Trinity VI) invites us to pray in these words:

Lord, may we secure justice and equality for every human being,
an end to all division,
and a human society built on love and peace.


Merciful God,
you have prepared for those who love you
such good things as pass our understanding:
pour into our hearts such love toward you
that we, loving you in all things and above all things,
may obtain your promises,
which exceed all that we can desire;
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 of our pilgrimage,
you have led us to the living water:
refresh and sustain us
as we go forward on our journey,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Fontana della Barcaccia (‘Fountain of the Ugly Boat’) was commissioned by Pope Urban III and built by father and son Bernini (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

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