Twenty nine members of our Choir visited Rome at the end of May as part of our 40th birthday celebrations. During our trip to Santiago de Compostela in 2014, two Italian pilgrims we met were so impressed with the choir’s quality that they suggested we visit Rome.

We gave a concert in All Saints Anglican Church, Via del Babuino, 153, 00187 Rome on Sunday 29th May.

We sang in St Peter’s (The Vatican) on Monday, 30th May. This was obviously the highpoint of our tour, and followed our tradition of performing in Europe’s most iconic and prestigious venues. Previously, we have sung in Notre Dame in Paris, the Royal Palace in Hungary, Prague Castle, the Cathedral in Santiago da Compostela, Chartres Cathedral and the cathedral in Lisbon, to name just six.

We sang in Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano, Via Labicana, 95, 00184 Rome, on Tuesday 31st May.

We sang in Cattedrale di Sant’Agapito in the ancient city of Palestrina on Wednesday 1st June. The father of Renaissance music, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, was born here, so our visit is to pay homage to the man on whom our choir is based. We will sing several motets by him and visit the house in which he was born and brought up.

We sang in a Holy Communion Service at All Saints Anglican Church, Via del Babuino, 153, 00187 Rome on Thursday 2nd June.

Some further information about the history of these churches:

All Saints, an Anglican church in Rome, is about 100 metres from the Spanish Steps, at Via del Babuino, 153 (Metro line A stop at Spagna or Flaminio). It is a regular venue for concerts, especially opera. It has very good acoustics and groups from all over the world are attracted to perform here.

The history of the Anglican Church in Rome dates back to 1816 when the Pope gave English residents and visitors the right to hold Anglican services. However, it wasn’t until the 1880s that a site was acquired to build their Anglican church. The church, a fine red-brick construction in the Neo-Gothic style, was designed by G.E. Street who has a reputation in Britain for his Neo-Gothic churches and the Law Courts in London. The interior is impressive, with its oak floor and columns of marble from quarries from all over Italy. In the nave are six main columns made from green Carrara marble supported on a base of red Perugia marble. The pillars and the pulpit are also splendidly decorated in coloured marble. There are many other notable features such as the stained glass windows with inlaid semi-precious stones, and the Conacher organ which was presented to the church, on trust, in 1894.

Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano. 2016 is the 800th anniversary of the Dominican Order. Dominic (1170-1221) called himself “the humble servant of the preaching”, and in 1216, Pope Honorius III approved the foundation of the St Dominic’s community and took them under papal protection. From the beginning, Dominican friars have been drawn to urban centres and, in distinction from the monks, preached the Gospel to city-dwellers, thus combining the Dominican elements of contemplation and apostolic ministry. In the 17th century, when the Dominicans were expelled from Ireland, they sought refuge in Rome. They were given the Basilica of San Clemente.

In June 1857, the prior of San Clemente began an excavation under the present day church. In 10 years, he discovered a fourth-century basilica directly under the floor level and, pressing further, he found two buildings dating from the first century. Modern explorations have uncovered some charred remains of structures under that level, identified as buildings destroyed during the great fire of Rome in A.D. 64, the same fire that the early Christian community was blamed for, and the cause of St. Peter’s arrest and martyrdom.

Sant’Agapito is the Patron Saint of Palestrina, and is invoked against colic in children.  According to his legend, 15-year-old Agapitus, who may have been a member of the noble Anicia family of Palestrina, was condemned to death, under the prefect Antiochus and the emperor Aurelian, for being a Christian. He was thrown to the wild animals in the local arena at Palestrina.  The beasts refused to harm him, and he was beheaded.