2012-05-12 Vatican RadioPope Benedict XVI attended a concert yesterday evening in the Paul VI Hall here at the Vatican, offered by the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, in honour of the Holy Father, to whom President Napolitano also gave gifts of a prestigious violin and an antique score to Zimmerman’s Missa solemnis from the first half of the 19th century.
The concert Friday evening featured sacred music by the Italian composers Antonio Vivaldi and Giuseppe Verdi.
Speaking at the end of the concert, Pope Benedict thanked President Napolitano, the featured soloists, the performers of the Rome Opera, orchestra conductor Maestro Riccardo Muti – whom Benedict decorated with a Papal knighthood: the Grand Cross of St Gregory the Great - and all those who had a part in organizing the event. “Let us pray,” said Pope Benedict, that, after hearing the evening’s music, “we might be able ourselves to say to God: ‘In you, O Lord, I place with joy my hope. Make it so that I might love you as your Holy Mother, so that my soul, at the end of the journey, might be given the glory of Paradise’.”
The Concert followed a private meeting between the Pope and the President.
A statement from the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, reports that the meeting between Pope Benedict and President Napolitano was a cordial one that lasted 20 minutes, during which they expressed a common concern for peace, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East.
The statement goes on to say that the Holy Father expressed his personal gratitude to the President for the concert given in his honour, and renewed promises of his love for Italy and his closeness to all citizens of the Italian Republic, assuring the President of his continuing prayers in this difficult and challenging time for the country.