Every second Saturday of the month, 4 pm - Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ. Followed by refreshments.
8 November, 2014, 22nd Sunday - 13 December, 2014, 27th Sunday - 10 January, 2014, Sunday after Christmas

9 September 2014 - Coptic Lecture by Bishop Angaelos, 6-45 pm, St Mark's Coptic Church, Allen Street, London W8 (following the AGM at 6 pm of the Anglican & Eastern Churches Association)

17-20 September 2014 - Orientale Lumen UK, East-West Meeting XI, Minster Abbey - Sacred Art & Sacred Music - 50 Years Since Paul VI and Athenagoras in Jerusalem. Dr Alexander Lingas & Dr Christopher Hodkinson, Musicians East and West. Angela Maguin, Gregorian Chant & St Hildegard. Irina Lomax, Iconographer. Further details from http://www.minsterabbeynuns.org/. Bookings to Sr Benedict Gaughan osb, St Mildred's Priory, Minster Abbey, Ramsgate, CT12 4HF (deposit £5). Download booking form here.

6 November 2014 - Fr Mark Drew: The Filioque - Past Division, Journey to Reconciliation? Lessons from A 13th Century Controversy The SSJC Christopher Morris Lecture 2014. 7-15 pm at the Holy Family Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, Duke Street, London W1, after Divine Liturgy at 6-15pm. All welcome. RSVP johnchrysostom@btinternet.com

26-28 November 2014 - Eastern Christian Thought & Practice for 21st Century Europe,Theotokos Institute, University of Cardiff. Prof Andrew Louth (Durham), Dr Roman Zaviyskyy (Lviv Ukrainian Catholic University), Bishop Vahan Hovhanissian (Armenian Apostolic Church in Britain) - Details from http://www.tics.org.uk/

27 November 2014 - Constantinople Lecture of the Anglican & Eastern Churches Association and the Fellowship of St Alban & St Sergius - Fr John Behr, Dean of St Vladimir's Seminary, New York USA: Take Back Death! Christian Witness in the Twenty-First Century. St Mellitus College, 24 Collingham Road, LONDON SW5 0LX. 6 pm Evening Prayer, 7pm Lecture. All Welcome.


Sunday, 30 December 2007

Patriarch Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly

Fr John Salter writes:

We congratulate His Beatitude Patriarch Emmanuel-Karim III Delly, the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldean Catholics, who has been made Cardinal of Holy Church (not of the Holy Roman Church, this is now the description of Cardinals of the Latin Rite only, Eastern patriarchs in communion with the Holy See are Cardinals of Holy Church). I met Emmanuel III when he was a retired bishop in Baghdad shortly after the first Gulf War, when his predecessor Cardinal Patriarch Rafael had invited a group of Christians to an inter-faith conference to try and get some of the sanctions lifted, particularly those against medical supplies. Upon the death of Patriarch Rafael, Bishop Emmanuel Delly was brought out of retirement and elected Patriarch.

At the Consistory held in St. Peter`s Basilica on 24th November 2007, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI made it clear he was not only honouring the Patriarch, but also all Iraqui Christians and to underline by this action the plight they were in at present. Interviewed later outside the basilica the new Cardinal stated:

We are still in a united Iraq and … I will continue to serve my country with all my strength to the last drop of my blood.

The bestowing of the Red Hat is a reminder to all recipient Cardinals that this could be their fate, the shedding of their blood. We pray that this will not befall Cardinal Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly, but hope for His Beatitude a peaceful reign over the Chaldean Catholics.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Early Christianity and Monasticism in Ireland: The Anglican and Eastern Churches Association Pilgrimage to Ireland, September 2007

Alan Watson writes:

You may wonder what the connection is between early Christianity in Ireland and the Eastern Churches. I hope that this report on some of the places that we visited on our pilgrimage will make this a little clearer.

Monastic life spread from the desert regions of Egypt and Syria. Three great names are St. Anthony (251-356). St. Paul the first Hermit (died circa 345) and St. Pachomius (circa 280-346). St.Paul was a hermit in Egypt and there are scenes of his meeting with St. Anthony on many Irish High Crosses. He also appears on the 15th century rood screen at Woolborough in Devon with other monastic saints. St. Anthony was born in Upper Egypt and lived as a hermit in a deserted fort. Some of his writings still exist. According to St. Jerome, Anthony and Paul met shortly before Paul`s death. St. Pachomius founded the first Christian monastic communities, the first in 320. A.D. St. Martin de Tours (circa 316-397) was a pioneer of western monasticism and groups from the monasteries in Gaul came to Wales and Scotland and it was from there that the pioneers of Celtic monasticism received their training.

St. Finnian (died 579) came to Ireland from Scotland to found Moville and his namesake St. Finnian (died 549) came from Wales to establish Clonard. He taught St. Ciaran of Clanmacnoise. St. Buithe founded Monasterboice (Co. Lough) towards the end of the 5th century. It existed until 1122. A magnificent round tower and two beautifully sculptured High Crosses still stand as monuments of its former glory. Western monasticism was introduced by St. Malachy, a monk at Armagh who became Archbishop of Armagh in 1129. Travelling to Rome in 1140 he visited Claitrvaux and met St. Bernard. He was so impressed that on arriving in Rome he petitioned the Pope to resign his see and enter Clairvaux as a novice. Permission was refused, but on his return journey he left some of his companions at Clairvaux to be trained in the Cistercian life with a view to founding a monastery of the Order in Ireland. Subsequently, Mellifont on Co. Louth was founded in 1142. It was suppressed in 1539. Twenty-two monasteries traced their foundation to Mellifont. The last, Hore Abbey near Cashel, being founded in 1272. St. Malachy died at Clairvaux on November 3rd 1148 on his way to Rome. Mellifont was re-founded as New Mellifont in 1937.

Mention Ireland and pilgrimage in the same breath and you will be asked, especially by Catholics, “are you going to Knock?” where Our Lady is said to have appeared in 1879. St.Patrick and Knock, in Co. Mayo, seem to loom large in people`s thoughts possibly to the detriment of early Irish Christianity. Long before Knock was heard of, and even before St. Patrick went to Ireland around 435. St. Palladius was sent by Pope Celestine to be the first bishop of the Irish Christians in 431.

It was St. Palladius who, in 429, had persuaded Pope Celestine to send St. Germanus of Auxerre (died 446) to Britain to combat the Pelagian heresy. Palladius worked mainly in Wicklow, south of Dublin, where three churches claim to have been founded by him. He probably moved on to Scotland and it is thought that he died there.

St. Patrick made his way to Ireland around 435 and worked principally in the north, setting up his see at Armagh, organising the Church on the lines of territorial sees as elsewhere in the West ( and in the East). He died around 461.

Before moving on, two great Irish women saints must be mentioned – Brigid and Ita. St. Brigid is said to have been baptized by St.Patrick, becoming a nun at an early age and founding the monastery of Kildare around 490, where she died around 525. Despite few historical facts her cult was second only to St. Patrick and at least nineteen ancient churches in England are dedicated to her, the most famous is probably St. Bride, Fleet Street, in London. Kildare Cathedral, dedicated to St. Brigid, dates from the 13th century, although the choir and north transept were burned in the Confederate war of 1641 and rebuilt in 1875. St. Ita is said to have been born near Waterford and founded a small monastery at Kileedy near Limerick where she died around 570. She is called the foster-mother of the saints of Ireland – it is possible that she was responsible for the education of some young boys who later became famous.

Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly
St. Cairan (Kieran) was born around 512 and finally settled at Clonmacnoise with ten companions around 545 after studying under St. Finnian at Clonard. He lived as a monk under St. Enda on Aran Island and under St. Senan on Scattery Island. He died of Plague in 545, only 33 years old, when working on the first buildings of Clonmacnoise.

Clonmacnoise stands on a windswept open plain on a bend in the River Shannon halfway between Dublin and Galloway, a strategic position in early Ireland being at the crossing of the great road from Dublin to the west and the Shannon. The first building seen is the remains of the 13th century Norman castle, built to protect the river crossing. The monastery was largely protected by the surrounding bog. It withstood Irish, Viking and Norman attacks, but was looted by the English garrison at Athlone in 1552.

The Celtic monastery was nothing like the European monastery that we are used to seeing. It was a large enclosure with a protective wall and within the monks and lay brothers lived side by side. There would be several churches and a round bell tower, which would probably be a safe storage place for relics and other valuable items. The High Crosses, usually beautifully carved, were features of the monastery. Clonmacnoise was also a Royal City and the burial place of the kings, including the last High King of Ireland, Rory O'Conor, who was buried here in 1198, and whose lineal descendant is the present O`Conor Don. The remains consist of a cathedral, eight churches, two round towers, High Crosses (left, upper), grave slabs (left, lower) and a 13th century ring fort. The High Crosses have been moved indoors to protect them from the county`s incessant rain, but fortunately it was fine and bright but very windy for our visit.

The tenth century Great Cross has secular scenes as well as religious. It is believed it was made to commemorate King Flann and Abbot Coman. The 9th century South Cross is decorated with flower and animal motifs. Excellent replicas now stand on the sites of the originals. The small cathedral is roofless and was built in 904 by King Flann and Abbot Coman and rebuilt in the 14th century. Other churches are Teampall Doolin (Teampall derives from the Irish word for church), Teampan Hurpan, Teampall Kieran, possibly the burial place of St. Ciaran and Teampall Kelly. The names are presumably those of the men or the families who built them. The main tower – O'Rourke's tower –was erected just after the cathedral and it is about 60 feet high.

Near the river are two more churches, Teampall Fighin with a round tower dated 1124 and Teampall Connor, 11th century, and now a Church of Ireland parish church. The church of the nunnery lies some distance to the east- a pleasant walk- and stands in a field near the river. It has two fine Romanesque arches and exudes a feeling of peace. (St. Ciaran's feast day in on 9th September).

Clonfert, Co. Galway
A few miles to the south of Clonmacnoise is the small village of Clonfert, the site of the monastery of St. Brendan the Voyager, founded in 558. St. Brendan was born in 484 in County Kerry. He is said to have been taught by St. Ita at her monastery in Kileedy. He lived under monastic rule from an early age and was ordained priest in 510. Following his ordination he travelled to Bangor, north Scotland and the Shetlands (hence his name) founding monasteries in several places. He then settled at Clonfert. His monastery was known as the scholastic monastery and large numbers of monks and scholars came here. He died around 578. The monastery and church were destroyed in 1541 at the Dissolution.

It is difficult to imagine that Clonfert was at one time a city and celebrated for its schools and learning. The college of St. Brendan flourished in the 16th century with as many as 3,000 students at one time. There was a proposal in 1579 to found a university there, but the proposition was rejected and Dublin obtained the charter founding Trinity College.

The small Church of Ireland cathedral has a magnificent Romanesque west doorway of the late 12th century attributed to Peter O`Moore, Bishop of Clonfert, who was drowned in the River Shannon nearby in 1171. The cathedral contains some fine 19th century woodwork – bishop`s throne, stalls, altar and pulpit, but now has an air of neglect, there being no indication of services being held here. Had we planned to celebrate the Eucharist here we would have had to set to and clear the bat droppings off seats and altar!

South of the cathedral stood a house of Canonesses Regular and to the north are the ruins of the bishop`s palace. In 1951 it was bought by Sir Oswald Moseley. During his occupancy it was destroyed by fire in 1954 and is now a ruin.

The leaflet in the cathedral (1990) says that in the Catholic church in Clonfert there is a statue of Our Lady of Clonfert of native craftsmanship from the early 14th century. It is an example from a school of woodcarving which apparently flourished in the area from the 13th to the 14th century. Strangely there is no mention of a church in Clonfert in the Irish Catholic Directory! (St. Brendan`s feast day is on the 16th May.)

Glendalough, Co. Wicklow
South of Dublin, deep in the Wicklow mountains, Glendalough ‘valley of the two lakes’ is one of the best preserved monastic sites in Ireland. The main monastic site is on the eastern side of the lower lake. Further west up the valley is the larger and more impressive upper lake.

St. Kevin was born around 498, belonged to the Royal House of Leinster and was educated by monks from childhood. He settled in Glendalough after ordination, probably by the upper lake where there is a cave known as St. Kevin`s Bed. Here stands Tempall Na Skellig, the Rick Church, and St. Kevin`s Cell. Disciples gathered around him and the monastery was subsequently moved down near the lower lake after his death around 618.

Much church building went on here when Lawrence O`Toole was a monk here (he was Archbishop of Dublin in 1162 and his heart is in the Church of Ireland cathedral of St. Patrick in Dublin). Glendalough was to become one of the most powerful Irish monasteries in the Middle Ages.

Despite being assailed by tourists the verses composed for the 10th century Life of Kevin ring true:
A glen without threshing floor or corn rick,
Only rugged rock above it,
A glen where no one is refused refreshment,
The grace of the Lord is there.
Kevin is said to have visited Ciaran at Clonmacnoise, but apart from that his whole long life appears to have been centred in the valley. He died around 618.

The site is entered through a mediaeval stone gateway and the first building is the cathedral, the site`s largest structure dating from the early 9th century (The Diocese of Glendalough was united with Dublin as far back as 1216). St.Kevin`s Cross is of the same period and the building known as the priest`s House is 12th century. There is a 100 foot Round Tower and two other churches – St. Kevin`s and St. Mary`s. St. Kevin`s is still roofed and is a typical Irish Romanesque church.

Near the upper lake is the Reefert (Rock) Church. It is late 10th century and is known as the burial place of Kings. In their book Glendalough – a Celtic pilgrimage (Columba 2005) the authors Michael Rodgers and Marcus Losack the tomb or place of death and burial was always referred to as ‘the place of resurrection’. This suggests theological influences from the Eastern Churches, which emphasized the triumph of Life over Death in the Resurrection of Christ. This is underlined, for example, in the name given to the Church in Jerusalem traditionally associated with the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Since the time of the Crusades it has been known to us in the West as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, emphasizing the tomb, but for the Orthodox Churches present in Jerusalem since before its construction in the 4th century, this church has always been called the Church of the Resurrection. This difference in emphasis is significant and underlines a strong connection between Celtic Christianity and the Eastern Orthodox Churches from which it took root. The writers go on to say that Celtic Christianity emphasized the power of Life over Death, which is characteristic of the spirituality of the Eastern Churches. Unlike parts of the British Isles which came under the Roman (Latin) influence, Celtic Christianity absorbed theological influences from the Eastern Churches which were incorporated into Celtic religious art, calligraphy and stone carvings, especially in the scriptural High Crosses. The tradition of Eastern iconography, for example, can be contrasted with the crucifixes and statues more commonly found in later Western traditions.

The area between the upper and lower lakes is known as St. Kevin's Desert and Rodgers and Losack ask : ‘Why is this beautiful place of woodland and water called a desert ?’ They go on to say that to appreciate this we must understand the monastic traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Churches where the roots of early Celtic monasticism can be found in the spirituality of the desert, pioneered in the 4th century by St. Anthony of Egypt.

The teaching of the Desert Fathers and Mothers found its way to Ireland from Egypt, Syria and Palestine through its advocates in Gaul; it may also have come through maritime traffic between Alexandria and the West or perhaps even directly through journeys of Egyptian monks. There is an interesting record in the Book of Leinster, for example, of seven Egyptian monks visiting Ireland who were buried in Diseart Vilaig, which is modern day County Antrim in the north of Ireland (Rodgers and Losack quote Charles Plummer in Irish Litanies, London 1925).

The village of Moone in Co. Kildare once formed a link in the chain of monasteries founded by St. Columba (circa 521 -597). In the ruins of the 14th century Franciscan church stands a fine 9th century High Cross. On its east side are carvings of Daniel in the lions` den; the sacrifice of Isaac; Adam and Eve and the Crucifixion. On its west side the twelve apostles; the Crucifixion and St. John.

The Moore High Cross Inn is described in the ‘Rough Guide’ as a friendly, rambling old pub with a good range of food – and so it was, especially the Irish beef!

Five minutes south is Castledermot and in the churchyard of the Church of Ireland parish church stands a 12th century Romanesque doorway and two High Crosses dating some time after 812. The west face of the North Cross has a fine spiral design on the base and ten carvings if the Temptation of St. Anthony; Daniel in the lions` den; David and the harpist; the sacrifice of Isaac and Adam and Eve. The South Cross has a hunting scene and the miracle of the loaves and fishes on the base and then similar representations as on the North Cross as well as a raven bringing bread to Saints Paul and Anthony in the desert. There is also a truncated round tower attached to the rather uninteresting church. We were very indebted to Father Eoin De Bhaldraithe, a Cistercian monk of nearby Bolton Abbey who guided us round the sites at Moore and Castledermot on a rather damp day.

Cashel, Co. Tipperary
The town grew up below, and is dominated by, the spectacular Rock of Cashel, a limestone outcrop topped by a fine array of mediaeval buildings. On the Rock stands the most beautiful and complete Romanesque church in the country, a mediaeval cathedral, a castle tower house, an 11th century round tower, an early High Cross and l5th century Hall of the Vicars Choral –a full span of mediaeval Irish architecture on one site.

The Vicars Choral hall (the eight Vicars Choral deputized for the cathedral Canons in singing the services in the cathedral) has an undercroft, a ground floor and an upper floor, divided between the main hall with screens and minstrels` gallery and dormitory. The Romanesque church – Cormac`s Chapel- was built between 1127 and 1134 and is the earliest Romanesque church in Ireland and has unique intricate decorations. The cathedral was started in the 13th century and is cruciform and aisleless. The nave is much shorter than the choir which has fine lancet windows; it is now roofless. The castle tower if the earliest building on the Rock, built in the early 12th century.

There are fine views in every directions from the Rock and you can look down on the ruins of Hore Abbey to the west. Built in the 13th century it was the last foundation from Mellifont. In the town is the fine Queen Anne style palace of the Church of Ireland Archbishops of Cashel. Built by Archbishop Theophilus Bolton ( 1730-1744) in 1730, it is now a hotel. (The Church of Ireland archbishopric of Cashel was suppressed in the 19th century; the Roman Catholic Archbishop has his cathedral in Thurles).

In the grounds of the slender-spired 18th century Church of Ireland cathedral stands the Bolton Library founded by Archbishop Bolton. Its manuscripts (from as early as the 12th century), rare maps and a wealth of literary treasure were mainly Bolton's own bequest when he died in 1744. The dominant language in the library is English, about two thirds of the books being printed in the British Isles. Ten per cent of the remainders are in Latin, then comes French and a dozen other languages. There is a fine copy of the Sarum Missal, published in Rouen in 1515 and a Hebrew manuscript translation of the Irish Book of Common Prayer made in Dublin in 1717.

In the bend of the River Boyne in Co. Meath major excavations have been going on a Knowth Burial Mound and other sites since 1962 and about 250 decorated stones have been found, over half of all known Irish passage grave art. Knowth, together with mounds at Newgrange and Dowth nearby were built between 3500 and 2700 B.C. The site was subsequently occupied by early Christians in the 8th to 12th centuries followed by the Normans during the 12th and 13th centuries.

South of Navan on the road to Dublin is one of the most famous historical and mythical sites in Ireland the Hill of Tara. Tara was a great royal residence of the High Kings of Ireland. Its heyday came in the years following the reign of Cormac Art in the 3rd century, but its power had begun to decline when Patrick confronted King Laoghaire in the 5th century. Patrick challenged Laoghaire by lighting the Paschal fire on the nearby Hill of Slane in defiance of the holy fire of Tara.

Mellifont
Mellifont was one of the most important monasteries in Ireland when Western monasticism gained the ascendancy and Celtic monasticism declined. The mother house of the Cistercian monasteries in Ireland it was built beside the River Mattock in gently wooded countryside. It must have been a building of exceptional beauty and grandeur and the ruins do no justice to its former glory. It was founded in 1142 on the inspiration of St. Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh, who wished to become a Cistercian monk, but was prevented by the Pope. The finest of the remains is the Romanesque octagonal lavabo (where the monks washed before meals) built around 1200. It had running water fed from the nearby high ground. The Chapter House, still roofed, houses a collection of mediaeval glazed tiles moved here for safety.

Our stay in County Tipperary was at the Cistercian Abbey of Mount St. Joseph near Roscrea. Founded in 1878 it traces its ancestry through Mount Melleray, Co.Waterford. and Melleray, Brittany, to St. Bernard`s monastery at Clairvaux. Here we received a very warm welcome from Father Kevin, the Abbot; Father Richard the Prior and Father Gabriel, the Guestmaster.

Mountheaton House and Estate were purchased by Arthur Moore of Mooresford, Tipperary, and presented to Mount Melleray to establish a new abbey and the first monks arrived in 1878. The house is now the guesthouse and the abbey church in grey limestone, was constructed shortly after the arrival of the monks. The monastery is also in grey limestone and is built on the traditional monastic plan. There are 26 monks in the community.

Bolton Abbey in County Kildare was founded from Roscrea in 1965. A farming community, it is much smaller than its mother house and has a community of 10 monks.

Apart from seeing the Book of Kells, produced in the time of St. Columba, our visit to Dublin had little to do with early Irish Christianity, so I have saved myself some time and effort and not written about it! But in case there are groans of disappointment I will mention that we joined the Romanian Orthodox community for Vespers on Saturday evening, where we received a warm welcome from the priests and people. We also visited the church of St. Bartholomew, Clyde Road, where there was a lot of controversy over an altar cross during the incumbency of Canon Richard Travers Smith (Vicar 1871-1905). Finally we were joined for our last lunch at the Wishing Well Inn by the Anglican Archbishop of Dublin.