Category : Europe

(Church of Ireland) Bishop John McDowell–An Open Letter from a Border Bishop

The Border and the problems which it poses for any form of Brexit are not only technical or technological issues. Nor are they simply issues to do with trade or security matters. Expressed in the starkest terms, the Border is the background against which all political and much cultural life in Northern Ireland (and in a more limited way in the Republic of Ireland) is worked out. Some people like the Border and others do not, but positively or negatively, consciously or unconsciously, it is pivotal to how politicians and people here assess almost all policy alternatives.

For this reason alone, any big change which has an impact on the Border is unavoidably complicated and inevitably charged with emotional and symbolic significance.

After a period of relative obscurity, it now appears that everybody is fascinated by the Border. It is interesting, for a while, to be at the centre of the world’s attention. But on the whole I think many of us would rather have been left alone.

For a political border, it is very beautiful in places. That is largely because of the hundreds of small farms looked after by hundreds of sturdy farmers along its length. There isn’t much money in it for most of them, but if you ask them why they don’t move to somewhere less difficult to farm they say “You can’t roll up the land and take it with you”. The long term well–being of men and women like these, and their neighbours all along the border, requires and deserves a clearly spelt–out, sustainable agreement between both sides. This is so that they have not only that material basis necessary for civilised living but also hope for their children’s future. Neither peace nor prosperity are possible without hope.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Ireland, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

(Saint Philip’s Church) Penn Hagood–St. Philippian Greek Odyssey: Learning the Extraordinary Persistence of Paul

Traveling to Greece often evokes thoughts of an odyssey. Homer’s adventures of Odysseus’ decade spent “sailing the wine dark sea” longing to journey home to Ithaca remains a riveting tale. Odysseus endured storms and shipwrecks, encountered mythical gods and goddesses, monsters, witches, kings, and princesses.

Paul was treated monstrously in many places. He was driven out of cities, often barely escaping with his life. He was harassed by a woman possessed by a demon, a slave girl that some might have called a witch. As he recounted in his second letter to the church in Corinth: “Five times I received…the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” Paul suffered greatly, yet he endured. Paul persevered, holding fast to his single purpose, to share the good news of Jesus Christ and the hope of salvation.

Our St. Philippian jaunt, following in Paul’s footsteps, was tame by comparison. We certainly did not experience hunger as we feasted daily. Our only similarity was that a few of us were blown off course when someone opened Aeolus’ bag of winds, releasing raging storms, and diverting flights. Still, in spite of our modern conveniences and comforts, after two weeks, we were exhausted and sleep deprived, completely worn out. Our endurance was tested briefly. We gained an appreciation for Paul’s decades of endurance.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Greece, History, Missions, Parish Ministry, Theology: Scripture

(DW) German churches lose 430,000 Catholic and Protestant members in 2018

Germany’s Catholic Church lost 216,078 members and Protestant churches lost some 220,000 in 2018, according to data published on Friday by the German Bishops’ Conference and the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).

In total, around 23 million German citizens are still members of the Catholic Church and 21.14 million are members of the Protestant churches. The two groups account for 53.2% of the country’s total population of over 83 million.

Hans Langendörfer, secretary of the German Bishops’ Conference, described Friday’s figures as a “worrying” statistic.

“Every departure hurts,” said Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, president of the EKD. “Since people today, unlike in the past, decide out of freedom whether they want to belong to the church, it is important for us today to make even clearer why the Christian message is such a strong basis for life.”

Read it all.

Posted in Germany, Religion & Culture

(Yahoo News UK) Jonathan Chaplin–The Church of England needs to speak out about Brexit – here’s why

Central to the Church of England’s understanding of itself as the established church is its vocation to be a “church of the nation” – a public institution ready to bring a theological voice to the national debates of the day. The trauma of Brexit confronts the four nations of the United Kingdom in different ways but – given the centrality to the debate of a resurgent English nationalism – it is most painful for England, which is where the Church of England’s mission is primarily directed.

Since 2016, several individual bishops, some in their capacity as “Lords Spiritual” have sought to contribute to this debate, often with balance and insight. Yet – unlike both the (Anglican) Scottish Episcopal Church and the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland – the Church of England has so far been unable to bring any authoritative collective voice to the national conversation.

No debate on Brexit has taken place in General Synod (the Church of England’s governing body), either before or since the 2016 referendum. While the House of Bishops was able in 2015 to produce an unusually substantial statement before the general election – Who is my Neighbour? – it has so far delivered no formal public statement on Brexit at all.

One obvious explanation for this official silence suggests itself. A referendum exit poll conducted by Greg Smith and Linda Woodhead revealed that English Anglicans are as divided on Brexit as the general population, with 66% reportedly having voted Leave. Since almost all bishops were Remainers, a collective intervention on Brexit could have proved incendiary.

But this cannot be a sufficient account of the church’s institutional reticence. The Church of England has at times been prepared to risk significant controversy in its public interventions. Acrimonious divisions among Anglicans did not prevent the leadership defending its traditional but highly controversial stance against same-sex marriage in 2013.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

(EF) Thinking through how a biblical work ethic clashes with contemporary European life

In its report World Employment Social Outlook, published this year with data from 2018, the International Labor Organization (ILO), says that “a majority of the 3.3 billion people employed globally in 2018 experienced a lack of material well-being, economic security, equal opportunities or scope for human development”.

The volatility of employment is what leads the coordinator of GBG (the Spanish IFES Graduates group) and of the Lausanne Movement in Spain, Jaume Llenas, to consider, “the long-term commitment and the emotional involvement with people as the main challenges that the biblical work ethic poses to the current labour system”.

“Although the companies we work for ask us for teamwork and mutual collaboration, they foster superficial and utilitarian relationships, dispatch their workers without any relational consideration, and use and throw away workers following other very different principles”, he says. Furthermore, “this sharp contrast of values provokes the corrosion of the character, the destruction of the person”.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Evangelicals, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture, Spain

Congratulations to Novak Djokovic winner of the 2019 Wimbledon Men’s Final

Posted in England / UK, Serbia, Sports

Congratulations to 2019 Wimbledon Ladies Singles Champion Simona Halep

Posted in England / UK, Romania, Sports, Women

(France 24) Evangelical churches gaining ground in France

“In France, a new Evangelical church is built every 10 days, thanks to the efforts of highly motivated young believers. Once a fringe religious movement, Evangelism (sic) is gaining ground and now counts 700,000 followers across France. What are the reasons for this success? Our France 2 colleagues report, with FRANCE 24’s Emerald Maxwell.”

Watch it all (about 4 2/3 minutes).

Posted in Evangelicals, France, Religion & Culture

(Huff Po) One-Fifth Of All Dutch Churches Are Now Secular Buildings

At least one-fifth of the Netherlands’ 6,900 church buildings have been converted for secular use, a national Dutch newspaper reports ― and hundreds more are expected to follow suit in the coming years.

About 25% of Dutch churches built between 1800 and 1970 are now being used for nonreligious purposes, including as apartment complexes, offices and cultural centers, according to an investigation published by the Trouw in June. Around 20% of Dutch churches built before 1800 have also been redesigned, most often finding new life as community centers, museums or theaters.

Dutch church buildings are often located in central areas, Trouw reports. Old church buildings can be expensive for a dwindling congregation to maintain. Churches built before 1800 are often considered national monuments. All of this means that deciding how to repurpose these old buildings while maintaining their cultural legacy has become a key topic of concern for local communities.

Read it all.

Posted in Religion & Culture, The Netherlands

Congratulations to the USA Women’s National Team for Winning the 2019 World Cup over the Netherlands 2-0

Posted in America/U.S.A., Sports, The Netherlands, Women

A Short description of Jan Hus from the Virtual Museum of Protestantism

He protested against the ecclesiastical system, he preached in favour of reform in the Church and advocated a return to the poverty recommended by the Scriptures. Indeed, the Scriptures were the only rule and every man had the right to study them. In Questio de indulgentis (1412) he denounced the indulgences.

He admired Wyclif’s writings and defended him when he was condemned as a heretic. He was excommunicated. An interdict was pronounced over Prague and he had to leave it and go to southern Bohemia, where he preached and wrote theological treatises, notably the Tractatus de ecclesia (1413), known as «The Church».

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Czech Republic

Congratulations to the USA Women’s National Team for Winning their Semifinal over England Today 2-1

Posted in America/U.S.A., England / UK, France, Sports, Women

USA Women’s World Cup Team survives a very tough match against France to win 2-1 and advance to the Semifinals

Posted in America/U.S.A., France, Sports, Women

England hammer Norway to reach consecutive Women’s World Cup semi-finals

The Lionesses got off to the perfect start when Jill Scott tapped home Lucy Bronze’s cutback inside three minutes after a miss-kick from Ellen White, before a wonderful team move was finished off by White – taking her joint top of the World Cup goalscoring charts – five minutes before half time.

Bronze then put the icing on the victory with a fabulous strike from a well-worked free-kick in the 57th minute, with Nikita Parris even having penalty saved well by Norway keeper Ingrid Hjelmseth after England captain Steph Houghton was pushed in the box late on.

England will now face the winners of the match between France and USA in the last four and will fancy their chances after such an impressive showing in Le Havre.

The tournament’s fastest goal – timed at 126 seconds – put England on course for victory as veteran Scott finished after great work from Bronze to create the opening.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, France, Norway, Sports, Women

(NYT) A Muslim Family Sought Help at the Belgian Embassy in Beijing. The Police Dragged Them Out.

The last time Abdulhamid Tursun spoke to his wife, she was huddled in a Beijing hotel room with their four children, frightened after being evicted from the Belgian Embassy in the dead of night. Suddenly, plainclothes police officers burst into the room, cutting off the couple’s video call.

Mr. Tursun says he has not heard from her since.

His wife, Wureyetiguli Abula, 43, had gone to the Belgian Embassy to seek visas so the family — from the Uighur Muslim minority group — could be reunited with Mr. Tursun, 51, in Brussels, where he won asylum in 2017.

But instead of finding protection, Ms. Abula and her children, ages 5 to 17, were dragged away after the Chinese police were allowed to enter the embassy.

Now the case is raising alarms back in Belgium, where lawmakers are asking how it could have happened and where Mr. Tursun’s family has been taken. It illustrates how, two years after China began detaining Uighurs in a vast network of internment camps, the group has limited protections — even from Western democracies — against persecution by the Chinese government.

Read it all.

Posted in Belgium, Children, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(EF) Age of first access to pornography falls to 8, study finds

The youngest Member of Parliament in Spain is leading an initiative to force porn websites operating in the country to install credible age verification systems.

The recently elected 26-year-old Andrea Fernández has called to end the “culture of porn” among young people which has lead in the last years to more than one hundred cases of so-called “manadas” (English: packs, herds) – groups of young men who plan to rape vulnerable women.

The limitation of pornographic contents online was included in the electoral programme of the the newly elected Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez (Social Democrats). The goal of the new government is to implement a new strict age verification system for these kind of websites. This has already been approved in the UK, with the support of 88% of parents.

The social debate about the role of pornography in the education of children becomes more important as new data of a research conducted by the Balearic Islands University among 2,500 people aged 16-29 showed a disturbing reality.

The report “New Pornography and the changes in interpersonal relationships” says some children are starting to consume pornography at 8. The average age for boys to start to consume pornography is 14, 16 for girls. The legal age required to access such contents is 18.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Evangelicals, Pornography, Religion & Culture, Spain

Congratulations to Rafael Nadal Who Today Won the French Open for the 12th Time

Posted in France, Men, Spain, Sports

(CNN) A 97-year-old vet jumped out of a plane to recreate his D-Day parachute drop

For most people, a summer trip to France is a chance to relax in beautiful surroundings and to savor the country’s fine food. For Tom Rice of San Diego, it’s an opportunity to relive the time he nearly died jumping from a C-47 Douglas airplane, then was shot at, again and again.
Despite being 97, Rice climbed once more into the bone-rattling fuselage of a C-47 and, while flying over the Normandy fields where he first saw action in 1944, leaped into the unknown.

Those on the ground watched the anxiety-inducing descent as, strapped to another parachutist dangling beneath a red, white and blue canopy, the old man coasted through the sky, another gigantic American flag billowing out behind him.

Reaching the ground with only a slight stumble on impact, Rice proudly gave V for victory signs with his hands and, wearing a 101st Airborne baseball cap, said he felt “great” and was ready to “go back up and do it again.”

Read it all (and if you have time the video is delightful).

Posted in America/U.S.A., France, History, Military / Armed Forces

(ESPN FC) Liverpool’s latest European Cup win comes on a journey that is far from over

And now, after a 2-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur, it is six European Cups for Liverpool. With Barcelona and Bayern Munich left behind, ahead are Milan — just one away — and then 13-time winners Real Madrid, who have owned the European Cup competition like no others. No club can be separated from its past, but Liverpool, more than most, are marked by what came before, from the sublime to the tragic.

The latest title mirrored those that came before in the sense that it was gutted out and filled with might-have-beens, probably many more than there should have been. That has been the story of Liverpool’s European wins: twice on penalties, twice by a single goal, always with the game in the balance until the final minutes.

So maybe it was apt that after the final whistle, when most of the newly crowned champions had collapsed to the Wanda Metropolitano pitch, felled by equal parts exhaustion, elation and the need for release, the last to get up was Jordan Henderson.

The Liverpool captain stayed down for what felt like an eternity, first with head in hands, then hunched on all fours. Only when substitute Divock Origi put the match out of reach, with three minutes to go, had Liverpool been able to shake a creeping fear that a final marked by errors and fatigue could take a twist against them.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, History, Men, Spain, Sports

(Guardian) All Germans urged to wear kippah in protest against antisemitism

Germans of all faiths and none are being urged to wear kippah skullcaps on Saturday as a symbol of solidarity with the Jewish community, after a steep rise in antisemitic attacks.

Protests across the country have been called by the government’s antisemitism ombudsman after he triggered a heated debate when he warned Jews last week not to wear the kippah because of the increasing likelihood of being attacked.

The German tabloid newspaper Bild has been one of the most vocal supporters of the protests, even publishing a cut-out kippah for readers to download and print.

Felix Klein, who was appointed as antisemitism ombudsman a year ago, told German media last week: “I cannot recommend that Jews wear the kippah whenever and wherever they want in Germany, and I say this with regret.”

Read it all.

Posted in Germany, Judaism, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) David Molton–My Jewish Family’s American Life Almost Wasn’t–They were turned away 80 years ago but made their way to the U.S. eventually

Left alone with three children, my grandmother formed a plan to reunite the family. She spent much of her dwindling savings on a voyage to Cuba aboard the St. Louis. The ship was filled with hundreds of Jews with similar stories. In what should have served as a warning of trouble ahead, the passengers were required to purchase return tickets.

As the ship neared Havana in May 1939, the Cuban government announced it wouldn’t honor the Cuban landing permits sold to passengers by a corrupt Cuban minister. Most passengers weren’t concerned, since they held immigration quota numbers committing the U.S. to grant them entry when their turn came over the next few years. They assumed Washington would move up the timetable and let them enter right away.

Yet the St. Louis was anchored in Havana harbor from May 27 to June 2. A representative from the Joint Distribution Committee, a Jewish relief group, negotiated with the Cuban government to allow the passengers to disembark. Dinghies carried separated family members, including my grandfather, for temporary reunions. President Franklin D. Roosevelt remained silent, and the negotiations failed.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Cuba, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Germany, Immigration, Judaism, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(CLJ) Anne-Sophie Constant on Jean Vanier–The Message Is the Messenger

God has revealed his mysteries to little children; he has chosen the weak of the world to shame the strong. But this is difficult to hear and believe. Jean Vanier didn’t believe it in the beginning, either. The man who settled in Trosly with Philippe and Raphaël in 1964 thought he knew what he was doing. At least, he knew what he wanted: shocked by the living conditions of people with intellectual disabilities, he wanted to give them a more dignified life and to help them be fulfilled. He had few doubts that he would know what must be done and how they should live. He was wise and well-educated. He was cultured, efficient, organized, generous, and religious. But he quickly discovered that these were not qualities that mattered for his new companions. Little did he know at that time that they were the ones who would help him understand himself. It was they, the weak and despised ones, who would become his “masters in humanity,” in a way that was totally upside-down for him.

I discovered that we grew together and that it was they who helped to fulfill me, they who little by little revealed to me my humanity, they who led me further and further into a world of friendship and communion that healed my heart and awakened life in me. Yes, I knew how to do things, I knew how to organize, lead, and teach. I could be efficient, but I discovered that that was not primarily what they wanted from me. They wanted what was most important: a presence, a relationship, love.

What Philippe and Raphaël wanted was a friend, someone who could simply be happy in their company, someone who would love them just as they were. “Living with Philippe and Raphaël, these two men who were so fragile and weak, having suffered so much from rejection, I discovered that everyone thirsts for communion with other human beings.” What surprised Jean was that he found that same thirst in himself. He discovered that there is a wounded child hiding in each of us, a child who has been calling in vain, whom we wall up and silence with our social standards, professional titles, and personal successes. We have hidden this inner child behind so many walls that we have eventually forgotten him. Yet he is awakened in us by the cry of the poor, by their raw thirst for relationships and love, their inability to play the social games of power and prestige, their inability to disguise their feelings, and their lack of satisfaction with those superficial relationships that we settle for all too often.

Read it all.

Posted in France, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Spectator) The return of the pilgrimage: walking from Canterbury to Rome

A friend of mine is walking to Santiago, the Galician shrine of St James in north west Spain. He’s heading for Sahagun, which means he should be in Santiago in two or three weeks’ time. That means his pilgrimage, along the so called French Way, from Saint Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyranees, will take four or five weeks and he will, by the end, have covered more than 500 miles.

The pace depends on his companions. He met them by chance when they invited him for a beer in one of the hostels along the Camino – drink and sociability is standard on the pilgrimage. He’s a Catholic; his companions include a non-believer and Protestants. People fall in with other pilgrims along the way. Risky, obviously, but another friend of mine, a retired man from Cork, met up with a Finn on his route a couple of years ago, and they’ve stayed friends and visited each others’ families.

What possesses people to go on this gruelling trek, which, while a good deal less dangerous than it was in the Middle Ages, is still tough going (one thing you learn, apparently, is the importance of looking after your feet)? My friend used to work for Transport for London; he’s 47.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Europe, History, Religion & Culture, Spain

(CT) Jean Vanier RIP

“Over the last forty-two years we’ve had many deaths, and we’ve spent a lot of time celebrating death. It’s very fundamental to our community,” he wrote, referencing his experience in L’Arche community of Trosly-Breuil, France—where Vanier began the first of an international network of communities for people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities to live together in faith and friendship.

As he recounted in his book Living Gently in a Violent World, “To celebrate death is to gather around and talk about the person—about Janine, for example, who died recently. We gathered to say how beautiful she was, how much she had brought to us. Her sisters came, and we wept and laughed at the same time. We wept because she was gone, but we laughed because she did so many beautiful things.”

Likewise, those of us who have been formed and inspired by Jean Vanier have hearts heavy with both grief and gratitude as we celebrate the beautiful things we learned from a leader who helped us all to become more human.

We don’t often find people born into privilege and status, and highly educated, who then follow the downward path of Jesus. But as founder of L’Arche International, Vanier spent decades in community with people with and without intellectual disabilities and embraced the joys, complications, and demands that go along with such a life.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, France, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Exploring two Great Easter Themes: Forgiveness and Hope

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there. Listen carefully for a famous Henry Allen “Harry” Ironside (1876-1951) story about forgiveness of sins from the life of czar Nicholas I of Russia.

Posted in * South Carolina, Christology, Easter, Eschatology, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Russia, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Psephizo) Isabelle Hamley–Why does Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral matter?

It was therefore deeply moving, last night, to hear journalists groping for words they had almost forgotten—words that speak of faith and what faith had meant to the nation over the years. Many of them were trying to put into words the sense of connection they felt to the cathedral, how moved they were to hear hymns and prayers from Christians surrounding them, and find words that would nurture hope. This morning, journalists were tentatively using the word ‘miracle’ as they contemplated the picture of the inside of the cathedral, the cross illuminated from the side windows, still intact, and heard of the news that many windows had survived, and the organ maybe too. To hear these words spoken with awe and genuine interrogation is nothing short of a miracle – and it may be short lived. But as I listened, I realised that Notre-Dame had lived up to its destiny: it reminded a people of its past, and of the hope of new life we find at the foot of the cross.

France has tried very hard to push God away, and forget the faith of centuries. But when the people fell silent, the very stones cried out. The question is, now that we remember, what will we do with these memories for the future? There is a small window of opportunity for the nature of public discourse to change. For the derision and suspicion of faith to morph into respect and attentive listening. Yesterday, the French president embraced the rector of the cathedral. Church and state in a long forgotten embrace? It was a fleeting image, and yet a hint that new life, new ways of imagining our life together are always possible.

And for me, this is the real question of the rebuilding. What is it we are rebuilding? What kind of vision will animate the endless years of work ahead? Will we listen to the memory of stones, and honour the God whose cross triumphed over destruction, fire and ashes? Notre-Dame held memories we had forgotten; will we accept God’s gift of memory, and reshape some of the distorted, incomplete stories we tell ourselves, so that we can move into a better future? I hope and pray that we do; and I believe that we can, because I believe in the God of Good Friday and of Easter Sunday, who ultimately holds all memory, all past and future in his hand.Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, France, Police/Fire, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Archbishops of Canterbury and York ask cathedrals and churches to toll bells Tomorrow for Notre Dame

From there:

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are today encouraging, where possible, all cathedrals and churches across England to toll a bell for 7 minutes at 7pm this Thursday, as a mark of solidarity following the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. This initiative has been suggested by the British Ambassador to France, Edward Llewellyn, and it is hoped that many will take part.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), France, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire

(BBC) Anti-Semitism threatens Romania’s fragile Jewish community

Ugly scenes of smashed and toppled headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Romania have shocked the country’s dwindling Jewish community and prompted international condemnation.

Vandals badly damaged 73 gravestones in the north-eastern town of Husi earlier this month, amid a surge in anti-Semitic attacks across Europe.

“It’s a very disturbing event, but it’s nothing surprising,” said Maximillian Marco Katz, founding director of the Centre for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism in Romania.

“It shows that anti-Semitism is alive, it doesn’t matter who did it,” he told the BBC.

“They didn’t knock down two or three gravestones, they knocked down 73 gravestones – that takes some determination and it takes time.”

A criminal investigation has been opened.

Read it all.

Posted in Judaism, Religion & Culture, Romania

(RNS) Beth Allison Barr–History lends plenty of hope for the resurrection of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral

Henry VI of England was crowned also king of France here, a mostly empty title for him in the midst of the Hundred Years’ War. More than 300 years later, Napoleon Bonaparte would crown himself emperor of France here, a title which meant a bit more, at least for a short while. Here, the bells would ring the end of World War I and World War II.

As I watched the flames engulf the 19th-century spire, I could almost see the medieval world. Fire was an ever-present reality for both the timber frames of medieval towns and the inner frames of buildings like cathedrals.

Just this past summer I was studying a manuscript at the Weston Library in Oxford, a medieval liturgical book belonging to St. Chad’s, one of the four parish churches in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. A small note written on the bottom of one of the folios describes a 14th-century tragedy: “a fire burnt the whole parish of St. Alkmund’s starting at daybreak on the eve of Pentecost….anno. 1312.”

The comment was written without much fanfare, but as I watched the fiery spire of Notre Dame crumble and collapse into the burning building, my thoughts strayed to the desperate medieval bodies who would have worked tirelessly on that holy night in 14th-century Shrewsbury. They would have struggled to bring water from the River Severn, snaking silver around their town, trying to contain a fire quickly consuming the heart of their town and endangering the lives of their families and friends. Just like the fire of Notre Dame, they would only be partially successful. They would save the town at the cost of a parish.

Stories of catastrophic fires fill the pages of medieval and early modern history.

In 1174, a fire spread from a nearby cottage in Canterbury, England, to the wooden roof of Canterbury Cathedral. The heat was so intense that it melted the roof and caused significant damage to parts of the cathedral. St. Paul’s Cathedral in London burned at least three times in its long history, the most famous of which was the Great Fire of 1666.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Europe, Police/Fire

The World Famous Notre Dame Cathedral is Devastated by Fire

Posted in France, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture