Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Gallery

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Pray without ceasing

The pictures in the Gallery show some of the significant people, places and movements associated with the Week of Prayer, its origins, history and developing life, as explained in the notes beneath them. Click on any image to visit a related website.

Lambert Beauduin, founder of the Monks of Unity, now at Chevetogne in Belgium. The community inspired Paul Couturier to refound the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Pope Benedict XV who extended the observance of the Church Unity Octave, the early form of the Week of Prayer, to the whole of the Catholic Church in 1916, to promote peace and reconciliation at the height of World War I

Archbishop Edward Benson of Canterbury. In 1894 he called for Whitsunday (Pentecost) to be a day of Prayer for Anglican and Roman Catholic unity as the commission met in Rome to discuss Anglican faith and order

Charles Wesley, whose centenary occurred in 2007. In 1788 he wrote a poem, Catholic Love, in response to a sermon by his brother John on Catholic Spirit. This called for a spiritual inclusiveness beyond church boundaries and Charles' poem aspired to unity in 'the hidden Church unknown', prefiguring Paul Couturier's 'Invisible Monastery' of prayer transcending Church divisions

Chiara Lubich, founder of Focolare, the great ecumenical lay moment to build peace, reconciliation and mutual love in the aftermath of the destruction of Europe and human society during the Second World War

The brothers of Sutton's Hospital at Charterhouse lay flowers on a model of the Tyburn Tree, in memory of Saint John Houghton and his fellow Carthusians who were among the first to be martyred under Henry VIII at the division of the Church of England from the Catholic Church. Nowadays their faithfulness is seen as part of the patrimony of all English Christians, fostering deeper unity to heal the historic wounds of mutual persecution and schism

Paul Couturier, 'apostle of unity', who recast the essentially Catholic Church Unity Octave as a Week of Universal Prayer for the Unity of Christians in 1933

Yves Congar OP, the Dominican expert whose work on ecclesiology - the structure, nature and purpose of the Church - profoundly influenced the Second Vatican Council, especially 'Lumen Gentium', the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, which brought in a new attitude to relations with other Christians. Congar met Paul Couturier at Amay-sur-Meuse, home of the Monks of Unity, and came to be impressed with his single-minded understanding of 'spiritual ecumenism'. This very term was itself incorporated into the Council's Decree on Ecumenism

The Abbey of Les Dombes. In 1937 Paul Couturier invited theologians and church people, half Catholics the others half Reformed or Lutheran, to meet in dialogue and discuss each others' understanding of the Christian faith. An early outcome of the newly renewed Week of Prayer for Christian Unity it meets every year to this day as the 'Groupe des Dombes'. Nowadays the Abbey is home to the Chemin Neuf Community, a new Catholic religious community with an ecumenical vocation. It cares for the Paul Couturier archive and continues his work and vision

The World Missionary Conference of 1910 at Edinburgh. Regarded by many as the formal beginning to the modern ecumenical movement. It was convened to deal with the problems and scandal of so many denominations effectively acting in competition in mission around the world. Eventually the work and collaboration it commissioned led to the foundation of the World Council of Churches in 1949. It is perhaps significant that the Edinburgh Conference convened only two years after the first observance of the Church Unity Octave, the first form of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Jonathan Edwards, for centuries 'America's greatest theologian', whose calls for 'A Concert of Prayer… for the revival of religion' among the different churches touched by North America’s 'Great Awakening' the early pentecostal revival movement, at agreed, set times set an early precedent and inspiration for the Week of Prayer in the twentieth century

Enzo Bianchi, prior of the Monastery of Bose. As a 21-year-old layman he began his monastic life in an abandoned farm between Milan and Turin to live the life of the Church envisaged at the Second Vatican Council which had just closed. Today Bose is a leading centre for ecumenical encounter and friendship

Laurent Fabré, founder of the Communauté du Chemin Neuf, established in the wake of the Second Vatican Council in Lyon, to sustain Christian marriage and family life, and to live the ecumenical vocation envisaged in the decrees of the Council and in the life's work of Paul Couturier

Billy Graham, the American evangelist, and Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury together at Wembley Stadium in 1954 for a mission to promote renewal and conversion in the life of the Church and the people of Britain

St Francis Chapel at Graymoor, Garrison NY, USA, where the Church Unity Octave was first kept in January 1908

Lord Halifax, who led the Anglican participants in the Malines Conversations from 1921 to 1925, under the presidency of Cardinal Mercier, archbishop of Malines-Brussels

Arthur, Cardinal Hinsley, archbishop of Westminster 1935-1943, who inspired the Sword of the Spirit movement at the height of the London Blitz during World War II. This popular movement prayed and called for peace and the reconstruction of Europe - including the restoration of Germany - after the conflict. At the great meeting in the Albert Hall in 1942 Cardinal HInsley and the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Lang, were moved to say the Lord's Prayer together for the first time

Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Robert Runcie pray together at the site of the martyrdom of St Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1982

Blessed John XXIII, the pope who convened the Second Vatican Council, which renewed the Church's understanding of its nature and purpose and irrevocably committed it to the ecumenical journey to unity with all other Christians

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, an energetic supporter of 'receptive ecumenical learning' and spiritual ecumenism

Pope Leo XIII whose pontificate marked a fundamental change in orientation in the Catholic Church towards unity with other Christians. Jean-Marie Tillard perceives the movement from Leo to Vatican II as being 'from conversion to Rome, to the the conversion of Rome'.

William Maclagan, archbishop of York 1891-1908. When Pope Leo called for a Novena of Prayer between Ascension and Whitsunday as the Commission to consult on Anglican Faith and Order met, it was seen as a generous response to Archbishop Benson of Canterbury's proposal of Pentecost itself for the same reason in the previous year. Maclagan famously exclaimed, 'Reunion is in the air'. Sadly the Commission's conclusion was not favourable, although both sides committed themselves to deeper prayer for unity

Cardinal Mercier, primate of Belgium and archbishop of Malines-Brussels 1906-1926. Deeply committed to unity as a result of his country's devastating experience of the Great War, he enabled the foundation of the Monks of Unity at Amay-sur-Meuse (later Chevetogne) under Lambert Beauduin to work for the unity of the Eastern and Western Churches, as well as the great Benedictine foundation for unity in the Church and in society, Vita et Pax, established by Constantine Bosschaerts. Mercier also presided over the Malines Conversations, the foundational dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics betwee 1921 and 1925

Johann Adam Möhler, a young professor in the Catholic Faculty of Theology at Tübingen whose 1825 book, Unity in the Church, influenced Cardinal Wiseman, first Archbishop of Wesminster, who introduced it to Cardinal Newman. Its conception of the Church not as a juridical institution but as a divinely ordered society, characterised by unity of spirit, unity of belief and unity of body with the bishop, each in communion with each other and the pope as Bishop of Rome, deeply affected Newman's thinking, in turn to influencing Yves Congar and thus the shaping of Lumen Gentium, Vatican II's Constitution on the Church

St David's Parish Church, Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire where the Revd Spencer Jones, the vicar, kept the first Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Church Unity Octave, in England simultaneously with Fr Paul Wattson in the United States

The home of the Community of Sant'Egidio in Trastevere, Rome, another religious community founded in the wake of Vatican II. A lay Catholic community, with members also from a number of other churches, its vocation is to work among the poor and marginalised, to facilitate peace and reconciliation especially in areas of strife and conflict and to encourage the ecumenical destiny of the Church

Father Paul Wattson, founder of the Friars of the Atonement, and Spencer Jones, vicar of Moreton in Marsh and inspirer of Wattson's vision for the visible unity of the whole Church, meet for the first time, years after jointly starting the Church Unity Octave as the beginning of the Week of Prayer in 1908

Fr Ignatius Spencer CP, who in 1845 won official approval for a scheme of prayer for 'unity in truth' among the Christians of England, jointly devised with Edward Pusey, leader of the Tractarians and John Henry Newman, the future Cardinal and notable former Anglican who converted to Roman Catholicism

Frère Roger Schutz, the Reformed pastor who founded the Taizé community. A good friend of Paul Couturier he exemplified and transmitted to the life of his community the same vocation to spiritual ecumenism and intense prayer for unity

The Cathedral of St John at Lyon where Paul Couturier relaunched the strongly Catholic Church Unity Octave as a Week of Universal Prayer for the Unity of Christians

St Bride's Parish Church, Percy Street in Liverpool. In 1821 the rector, James Haldane Stewart, published 'Hints for the General Union of Christians for Prayer for the Outpouring of the Spirit', suggesting the first Monday of each New Year as a day of prayer for unity. For the first time this brought people of different denominations to pray together in public, and so was an early visible sign of unity