So arrived ‘the big day’. After an inspiring morning visiting the magnificent Jesuit Chiesa Del Gesu and the neighbouring rooms where St Ignatius spent his final years, Mount St Mary’s and Balborough Hall Choir travelled to sing in the Mass at St Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican, one of the largest religious – and of course historically significant – structures in the world and the centre of the Catholic faith. As we approached the entrance to the Basilica, we had a quick rehearsal in the sunshine, much to the delight of the onlookers.
The Basilica itself is remarkable. The sense of unity, space and light; the sheer weight of history and the mastery of its design and decorations: all of these things concentrated here leave their imprint on the soul. To this dimension, music adds another. At 5pm, to mark the start of the mass, the choir sung the beautiful opening bars of Bruckner’s Locus Iste, and through their music, the choir almost became a part of the building and history. There were 100 choristers and a packed congregation, and yet throughout the Mass there was an atmosphere of intimacy.
At 6pm, the Mass ended, and we returned to our hotel knowing that we had played our part in something extraordinary.
Later we enjoyed our final dinner at the hotel and performed for the kitchen and hotel staff as a thank you for the way they had looked after us.