January 2022 #2 – Czechian abbey to be returned

News in brief.

Czechia ordered to return abbey. The Constitutional Court in the Czech Republic has ordered the government to return the abbey of Vyšší Brod to the Roman Catholic Church. The abbey had been a religious and cultural centre in southern Bohemian since the thirteenth century, but had been confiscated first by the Nazis, then by the Communists. Whilst the main part of the abbey had been returned to the Cistercians in the 1990s, a dispute remained over surrounding woodland. The High Court has ruled that the property, including the extensive land, must be returned in its entirety. 

Church of England Climate protestors found not guilty. Two clergy members who were arrested for stopping a London train in an act of climate protest in 2019 were found not guilty by a jury. Read more. 

German Lutherans renew commitment to climate. The Lutheran Church in Germany has announced a stronger commitment to climate protection. The Church has set ambitious targets to improve its own buildings, and to improve climate education for its membership. Congregations will be asked to consider how the topic can be anchored in church activities, for example, in confirmation classes or the senior citizens’ groups. 

Spotlight on Zurich

With its tall, sharp copper green steeple, Fraumünster Church (Münsterhof 2) is one of the iconic features of Zurich’s skyline. Originating in the ninth century as part of a cloister, the church has seen constant addition and renewal, and today contains an extraordinary body of religious art; with several highlighting the role of women in the Church. This includes a cycle of frescoes by Swiss painter Paul Bodmer depicting the founding of the monastery by nuns Hildegard and Bertha, and the city’s patron saints Felix and Regula. The church also houses stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall. Chagall was approached to do the windows following an exhibition of his work at the nearby Kunsthaus. Having spent some time in the church, Chagall was inspired to produce the five large-scale works depicting Elijah, Jacob, Moses, the life of Jesus, and an angel heralding the end of the world. 

St Andrew’s Anglican Church (Promenadengasse 9). The first Anglicans arrived in Zurich in the sixteenth century, fleeing persecution in England. St. Andrew’s Church has its origins in the neo-gothic funeral chapel of the Zurich Central Cemetery which was built in 1847-48 by Ferdinand Stadler. In 1895 the city of Zurich sold this chapel to the growing English congregation in the city. The building was subsequently expanded by adding the choir and the tower. The church continues to have a thriving Anglican community, with a choir and two services on Sundays.

Saint Richard Rolle

This week the Church of England and the Episcopalian Church commemorate Richard Rolle, a 14th century mystic and spiritual writer from South Yorkshire. More is known about Richard Rolle’s writings than his life. He is thought to have become a religious hermit after dropping out of his studies. Some records suggest that he spent some time at the Sorbonne in Paris. But most of his writings exist because of his correspondence with Margaret Kirby, another Yorkshire hermit and nun. Amongst his writings was a translation of the Psalms into English which he wrote for Margaret Kirby and which was subsequently published, remaining for several hundred years the only English translation of any part of the bible authorised for use. He also wrote a popular mystical work Incendium Amoris (The Fire of Love), a kind of self-help guide to spiritual growth and recognising God’s presence.

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Picture credits. Preacher from BL Stowe 39, ff. 10v-11 by Richard Rolle (attributed to) – The British Library | graphic design by European Churches Chronicle.

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