Opera superstar Bocelli on the bench for Pope's team at Croker
ONE of the world's most popular tenors, Andrea Bocelli, is tipped to perform for Pope Francis in Croke Park on the evening of August 25.
Informed sources told the Irish Independent that negotiations were ongoing to secure the popular singer who has performed for Pope Francis a number of times in recent years.
English pop star Ed Sheeran and Irish rock group The Script were both considered by organisers of the World Meeting of Families 2018 (WMOF) as possible acts for the Festival of Families in Croke Park.
But although sources said both were named in the early stages of the event's organisation, neither made it on to the shortlist.
"Ed Sheeran, The Script, Andrea Bocelli and Finbar Fury were all listed by organisers as possible acts for the Festival of Families in Croke Park in the early stages of brainstorming," a source told the Irish Independent.
But neither Sheeran nor The Script will feature in performances for the pontiff in Dublin, according to Brenda Drumm, spokesperson for WMOF.
The WMOF spokeswoman said the headline acts for the Festival of Families "are not at this stage ready to be announced as a lot still have to be confirmed".
The Croke Park acts have been described by the WMOF spokeswoman as having "an extraordinary ordinariness".
"We want people to leave uplifted by the music and the presence of the Pope and the prayerful atmosphere," she said.
Sheeran, whose grandparents are from Gorey, Co Wexford, performed nine sold-out concerts in Cork, Belfast, Galway and Dublin in May this year.
Last December, Sheeran released a collaboration with Bocelli titled 'Perfect Symphony', and Sheeran invited Bocelli on stage in Wembley last week during his 'Divide' tour and the two sang a duet for the crowd of 90,000 people.
Opera star Bocelli first performed for Pope John Paul II in 1994 after he returned to his Catholic faith.
He has since performed for Pope Francis on a number of occasions, most recently in the Vatican in August last year with a group of Haitian children whom the Andrea Bocelli Foundation is helping with educational opportunities.
Greeting the singer after this performance, Pope Francis told him: "You have something inside with the power to move others, I don't know if you know it."
Bocelli is known to have a particular liking for Ireland and was at one time in love with an Irish woman.
The singer lost his sight following a football accident which caused a brain haemorrhage when he was just 12.
The concert-type event is a celebration of family life around the world and will feature music and dance performances, as well as hearing from five families from around the world about their faith.