Westminster Abbey choir to sing at St. Peter's basilica
The Vatican has invited the Westminster Abbey choir to sing at St. Peter’s basilica in an unprecedented ecumenical gesture.
The Westminster Abbey choir will join with the Sistine Chapel choir to perform at liturgical celebrations of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29. In a joint statement, leaders of the two groups observed that “this momentous ecumenical occasion is the first time in its over-500 year history that the Sistine Chapel Choir has joined forces with another choir.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, welcomed the news as “a powerful reminder of the call that our churches share to be faithful to the apostolic fullness of the Gospel today.” The Anglican leader pointed out that it is appropriate for the choir to perform in St. Peter’s basilica because St. Peter is the patron of Westminster Abbey.
The invitation to the Westminster Abbey choir was extended by Msgr. Massimo Palombella, the director of the Sistine Chapel choir. The invitation was made after Pope Benedict XVI visited Westminster Abbey in September 2010 and joined Archbishop Williams in an ecumenical service. The Anglican prelate is expected to participate in the Vatican ceremonies of June 29.
During their visit to Italy the Westminster Abbey choir will also perform at the Benedictine monastery of Montecassino. Westminster Abbey was founded by Benedictines in 960 and remained a Benedictine monastery until the Anglican takeover.