Holocaust Memorial Day

On Friday 26 January, we’ll hold a special service for the town in the Abbey Gardens for Holocaust Memorial Day, to remember the victims of genocide. The service will take place in the Peace Garden in the Abbey Gardens at 10.30 am.


The theme for 2024’s Holocaust Memorial Day is Fragility of Freedom. The title reflects on the ten stages of genocide, as identified by Professor Gregory Stanton, which demonstrate that genocide never just happens. Instead, it’s a staged process where piece by piece, freedom is taken from a group of people by limiting movement, religion, creativity and more. During Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), all victims of genocide are remembered, including more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Joining us for the service will be local schools Guildhall Feoffment, County High School and King Edward VI who will contribute readings and music. As well as the special service at 10.30 am, the Cathedral will be open throughout the day for reflection and contemplation.


Later in the day on Friday 26 January at 7.00 pm, the St Edmundsbury Cathedral Youth Choir will offer an act of meditation for Holocaust Memorial Day. They will sing works exploring themes of suffering, peace and reconciliation, including Gregorio Allegri’s famous Miserere mei, Deus. This liturgical performance will take place by candlelight at the High Altar.


Revd Canon Matthew Vernon said, “This year, it feels especially important to reflect on the victims of genocide as we see a horrifying humanitarian crisis unfolding in Israel and Gaza. We should all feel the call to challenge discrimination in our time and to better understand how, stage by stage, it can occur.”


Alongside the service, an exhibition titled, ‘We have to move on’: Jewish refugees in Suffolk in WW2’ will reside in the Cathedral from Tuesday 23 January to Sunday 4 February. Through the exhibition, discover the stories of the Jewish refugees who found a safe home in Newmarket in Suffolk during the Second World War. This travelling exhibition from the National Horseracing Museum and Suffolk Archives was inspired by the memoir of lawyer and cellist Fritz Ball, who wrote about his experiences as a refugee in Suffolk. The exhibition will be available to view during Cathedral visiting hours.


On Saturday 27 January, the Cathedral Tower will be lit in purple, along with iconic buildings and landmarks in the UK, for HMD’s Light the Darkness campaign – a powerful national moment of commemoration and solidarity. The public can also take part by placing a candle safely in their window at 8.00 pm on 27 January.