Vatican City, Apr 30, 2015 / 16:45 pm
Next month the Vatican will invite Rome's poor and homeless to a concert intended to raise money for Pope Francis' charities, which last year boasted over one and a half million in charitable giving.
"The most beautiful note, harmony, symphony of the pentagram is that of charity, because it's everywhere and always touches the chords of each heart, of whoever makes them feel it and whoever hears it," Mons. Diego Giovanni Ravelli told journalists April 30.
Head of the Office of the Apostolic Almoner, which is responsible for the Pope's charity, Mons. Ravelli explained that music itself is a form of charity, because "when it touches the soul of man, it brings inside of him the excitement of life and heals the poverty of his heart."
Set to take place on the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord May 14 at 6 p.m. in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the concert is titled "With the poor and for the poor." It is sponsored by the Office of the Apostolic Almoner, the Pontifical Councils for Culture and the Promotion of the New Evangelization as well as the San Matteo foundation in memory of Card. Van Thuan.
In his speech for the announcement of the concert, Mons. Ravelli drew attention to the emphasis on poverty, and quoted Pope Francis, saying that it is something which "calls us to plant hope!"
In reference to the event's title, he explained that the concert will be "with" the poor because the protagonists will be those most in need.
Both the poor and the sick will take front row seats for the event, and have been invited through various charitable and voluntary associations such as the Great Priory of Rome and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the Circle of St. Peter, Caritas Rome, the Sant'Egidio Community and the Centro Astalli, which assists migrants and refugees.
Detainees from Rome's Rebbibia prison, where Pope Francis celebrated Holy Thursday Mass this year, will also attend in addition to elderly, families and young persons from Roman parishes, particularly in poorer areas.
The concert will be "for" since all donations made by the sponsors as well as those who wish to make an offering will be given to Pope Francis' charitable projects. Distribution of the funds is a responsibility the papal almoner, Mons. Konrad Krajewski, is charged with.
Mons. Ravelli revealed that everyday his office receives thousands of letters from needy families and individuals seeking help.
The number of letters coming in has increased in recent years due to economic crisis, unemployment and immigration, he said, explaining that all letters are authenticated by parish priests and other ecclesiastical authorities.
Economic assistance is given to the priests and authorities based on the authenticity and need of the request, and then distributed to the people "as it is important for the Pope's concrete gesture to be integrated with the solidarity of the local Church and Christian parish community," Mons. Ravelli said.
He revealed that last year his office gave more than 1,500,000 euros in charity, which is a figure that went up 25 percent since 2013.
So far 2015 has seen numbers such as 285,000 euros for just the month of March, which is a number the priest said "will surely be surpassed" in April.
An invitation is required to attend the concert, which will be conducted by Maestro Daniel Oren and performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Salerno, Italy and the choir of the diocese of Rome, which is directed by Mons. Marco Frisina.
Tickets are free and can be obtained online before May 8 by completing a form on the website for the Choir of the Diocese of Rome.
Also present at the April 30 news conference, Mons. Frisina said that the songs to be played will represent a spiritual journey "that from the perspective of out human condition will lead us to encounter the grace of the Lord."
Music selections in the first part will focus heavily on the journey that renowned Italian poet Dante Alighieri laid out in his "Divine Comedy."
What begins as man's painful search for God who is love will force man to live the experience of hell, which is reserved for those "who betray love, or have searched only for themselves and not God," before leading him to the ascent of purgatory, "where hope and mercy lie," Mons. Frisina explained.
From there the music selections will allude to the entrance into paradise, where listeners will hear the sounds of love and rejoicing, as well as the intercession of Mary, implored by St. Bernadette and all the saints in heaven.
The second part, he noted, will focus on the joy of redemption, the gift of peace as the first gift of the Risen Christ and the joy that comes from the heart of Mary and the Church.
At the end of the concert, the listeners, choir, soloists and orchestra will altogether sing the "Hymn of the Sea," which is a canticle of Moses and the redeemed, Mons. Frisina said, adding that he wants "all 7,000" people present in the hall to join in singing it.