06 November 2023

‘Love conquers all, is able
to transcend everything
and anything, because love
is the quintessence of life’

‘Love is the most powerful force there is, because it has no limits’ … street art on Red Cross Way, close to the ‘Boot and Flogger’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

A popular posting circulating on social media for many years, claims that Albert Einstein’s daughter Lieserl, donated 1,400 letters written by her father to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in the late 1980s, with the proviso that their contents should not be published until two decades after his death.

Among the letters is what is supposed to be Albert Einstein’s letter to his daughter Lieserl regarding the ‘universal force’ of love.

Katharine Rose, a contributor to Huffpost, wrote eight years ago how her searches in the Hebrew University’s online archives, including the Albert Einstein Archives, and in the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein failed to yield any results. She also found that Lieserl was born with a mental handicap and died of scarlet fever in 1903 when she was nearly two years old. Katharine Rose became convinced that the letter was, indeed, fabricated.

Dr Diana Kormos-Buchwald, a professor of physics and the history of science at the California Institute of Technology, is the director and editor of the Einstein Papers Project, which has published the Digital Einstein Papers, making 5,000 documents spanning Einstein’s first 44 years of his life available online.

Referring to the letter circulating on social media, she has written: ‘This document is not by Einstein. The family letters donated to the Hebrew University – referred to in this rumour – were not given by Lieserl. They were given by Margot Einstein, who was Albert Einstein’s stepdaughter. Many of those letters were published in Volume 10 of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein in 2006 and in subsequent volumes, in chronological order.’ The supposed letter on the ‘universal force’ of love is not among them.

The question of who is behind the letter on the ‘universal force’ of love remains a mystery. But, as Katharine Rose wrote on Huffpost in 2015, ‘It's a beautiful read, offering a universal message that speaks to the essence of the human condition and our incessant yearning to believe in love's conquering force.’

In the letter said to have been written to his daughter Lieserl, Einstein supposedly says:

‘When I proposed the theory of relativity, very few understood me, and what I will reveal now to transmit to mankind will also collide with the misunderstanding and prejudice in the world.

‘I ask you to guard the letters as long as necessary, years, decades, until society is advanced enough to accept what I will explain below.

‘There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us.

‘This universal force is LOVE.

‘When scientists looked for a unified theory of the universe they forgot the most powerful unseen force.

‘Love is Light, that enlightens those who give and receive it.

‘Love is gravity, because it makes some people feel attracted to others.

‘Love is power, because it multiplies the best we have, and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness. Love unfolds and reveals.

‘For love we live and die.

‘Love is God and God is Love.

‘This force explains everything and gives meaning to life. This is the variable that we have ignored for too long, maybe because we are afraid of love because it is the only energy in the universe that man has not learned to drive at will.

‘To give visibility to love, I made a simple substitution in my most famous equation.

‘If, instead of E = MC2, we accept that the energy to heal the world can be obtained through love multiplied by the speed of light squared, we arrive at the conclusion that love is the most powerful force there is, because it has no limits.

‘After the failure of humanity in the use and control of the other forces of the universe that have turned against us, it is urgent that we nourish ourselves with another kind of energy …

‘If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer.

‘Perhaps we are not yet ready to make a bomb of love, a device powerful enough to entirely destroy the hate, selfishness and greed that devastate the planet.

‘However, each individual carries within them a small but powerful generator of love whose energy is waiting to be released.

‘When we learn to give and receive this universal energy, dear Lieserl, we will have affirmed that love conquers all, is able to transcend everything and anything, because love is the quintessence of life.

‘I deeply regret not having been able to express what is in my heart, which has quietly beaten for you all my life. Maybe it’s too late to apologise, but as time is relative, I need to tell you that I love you and thanks to you I have reached the ultimate answer!

‘Your father, Albert Einstein’

‘My heart … has quietly beaten for you all my life’ … street art at the railway arches at Stoney Street and Winchester Walk, close to Southwark Cathedral and Borough Market (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Daily prayers in the Kingdom Season
with USPG: (2) 6 November 2023

The Basilica of Saint Marinus in San Marino, one of two co-cathedrals in the Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

In this time between All Saints’ Day and Advent Sunday, we are in the Kingdom Season in the Calendar of the Church of England, and the week began with the Fourth Sunday before Advent yesterday (5 November 2023).

The Calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today (6 November) remembers Leonard, Hermit, 6th century, and William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, Teacher of the Faith, 1944.

Before today begins, I am taking some time for prayer and reflection early this morning.

In recent prayer diaries on this blog, my reflections have already looked at a number of Italian cathedrals, including the cathedrals in Amalfi, Florence, Lucca, Noto, Pisa, Ravenna, Saint Peter’s Basilica and Saint John Lateran, Rome, Siena, Sorrento, Syracuse, Taormina, Torcello and Venice.

So, this week, my reflections look at some more Italian cathedrals, basilicas and churches in Bologna, San Marino, Pistoia, San Gimignano, Mestre, Sorrento and Ravello.

Throughout this week, my reflections each morning are following this pattern:

1, A reflection on an Italian cathedral or basilica;

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

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Inside the Basilica of Saint Marinus in San Marino, designed by the architect Achille Serra of Bologna (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Basilica of Saint Marinus, San Marino:

San Marino, officially the Republic of San Marino and also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, is an independent microstate but totally landlocked by Italy. It is the fifth-smallest country in the world, with a land area of about 61 sq km and a population of about 33,660. It is about 10 km from Rimini on the Adriatic coast, the official language is Italian, the Euro is the official currency, and there are no border formalities with Italy.

The Basilica di San Marino in the Republic of San Marino, the main church of the City of San Marino, is on Piazzale Domus Plebis in the north-east edge of the city. The church is dedicated to Saint Marinus, the founder and patron of the Republic. It is the shrine of his relics, a Minor Basilica and World Heritage Site.

The church is one of two co-cathedrals in the Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro, which is in both Italy and San Marino. The diocese includes all parishes in San Marino. The diocesan cathedral, dedicated to Saint Bartholomew, is in Pennabilli, 140 km south-east of Bologna and 45 km south of Rimini. There are two co-cathedrals: the Church of San Leo, in the town of Saint Leo, once a cathedral with its own diocese, and the Basilica di San Marino, in San Marino.

The present church was built in 1836. An earlier church dedicated to Saint Marinus is said to have been built on the site in the 4th century, but the first documentary references to the church are in the year 530 and a later document dated from 885. The first document directly related to the Pieve di San Marino or Parish Church of San Marino is dated 31 July 1113.

The building was in a critical condition by the early the 19th century. It was demolished in 1807 and the architect Achille Serra of Bologna was commissioned to design a new church in the neoclassical style. Building work began in 1826 and the church was opened in 1838, and was consecrate by Bishop Crispino Agostinucci of Montefeltro in 1855 in the presence of the Captains Regent, San Marino’s heads of state.

Pope Pius XI gave the church the rank of basilica in 1926. Pope John Paul II visited San Marino and the basilica in 1982, when he venerated the relics of Saint Marinus.

The Holy See issued a decree in 1992 recognising the basilica as the mother-church of all churches within the Republic of San Marino, and the priest in charge holds the title of Rector. Pope Benedict XVI visited the basilica and the relics of Saint Marinus in 2011.

The basilica is built in the neoclassical style, with a porch of eight Corinthian columns, six at the front and two either side. A Latin inscription above that reads: Divo. Marino. Patrono. Et. Libertatis. Avctori. Sen. P Q. Above the main door is the coat of arms of the Republic.

Inside, the basilica has three naves, supported by 16 Corinthian columns that form a large ambulatory around the semicircular apse.

The towering statue of Saint Marinus behind the High Altar was sculpted in 1830 by Adamo Tadolini (1788-1868), a student of Antonio Canova. The relics of Saint Marinus, found in 1586, are Under the altar. Some of his relics were donated to the island of Rab in Croatia, his birthplace, in 1595.

Under the High Altar, a small urn holds the bones of Saint Marinus found on 3 May 1586. On the right of the chancel, inside a marble monument, a silver case from 1602 holds the upper part of the skull of Saint Marinus.

The 17th century walnut throne of the Captains Regent is to the left of the High Altar.

The basilica has seven altars, statues representing Christ and the 12 apostles and a number of valuable paintings. A small altar dedicated to Saint Mary Magdelene has a painting by Elisabetta Sirani, ‘Noli me tangere’.

The basilica is the venue for several liturgical celebrations, including the election and the establishment of the Captains Regent; the anniversary celebration of the Republic’s Militia (25 March); national and religious holidays. It is also a venue for concerts and recitals. It was once the venue for the arringo or meeting of the heads of the households of San Marino, the first local democratic body.

The Romanesque bell tower was rebuilt in the 16th century and has seven bells cast in 1961-1963.

The Chiesa di San Pietro is to the side of the front steps leading up to the basilica. Archaeological investigations show the site was used as a cemetery in Roman times. The first chapel on the site of the church is said to have been built in the first century AD.

A later, cruciform church built in the 11th century is said to have stood on the site of a smaller church built by Saint Marinus and dedicated to Saint Peter. The 11th century church was partly demolished in 1826 during work to enlarge the basilica, and only one of the four arms of the original cruciform building still stands. The church was rebuilt by Antonio Serra in 1826-1838.

The church has an altar with inlaid marble donated by the musician Antonio Tedeschi in 1689, and surmounted by a statue of Saint Peter by Enrico Saroldi. Two niches cut into the rock in the crypt are said to be the beds of Saint Marinus and Saint Leo. Gino Zani restored the chapel and crypt in 1940-1941. The altar has an image by Romeo Balsimelli of Saint Marinus with a bear, recalling one of the miracles associated with the saint.

The towering marble statue of Saint Marinus behind the High Altar is by Adamo Tadolini, a student of Antonio Canova (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Luke 14: 12-14 (NRSVA):

12 He said also to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’

A side altar in the the Basilica of Saint Marinus in San Marino (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayers (Monday 6 November 2023):

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 ‘Community Health Programmes’. This theme was introduced yesterday.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (6 November 2023) invites us to pray in these words:

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of your creation. For the restorative qualities it can bring when we take time to stop and look at the world around us.

The Chiesa di San Pietro is to the side of the front steps leading up to the basilica (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Collect:

Almighty and eternal God,
you have kindled the flame of love
in the hearts of the saints:
grant to us the same faith and power of love,
that, as we rejoice in their triumphs,
we may be sustained by their example and fellowship;
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.

The Post-Communion Prayer:

Lord of heaven,
in this eucharist you have brought us near
to an innumerable company of angels
and to the spirits of the saints made perfect:
as in this food of our earthly pilgrimage
we have shared their fellowship,
so may we come to share their joy in heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yesterday’s Reflection

Continued Tomorrow

In the narrow streets of San Marino (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

A tourist visa for San Marion … there are no border formalities with Italy (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)