Day of celebration to mark 500 years of King’s College Chapel

The University of Aberdeen’s King’s College Chapel will celebrate its quincentenary with a sequence of special events on Sunday (October 4).

A University Service of Celebration will start the day at 11am. The preacher will be the Very Reverend Professor Iain R. Torrance, a former Dean of Arts and Divinity at the University. Now President of Princeton Theological Seminary, he remains an Emeritus Professor of Aberdeen. He served as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland from 2003–04 and has also served as Chaplain to the Queen.

An original piece of music by Dr Paul Mealor, Senior Lecturer in the University’s Music Department, will be premiered at the service, performed by the chapel choir.

There will be a small exhibition of material relating to the chapel from the University’s Special Library Collections and Museum Collections in the Old Senate Room, which will be shown (with an archival talk by Professor Peter Davidson) at 1.30pm and 5pm.

At 3pm in King’s College Conference Centre, Professor Jane Geddes, of the University's Department of Art History, will give a virtual tour of King’s College Chapel.

At 4pm heritage consultant, Mrs Anne Simpson, will lead a walking tour of Old Aberdeen, leaving from the Old Town House. Places for all these events can be booked online at /chapel500, via the Chaplaincy Office on 01224 272137 or

The day will culminate at 6.30pm in a Roman Catholic Consecration Anniversary Mass, which will be celebrated by His Eminence Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien. His Excellency Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, Apostolic Nuncio, and the Right Reverend Peter A. Moran, Bishop of Aberdeen will be among the concelebrants. The preacher will be Father Allan White, OP, formerly Prior Provincial of the English Province of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) and now the Master of the Order’s Socius for North West Europe and Canada.

Father White’s own doctorate was on the history of sixteenth-century Aberdeen, and the University’s connections with the Dominican order go back to the distinguished Dominican scholar, John Adamson, who was the University of Aberdeen’s first professor of Theology.

Sunday’s events form part of the Chapel 500 programme, to mark the 500th anniversary of the consecration of the Chapel. Over the centuries the Chapel has witnessed great change, from its Papal foundation to the Reformation, the Jacobite risings, and the unification of King’s and Marischal Colleges in a single University. The academic term ahead will bring together various denominational traditions, welcoming preachers of the Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and Anglican churches.

Professor Sir Duncan Rice, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said: “Sunday will provide an opportunity not only to mark 500 years of the Chapel, but to welcome back those who have made a significant contribution to the University, students, staff and the wider community. The celebrations will honour the Chapel’s rich heritage and, in their variety, will embrace the diverse denominational traditions which have all played a part in its history. The Chapel has been an integral part of the University for 500 years and continues to play an important role in campus life.”

Reverend Dr Easter Smart, Chaplain to the University of Aberdeen, said:  “The celebrations will allow us to share the story of the Chapel with the wider community. It is a treasured building with a complex and interesting history. The Chapel is a historic building still very much alive today as a practicing place for worship, lectures, music and much more. It belongs to the community and has a strong role to play so we are delighted to be able to welcome those from all denominational traditions, from the University community and from the wider area to join with us in our celebrations.”

Father James Claffey, Catholic Chaplain to the University, said: “We are unique in the UK and Ireland in having a regular Sunday mass in a sixteenth-century university chapel, and that has been a great success, with a regular congregation of around 120 students. We’ve also developed a reputation for the high standard of our liturgy, and it is a privilege to be able to open what we have developed here at Aberdeen to our distinguished guests.”

Click here to download sermon