Sistine Chapel Choir Director resigns

A press release from the Vatican Press Office today announced the following (working translation):

In the past few days, Mons. Massimo Palombella, SDB, has concluded his service as Maestro Direttore of the Music of the Pontifical Chapel. The Holy Father accepted the request of the Maestro to terminate his assignment. The decision was taken after consultation with the Congregation of the Salesians of Don Bosco and with the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. Monsignor Palombella is henceforward available to the Salesian Congregation for the new ministry that will be entrusted to him.

Original Italian announcement will be found at

Palombella has done much in recent times to restore the reputation of what were previously known as the “Sistine Screamers”. No longer are there “twenty competing vibratos bawling at each other and boys singing consistently flat”. The plainchant is now restrained (though not to everyone’s taste), and Palombella has done a lot of work in the Vatican music archives, particularly regarding the works of his predecessor Palestrina and performance practices of Palestrina’s time. It remains to be seen who will take on this work and whether Palombella’s successor will succeed in continuing on the same path.


  1. The Reuters story says there is an investigation into charges of fraud and embezzlement. I don’t have any opinion as to whether the charges are likely to be true or false, but Gisotti confirmed that the investigation is ongoing, so I would imagine that having this shadow over his leadership influenced Palombella’s decision to step aside quietly.

  2. Is the now resigned Palombella a Bishop?
    The report says he is a Salesian, and religious can’t receive the title Monsignor
    unless they are a Bishop.

    1. Was that true before Pope Francis’ 2014 restrictions? I don’t recall. Palombella was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, and at least by 2012 I see him being referred to as Msgr.

    2. He is not a bishop, though one website was misled by the title Monsignore into referring to him as a bishop.

      I believe that clergy holding certain positions within the Vatican are customarily given the honorific title of Monsignor. Whether this means that they are actually prelates of honour is another matter. It could be that Monsignor Palombella no longer uses the title now that he is no longer in post.

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