Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Dormition of Elvis

Last evening may have been Assumption Night, but for the traditional 50,000-plus who turned up at the nation's most-visited house of worship -- Graceland -- it was the candlelight vigil in anticipation of the 30th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death.

When at least two members of your immediate family see themselves as credible impersonators of the King -- and you grew up with the classic velvet icon of Presley prominently enthroned in your household -- this is always a big week. And thanks to that experience, one thing I've learned along the way was that Elvis, who never shirked his Gospel roots, was fascinated by religion, which took up a sizable chunk of his voracious reading habits.

The Elvis Vespers might've been a hit in an Anglican cathedral last summer, but on this anniversary, a list has popped up of "Five Catholic Facts about Elvis" -- including his first (and last) performance in a parish hall, and the subsequent entrance of one of his co-stars into a convent.

Of course, as no spiritual tribute would be complete without the Big E's version of what was once the only contemporary hymn permitted for use in Philly's parishes (because John Krol liked it), here goes:

PHOTO: AFP/Stan Honda