In the summer of 1221, the first Dominican friars landed in Kent, beginning a new and exciting British mission. After journeying on foot through Canterbury and London, they arrived at Oxford, England’s centre of learning, on August 15th 1221.
This year, 2021, the Dominican Order celebrates 800 years since the foundation of the Province of England as well as 800 years since the death of St Dominic.
From Pentecost, May 23rd 2021, until the feast of the Translation of St Dominic on May 24th 2022, the whole Dominican family in Britain is marking this historic milestone with a year of celebrations and cultural events, which are open to all!
‘This Jubilee Year, we celebrate 800 years since the arrival of the first Dominican friars in Britain in 1221. Reflecting upon this Province’s rich past and present, the image of the journey seems very apt, as Dominicans have always been ‘itinerant’ (wandering) preachers, travelling to share the gospel.
This is also a time to reflect upon the journey made by the first of our friars, travelling from the heart of the Order, from St Dominic in Bologna, all the way up to Britain to begin a new mission in a land that had just recently seen the battles between King John and the barons. I wonder what those first men felt as they approached our shores. Trepidation? Eager anticipation? Certainly, though, their warm reception in England is undeniable, and led to the rapid growth in the century that followed.
But the rest of our province’s story has also been a journey: sometimes we have made great strides; at others, we have suffered terrible obstacles and pitfalls. But amazingly, we have survived this journey, following in the footsteps of Our Lord.
Now as we pause at the start of the next leg of our journey - whatever that may bring - we invite you too to join us in a time of celebration.
Join us on our pilgrimage walk, whether in person or remotely, join us at the events we will hold this year, or join with us in spirit, sharing your prayer intentions, pilgrimages, and questions for us to answer.
And as always, we will journey on with you.
Fr Martin Ganeri OP,
Prior Provincial of the Province of England
Dominicans were instrumental in the early development of Oxford University, serving as bishops and advising kings. However, they also suffered immense oppression after the Reformation and spent centuries in exile before returning to Britain in the 19th century. Above all, the Dominicans have always preached the gospel to the people of these lands, and this is our continuing mission today.