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The organist who played for Benedict XVI’s funeral

The body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI lies in state at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Daniel Esparza - published on 01/10/23

Josep Solé Coll is the titular organist of St. Peter’s Basilica. He chose the repertoire for Benedict XVI’s funeral Mass.

Josep Solé Coll has been St. Peter’s Basilica’s official organist since 2018. Born in Sabadell (30 minutes north of Barcelona, Spain), he is currently 48 years old. The son of a choir director who was also an opera singer, Solé Coll became a Vatican organist at the age of 30, when he was appointed to the basilicas of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major.

Married, and the father of two children, he studied organ and improvisation at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome. He is now the organist of the Holy Fathers.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died on December 31, 2002, at the age of 95. His funeral took place on January 5, 2023. Being the organist of St. Peter’s Basilica, Solé Coll chose the repertoire and performed it while the former pope’s coffin made its way to the Vatican Grottoes, where he was buried along with other Supreme Pontiffs.

“It is a great responsibility, and I feel a heavy weight on my shoulders,” Solé Coll told Vida Nueva days before the ceremony.  

The organist chose two pieces from Bach’s repertoire: his Fantasie in C minor BWV 562 and one of his 69 Sacred Songs and Arias, Komm süsser Tod  (“Come, sweet death”) as a special tribute to the German pontiff. He also played Palestrina’s Requiem.

In the video below, Solé Coll plays the Cavaillé-Coll organ in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady of Conception in Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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