Pope John Paul II the Musical

Two priests have written a musical based on the life of Pope John Paul II. Titled “Non Abbiate Paura,” which BBC News translates as “Don’t be Scared,” I can’t help but wonder if the proper translation isn’t the Pope’s first words as pontiff - “Be Not Afraid.”

The musical was written by Father Joseph Spedicato and will be performed in Rome. Playing the Pope is actor Simone Sibillano. The musical features 18 songs, including some rap numbers.

“I am a very spiritual person,” said actor Sibillano. “The Pope was very special to young people like myself.”

It should not be surprising that there’s a musical about the pope’s life. A poet, actor, and playwright himself, he continues to inspire films, art, comics, music, theater, and the arts.

Actor Jeremy Standbary’s Epiphany Studio has created “Lolek,” a one-man play about Karol Wojtyla. New York’s The Storm Theater has produced a Karol Wojtyla Theater Festival, putting on his plays, “Jeremiah,” “Job,” “The Jeweler’s Shop,” and “Our God’s Brother.” The Diocese of Saint Cloud’s Office of Marriage and Family Life is pursuing the possibility of turning “The Jeweler’s Shop” into a musical.

As we learn more about Pope John Paul II, the impact he had on the world is becoming ever more clear.

The new video, “Nine Days that Changed the World,” by Newt and Callista Gingrich tells the story of the Pope’s historic trip to Poland in June, 1979 and the resulting revolution of conscience not only in his home country, but throughout Europe. The compelling video shows footage that I had never seen before of that historic trip and tells how within 16 months of the trip, Solidarity became the first officially recognized free trade union in the Communist bloc, with over 10 million members. By extension, the video connects the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 to the Pope’s nine-day visit to Poland.

I’m certain that Pope John Paul will long continue to inspire artists and writers. Such is the impact of one who lived a truly heroic and saintly life. May we soon see him canonized.