11 June 2024

Daily prayer in Ordinary Time 2024:
33, 11 June 2024

Holy Trinity Church, Rathmines … with Semple’s distinctive pinnacles and deep-set windows and doors (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

This week began with the Second Sunday after Trinity (Trinity II, 9 June 2024). Today, the Church Calendar commemorates Saint Barnabas the Apostle (11 June 2024). In the Jewish Calendar this is Shavuot, one of the three pilgrim festivals. This festival celebrates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

In the two weeks after Trinity Sunday, I illustrated my prayers and reflections with images and memories of cathedrals, churches, chapels and monasteries in Greece and England dedicated to the Holy Trinity. I am continuing this theme this week, with images and memories of churches I know in Ireland that are dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

Before today begins, I am taking some quiet time this morning to give thanks, for reflection, prayer and reading in these ways:

1, today’s Gospel reading;

2, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary;

3, the Collects and Post-Communion prayer of the day.

Holy Trinity Church, Rathmines, was designed by John Semple, the ‘presiding genius of the Board of First Fruits’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 15: 12-17 (NRSVUE):

[Jesus said:] 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing, but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”

The eagle lectern in Holy Trinity Church, Rathmines (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Holy Trinity Church, Rathmines, Dublin:

I visited Rathmines again last Friday during my short visit to Bray and Dublin last week. Over the years, I have on occasions been invited to preside at the Eucharist, preach, and take part in many other services in Holy Trinity Church, Rathmines.

For four years, from 2002 to 2006, I worked in Belgrave Road, only a few footsteps away from this church. Holy Trinity Church is one of the three of four landmark buildings in Rathmines, the others being the Clock Tower on the old Town Hall, the Carnegie Library at the end of Leinster Road, and the green copper dome on the Roman Catholic parish church.

But Holy Trinity Church, Rathmines, is also an important church architecturally as one of the churches designed in the Gothic style by John Semple before Pugin’s arrival in Ireland. His other churches in Dublin include the Church of Ireland parish church in Kiltiernan (1826); Saint Mary’s Church, Donnybrook (1827); Saint Maelruain’s Church, Tallaght (1829); Saint Mary’s, otherwise known as the Black Church, in Saint Mary’s Place (1830); and the parish church in Monkstown (1833).

Maurice Craig has described Semple as the ‘presiding genius of the Board of First Fruits.’ He was the board’s architect for the Province of Dublin, and he invented his peculiar brand of Gothic, flinging to the winds every notion of scholarship and orthodoxy. This style is like his paintings: he reduced everything to the severest geometry, including buttresses, pinnacles and mouldings, so that everything is expressed as a contrast of planes.

It was said that in his final years Archbishop William Magee (1822-1831) would only consecrate churches that could be used as fortresses because he suffered from delusions, believing that the Protestant population was under siege and in danger of being massacred. Perhaps this fear explains why Urbs Fortitudinis is still a favourite canticle in the Church of Ireland. It may also explain why Semple built so many churches with such extraordinary solidity.

Semple’s church in Monkstown is adorned with towers and turrets, ‘for all the world like chessmen,’ according to Craig. Inside, there is an elaborate internal plaster vault to simulate masonry, described by Semple’s contemporaries as ‘a mule between the Gothics and Saracens.’

Peter Costello even suggests that Semple’s Moorish elements may have been inspired by the Alhambra in Granada – Washington Irving’s Tales of the Alhambra had been published in 1832.

Semple’s church in Church Avenue, Rathmines, has his distinctive pinnacles and deep-set windows and doors. The three wide gables, the tall steeple, and the plain exterior are all typical of Semple’s interpretation of Gothic.

The church stands on an island in the middle of the road where Church Avenue and Belgrave Road meet. It was built 195 years ago in 1828 as a chapel-of-ease for Saint Peter’s Church in Aungier Street, now long demolished. Holy Trinity was consecrated on 1 June 1828 by Archbishop Magee, but Rathmines did not become a separate parish until 1883. Since then, the parish has only had seven rectors.

The vestry walls are lined with photographs of past rectors, including Canon Ernest Lewis-Crosby (1914-1924), who later became Dean of Christ Church Cathedral (1938-1961), and who was still dean when he died at the age of 97. His successor and biographer, Evelyn Charles Hodges (1924-1927), later became Bishop of Limerick (1943-1960).

The present rector of Rathmines is Revd Rob Jones, who was the curate to his predecessor, Canon Neill McEndoo.

‘Till He Come’ … Holy Trinity Church, Rathmines, was built in 1829 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayers (Tuesday 11 June 2024, Saint Barnabas the Apostle):

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 ‘Estate Community Development Mission, Diocese of Colombo, Church of Ceylon.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday with a programme update. The Church of Ceylon is one of USPG’s Partners in Mission (PIM).

The USPG Prayer Diary today (11 June 2024, Saint Barnabas the Apostle) invites us to pray:

God our Father, you filled Saint Barnabas with faith and the Holy Spirit. Help us to follow his example and proclaim the gospel by word and deed. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Williamson monument in Holy Trinity Church, Rathmines (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Collect:

Bountiful God, giver of all gifts,
who poured your Spirit upon your servant Barnabas
and gave him grace to encourage others:
help us, by his example,
to be generous in our judgements
and unselfish in our service;
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 Prayer:

Almighty God,
who on the day of Pentecost
sent your Holy Spirit to the apostles
with the wind from heaven and in tongues of flame,
filling them with joy and boldness to preach the gospel:
by the power of the same Spirit
strengthen us to witness to your truth
and to draw everyone to the fire of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The offices of Holy Trinity Church on Lower Rathmines Road (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition copyright © 2021, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Saint Barnabas Church in Jericho, Oxford … today the Church Calendar commemorates Saint Barnabas (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

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