Two Sunday Masses in Rome

Posted on January 16th, 2011 by

The Gustavus Choir participated in two Sunday masses while in Rome.

One at noon at Santa Maria in Montesanto and one later at none-other-than St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

The Gustavus Choir rehearsing for mass at Santa Maria in Montesanto.

The first mass was in the same space as the previous night’s concert. The all-Italian, Catholic mass was attended by a few hundred people, primarily from Rome and other places in Italy. However, one attendee was from Sweden (home to the College’s namesake, if you didn’t already know that).

This young woman, named Sophie, was in the city doing research for her MFA degree from Mills College in San Francisco and happened upon Saturday evening’s concert.

She returned to the church again for the mass to listen to the Gustavus Choir and to collect more research for her master’s project combining music, composition, sound, and performance.

The second mass in the Vatican City was a highlight for many students — especially for some choir members who are members of or were raised in the Roman Catholic Church. One student said: “I am so excited I’ve waited my whole life for this!”

The evening mass at St. Peter’s Basilica was incredible!

Even walking into the area from the buses was breath taking.

The brick-lined piazza was decorated with a huge Christmas tree and a bigger-than-life nativity scene. The near-twilight sun danced across the ornate and magestic buildings. The massive columns, arched doorways, and tall doors dwarfed the thousands of people from around the world who were entering into the church.

The Gustavus Choir outside of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on Jan. 16, 2011.

Something serendipitous happened at this second mass too.  Minutes before the 5:30 p.m. service was to start, Chaplain Brian Johnson (who was wearing his collar) was invited to participate in the mass as a member of the clergy. Quickly, before he could ask any questions, he was whisked away into the sacristy where he changed into the appropriate attire (provided by the Vatican!). So just after the choir processed into its spot (a choir box to the left of the alter), Chaplain Johnson processed in with 10 or so priests and was involved in mass.

At St. Peter’s, the choir also earned high praise. After mass, attendees stayed to take photographs of the choir and to pass along their compliments.  And, the music coordinator for the church said the Gustavus Choir was one of the best choirs he had the pleasure of scheduling. He said that at times he has had to stop choirs from singing any more than one song during a service because the singing didn’t meet standards.

Tomorrow is the last full day in Rome.  Read about it later. Ciao!



  1. Ruth Gough says:

    Thank you for the wonderful coverage of this amazing choir tour!

  2. Bradley Abell says:

    Wow! I’m so happy for all of you. Good luck on the rest of your tour.

  3. Cory Ruegg says:

    This is incredible, are there any videos of this sunday mass in the Vatican City?

  4. Robin and Dave Kirk says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your travel highlights with those of us at home!

    God bless you all!

  5. Randy and Kathy Demmer says:

    Thank you for keeping us up todate with what is happening. Anxious also to hear the utube recording.