Jubilee Vespers – Report with Photos

Jubilee Vespers – Report with Photos

Westminster Cathedral was packed with Dominicans and well-wishers last Friday, celebrating the Order’s 800th birthday.

We were delighted to be joined by so many friends, supporters and benefactors. Over 1100 people gathered for Solemn Vespers for the feast of Dominican saint, Catherine of Siena, including the Master of the Dominican Order, Cardinals Nichols and Murphy-O’Connor, 6 bishops including our brother Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP, and representatives from 13 other religious orders. The Order was represented by 55 Dominican friars, 70 Dominican sisters, and 90 Lay Dominicans. Pupils and staff came from 16 Schools with Dominican connections. 


Sir James MacMillan was present to hear the first performance of his stunning Magnificat antiphon written especially for the occasion and sung by the Cathedral Choir. Another musical highlight was the responsory, skilfully sung by a schola of 8 friars. The congregation joined in enthusiastically for the hymns and psalms.  Vespers movingly concluded with the Dominican ‘Salve Regina’.

Sermon of Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP

In his sermon, Archbishop Malcolm reflected on St Catherine as a Dominican, considering her unique vocation among the many varied forms that our vocation can take, reflected in the many different saints of the Order. What unites them all, he said, is obedience to the ‘call of Wisdom’, and their presence within a Dominican Order that exists more as a family of brothers and sisters, rather than a hierarchical entity. Considering Catherine’s unique mystical and reforming contribution to the Church, Archbishop Malcolm recalled her sharp words for those who corrupt the Body of Christ, a message for today as much as for her own times; and concluded by calling to mind her most famous saying, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the word on fire”, good advice not just for Dominicans but for us all.

Address by Most Rev Bruno Cadoré OP, Master of the Order of Preachers

The service concluded with an address by the Master of the Order. In this he reflected upon the original initiative of St Dominic who sought to create a “renewed evangelisation, renewed in its zeal, in its methods, in its language”, with a “radicalism” in its itinerant and mendicant way of life, in order to meet the challenge posed by heretics who sought a kind of evangelical radicalism apart from the Church. In its methods, St Dominic and his brothers chose “to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, the preacher of Galilee” and “approach people in friendship so that by coming close to people, as Jesus did, they could invite them to a deeper friendship with God.”

In our own day, we are also called to have “courage for the future”, a courage that comes from the “joy of being preachers”, such that all members of the Order can become “preachers of hope, and witnesses of the friendship of God, the hope and friendship that transform the world”.


We were most fortunate to have the event captured for posterity by photo journalist Kayte Brimacombe as well as the Cathedral’s own in-house photographer (including those featured in this report). See below for the full albums:

(Please respect the photographers’ copyrights, seeking permission to reproduce and giving credit if permission is given).


The event was filmed by Black Swan 

Donations to mark the Jubilee

Several guests have already been in touch to offer generous ‘800th birthday presents‘ to the friars to mark our Jubilee Year. We would be very grateful for any donations that you may be able to offer, and we will use these in our areas of greatest need to advance our mission.

The Development Office manages the fundraising and communications of the Dominican Friars in Britain. You can contact us on

Comments (4)

  • A Website Visitor

    A very moving and uplifting occasion. Survey re DVD or on-line video / suggested price of DVD does not work on an iPad. I got the impression that the plainchant notation in the booklet caused problems for some of the congregation.

  • A Website Visitor

    Thanks for your feedback. I’ve added a hyperlink for the survey form which you should be able to use on an iPad.

  • A Website Visitor

    Lovely photo of the Dominican sisters!

  • A Website Visitor

    It was a wonderful day, indeed. And very well organized. My husband William and I enjoyed spending the afternoon with the Dominican family and their friends in Westminster. Best wishes, Pia Jolliffe

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