PROUD choirboys from Southsea are preparing for the trip of a lifetime to sing in front of the Pope.
The St John’s Chapel choir will be granted a rare audience with Pope Benedict XVI when members visit Italy next month.
Keith Ellison, head of music at St John’s College and director of the choir, said: ‘We are thoroughly delighted with this news.
‘This tour just gets better and better and we are all very much looking forward to August.
‘The boys are practising hard as they understand the enormity and privilege of this opportunity and want to ensure they are the very best they can be.
‘I have every faith in them – their performances just never disappoint.’
He added that the boys are very professional when they are performing.
‘Every time that they make a step up singing something new, they just take it in their stride,’ he said.
‘They are very down to earth and level-headed about it.
‘They are very professional.
‘It’s a moment they will always cherish and look back upon.’
The group of 42 choristers will sing in Florence, Milan, Pisa and Assisi Cathedrals as well as performances in the Papal Archbasilica and the Vatican.
The Papal Archbasilica of St John Lateran is the Cathedral of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome.
As the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, Rome Cathedral ranks above all other churches in the Catholic Church, including St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
For that reason, unlike all other Roman Basilicas, it holds the title of Archbasilica.
The boys were also recently invited by the Royal Family to the Order of the Garter ceremony at Windsor Castle.
Flynn Griffin, 12, said: ‘It’s going to be brilliant just having the opportunity to sing in all these phenomenal places. It will just be mind-blowing.’
James Simpson, 13, said: ‘It’s amazing. We started off just touring the country. Now we are going to Rome to sing in front of the Pope.’
Tom Watts, 16, added: ‘It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s something that will never happen again and that I would never miss. It’s a massive confidence booster to start off with. It’s something that I think all people should have the opportunity to be able to do. It’s going to be probably the most fun time I’m ever going to have.’