After listening to a performance of Verdi's "Requiem" on Saturday, Pope Benedict told the audience that the piece testifies to the fact that the yearning for God is inscribed in every man's heart.
A classical musical concert was given for the Pope and Synod Fathers on Saturday evening at the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, where general audiences are often held. An orchestra and choir from Benedict XVI's home region of Bavaria, Germany interpreted Giuseppe Verdi's "La Messa da Requiem" under the guidance of celebrated director and composer Enoch zu Guttenberg.
Interestingly, Verdi described himself as "a little bit atheist." He composed "Requiem" in 1873 upon the death of a writer of his time he greatly admired, another Italian and a Christian, Alessandro Manzoni.
Following the powerful performance of his work, the Holy Father approached the stage to congratulate and thank the director, musicians and singers. Turning to the audience, he spoke about the piece became a defining moment in Verdi's musical career.
It was not only an homage to Manzoni, he said, but the answer to the spiritual demands that the "human and Christian stature" of the writer had raised in Verdi.
The music of the "Requiem," which projects the "gamut of human sentiments before the end of life," shows a "tragic vision of human destiny" and at the same time "invites one to reflect on the ultimate realities," said the Pope.
The Holy Father recalled that this work began a "compositional season" in Verdi's life that included other sacred music. This, he said, was "a sign of his spiritual restlessness, a sign that the yearning for God is inscribed in the heart of the human being, so that our hopes may lie in the Lord."
In this context, concluded Benedict XVI, the "great musical fresco" of Verdi's "Requiem" brings about a renewal of St. Augustine's words: "Our heart is restless, until it rests in You."