Celebs perform at New York mass with Pope Francis

  • 27/09/2015
Jennifer Hudson sings 'Hallelujah' prior to a mass led by Pope Francis at Madison Square Garden (Reuters)
Jennifer Hudson sings 'Hallelujah' prior to a mass led by Pope Francis at Madison Square Garden (Reuters)

Pope Francis concluded his first visit to New York by holding a star-studded Mass at Madison Square Garden.

The two-hour event featured Jennifer Hudson singing Hallelujah, Harry Connick, Jr. performing How Great Thou Art, and Gloria Estefan serenading the crowd with Mas Alla.

More than 18,000 worshippers packed into the venue for the event, called A Journey in Faith, which was hosted by actor Martin Sheen. Late Show presenter Stephen Colbert welcomed the audience, which included stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, to the religious ceremony via video link.

A procession of 33 bishops and five cardinals lead Pope Francis on stage, and he told the crowd, "God is living in our cities."

The next stop on the pontiff's trip is Philadelphia, where he will give a speech on immigration and religious freedom at Independence Hall.

As well as this, he has recorded a rock album.

Pope Francis will feature on the new album Wake Up! which is the brainchild of producer Don Giulio Neroni.

His Holiness will speak in Italian, Spanish, English and Portuguese over music composed by various artists on all 11 tracks.

The title track,'Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward!', features a prog-rock-esque tune with heavy guitar accompaniment over a speech Pope Francis gave in South Korea last year.

Tony Pagliuca, the track's composer, insists he was thrilled when Neroni asked him to get involved.

"In the '70s, I founded the prog-rock band Le Orme and topped the charts, toured Italy and U.K. and had the chance to collaborate with international artists like Peter Hammil and David Jackson," he tells Rolling Stone magazine.

"During the years, I also made an important journey of faith. When Don Giulio Neroni asked me to collaborate on this CD, I immediately accepted with enthusiasm. Putting my music in the service of the words and the voice of Pope Francis has been a fantastic experience and a very interesting artistic challenge."

Wake Up! will be released in November.