Carisbrooke Priory

Annual Mass at St. Dominic’s Priory

Annual Mass at St. Dominic’s Priory

Isle of Wight Catholics gathered at St. Dominic’s Priory, Carisbrooke on the Isle of Wight on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (7th October) for the annual Mass at this former Dominican priory, concelebrated by Frs. Joe McNerney and Jonathan Redvers Harris. Peter Clarke shares news of the gathering…

In his sermon at the Mass, Fr. Jonathan reminded the congregation of the tradition that Our Lady gave a rosary to St. Dominic in the 13th century. Hence the Dominican affiliation to the rosary. It is therefore providential that this annual Mass is offered on this Marian feast. Just as the apostles were joined by Our Lady in prayer after Christ’s resurrection, so we too, dedicate ourselves with Mary to the Lord’s calling.

This Dominican Priory (designed by the Catholic architect, Gilbert Blount) is steeped in Catholic history. It was founded in 1866 by Elizabeth, Countess of Clare (foundress of St. Mary’s Church, Ryde) and it was the first (Post Reformation) religious institution to be established on the Island. History was made three years later, when Queen Victoria came to visit from nearby Osborne House, in January, 1869. This was the first time that a monarch had visited a Catholic institution in England since the Reformation.

With the (Post Vatican II) decline in religious vocations, the priory closed in 1989 after 123 years. Fortunately, it remains a religious house as an Ecumenical Christian Prayer Centre. Isle of Wight Catholics are always welcomed back for this annual Mass. As usual, the Mass was followed by a procession through the priory gardens to the nuns’ cemetery, where the Litany of the Dead and the De Profundis were recited and the graves of the nuns were blessed with holy water. Before the final blessing, a poem “The graves of Carisbrooke” was read by Edmund Matyjaszek of Ryde.

The history of the priory can be read on the Island Catholic History Society website.