Friday. After our usual early morning wake-up call, breakfast in the hotel, the choir loaded the bus for a tour of the three Major Basilicas of Rome. First, the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls; second, St. John Lateran, and third, St. Mary Major. The morning of touring ended at Ancient Rome, on foot. The choir was unleashed at 1:30pm for lunch and rest and to prepare before attending the 5pm Mass at the Altar of the Chair inside St. Peter’s Basilica in which the choir would be the principal choir. It was quite an experience getting everyone to the Basilica since we were informed that we’d need to go through security. Normally, with this tour company, access is gained through a side entrance but for some unknown circumstance we were instructed otherwise, with ROBE, with SURPLICE, with MUSIC. Not exactly a calm arrival. Upon arriving at the square the line was at least an hour wait to clear security. Our guide, Elisabeth, was wonderful. She moved us right to the front – pushed our group though, by-passing the long line and we were all through security within 15 minutes. WHEW~ Formal photos of the group and choir were taken and we proceeded to the choir stalls where we prepared and settled in before Mass began. Before the pre-Mass prayers began (something that the Vatican does before all evening liturgies) Roy and Fr. Daniel were greeted personally by Cardinal Comastri who is the Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica. Such an honor for them to be greeted by him and receive his best wishes.
The Mass began promptly at 5pm. The choir sang the following:
Entrance: Cantate Domino (Hassler)
Offertory: The Lord Is My Light (Hallock)
Communion: O Nata Lux (Lauridsen)
Recessional: Exsultate Justi (Viadana)
Fr. Daniel, concelebrated the Mass along with two other priests of the Vatican. Immediately following the Mass, Cardinal Comastri gave gifts to the singers for their singing at the liturgy. A very moving experience for all. (Photos to come)
Following the liturgy, the choir walked to a champagne reception held in their honor at the offices of Courtial International, the international land operator who works in conjunction with Peter’s Way (USA). Many of the choir members were able to relax here and finally unwind and celebrate their fine singing in the Basilica. For most, this was a first time experience and hopefully not their last. Truly an awesome experience for all.
The choirs Farewell Dinner at Benito Restaurant was just a short bus ride away where we were greeted with music, food and WINE!
Tomorrow? No wake-up cal. The day is at leisure. YAY! Then, formal concert at St. Ignatius Church at 9pm.