01/14/2022, 09.38
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Svetlana Kasyan, Pope Francis' favourite opera singer

by Vladimir Rozanskij

For the pontiff's birthday she recorded the album "Fratelli tutti". She was thanked for helping to give a positive image of Catholicism in Russia. In 2013, the Holy Father had asked her to sing "only for God and to spread goodness".


Moscow (AsiaNews) - On the occasion of Pope Francis' 85th birthday, Svetlana Kasyan has recorded the album "Fratelli tutti", a reference to the latest papal encyclical, in which she has included songs of different genres and languages, including the pontiff's favourite tango, "La Cumparsita".

In keeping with the tradition of recent years, the Holy Father received his favourite opera singer at the Vatican. The meeting took place on 11 January; the following day Francis made a surprise visit to a record shop in the centre of Rome, revealing his great love for music.

"The pope liked my musical gift very much, he told me that he listens to [opera] often and suggested that I organise a presentation at the Vatican," Kasyan told Moskovsky Komsomolets. "He spoke about the new meeting he is preparing for this year with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, describing Catholics as friends of the Orthodox and Russia, and admitted that he would love to go on a pilgrimage to the land of Dostoevsky, our classic writer, whom he considers a true theologian."

The Moscow soprano also revealed that the pontiff supported the need for universal recognition of vaccines against the coronavirus, "so much so that my family and I were admitted to the Vatican with Sputnik-V".

Svetlana's meeting with Pope Francis lasted more than an hour. The Holy Father thanked the singer for helping to form a positive image of Catholicism in Russia, insisting on the need to overcome mutual claims dating back many centuries. He also reiterated his desire to visit Svetlana's home in Moscow, which is located in front of the Church of St Maximus the Confessor on central Taganka Square.

Kasyan comes from a Kurdish Yazidi family in Georgia, and the Pope recommended that she convey his greetings to all Yazidis, Kurds and Georgians living in Russia. He then presented the singer with one of his books with the dedication in Italian: 'What beauty will save the world? Thank you very much, Leonid and Svetlana, for your mystical attitude, for 'making beauty', for making us understand that beauty leads us to God'.

The friendship between the Pope and the opera singer dates back to November 2013, when Kasyan gave a solo concert at Rome's Auditorium della Conciliazione, organised under the auspices of the presidency of the Italian Republic and the Pontifical Council for Culture. The Pope received her in a private audience and asked her to sing "only for God and to spread goodness". The two met again in 2017, 2018 and 2019, when the pontiff awarded her the Order of Saint Sylvester "for merits for the Church and Catholicism".

Svetlana gave the Pope a landscape with a chapel, painted by contemporary painter Sergei Krupsky, and a picture painted by her 7-year-old daughter Natalia. The meeting was also attended by Svetlana's husband, Leonid Sevastianov, who is head of the World Union of Old Believers, a traditionalist variant of Russian Orthodoxy.

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