The charismatic Franciscan has a second album in the classical hit parade but he’s alert to the lure of fame.

I have to admit I’ve had relatively few conversations with Franciscan friars. And even fewer on the phone from New York. But 35-year-old Alessandro Brustenghi is far from your average monk – and, as it turns out, has his sandaled feet planted firmly on the ground.

Brustenghi joined the Franciscan’s 14 years ago when he was just 21. At the time he might well have seen his choice as one of retreat from the world, but a record deal with Decca and a series of popular concerts around the world have thrust the charismatic Italian into the musical limelight.

First of all, I ask him, what led a young man back to make an increasingly unfashionable career choice? His answer is typically simple and direct: “At 16 I received a calling by God,” he says, his English excellent, his Italian lilt charmingly engaging. “I had the desire to be in the service of Him and of the Church, for all the brothers and sisters of the world.”

But what was his trigger – a vision – a modern day road to...

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