Huge success at Blackfriars Advent Market – thank you!

Blackfriars Market – an astounding success!!

Celebrating our 200th year, Blackfriars Market has been an opportunity to make a solid effort to develop our ministry and outreach for the future. And we have all excelled ourselves! Working hard over the weekend, we have now raised a total of £12,399.22 from our efforts over the last number of weeks. We will also be able to claim significant gift aid on some of the donations.

The Market is your success, your future

Blackfriars Market does not happen by itself and so in advance we would like to thank all those who have made it happen. It really is a cast of thousands! From those who get things moving months before in the planning stages, to those who arrange the timelines of what needs to happen when, and those who co-ordinate the bringing of goods for the market and overseeing the various things that happen. We are grateful to every single person. Your contribution is vitally important to securing the future of Holy Cross and realising our ambition to make the place ready for the next 200 years of ministry. Many thanks!

The Market is making things happen

The many steps forward that we have been able to make in our buildings over the last number of years have been amazing. From relighting the church to upgrading the living and working facilities in the priory, to tackling the deficit, these things have only been possible because of your efforts and generosity. As we go forward, our dreams and ambitions are within reach because of our achievement as a community. We have managed to raise over £40.5K since we launched the appeal in June. Many thanks to everyone!


Some more photos of the Blackfriars Advent Market:


Rossini Stabat Mater – a Holy Cross celebration to remember

“Were you at Holy Cross Priory on Saturday for Rossini’s Stabat Mater? If you were, lucky you, lucky all of us. If you weren’t, I cannot begin to tell you what you missed. And we had Monteverdi’s Beatus Vir as well.” – Roger Cairns, Swannington (Leicester Mercury, Letters page, 16 October 2019)

A historic occasion

The Dominican priory church in Leicester was filled last Saturday (12th October) for a concert celebrating 200 years since the first Holy Cross church was founded on this site in 2019. Over 330 people attended the performance by the Knighton Chamber Orchestra and Coro Nostro Chamber Choir, two local ensembles, also drawing on other local talent for the soloists. The highlight of the programme was the Rossini ‘Stabat Mater’, which in a sense was coming home: in the nineteenth century Holy Cross had given the work its first complete church performance in the UK.  So it was a fitting way to celebrate the 200th anniversary.

A thoughtful programme of sacred music

The Rossini was anticipated by a first half of various sacred choral works by Monteverdi (Beatus Vir), Mozart (Ave Verum Corpus) and Bruckner (Locus Iste) among others, selected to highlight the dedication of the church and its consecration for Catholic worship. One Eucharistic motet, the Tantum Ergo text by St Thomas Aquinas, was set by Charles Guynemer, the first director of music at Holy Cross in 1819. As an exile from France, he had been helped to settle in Leicester by William Gardiner, the prolific writer and publisher of hymns. So it was appropriate that the audience all stood to sing one of Gardiner’s tunes (‘Germany’) for the hymn to the Holy Cross, Vexilla Regis. Backed up by the organ and full orchestra, the combined voices of the choir and congregation really swelled the air in the resonant acoustic of Leicester’s largest church.

The historical origins

Professor Patrick Boylan provided historical notes in the programme and expanded these in a pre-concert talk. He explained how Leicester’s Catholics in 1819 were still suffering under penal laws, yet their growing congregation developed a strong musical tradition under Guynemer’s impulse, drawing on the English Catholic style of Samuel Webbe as well as the Dominican chant repertoire. After Guynemer, a succession of outstanding music directors ensured the Holy Cross choral tradition continued through the nineteenth century. Besides the Rossini Stabat Mater, other UK church premieres at Holy Cross included Mozart’s Coronation Mass in C Major and Gounod’s Messe Solennelle St Cecilia.

‘At the Cross her station keeping’

Fr Matthew Jarvis introduced the Rossini with a word about the meaning of the Stabat Mater. This Catholic hymn to the Virgin Mary as ‘Mother of Sorrows’ (feast day 15 September), standing at the foot of her Son’s cross, is well known to those who pray the Stations of the Cross. Fr Matthew invited the audience to contemplate the great crucifix hanging above the sanctuary, showing the Mother of Christ and the Beloved Disciple standing by, so that whatever meaning the music may convey in itself, or by the words of the hymn, might be framed and focused by that vivid scene of love and sorrow.

A word of gratitude

The event would not have been possible without the often hidden work of many faithful members of Holy Cross, including the Frassati Young Adults group, who turned out in large numbers to clean the church, arrange furniture, prepare and serve refreshments, and manage the welcome desks. Their efficient organisation, thanks in large part to the coordination by Jeff Henry, drew several compliments from the musicians and ensured that the large crowd that gathered on the night could relax and enjoy this musical celebration of Holy Cross in its 200th year. While the music received a well deserved standing ovation, perhaps many of those present also went home touched in some deeper way by the mystery of the Cross, the sign of God’s saving love for us.

A selection of photos of the event by Br Joseph Bailham OP:

A full house
Pre-concert talk by Professor Patrick Boylan

The grand finale
Conductors Paul Jenkins and Lydia Hind with the soloists, choir and orchestra for the final bow
Programme cover
The great crucifix over the sanctuary of Holy Cross Church, showing the Mother of Christ and the Beloved Disciple standing by
young, adult

Frassati Group for Young Adults

This recently established group for young adults (aged 18-35) meets on a Monday and a Saturday every other week.

The next dates will be:

Saturday 12 October, 11am-2pm (then assisting with the Rossini Stabat Mater concert)

Monday 21 October, 7pm-9pm

Saturday 2 November, 11am-2pm

Monday 11 November, 7pm-9pm


Monday evening sessions include a talk (by a Dominican friar or by one of the group members).  We start with bring-and-share food at 7pm, followed by talk and discussion, finishing with prayers just before 9pm.

The Saturday meetings are child-friendly and have more of a social feel. We meet to watch a short video and discuss it, pray in church (12.30 Mass), and then share a simple lunch.

To find out more, please email Fr Matthew ( or Katherine (

The Frassati Centre for Preaching and Evangelisation

Over the last few months, we have indicated the plans we are developing for a new pastoral centre here at Holy Cross – The Frassati Centre for Preaching and Evangelisation. This would seek to breathe new life into the original church buildings that we knew as the ‘Holy Cross Centre’. We’ve assembled £180k so far to develop these buildings, and we are seeking to embark on a major fundraising project as we look towards our bicentenary. There’ll be lots to talk about in the weeks ahead. Please come along to the events next weekend, 2nd March.

WHO IS BLESSED PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI? He’s the inspiration for our new initiative with developing our buildings and our apostolate, but who is he? He’s a lay Dominican, whose life was marked by living the Dominican Charism in his everyday life. He was deeply devoted to prayer and study, and he inspired great fellowship with his contemporaries, and devoted himself to the service of others, especially the most vulnerable members of the community. We look forward to getting to know him more closely as we develop our apostolate.

IMAGE OF BLESSED PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI We want to foster devotion to this Dominican Beatus. At 10:30am Mass next Sunday, 3rd March 2019, Fr Robert Gay, prior of our community in Oxford, will bless an image, as we prepare to enshrine Blessed Frassati in our church.  Please do come along.

holy cross school reception play area

Holy Cross Catholic Primary School

Holy Cross Catholic Primary School was founded by the Dominican Order here in Leicester in 1817.  From 1824, it operated from the Old School House on Wellington Street; it is now situated on Stonesby Avenue in the Saffron Lane area of Leicester.  If you would like a place for your child at this wonderful school, please contact the school office, tel: 0116 2833 135.  Visitors are welcome; come and have a look around.  Currently there are a few places left in the Nursery, Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3.

Head Teacher: Gail Neill

Chair of Governors: Fr. David Rocks O.P.

Please keep our school community in your prayers.


Holy Hour

Join us for a Holy Hour with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary, Dominican Rite Compline, and Benediction every Sunday evening (6pm-7pm), and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament every Saturday morning following the 10am Mass until Benediction just before the 12.30pm Mass.