The official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano ran an editorial Friday praising the work of celebrated musician-composer Prince Rogers Nelson, who died on Thursday.
The brief essay extols Prince as a “protean artist” whose “undeniable talent” led him from rock to funk and from disco to jazz.
Winking at a “certain excess typical of the eighties,” the piece says that Prince will be remembered above all for his “genius” that allowed him to move among different genres, which is “a rare gift in the world of pop music.”
The essay also slams “those who control the pop music market” for boycotts allegedly carried out against the musician.
The op-ed said that “the Minneapolis musician embarked on a long personal battle with the major music companies and, lately, even against the most popular digital platforms. Prince was then boycotted by those who control the pop music market.”
The latest eulogy seems part of an ongoing attempt by L’Osservatore Romano to achieve greater relevance in the broader world of culture.
In January of this year, the Vatican paper also ran a column in commemoration of the passing of rock star David Bowie, with the title “Bowie, Never Banal.”
The editorial noted how Bowie’s five decade career “combined rock music with an artistic rigor,” which seemed to contradict the “ambiguous image” he used early in his career to “attract the attention of the media.”
“One might even say that, beyond the apparent excesses, the legacy of David Bowie is surrounded by its own sort of personal sobriety, expressed even in his lean – almost threadlike – physique,” it ran.
The op-ed went on to say Bowie was “never dull,” and held up his frequent incursions into other art forms, such as painting, theatre, and cinema as evidence of his maturity as an artist.
Vatican Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi also tweeted encomium to David Bowie in honor of his passing, offering a final blessing for the rock star with lyrics from one of his most famous songs.
Drawing inspiration from Bowie’s 1969 hit “A Space Oddity,” in which the artist sings of the fictional launch and demise of astronaut “Major Tom,” Ravasi, who serves as the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, prayed, “May God’s love be with you.”
The Cardinal has now done something similar with Prince, tweeting lyrics to his song “Sometimes It Snows in April,” which speaks of a desire for immortality.
Sometimes, sometimes I wish that life was never ending,
All good things they say, never last.
(#Prince, Sometimes It Snows In April)
— Gianfranco Ravasi (@CardRavasi) April 22, 2016
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome.