Pope Francis’ music library contains nearly 2,000 CDs — including 25 by Elvis Presley

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ music library contains nearly 2,000 CDs and 19 vinyl records, according to the Vatican cardinal who is curating the collection.

While it is mostly made up of classical music, it also includes: an old album of Édith Piaf’s greatest hits; Argentine tango tunes, especially by Astor Piazzolla; and a 25-disc collection of Elvis Presley’s Gospel songs, said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Interview with Corriere della Sera, January 13: Cardinal Ravasi indicated that he was not surprised to see Pope Francis leaving a Rome music store Jan. 11 with an album in his arms.

Pope Francis’ music library contains nearly 2,000 CDs and 19 vinyl records, according to the Vatican cardinal who is curating the collection.

“In fact, I can’t wait to find out what it is. I hope he sends it to me soon,” the cardinal said.

Cardinal Ravasi said he started receiving and curating the pope’s collection of music more than three years ago. It all began when the pope sent him some CDs. He also said that he understood how much the cardinal loved music.

“I replied that I would love to know what music he likes and that’s how it started,” with the pope regularly sending him music, the cardinal said. “I told him I was thinking of creating a music library and, at one point, he sent me a whole box of discs (saying), ‘I’ve already listened to these.’”

The culture office maintains a detailed record of 1,728 CDs, 19 pope records, and has kept it updated.

While the pope’s collection is mostly made up of classical music, it also includes a 25-disc collection of Elvis Presley’s Gospel songs.

While some of the recordings are part of the pope’s own personal collection, many of them are gifts the pope has received over the years, Cardinal Ravasi said. He said that they cover many genres, as is the case with true music lovers.

According to the cardinal, the pope had told him that he discovered his love for music by listening to opera programs on the radio with his mother as a child.

“He sent me the complete collection of recordings at the Teatro Colón (main opera house) of Buenos Aires,” he said.

What stands out, he said, is that often what the pope sends is accompanied by handwritten notes with “extraordinary, expert” comments about the piece. “You can see that he listens to the music carefully.”

Cardinal Ravasi said he has compiled all the commentary and would like to publish it someday as well as see if the papal music library, housed in the council’s office, could be open to experts since the collection “is indicative of his personality and culture.”