The choir of Hereford Cathedral will make history when they perform at a Papal Mass on Friday 29 June at the Feast of St Peter & Paul.

Hereford Cathedral Choir are believed to be the first Anglican cathedral choir to be invited by the Pope to perform at this service which will celebrate the saints in St Peter’s Square. ‘La Festa di San Pietro e Paolo’ is hugely important within the Catholic calendar and the day itself is a public holiday in Rome with many celebrations across the city.

The invitation has been received as part of the Pope’s ecumenical programme of creating dialogue respecting each church’s diversity, while also celebrating their common ground.

The Bishop of Hereford, The Right Revd Richard Frith, said: ‘I am delighted that our magnificent Hereford Cathedral choir are singing at St Peter’s Basilica and in such a symbolic service. The inclusion of our young singers in the performance is particularly fitting as we look to the youth of both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, to work together in developing future closer ties.’

Whilst in Rome, the choir will also be performing at the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday 27 June. Performing with the Sistine Chapel Choir, the service will celebrate the music of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. Geraint Bowen, director of music at Hereford Cathedral, has been invited to conduct alongside Massimo Palombella, director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, as the two choirs join together for certain pieces in the programme.

Her Excellency Mrs Sally Axworthy, British Ambassador to the Holy See, said: ‘I am very proud that Hereford Cathedral choir with be singing with the Sistine Chapel choir at a concert in the Sistine Chapel for the diplomatic corps and at the St Peter and Paul Mass. This is a great honour, and shows how the Sistine Chapel is open to incorporating English choral traditions within its great musical heritage. It should be a very good week for Hereford and UK–Holy See ties’

Mr Geraint Bowen, Director of Music at Hereford Cathedral, said: ‘This invitation is a great honour for our choir and we are all hugely looking forward to such a wonderful opportunity. We shall be performing works by composers including Byrd, Palestrina, and the Master of the Queen’s Music, Judith Weir, and in particular it will be a very special way of commemorating the centenary of the death of the composer Hubert Parry to combine with the Sistine Chapel Choir to sing his beautiful motet My soul, there is a country.’

The choir and other members of the cathedral community will be arriving in Rome on Tuesday 26 June in preparation for the first performance. Whilst in the city they will be sightseeing and visiting other historic buildings before the service on Friday morning. The Holy Mass will be broadcast on Vatican TV, which can be streamed online at