U2’s The Edge made history when he became the first rock musician to play at the Sistine Chapel on April 30. The 54-year-old rock star, whose real name is David Evans, performed at what he called “the most beautiful parish hall in the world.”
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The Edge, backed by a choir of seven Irish teenagers, wore his trademark black beanie as he performed an unplugged set of four songs in the chapel, which was painted by Michelangelo in the 16th century. Playing the acoustic guitar, The Edge sang U2 songs “Yahweh,” “Ordinary World,” and “Walk On.” He also included a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “If It Be Your Will.”
The Edge dedicated the song “Walk On” to Pope Francis, which was written in 2000 when Myanmar democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest, the Blaze reported. He described Pope Francis as “the people’s pope.”
“He’s doing an amazing job and long may he continue,” The Edge said.
The Edge admitted to the audience, which consisted of about 200 doctors, researchers, and philanthropists, that he was speechless when he was asked to play in the Sistine Chapel. Joking with the audience, he mentioned U2 singer Bono is usually the person asked to perform at such events.
“When I was asked to perform in the Sistine Chapel I didn’t know what to say, because usually there’s ‘this other guy’ who sings. So it took me at least, well, 30 seconds to agree to it.”
The Edge’s history-making performance coincided with a conference called Cellular Horizons, held at the Vatican in Rome, Italy. The conference on regenerative medicine was attended by doctors, researchers, and philanthropists and organized by the American-based Stem for Life Foundation. The conference provides the opportunity for doctors to discuss using adult stem cells to cure rare diseases, according to Newsweek.
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Last month, the U2 guitarist’s father died of cancer. The Edge joined the board of the Angiogenesis Foundation in 2007, the year after his daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. She has since overcome leukemia, Billboard reports. The board the Edge is on is dedicated to cancer research for preventative measures.
“I can tell this is a really cool audience because normally when I say angiogenesis eyes glaze over,” The Edge said. “But you all understand what I am talking about.”
Angiogenesis is the process of the body’s growth of new blood vessels, which enable tumors to grow. Scientists are exploring ways to block tumor angiogenesis.
It isn’t any surprise the U2 guitarist was asked to perform around the time of the Cellular Horizons conference. The Huffington Post reports U2 has a reputation for using their resources to contribute to worthy causes such as AIDS research, Amnesty International, and Greenpeace.
While Pope Francis wasn’t in the audience for The Edge’s performance, The Edge did get a chance to meet him on Friday during the conference. He thanked the Pope and Vatican officials “for allowing us to use the most beautiful parish hall in the world,” referring to the Sistine Chapel.
“Being Irish you learn very early that if you want to be asked to come back it’s very important to thank the local parish priest for the loan of the hall,” he said.
United States Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his son Beau to brain cancer last year, also appeared at the conference on April 29 and spoke to the audience about the need to fund cancer research.
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[Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images]