Tales From the Crypt: To Attract New Blood, Church Joins Club Scene
With the approval of his superiors, Fr. Maurizio Mirilli, head of youth ministry in Rome, opened a nightclub in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Charles Borromeo on Via del Corso in downtown Rome, just a few miles away from the Vatican. Mirilli’s initiative is meant to attract youth to church, or at least to its basements…
This Basilica, built in the 1600s, houses relics of St. Charles Borromeo, St. Ambrose and St. Olav. Its crypt is also the burial place for important Cardinals of the Church. Mirilli adapted it by raising some temporary walls to create space for a stage band, a bar, tables and a center dance floor.
The nightclub is named GP2 after John Paul II (Giovanni Paolo II in Italian). It is accessed by a side door that leads to the basement crypt. It is open every night from 7 p.m. to midnight, Sundays included.
When reporters from the Wall Street Journal visited the crypt on Saturday night, October 30, 2010, no disco lights were displayed and “Christian inspired” pop music was pulsing. The club serves wine and beer at competitive prices, but not hard liquor. “Being Catholic doesn’t mean to be serious or sad,” Fr. Mirilli explained. “Christian young people need to find a way to own the night again.” According to customers they go to GP2 to “get to know” a girl at the church nightclub, rather than “pick her up”…
Asked about the approval of Benedict XVI for GP2, Fr. Mirilli answered: “This place wouldn’t exist if the Pope weren’t OK with it.”
The photos below shows the bar in GP2; , nightclub patrons enter through a side door and go down the stairs to the crypt; the disco room under regular lighting; a bar sign that says “Give me to drink” (Dammi da bere) – a play on Our Lord’s words when He asked for water, interpreted to invite the youth to consume alcohol.