Welcome to this week’s European Churches Chronicle, your premier source for weekly news on churches in Europe. Free, in your inbox, every Friday.
News in brief.
Churches recovering from flood damage. As localised flooding continued this week, more churches in Belgium and Germany reported damage. Two Baptist churches in Hagen and Remagen, Germany suffered flooding. A Baptist church in Belgium was also damaged, and the Anglican church in Knokke was flooded. The Catholic church in badly hit Trooz in Belgium was flooded in the previous week and the priest trapped for many hours. This week the church was used for organising relief supplies.
Pope calls for equitable global food policies. Pope Francis sent a message to the United Nations Secretary at the start of the UN Pre-Summit on Food Systems, which took place in Rome from 26-28 July. He denounced the “scandal” of hunger in a world that produces enough food for all people, adding that it is a “crime that violates basic human rights.”
Jesuit martyrs remembered. On 29 July gatherings were held in Rome, Verona and Beirut to remember the lives of missing and martyred Jesuit priests, and to call for the release of Paolo Dall’Oglio. 29 July marked 8 years since Jesuit Paolo Dall’Oglio went missing in Syria.
Anglicans launch weekly 25-mile pilgrimage to clean up Welsh beaches. 30 members of Welsh coastal churches walked from Talacre to Llandudno, litter picking and praying, to highlight stewardship of the coast, and the role of coastal churches in their communities.
Spotlight on Split.
Cathedral of St Domnius (Ul. Kraj Svetog Duje 3, 21000, Split) is thought to be the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that remains in use in its original structure. The Cathedral of St Domnius is composed of three distinct sections built at different times. The main part is Emperor Diocletian’s mausoleum, which dates from the end of the 3rd century. In the 5th century Christians destroyed Diocletian’s tomb and converted the building into a church. The Bell Tower was constructed in the year 1100 AD. In the 13th century, renowned local sculptor, Andrija Buvina, carved the gates from walnut, depicting 28 scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, starting with the Annunciation and ending with the Ascension. Services have been carried out in the cathedral for over a millennium and Mass is celebrated every Sunday. A procession is held on the feast of St Domnius on 7 May when thousands of people pack into the streets of Split for music and food.
The Church and the Monastery of St Francis, located on the Western part of the Riva, were built on an old early Christian site, the grave and church of St Felix, a martyr from the time of Diocletian. In the 13th century, Franciscan monks took over the church. During a war in the 15th century, the monastery was demolished and its stone used in the construction of the defensive tower against the Turks. The friary was later rebuilt. The church contains many impressive artefacts, and an impressive historic library. Prominent citizens of Split have been buried in the Church.
Church of Saint Martin. The smallest church in Split, St. Martin’s is located in a cavity of the west wall above the Porta Aurea of Diocletian’s Palace. That space, in the time of Diocletian, was a narrow passage used as a guardhouse. The space was converted into the church some time in the 6th century to meet the needs of Christian refugees to the region. The dedication to St Martin, the patron saint of soldiers, but also of tailors and clothmakers is thought to be linked to a textile workshop for Roman soldiers’ uniforms having been located in this part of the Palace. The marble altar screen that divides the church into two parts is particularly rare. The church is currently in the care of the Dominican sisters, who have a monastery next door.
Monastery and Church of Our-Lady-of-Health (Samostan i zupa Gospe od Zdravlja) to the northwest of Diocletian’s Palace is a Modernist church designed by Lavoslav Horvat and dedicated in 1937. It replaced an older church attached to a monastery, of which a baroque bell tower remains. Above the main altar is a fresco (Jesus Christ as the King, by Ivo Dulčić 1959) of Christ dancing. The feast of Lady of Health is celebrated with a Mass and procession on 21 November each year.
The Church of St. Nicholas the Traveller is on the southeast slope of Marjan Hill. It is a small stone church with a single-bell tower. The church was built in 1219 by Split citizens and dedicated to St Nicholas, the protector of ships and crews. It was donated to the abbey of St Stephen (on the southwest point of Split harbour) and maintained by Benedictine monks.
Martyr of the week: Robert Barnes.
This week the Church of England remembers the reformer and martyr, Robert Barnes, whose life reflects the pan-European character of the European Christian church of his time. Born in Norfolk, Barnes studied at Cambridge and Leuven. After Leuven, he returned to Cambridge where he became Prior of the Augustinian convent and joined a group of reformists who met regularly at the White Horse Inn. Following a controversial sermon, he was tried for heterodoxy in 1526. He was condemned to house arrest, but in 1528 fled to Antwerp, then to Wittenberg where he met and studied under Martin Luther. Three years later, Barnes returned to England, and became an intermediary between the English court and Lutheran Germany as Henry VIII sought Martin Luther’s approval to divorce Catherine of Aragon. This did not go well; Martin Luther rejected the idea, and Barnes became increasingly caught up in the internecine struggle between Protestant and Catholic groups in the English court. He was accused of heresy and burned at the stake on 30 July 1540.
Today, 30 July marks the World Day Against the Trafficking in Persons. The World Council of Churches and Lutheran World Federation will host a joint webinar, “Stop the Flow: Let’s End Human Trafficking,” at 13:30 CEST.
Christian Climate Action Belgium holds a short reflective online prayer session on the 1st of each month, to pray for climate justice and this year’s all-important COP26. The next prayer meeting is on 1 August at 20:00 CET.
Organ Recital, American Cathedral Paris. On Friday 6 August, 19:00—20:00 CET the American Cathedral in Paris will hold an organ concert performed by William Buthod, who currently serves as Minister of Music at Holy Trinity Parish in Decatur, Georgia, USA.
On the weekend of 6-8 August, the Intercontinental Church Society will mark the 150th anniversary of St Peter’s chaplaincy in Zermatt. More details about the Reception on Friday and the Service on Sunday 8 August may be found here.
Job advertised. The Anglican church, Holy Trinity, Geneva, seeks to appoint an Organ Scholar for the academic year 2021/2022. Duties include playing for services and accompanying the choir.
Picture credits: Sander Lenaerts, Mark Ahsmann, graphic design by European Churches Chronicle.
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