Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Marc Ouellet Festival

In the midst of a tense morning (see next post), the Pope did get a sight for sore eyes, greeting one of his kitchen cabinet, who made quite the event of the final day of the ad limina of the bishops of Quebec.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec, the primate of Canada and one of Benedict XVI's highly-favored ones -- they share quite the affinity for the Communione school -- brought with him a young boy from home whose dream has always been to sing for the Pope.

Jérémy Gabriel got his wish before Benedict delivered the customary address to the bishops of the province.

My French is horrific, but my nuncio tells me it was quite pointed.
Gabriel, who suffers from a rare syndrome that causes facial disfigurement and deafness, sang unaccompanied in a clear, true voice for a small group that included Pope Benedict XVI.

The song was Je louerai l'Éternel, which means "I will praise God."

The boy later had a private audience at the Vatican with the Pope, who hugged him and gave him a rosary.

Jérémy's parents and two sisters accompanied him to Rome for the occasion.

The boy had wanted to sing for the pontiff since he watched the funeral of Pope John Paul II on television last year and saw Benedict being elected as his successor.

Born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, the boy has had several operations to restore his hearing. He is frail and must receive blood transfusions every two weeks.

Jérémy has already made headlines by singing the national anthem before a Montreal Canadiens game and by performing with Céline Dion.

Jérémy's audience with the Pope took place just before the papal blessing of the Quebec-made work of art entitled The Ark of the New Covenant at the Vatican.

Remember that Dion got her big break singing for the Pope, too. And that Ouellet is laying the groundwork for a spectacular International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City in 2008.

AP/Plinio Lepri