July 8, 2012. (Romereports.com)
Every year on June 29th, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of the apostles Saint Peter and Paul. This year the occasion was marked by the presence of the most famous Anglican Choir from London's Westminster Abbey.
They sang alongside the Sistine Chapel Choir in St. Peter's Basilica in front of Benedict XVI
. In the 500 year history of the Vatican choir, this was the first time they sang with another group.
The importance of the occasion was felt by members of both Churches.Rev. James Hawkey
Minor Canon of Westminster Abbey“There's a feeling that there are these two extraordinary historic and extraordinary artistic cultural institutions, coming together to form an extraordinary ecumenical project, which is truly unprecedented.”
The two choirs spent time practicing together so they could each learn the songs they would sing such as the Papae Marcelli. The musical line-up was a mix that came from the Anglican and Catholic tradition.
The presence of the Westminster Choir at the Vatican was an act that would have been unthinkable in other time periods between the two Churches.Rev. James Hawkey
Minor Canon of Westminster Abbey“What we're not just doing together is a joint concert, we're both singing within the liturgy. FLASH There's a strong sense in which our Churches discover new layers of mutual relationship, new layers of belonging together within this partnership.”
The Abbey Choir was invited to Rome after the pope's visit to the United Kingdom in 2010 when he attended a prayer at Westminster Abbey.
Benedict XVI also shares a special relationship with the Anglican Primate, Archbishop Rowan Williams, who will visit Rome in October to speak to the synod of Catholic bishops on the New Evangelization.