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Pope Francis

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A 160-Voice California Choir Performs at St. Peter's Basilica

2016-04-22

This choir belongs to one of the largest private Catholic high schools in North America, and they came to the Vatican to perform during Mass at St. Peter's Basilica

Some of the 160 students who chose to come to Italy for their spring break described the experience as heavenly and breathtaking. 

JORDAN KESSLER 
Mater Dei Choir (California)
"I'm still awestruck...coming to the Vatican, this is my first time, and I don't know what I expected, but as soon as we started singing in St. Peter's Basilica, I started crying. I don't even know what came over me, but it was just really breathtaking and beautiful.”

As soon as they entered St. Peter's Basilica, they started taking photos. Some couldn't stop staring at the decorated ceilings as they sang. 

The choir opened the mass with an acapella version of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” They hoped their music touched the hearts of the hundreds of pilgrims present. 

NICK SILVA
Mater Dei Choir (California)
"I know we only sang one mass and to the millions of pilgrims who come here every year, we probably didn't do much. But I look into that audience and I know that in some way, we've touched them with our music and exposed them to the mercy of God through the gift of our voices. And that's all we wanted to do.” 

It is the fourth time that Choir Director, Scott Melvin, has come to Italy to perform at St. Peter's. He says the experience of singing here goes beyond any words. 

The Choir Director arranged the concert pieces to coincide not only with Easter, but with the Pope's Jubilee Year of Mercy. 

SCOTT MELVIN 
Director, Mater Dei Choir (California)
"We chose two pieces. 'Lux Aurumque,' is about birth and it's warm, illuminating way of giving forgiveness and peace, which only happens during the Holy Year. We have been working on that piece.”

The choir brought about half of the 300 chorus members with them, but traveled with over 400 people total, including chaperones, the band, photographers and the tour director.

As a Catholic high school, they truly wanted to deliver a spiritual and reverent concert experience in Rome and to unite everyone present.

NICK SILVA
Mater Dei Choir (California)
"When our music comes on and descends upon the congregation, I think of Jesus descending down into the Earth and I can see it in everyone's eyes when they're listening. And I hope we just made that mass a heavenly experience.”  

The priest who celebrated Mass thanked the choir at the end. He commented that St. Peter's Basilica should consider hiring them to sing and that they are always welcome back in Rome.

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