From the letter of the Master of the Order on the preparation of the Jubilee of 2021

The theme for the jubilee celebration is At Table with St. Dominic, which is inspired by the Mascarella table, the table on which the first portrait of St. Dominic was painted shortly after his canonization. Thus, we will celebrate St. Dominic not as a saint alone on a pedestal, but a saint enjoying table fellowship with his brothers, gathered by the same vocation to preach God’s Word and sharing God’s gift of food and drink. Our jubilee celebration invites us to reflect on these questions:

  • What does it mean for us to be at table with St. Dominic here and now (hic et nunc)?
  • How does his life and work inspire and encourage us to share our life, our faith, hope and love, our spiritual and material goods so that others too may be nourished at this same table?
  • How does this table become a table for the breaking of the Word and the Bread of Life?

I hope to share with you my thoughts on these questions in another letter.

Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III, OP


The Table of St Dominic

Courtesy of Don Andrea Caniato
12porte, Arcidiocesi di Bologna




Exhibition at the Basilica of St. Dominic, Bologna, from 25/03/2021 to 07/10/2021

H. 8.30 – 12.00; 15.30 – 18.00, from Monday to Friday
H. 8.30 – 12.00; 15.30 – 17.00, Saturday
H. 15.30 – 17.00, Sunday


The “Mascarella Table” takes its name from the fact that it has always been kept in the Bolognese Church of Santa Maria della Mascarella, which was where St. Dominic and his companions stayed for the first few months after their arrival in Bologna in the winter of 1218.

The table was painted in tempera on a board measuring 43 × 572 cm, shortly after Dominic’s canonisation (July 1234) and, according to current knowledge, is the oldest representation of the Saint and his friars. It was painted by a Master from the North of Italy around 1235-1240. It shows, in the centre, St. Dominic with a halo, flanked by a series of niches with pairs of friars preachers (24: 12 + 12), all sitting at a table full of bread. Judging from the anonymous artist’s depiction of their faces, the friars seem to come from various parts of Europe: perhaps the painter may have seen them on the occasion of a General Chapter (at that time the Order held its General Chapters alternately in Bologna and Paris). The painting was inspired by the Prologue of the Legend of Pietro Ferrandi (itself inspired by the Bull of Dominic’s canonisation):

“On one occasion God, inviting his elect to an eternal banquet in various places and in many ways, in the last days, in other words at the eleventh hour, sent his servant to tell the guests that they should come, as all was now ready. According to St Gregory the Great, this servant is an Order of preachers that must be sent, in the last times, to warn men’s souls of the imminent arrival of the Judge. Indeed, Scripture forewarns that there would be a new Order of preachers, and clearly states that this Order would be sent forth at the end of the world, affirming: “He has sent his servant at suppertime”. This “suppertime” is the end of the world, we are those for whom the end of times has arrived. Thus a new Order was sent at suppertime, that is to say in the last days. […] These are the Preachers: divine Providence has provided their Order for the dangers of these last times, so that, at the approach of the judgment of him to whom, in humiliation, judgment was denied, the number of witnesses may increase”.

This, then, is the oldest image of what, at the time of the canonisation of St. Dominic, was his own understanding of his mission within the Church.

Fr. Gianni Festa, OP



On the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the death of St. Dominic, there was to be an exhibition, in the Basilica of St. Dominic in Bologna, with the exhibition of the “Mascarella Table”, the oldest portrait of St. Dominic, painted around 1238.

The saint is depicted at table with 48 confreres, probably during a supper at the first Bologna convent, now known as “SS. Maria e Domenico della Mascarella”.

Emphasising the topic “At table with St. Dominic”, the exhibition of the table was to be accompanied by 14 large photographs positioned in the arcades of the basilica to show the Dominican Family today, in its diversity and universality. Because of the difficulties and blocks related to Covid-19 we have been forced to cancel the exhibition; but we do not want to forgo remembering the universality of the Order 800 years after the death of its founder. That is why we would like to publish on our website the best photographs of the various branches of the Dominican Family. So we urge you to take part in this initiative, sending us photographs that show your community or your group … “at table with St. Dominic”. We are grateful to those who offer their contribution to making the current image of the Dominican Family special.