Director of Music at Vatican Basilica Celebrates Mass at Saint John Cantius

On Sunday, February 13th, Fr. Pierre Paul, maestro di cappella (chapel master) at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, celebrated the Sunday 11:00am Mass in the Ordinary Form. Fr. Paul heads the music program at St. Peter’s under the guidance of Pope Benedict XVI.

Fr. Frank Phillips and Fr. Paul Pierre

The Mass, which was celebrated ad orientem in Latin, featured two of the parish choirs, the Schola Cantorum of St. Gregory the Great which sang the Gregorian Chant propers and the St. Cecelia Choir which sang the Madrid Mass by Alessandro Scarlatti along with motets.

In his closing remarks at the end of Mass, Father Pierre Paul commented on how pleased he was with the music program at St. John Cantius.  He thanked Father Frank Phillips, the priests and brothers, and the parishioners of St. John Cantius Church for the warm welcome he received and the opportunity to celebrate the Mass.  Father remarked at how well the parishioners of St. John Cantius participate in the Mass—not just with their voices but also in their heart.

Father Paul shared with the parish how he has been able to introduce much more Gregorian Chant in the music program at St. Peter’s Basilica and in the future he hopes to incorporate more Polyphony as well.  “What you are doing here, I am trying to do in Rome,” said Fr. Paul.

Fr. Paul speaks to the people of St. John Cantius

Father Paul also spoke about the upcoming events at the Vatican in which he is involved, referring particularly to the upcoming Mass of the Beatification of John Paul II in May. 

In closing, Father asked the people of St. John Cantius parish for their prayers, that the Church’s ideal vision of Sacred Music will be realized in other places. Finally, Father thanked the people of St. John Cantius Parish for their “ministry of beauty.”

More Photos



Fr. Paul shares some words with Dr. Joe Mordente, Master of Ceremonies



The procession to the altar



The Incensation at the Offertory



Elevation of the Host



Elevation of the Chalice



“Ecce Agnus Dei…”




Fr. Pierre Paul speaks to the parish



The Recessional



To Our Lady’s altar



Fr. Pierre Paul thanks an altar boy for his service


Originally from Quebec, Canada, Father Paul was called to Rome in 2008. He has been named on an indeterminate basis to direct the Julian Choir which was officially founded by Pope Julius II in 1513, but traces its lineage even further back to the famous Scholae Cantorum founded by Saint Gregory the Great, whose pontificate went from 590 to 604.  Former directors of the St Peter’s Choir include 16th-century Italian composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.

Jeffrey Tucker, managing editor of Sacred Music magazine, said this of Fr. Pierre Paul:

“He has infused the entire program at the Vatican with a new love of excellence and idealism by embracing the program legislated by the Second Vatican Council, taking seriously the call for Gregorian chant to assume the primary role in liturgy.”

Read more about the transformation of the music program at St. Peter’s Basilica in Jeffrey Tucker’s article »