EWTN Vatican
The Music of Purgatory: A Concert of "The Dream of Gerontius" by Edward Elgar

On April 29, 2023, the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls hosted an extraordinary concert of "The Dream of Gerontius," the masterpiece of English composer Edward Elgar, based on a poem by St. John Henry Newman. This oratorio tells the story of the journey of the soul of Gerontius after his death, with the guidance of angels and the challenge of demons, until he arrives before God, but is not yet ready to contemplate Him in His glory and is sent to Purgatory for purification. The concert marks an encounter between two central figures of British culture and religion of the late 19th century: Elgar, who received a Catholic education, and Newman, an Anglican priest who converted to Catholicism and was later canonized by Pope Francis. The concert aimed to emphasize the message of ecumenism and dialogue contained within the musical composition and featured the British Parliament Choir. As the British Ambassador to the Holy See noted, music has the power to bring people together and provide a spiritual uplifting. "The Dream of Gerontius" is a perfect synthesis of the splendor of English Catholic culture and music.

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