André Rieu along with many other stars from around the world received by Pope Francis in the Sistine Chapel

Pope Francis received 200 artists from 30 countries at the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican on Friday. Violinist and superstar André Rieu and architect Rem Koolhaas represented the Netherlands at this very special audience.

Among the artists who met the Pope in the Sistine Chapel were painters, sculptors, architects, musicians, directors and actors. The occasion was the 50th anniversary of the collection of modern and contemporary art at the Vatican Museums. In 1973, then Pope Paul VI sought to build a new bridge between modern art and the Church by creating a contemporary art department at the Vatican. Until the 19th century, the Church was one of the most important patrons and clients in the visual arts and music.

Pope Francis said in his message, “As artists, you have the ability to dream new versions of the world, to add something new to history. (…) You are a bit like prophets. You can see things both in-depth and from afar.”

Painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer represented Germany/Austria; contemporary industrial design was represented by Briton Ross Lovegrove. One of the oldest participants was 87-year-old British director Ken Loach. Just under half of the invited artists were Italians, including such diverse personalities as rock musician Luciano Ligabue and composer Ludovico Einaudi. Ahead of the meeting, the prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Culture and Education said it was “necessary to revitalize the Church’s experience as a friend of the arts” and to further develop dialogue and mutual understanding.”

André Rieu said, “Meeting Pope Francis was fantastic. He spoke a lot about harmony. I am a musician and harmony is the most beautiful and important thing in life. With my concerts every night I want to bring harmony and joy to people all over the world.”

André Rieu will fly from Rome to Liverpool, where he will perform Saturday in front of 10,000 fans, before returning to Maastricht in July for 12 concerts on the Vrijthof Square. More than 100,000 fans from 100 countries are expected this year for André Rieu’s wonderful summer outdoor concerts. In September, André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra will depart for their USA/Canada Tour. Following that, they will perform concerts in Eastern Europe and Germany, and then end the year with “Christmas in My Hometown,” André’s beloved Christmas concerts at the MECC Maastricht, following his 2023 tour with no less than 92 concerts around the world!