Today in Catholic History – Tony Mélendez plays for Pope John Paul II

On 15 September 1987, Tony Meléndez sang his song “Never Be the Same” at a special performance for Pope John Paul II.

Tony Melendez was born without arms because his mother had taken Thalidomide while she was pregnant, Thalidomide had been prescribed for pregnant women to treat nausea but was later discovered to cause birth defects. Despite his disability, Tony learned how to play the guitar with his feet.

Tony’s performance before Pope John Paul II at the Universal Ampitheater in Los Angeles, deeply moved the Holy Father. Pope John Paul II would kiss Tony on the right cheek and tell him, “Tony–you are truly a courageous man. You are giving hope to all of us. My wish to you is to continue giving this hope to all the people.”

Tony would later say that it was the Holy Father’s words that would inspire him to continue his ministry and his music. His performance before the Holy Father would in turn lead to many appearances on TV and concerts throughout the United States and the world.

Video of Tony Melendez’s performance before Pope John Paul II

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