Pope Francis awards Arvo Pärt with the Ratzinger Prize

On 18 November, Pope Francis presented the Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt, the Ratzinger Prize in the Vatican.

The Ratzinger Prize is designed to honour outstanding individuals for their research in theology and adjacent sciences, or for their religious artwork. Instigated by Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger, the foundation has been awarding the prize since 2011 – and the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt was among the winners this year.

The Ratzinger Prize was presented by Pope Francis at the award ceremony in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace. Matteo Ruggeri, the soloist of the Voci bianche choir of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, performed Pärt’s “Vater unser” – the work dedicated to Pope Benedict XVI – accompanied on piano by the composer himself.

“I am personally very touched and grateful – especially to you, the members of the Joseph Ratzinger or Pope Benedict XVI Foundation – for this trust and honour. However, it is not an easy task to remain worthy of this honour as a human being. It is a great challenge. We are not dealing here with an ordinary merit that one could use to boast. Dear brothers, we need your help, please don’t leave us alone now. This is what we plead from you,” Pärt said, while thanking for the prize.

Besides Pärt, the respectable prize was awarded to professor Theodor Dieter, a Lutheran theologian and the director of the Strasbourg Institute of Ecumenical Research, and Karl-Heinz Menke, a Catholic theologian and a German Catholic priest.

Pärt is globally the most distinguished Estonian. He has been the most performed living composer six years in a row.


The cover image courtesy of Arvo Pärt Centre.

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About the author: Silver Tambur

Silver Tambur is the cofounder and Editor-in-Chief of Estonian World. He has previously studied journalism at the University of Tartu, and politics and society at the Birkbeck College, University of London. Silver has been the editor at the Estonian Public Broadcasting’s news service in English, as well as contributing for the Business Sense magazine in the UK, Deutsche Welle and Radio New Zealand. You can also follow him on Twitter and like his page on Facebook. You can write to Silver at silver@estonianworld.com.