Senegal: Pope Confers Academies Prize to Benedictine Abbey

Nov 17, 2004 01:38 PM EST

Pope John Paul II has awarded a special prize for sacred music to a Benedictine Abbey in Senegal.

During the Ninth Public Session of the Pontifical Academies, the Pope honored the Abbey of Keur Moussa in Senegal.

The Session's theme was 'Via Pulchritudinis' a Privileged Itinerary for the Encounter Between the Christian Faith and the Cultures of Our Times.

The Pontiff, in his discourse, read by Bishop Leonardo Sandri on Tuesday, November 9, 2004, explained the motivation for the Annual Pontifical Academies Prize awarded to the Abbey of Keur Moussa "where the Benedictines coming from the mother abbey of Solesmes have been attentive to the traditions of Africa, and faithfully preserving, at the same time, the liturgical patrimony received by the tradition of the Church."

Christian witness, added the Pontiff, if it wants to have an effect on today's society, must underscore beauty to become an eloquent expression of the transparent beauty of the love of God.

In order that beauty may shine forth, it has to be united to the goodness and the holiness of life; it is necessary that it be resplendent in the world, through the holiness of the Church's sons and daughters, presenting the luminous face of the good, admirable and just God.

In the motivation of the Award was mentioned the ability of the Monks of Keur Moussa to unite Catholic traditional liturgical song to African culture.

According to an online shop, "In 1963, nine monks from the French monastery of Saint-Pierre of Solesmes, a centuries-old stronghold of the ancient Gregorian plainchant tradition, journeyed to remote Senegal to establish a Benedictine abbey. Keur Moussa Abbey, as it is known to the local villagers, means House of Moses. From the day of their arrival, the monks of Keur Moussa have investigated their convergent musical worlds, and created a remarkable new lineage in the thousand-year-old choral music tradition. On Keur Moussa, they weave the rhythms and instrumental textures of Africa with traditional Western plainchant (sung in French and Wolof,the language of the region)."