The slide continues… rock in the Sistine Chapel

We saw that the Sistine Chapel was rented out to Porsche.

We had the projections of critters on the facade of the Vatican Basilica.

Now we have rock music in, again, the Sistina.

From Reuters:


The Edge, lead guitarist with the Irish band U2, has become the first rock star to play in the Sistine Chapel, a venue he described as “the most beautiful parish hall in the world.”

The performer, whose real name is David Evans, sang four songs on Saturday night for about 200 doctors, researchers and philanthropists who attended a conference at the Vatican on regenerative medicine called Cellular Horizons.

Backed by a choir of seven Irish teenagers, and wearing his trademark black beanie cap, he played acoustic guitar and sang a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “If It be Your Will”, and versions of U2 songs “Yahweh”, “Ordinary Love” and “Walk On.”

The Edge, whose father died last month from cancer and whose daughter overcame leukemia, is on the board of foundations working for cancer prevention.

He joked with his audience, telling them he was stunned when asked to play in the chapel, which was painted by Renaissance master Michelangelo in the 16th century.

“When they asked me if I wanted to become the first contemporary artist to play in the Sistine Chapel, I didn’t know what to say because usually there’s this other guy who sings,” the musician said, referring to U2 front man Bono.


He didn’t ask. He was asked.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Eugene says:

    How much longer Lord?

  2. Bosco says:

    In Pre-Vatican II days I suppose, had he the chance, Pope Pius XII might have arranged a performance of this 1958 number by The Diamonds for a bit of strolling around the Sistine Chapel.

    What a travesty (and I don’t mean The Diamonds).

  3. Clinton R. says:

    It seems like it would be more appropriate to have a Cole Porter production at the Sistine Chapel. You know, a rendition of “Anything Goes”. Anything, of course, except sound Catholic doctrine, praxis and the Holy Mass in Latin.

  4. jazzclass says:

    Look, I don’t like it either, but there have been a lot worse musicians and performers in the Vatican than U2. I mean, at least it’s not Slayer or Judas Priest, right?

  5. iamlucky13 says:

    “Parish hall?” What gave him the idea the Sistine Chapel was merely a hall?

    It sounds like this wasn’t a concert per se, but a convention being held in the chapel for some reason, with the musician doing a short talk and performance during one of the sessions, due to his involvement with fundraising for cancer research institutes.

    It is apparently a Vatican organized conference on stem cell research, but fortunately, it at least seems to have been entirely focused on adult and cord blood stem cell research (which, as opposed to immoral embryonic stem cells, do not require a person to be killed to collect, and also as opposed to embryonic stem cells have actually proven effective in treating some conditions).


  6. Fr. Timothy Ferguson says:

    This could all be solved if they had enough money to build a good-sized hall somewhere at the Vatican, something non-sacred for events like this. They could use it for concerts, and even papal audiences – the sorts of things that you just don’t want to put into chapels that were built and dedicated for the exclusive worship of God.

    Maybe they could put some big, ugly modern sculpture on the back wall, to show that the Church is “with it” (and by “it” I mean the out-of-touch Durkheimian upper classes that are still stuck in some 1960’s modernist rut).

    It’s a shame there’s nothing like this right near the Vatican that they could use for concerts…

  7. Ellen says:

    I can’t get too upset. Remember the story of the Juggler of Notre Dame? The concert was for a good cause. Anyway, I’ve always admired The Edge’s guitar playing – it has a certain chiming sound that no one else does.

  8. Anthony says:

    I’d like to say “I’m surprised” but I really can’t say that…

    First we have photos of “endangered animals” being displayed on the Vatican (Dec 11, 2015)…
    Now, we have this…

    Seriously, one has to wonder “What’s next?”…

  9. FrPhillips says:

    Every time I visit the Sistine Chapel with pilgrims, there’s always a guard who yells “Silenzio!” Where’s that guy when we really need him?

  10. RobW says:

    Wish I could share these on fb but no description of the story comes up…just ‘WDTPRS.COM’…nobody is gonna click on that.

  11. Frank H says:

    And, Father, maybe name it after a pope! Say, the one who closed the Second Vatican Council?

  12. Hoover says:

    I think they are trying to teach that money can buy happiness and being of the world gets you exclusive opportunities. I only come to this conclusion based on the fact that Vatican certainly seems to bend over backward to the rich, famous, and politically well connected of the secular world -especially those that stand on rocky moral ground and aren’t exactly model Catholics (or human beings).

    Secularize and profane the sacred! -That certainly seems to be the rallying cry these days (in what the Venerable Archbishop Sheen called the demonic age).

    Next thing you know, the Vatican bank will issue black “Pontifex Maximus” cards that will allow the rich and famous (like “The Edge”, Bernie Sanders, et. al.) to accumulate indulgence points with everyday purchases!

  13. Benedict Joseph says:

    Within the past week I have read that Hans Kung’s appeal to reexamine the doctrine of infallibility has received the approbation of Pope Bergoglio. This would include “ex cathedra” statements by the pope, “de fide” definitions issued by ecumenical councils and the “ordinarium magisterium” comprised of doctrines that have been constantly taught and held. Essentially Kung and Pope Bergoglio are willing to review all the components of the faith including our understanding of Divine Revelation.
    Within the past week I have read the interview with Robert Spaemann regarding “Amoris Laetitia” where he plainly states the exhortation breaks with the Magisterium and is a threat to the unity of the Church.
    Within the past week I have read Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s extraordinary reflection on “Amoris Laetitia” which provides the consolation of knowing there are faithful ecclesiastics left within the Church capable of providing Christ-like leadership.
    Within the past week I have read that Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid is denying Cardinal Muller an opportunity to present his new book within the Archdiocese because the Archbishop terms Cardinal Muller an enemy of the Pope.
    Within the past week I read of the bicycle antics of the Bishop of Palermo in the cathedral of his diocese. We can be grateful that he could muster the equilibrium to employ a two wheeler rather than a tricycle.
    Today I read that the Sistine Chapel has served as a venue for the performance of the rock star “The Edge.”
    The edge indeed. Is that what we just drove over?
    Is this where we have arrived eleven years after the papacy of “Fides et Ratio,” the papacy of Divine Mercy?
    We are on the third generation of Roman Catholic youth with no catechesis. Recently it was reported that in fifteen years 2/3 of those attending mass weekly will be dead. The engaged faithful are dying off and those few with a few decades left to them are deeply wounded. When will our priests, bishops and religious cease pretending the strap of manipulation is the gentle yoke of evangelical obedience? The abuse of power presently enjoying center stage is sacrilege. Complicity with it only fuels its hubris. Souls are in jeopardy while those that can bring the charade to an end mull career strategies.
    The enemy is within and their strategy of disarm, demean and defeat is in full swing.
    Most Roman Catholics are exhibiting symptoms of an ecclesiastical Stockholm syndrome. We need be wise as serpents and simple as doves.

  14. Elizabeth D says:

    Coming next, the U2 Lifeteen Mass at St Peter’s.

  15. lawoski says:

    One can certainly question whether he should have played there in the first place. But The Edge was respectful during the concert and remembered his manners. The following is from a news report of the concert:
    [The Edge] thanked the Pope and Vatican officials “for allowing us to use the most beautiful parish hall in the world,” referring to the Sistine Chapel. “Being Irish you learn very early that if you want to be asked to come back it’s very important to thank the local parish priest for the loan of the hall,” he said.

  16. cpttom says:

    I am speechless. I will pray for this Pope, and our Holy Church. But this is insanity, they didn’t even do this kind of cr@p in the 70s. St Joseph pray for us.

  17. JKnott says:

    Hope this isn’t the slippery slope on the way to Super Bowl entertainment hype. Once it starts, it’s hard to rise to the sublime again.

  18. TNCath says:

    Might that be considered a desecration? We’ve reached yet another new low.

  19. Gabriel Syme says:

    This affair is another chapter in Pope Francis’ ongoing efforts to desacralise the Catholic Church and make it “of the world”.

    May God soon grant us a bold and orthodox Pope.

  20. OK. I know there are some facets of it that just don’t compare, but…
    “Missa Papae Marcelli”.

    < runsaway >

  21. organistjason says:

    May the “Shift key be struck” and “Close Parenthesis” occur…..sooner rather then later. This is just sadly pathetic.

  22. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Recently it was reported that in fifteen years 2/3 of those attending mass weekly will be dead.”

    Coincidentally, so will 2/3 of those in the same age group who do not attend Mass. :(

    The Chicken

    p.s. Why was the bio group meeting in the Sistine Chapel?

  23. RWG says:

    T0 be honest I can’t get my knickers in a knot about this, given the state of music choice and quality heard during mass in most parishes on any given Sunday.

  24. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    The faithful priests left in the world need to go to the Vatican en masse and perform an exorcism, in Latin. Why do we have to stand by meekly and accept the theft of our Church and the damnation of souls? I watched the monkey video on the façade of St. Peter’s and was horrified. They are laughing at us. You can almost hear the diabolical screeches of glee.

  25. Polycarpio says:

    Flashback: May, 1527. The Prince of Orange takes up residence in the Apostolic Palace following the Sack of Rome (during which almost the entire Swiss Guard were massacred on the steps of St. Peter’s, and Pope Clement VII fled via the Pasetto di Borgio to Castel Sant’Angelo and subsequently, Castel Gandolfo); using the Sistine Chapel to stable his horse. Perspective, my dears, perspective!

  26. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    The Acoustics are probably less ideal, but they should do this sort of thing in the Pope Paul VI audience Hall. The backdrop of the bizarre nuclear Holocaust Jesus would be perfect for rock music.

  27. Thomas Sweeney says:

    There are stories about the Church being infiltrated by communist spies during the Stalin era, and how they planned to destroy the Mass. The Mass was the real object, because without it everything else would fall. There was even talk of Pope Paul VI being part of the conspiracy. Lately I am beginning to think that there might be some kind of plot to destroy 1965 years of tradition. I hope that I am wrong.

  28. Mary of Carmel says:

    Hanging my head in shame, but oh, what he is doing to his eternal soul. He seems bent on creating scandal wherever he goes.
    I am praying that he turns back.

  29. Kathleen10 says:

    What Benedict Joseph just said and then some.

  30. iPadre says:

    “Niente foto” “silenzio”

    I thought the artwork is so delicate. Guess I’m wrong.

  31. SanSan says:

    Nooooooooo. Come Holy Spirit Come. How much longer do we and more especially YOU have to suffer such outrages?!

  32. frjim4321 says:

    I would be concerned about the effect of the loud noise on the frescos.

  33. Hidden One says:

    It will take living Saints to deal successfully with these kinds of things.

  34. PostCatholic says:

    Great venue. I needed a photo opportunity. There were angels in the architecture spinning in infinity… Have seen Madonna there. Oh, and Genesis, too, obviously.

    (Can i get a rimshot, you on the drums? Some think liberals have no sense of humor, I’ve heard recently.)

  35. Luvadoxi says:

    Oh, man, when I first read that he performed “Walk On”, I thought, that’s beautiful–but I was thinking of this song….

  36. Filipino Catholic says:

    What Would Jesus Do?

    A: Make a whip of cords and drive this desacralizing pabulum out of the house of prayer.

  37. Neal says:

    Remember the Eucharistic Congress way back in ’97, when Pope St John Paul II went to a Bob Dylan concert and then told the youthful masses that the answer blowin’ in the wind was Jesus? Let’s not pretend the slide started three years ago. At least The Edge is kind of Catholic.

  38. haydn seeker says:

    I get that it sucks, but I am way more disturbed by the tambourines during my parish mass this weekend. Some people honestly thought that when God is present among us he wants to hear tambourines.

  39. Sorry, folks, but onee (very talented) man playing acoustic guitar and singing does not constitute a Rock show. Backed by a choir of teenagers no less.

    I’ll take that over The Sistine Screamers any day.

    [You may have missed the point.]

  40. pmullane says:

    Fr Phillips:

    “Every time I visit the Sistine Chapel with pilgrims, there’s always a guard who yells “Silenzio!” Where’s that guy when we really need him?”

    He is, of course, the nosiest person in the room as well. Got to love Italians.

  41. StabatMater says:

    Yes, and all the “teens” will be over 40!

  42. Amerikaner says:

    Talk about going over the edge… :-)

  43. Semper Gumby says:

    BenedictJoseph: Well said. Good point about Fides et Ratio. (It’s in my stack about half-read, but I see where you’re going here.)

  44. taffymycat says:

    disgusting….demons of the air are probably having a heyday.

  45. TimG says:

    Big mistake. Celebrating the Mass or voting for a new Pope are the only activities that have occurred in the Sistine Chapel for hundreds of years, it is now being rented out like a common conference room. The attacks on Tradition continue…

  46. JuliB says:

    “guard who yells “Silenzio!””

    And he does this because it’s a holy place, right? But he’s only there because the peasants are present, but when it’s the ‘right people’, anything goes.

    I weep.

  47. defreitas says:

    He’s singing the U2 version of “Yahweh”? Is that the same song that was forbidden by the Vatican because it offended Jewish sensibilities?

  48. DeGaulle says:

    Neal, Dylan wasn’t in the Sistine Chapel in ’97 and played a very respectful set. I have a vague memory that in the previous congress the madam that was the main act started a rant about contraception. Dylan did nothing of the sort. He may not be a Catholic, but has sung about Our Lady in recent albums. Why attack one of the few big names in rock who is on record for condemning abortion and homosexual behaviour?

  49. Auggie says:

    At least the horse that was stabled in the Chapel was not known to toss condoms to his fans and bray for gay “marriage” (as U2 has done).

  50. Sal says:

    Now wait a minute Fr. Z. Is your objection that there was music played in the Sistine Chapel, or that it was of the rock and roll genre?
    Can you really state as a fact that there has never been a musical performance done in the Sistine Chapel since the 1400’s? There is a long history of composers performing their works in churches for hundreds of years, e.g. Bach, Mozart. I think that religious rock music is not everybody’s cup of tea, but I think that it is a perfectly legitimate expression.

  51. jhayes says:

    Defreitas wrote He’s singing the U2 version of “Yahweh”? Is that the same song that was forbidden by the Vatican because it offended Jewish sensibilities

    “Yaweh” is an original composition by U2, from 2004.

    You may be thinking of the 2008 Letter from the CDW that said that the tetragrammaton should not be translated as Yahweh in liturgical celebrations or bible translations.

    I take it that this concert by The Edge was not a liturgical celebration.

    [It wasn’t liturgical. Well… I guess it’s okay then.]

  52. jhayes says:

    “Yaweh” should have been “Yahweh”

    The CDW letter is HERE

  53. Absit invidia says:

    Just waiting for this lot to sponsor Burning Man inside the Sistine . . .

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