U2‘s The Edge became the first artist to ever stage a contemporary music concert inside Vatican City’s historic Sistine Chapel Friday when the guitarist played a short acoustic set as part of a conference on regenerative medicines. The Edge, who called the unique venue “the most beautiful parish hall in the world,” performed U2’s “Walk On,” “Yahweh” and “Ordinary Love” as well as a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “If It Be Your Will” backed by an Irish choir.
The Edge, whose father died of cancer and whose daughter fought leukemia, has been on the board of the Angiogenesis Foundation since 2007 (angiogenesis is the body’s ability to grow new blood vessels). The Sistine Chapel performance was part of the Cellular Horizons conference, where over 200 doctors, scientists, researchers and philanthropists gathered to discuss ways to combat diseases like cancer.
“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,” the Edge said, referring to Bono. “So it took me at least, well, 30 seconds to agree to it.”
Bono, meanwhile, joked about the Edge’s absence Friday night at Nile Rodgers’ We Are Family benefit concert, telling the audience, “I tried to get the band here, but everyone’s doing something. I said, ‘Edge, [Nile] is such a hero to you.’ He said, ‘Listen, I just can’t get out of something.’ I said, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘I’m doing a gig in the Sistine Chapel with the Holy Father.'”
Although Pope Francis wasn’t in attendance for the Edge’s concert, the guitarist thanked “the people’s pope” for use of the venue. “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 of Francis. “He’s doing an amazing job and long may he continue.”
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Vice President Joe Biden also attended the conference Friday to address attendees on using stem research to cure rare diseases. Biden’s son Beau died at the age of 46 following brain cancer.
Watch footage of the Edge’s Sistine Chapel performance below via ATU2.