Rock legend Patti Smith, the “Godmother of Punk,” will join 17 other artists performing at the Vatican’s annual Christmas concert on December 13, 2014.
The concert, at Conciliation Auditorium in Rome, a few steps from St. Peter’s, will be broadcast worldwide on television. Also performing will be the French singer Imany and Sister Cristina Scuccia, winner of the last edition of “The Voice,” who recently baptized Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” releasing a more meditative cover of the song.
Much water has passed under the bridge since Patti Smith sang Gloria in 1975: “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine” and “My sins my own, they belong to me.” Raised a Jehovah’s Witness, Smith abandoned her faith early on but lately has shown a greater openness to faith and religion.
In an interview last April, Smith said: “The bible is very resonant. It has everything, creation, betrayal, lust, poetry, prophecy, sacrifice. All great things are in the bible and all great writers have drawn from it and more than people realise, whether Shakespeare, Herman Melville or Bob Dylan.”
She also reportedly has a great admiration for Piero della Francesca, Saint Francis, and for the new Pope. Smith met Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on April 10, 2013, immortalized by a picture that has been around the world. At the time, Smith said she found the Pope “very interesting” and that she “liked him a lot.”
Past invitations of pop musicians to sing at the Vatican Christmas Concert haven’t always ended well. In 2004, hip-hop artist Lauryn Hill took advantage of the public microphone to read a lengthy statement blasting the Vatican for the homosexual and child-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. “God has been a witness to the corruption of his leadership, of the exploitation and abuses… by the clergy,” she said.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the head of the Italian Bishops Conference at the time, said the singer had disrespected “the place she was in and those who invited her.”