In late December, 48 members of the University of St. Thomas Liturgical Choir and 26 of their family members will embark on a 10-day pilgrimage to Rome, Florence and Assisi under the direction of Dr. David Jenkins and Dr. Jill Nennmann.

The Liturgical Choir will serve as music ministers during Masses at the Basilica of St. Paul in Rome, the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, and the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. The highlight of the tour will be the choir’s participation in the Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, presided by Pope Francis. Alongside the Coro Guida (Guiding Choir), the Liturgical Choir will guide the congregational singing and be seated with the Sistine Chapel Choir.

The Liturgical Choir is comprised of undergraduate students who sing for Sunday Masses in the university’s Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas.

The choir’s trip includes visits to holy sites including the Scavi, the excavation of the necropolis under the floors of St. Peter’s. These tours are only possible with permission from the Fabbrica di San Pietro that oversees the site and the Basilica.

Choir members and their families also will attend the papal blessing and Angelus on Christmas, and attend a papal audience on Dec. 28 to hear the Holy Father’s message to the faithful, to pray the Pater Noster, and to observe the pope as he blesses religious articles.

This will mark the fourth time the Liturgical Choir has sung for the Christmas Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s. Robert Strusinski, the founder of the choir, led the St. Thomas choir in these Masses in 1987, 1997 and 2007. To serve as the choir guiding the congregational singing, the St. Thomas ensemble was required to submit recordings to the Vatican for approval.

The Christmas Eve Mass with Pope Francis can be seen on the EWTN television network at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 24.

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