British chorister Mark Spyropoulos became part of the Pope’s private choir and is featured in new two-part BBC2 series Inside the Vatican
As a music student at Dublin’s Trinity College, Mark Spyropolous always had a love of singing, but never in his wildest dreams did he imagine he would one day be part of the Pope’s choir, as we see in BBC2’s new fly-on-the-wall documentary Inside the Vatican.
After university he travelled to Italy to look for work as an opera singer, but while in Rome he met the Sistine Chapel’s choir director, Massimo Palombella, who offered him a job.
Mark is one of hundreds of people employed at the Vatican, and one of many featured in this two-parter, which follows their daily lives.
‘When I started I was the first-ever English singer in this choir – which is Pope Francis’ personal choir,’ says Mark.
‘Every Easter, I sing solo in front of thousands of people in the Basilica and millions of people watching on TV.’
From the gardeners who ensure the grounds are immaculate and the team of craftsmen, electricians and carpenters responsible for the upkeep of the Basilica, to the social-media experts who manage the Pope’s Instagram and Twitter accounts, all those who work at the Vatican have crucial roles.
But among the most important is the Pope’s security team who work around the clock to avoid a repetition of the 1981 assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II.
And the pressure is on as Easter Sunday approaches…
‘It’s completely different overseeing the safety of Pope Francis,’ says Vice Police Commander Luca Cintia, whose team check the vast network of passages beneath the Vatican.
‘He wants to be free to hug people and express his feelings.’
Meanwhile, chorister Mark gets ready to perform.
‘Easter is the biggest celebration in the Catholic calendar,’ says Mark.
‘When I’m singing beautiful music in front of the Pope, I’m transcended!’