Author: Lawrence Lew

800th Anniversary Pilgrimage Walk

800th Anniversary Pilgrimage Walk

Saturday 15 July was such a blessed day as we celebrated the 800th anniversary of the London Dominicans, walking some 15,000 steps to the City of London, and praying at the 4 locations where we’ve praised, blessed, and preached the Gospel since 1223. We began with Conventual Mass in St Dominic’s, and Fr Lawrence remarked in his sermon that this year also marks the 140th anniversary of its completion and the 100th year since it was consecrated.

Our expectations were exceeded in several ways: Over 120 people walked the 4-mile-journey with us, and around 200 joined us at the end for Vespers at the Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great in Smithfield; thunderstorms had been forecast but a blast of rain after the morning Mass was dispelled as we prayed the Rosary in the church, and the rest of the day was windy but fine and sunny at times.

Thank you to all who joined us, prayed with us, and helped and supported us. Above all, we thank God and Our Lady and St Dominic for a wonderful day.

To view a PDF of the booklet which contained the prayers and hymns and history of the places we visited, and the people we prayed for, click this link: 800th walk.

Below is the text of the sermon preached during Vespers by Fr Richard Finn OP, Provincial Archivist and author of a new history of the English Dominicans.

How are we to know what the God of peace desires of us? To know his will for us in the circumstances of our changing world? And how, as the Letter to the Hebrews has it, do we become what is acceptable to Him? Such questions are pressing in every age. For them to be answered, the apostolic faith handed down from generation to generation must be preached afresh for each generation to hear, interrogate, and respond. St Augustine once imagined Jesus knocking loudly on the door of a contemplative’s cell and saying to the startled contemplative: “Open to me, preach to others. How shall I have access to people who have actually shut their door to me, if no one opens the door? How shall they listen to me, if no one preaches?” 

Eight hundred years ago members of the English royal court thought they had perhaps found the right preachers for their generation. They established a tentative alliance with a small band of Dominican friars who had newly arrived in England. King Henry III and his justiciar, Hubert de Burgh, quickly saw how these skilled expositors of Sacred Scripture could preach and minister to the king’s subjects in the rapidly growing towns and cities across the country. Though the friars opened their first house at Oxford in 1221, to attract recruits among the university’s students and teachers, Hubert was soon busy with preparations for a small Dominican house at London which had opened by 1224 outside the walls on the east side of Shoe Lane, Holborn. Other members of the king’s council saw what could be done at Winchester and elsewhere. 

In the decades that followed, demand for this new Order of Preachers grew, as people valued not only their sermons, but the friars’ ministry as confessors, the beauty of their chanted liturgies, and their willingness to address the moral questions thrown up in a more mercantile and urban society. The friars visited the sick, consoled the dying in their homes, and prayed for them after they had died. History should not blind us to the novelty of this extensive pastoral ministry soon shared with Franciscans, Carmelites, and other friars. With support from the nobility, civic dignitaries, and townsfolk, Dominican priories opened in towns and cities across the country; but that early alliance with the crown was also cemented as the king supported new and existing foundations, and chose close advisors and confessors from among the friars. At London, the first Dominican priory quickly proved too small for the many friars who taught or were being trained there, or who preached both there and in the surrounding district. What’s more, the church was too small for the throng of townsfolk who flocked to its services. King Edward I supported his Dominican archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Kilwardby, and his Dominican confessor, John of Darlington, in moving the friars after 1275 to a vast new monastic complex at Ludgate where the River Fleet joined the Thames. 

Under Henry VIII, a long and fruitful alliance abruptly ended as every religious house in the kingdom was suppressed. The London Blackfriars was surrendered in November 1538. Its roofs were stripped of their lead, and the property was eventually sold off by a crown which did not want people to hear the Catholic Faith preached in its full integrity. Friars who challenged the asserted royal supremacy over the English Church got short shrift. Under Edward VI, ‘reformers’ recast a national church along increasingly Protestant lines. The tide turned briefly for five short years, from 1553 to 1558, when Mary Tudor and Cardi

nal Pole sought to re-establish Catholicism, and entrusted this former Augustinian church to a small group of English, Spanish, and Dutch Dominican

s led by a theologian and former exile William Perrin. A prominent preacher at St Paul’s cross, Perrin’s Spiritual Exercises and Ghostly Meditations would be popular reading among Catholics when they could no longer worship openly in Elizabethan England. 

After Elizabeth’s eviction of the friars in 1559 it would be three centuries before the Dominicans once again had a priory in London. In penal times, a few would minister from Embassy chapels, or at one of the royal palaces when there was a Catholic king or queen. One of the finest, Fr Thomas Middleton, managed to minister widely while still technically a prisoner in the Clink. Another, the elderly Fr David Kemeys, arrested in the hysteria whipped up by Titus Oates over the supposed Popish Plot, was so weak he couldn’t stand up in the dock at his trial, and died in Newgate prison before he could be convicted. These men witness to a mission faithfully served in difficult times, and a readiness to adapt in changed circumstances.  

Only in 1861 did the Dominican friars return to a new Priory in the city at Haverstock Hill. In place of their former royal and civic support, they now relied on the generosity of benefactors like Miss Helen Tasker who gave some £9,000 (then a huge sum) towards the building of St Dominic’s. By 1890 the community comprised some eleven priests and seven lay brothers. While some clergy served the local parish, others took advantage of the new railways to serve as mission preachers up and down the land. They might hear up to a thousand confessions in the course of each mission. 

Where does this leave us now? Grateful, certainly, for past support, and for the fidelity shown by our predecessors in preaching the Gospel. Inspired, hopefully, to be as resourceful and adaptive as our predecessors in facing new challenges.  And may the God of peace make us ready in this generation to do his will in all kinds of good action, above all in collaborating to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, attentive to the needs, fears, questions, and desires of our fellow men and women, now and in future generations.


800th Anniversary of London Dominicans

800th Anniversary of London Dominicans

The first Dominican priory in London, at Holborn, was established in 1223. To mark this milestone we have planned three special events:

  • Consecration of the Parish to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: On Friday 16 June, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart there will be a Rosary for the sanctification of priests prayed at 4:30pm as part of the ‘World Priest’ Global Rosary Relay. Then at 5pm there will be Adoration and Confessions as usual, followed by Mass at 6pm. At the conclusion of the Mass, Fr Lawrence will consecrate the parish to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Following this, there will be a talk and testimoniesfrom Fr Edouard Maro & Alicia Beauvisage on the power of consecration to the Sacred Heart. The evening concludes at 8pm with a livestreamed Rosary with the pastoral team of Dominican friars who serve the parish and Rosary Shrine. 

  • On Saturday 15 July, join us for a special pilgrimage walk to Blackfriars! We begin with 10am Mass in our church, followed by a walk to Blackfriars in central London. We will have a lunch and drink break in Blackfriars pub, followed by prayer around the  vicinity of Apothecaries’ Hall (site of the 2nd Dominican priory in London). We will then go to St Bartholomew the Great (Smithfield) for a tour, a short talk by the Provincial Archivist, Fr Richard Finn OP, and then we will sing Vespers at 4pm in St Bartholomew the Great, which was the 3rd Dominican priory in London.

  • We conclude our 800th anniversary celebrations with a Solemn Mass at 10am with the Dominican Family on Saturday 7 October, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. After Mass there will be a reception in the Priory, and that weekend there will be a special exhibition in the church of the historic vestments and banners from the convent of the Dominican Sisters of Stone, Staffordshire.

Dominicans, Solemn Mass, Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary, St Dominic's Priory NW5 Copyright © 2016 Kayte Brimacombe +44(0) 7801930456. Email

Week-Long Votive Lamps for your Prayer Intentions

Week-Long Votive Lamps for your Prayer Intentions

From 2 February 2023, the feast of Candlemas, the Rosary Shrine is launching a new prayer initiative so that you can participate in the prayers of this Shrine church:

1) Blue Marian votive lamps, which will burn for seven days, will be placed in new custom-made lamp stands in front of the altar of Our Lady of the Rosary, the patroness of this church and Rosary Shrine. You can book a votive lamp either online (click here) or come in person on Sundays to the Repository. Please include your prayer intentions, and please make the recommended donation of £6 for the blue Marian votive lamps. Up to ten of these lamps will burn each week in honour of Our Lady, and they are a sign of our prayers being offered perpetually before her.

2) In addition, there are two white sanctuary lamps hanging by the High Altar and they burn throughout the week on either side of the Tabernacle. They are a sign of the presence of the Lord in the Tabernacle, and they honour the Eucharist. Prayer intentions can also be offered for these two sanctuary lamps, either online or at the Repository, and the recommended donation for the sanctuary lamp is £10.

To book a week-long votive lamp in the Rosary Shrine for your intentions, visit:

First Saturdays at the Rosary Shrine

First Saturdays at the Rosary Shrine

Our Lady of the Rosary appeared to the saintly children of Fatima in 1917. It is often forgotten that Our Lady continued to speak to Sr Lucia of Fatima a few more times, and in 1925 the Blessed Virgin specifically asked that on the first Saturdays of the month, we should:

  1. Make a good confession in a spirit of reparation for blasphemies against Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart;
  2. Receive Holy Communion in a state of grace, and as an act of reparation for sins against Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart;
  3. Pray five decades of the Rosary;
  4. Fifteen minutes of meditative prayer on the Mysteries of the Rosary, ie: the Gospels. A lectio divina will be done during Adoration to aid this. This meditation is in addition to the praying of the Rosary.

For a fuller explanation of the first Saturday devotion, which is approved by the Church, please refer to these sites: and

As this is the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary, we wish to honour Our Lady’s requests, and to provide a means for people in London to observe the First Saturday acts of reparation. Please see the poster above, and do come and join us in prayer, meditation, Mass, Confession, and a Rosary Procession, every first Saturday of the month. Attendance at the monthly Rosary Procession at the start of the month is also encouraged by Pope Leo XIII for all members of the Rosary Confraternity.




Twinned with the Rosary Basilica in Guatemala

Twinned with the Rosary Basilica in Guatemala

The first of our monthly Rosary processions in 2023 took place on Saturday 7th January; candlelit Rosary processions take place on the first Saturday of every month at 7pm. We began with an Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and we ended with the blessing of an image of Our Lady of the Rosary, Queen and Patroness of Guatemala. Printed on tiles, the image of the much-loved statue of Our Lady of the Rosary from Guatemala City, was presented to us by Fr George Pittalis OP, Rector of the Rosary Basilica in Guatemala City. The image was installed in the 4th Glorious Mystery chapel of our church, and we were honoured to have Fr George with us, all the way from Guatemala City! After the blessing and veneration of the image of Our Lady of the Rosary of Guatemala City, Fr George Pittalis OP said:

On behalf of my Dominican community and my Dominican brothers of Central America I would like to give my heartfelt gratitude to Fr Lawrence, all the friars here in London, and to the Dominican family and the Rosary Confraternity established at St Dominic’s Priory and the Rosary Shrine. Thank you for your welcome and for undertaking this celebration of the spiritual link, a ‘twinning’ between The Rosary Shrine in London and the Basilica of the Rosary in Guatemala City where (in both) the devotion and veneration of our beloved Mary, the Virgin Mother of God , is carried out and attended to by the praying and preaching of the Holy Rosary. Through this spiritual link we would like to join forces for us both to be able to live with a particular enthusiasm our love and devotion to our sweet Lady, the Queen of the Holy Rosary and Mother and Queen of us all. This ‘twinning’ is to join forces to spread the Gospel of peace and salvation where it is possible by praying and preaching the Holy Rosary, and to commit ourselves to spending our life as true Christians. Both  places have the history of a rich and fruitful of devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary, and now we have the privilege and responsibility to continue in this tradition. With the words of Pope St John Paul II, we can say we are part of one the most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation, that reminds us that our true devotion for Mary our Queen of the Rosary is a possession of a spark of heaven! Thank you very much indeed!
The tiles in our church are matched with a set of tiles bearing an image of Our Lady of the Rosary from our Rosary Altar in our church. In the photo below Fr Lawrence is shown receiving the tiles of Our Lady of the Rosary of Guatemala which he brought back from Guatemala City.

Above: Fr Lawrence at the amazing procession of Our Lady of the Rosary of Guatemala. The silver statue of Our Lady is carried through the streets of Guatemala City on a float borne by 70 people. The procession which he attended on the final Saturday of October in 2022 lasted for twenty hours!

December in the Rosary Shrine

December in the Rosary Shrine

We have a wonderful array of activities going on this December. The first weekend of December begins, of course, with our monthly First Saturday devotions (Adoration, Lectio Divina and Confession from 5pm; Mass at 6pm) including the monthly Rosary procession with blessed candles at 7pm.

During Advent and Christmastide, Fr Peter Harries will be giving a series of 30-minute presentations on Thursday evenings at 6:45pm on Advent & Christmas themes in sacred art. The dates and topics for the talks are shown in the poster here, and the talks will take place in the Parish Hall.


On 12 December, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, there will be a talk in the Hall at 7pm by author and podcaster, Meg Hunter-Kilmer entitled: “Mother of God, Mother of Mine: How Our Lady of Guadalupe Leads Us to Bethlehem”. For more about our speaker, visit:

The following day, 13th of December, is St Lucy’s feast which is traditionally kept as a feast of light and song. There will be a Dominican Rite Sung Mass at 9pm. The Mass will be sung at the Rosary Altar, and the church will be illuminated only by candlelight. Following the Mass there will be refreshments in the Parish Hall.

Finally, on 15th December, our annual Simbang Gabi Masses will begin, running until 23 December. Please see the poster below for more details.




October 2022 at the Rosary Shrine

October 2022 at the Rosary Shrine

October is the month of the Holy Rosary! Join us in Our Lady’s Rosary Shrine in London for our annual celebrations:

  • Rosary Sunday: This is the “external solemnity” of Our Lady of the Rosary, celebrated in Dominican churches on the first Sunday of October. This year, it falls very early in the month, so we’re celebrating on the weekend of 1-2 October. The 12 noon Mass on Sun 2 October will be celebrated by Abbot Xavier Perrin OSB of Quarr Abbey. Roses will be blessed and distributed at the end of all Masses this weekend.
  • Rosary Processions: There will be a torch-lit Rosary procession, with the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag every Saturday evening at 7pm throughout the month of October: 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th. Candles are provided, and roses will be blessed at each of these processions, but you will need to bring your own roses to the processions.
  • 7 October 2022: The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary falls on Friday 7 October. There will be a sung Mass at 6pm, followed by a Rosary procession.
  • Music Workshops with Pawel Bebenek, and Eucharistic Rosary Procession: The month culminates, as usual, on the final Saturday with a special Eucharistic Rosary Procession at the slightly later time of 7:15pm. See the poster above or the video below for details and registration for the workshops. If you’re a singer or play an instrument, do join our workshops of beautiful music by Polish composer, Pawel Bebenek. Pawel is coming personally to animate these workshops and will lead the singing at the procession in the Rosary Shrine church that evening.

Schedule of Monthly Parish Activities

Schedule of Monthly Parish Activities

As we come back from our summer break, a reminder of some of the regular activities that take place every month in our parish and Rosary Shrine:

  • First Saturdays = Devotions to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart (Adoration & Confessions from 5pm) with candlelit Rosary Procession at 7pm (lasts about 20 mins).
  • First Sundays = Baptisms during the 10am Mass.
  • Every Sunday = Coffee, cakes and refreshment for all in the Parish Hall after the 10am Mass.
  • Third Sundays = Baptismal Preparation after the 10am Mass. To enrol for this, please speak to the parish priest first. If you don’t live in this parish you’ll need permission from your parish priest to have your child baptised here. 
  • Last Saturdays = Filipino choir sings at the 6pm Vigil Mass, followed by a free Filipino meal in the Parish Hall. 


  • 8 September = Our Lady’s birthday, with organ and chant Mass at 6pm.
  • 29 September = 6pm Mass, with organ and guest choir celebrated by Bishop Sherrington to mark the official opening of the Radio Maria studio.
  • 2 October = Rosary Sunday, with blessed roses distributed at all Masses. Abbot Xavier Perrin OSB will preside at the 12 noon Solemn Mass. 
  • 29 October = Rosary Vigil at 7:30pm. During the day there will be music workshops in the Hall led by Pawel Bebenek. 

Lady Chapel Restoration Complete!

Lady Chapel Restoration Complete!

On the feast of the co-patroness of the Dominican Order, St Mary Magdalene, we are delighted to announce the completion of the restoration works at the Rosary Altar in the Lady Chapel. Work on phase 1 was completed in 2002, as the altar was restored, re-gilded, and the painted angels were remade after they had been whitewashed. Now, phase 2 (the ‘Lost Angels’ project) is complete as the missing statues of angels and the two votive lamps were remade and put back in place. The two votive lamps burn here perpetually: one for the intentions of the ‘Friends of the Rosary Shrine‘, and one for the intentions of the Benefactors of the Rosary Shrine.

Angel with votive lamp: they burn as a sign of our prayers for the Friends and Benefactors of the Rosary Shrine, London.
Daily Mass at the Rosary Altar.

Holy Mass is now celebrated every weekday at the Rosary Altar: Mondays and Fridays at 10am, and Tue, Wed, Thu, at 7:30am. Entry is only through the newly-restored Lady Chapel porch accessed via Alan Cheales Way.

Historic photo, c.1900 of how the angels appeared
Before restoration
After restoration (July 2022)

More photos and information about the restoration of the Lady Chapel and the Rosary Shrine can be seen here.

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Sponsor a Lamp

Lighting a Votive Lamp for Your Prayer Intentions Use the secure form below to sponsor one or more lamps in our church. A week-long lamp will burn for your intentions before the Altar of Our Lady of the Rosary, or

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