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American Priests' Rome Dance-Off Video Goes Viral

American priests tap dance at the North American College, the elite American seminary up the hill from the Vatican, in a video published on YouTube.
American priests tap dance at the North American College, the elite American seminary up the hill from the Vatican, in a video published on YouTube.Joansrome via YouTube

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A video of a pair of dueling, dancing American priests studying in Rome has gone viral, following in the footsteps of a now-famous Italian singing nun whose voice won her a record contract. The Rev. David Rider, 29, of Hyde Park, New York, and the Rev. John Gibson, 28, of Milwaukee, first shot to Internet fame when they were filmed in April during a fundraiser at the North American College, the elite American seminary up the hill from the Vatican.

Rider warmed up the crowd with a lively tap-dance routine, only to be pushed aside by Gibson's fast-footed Irish dance. Soon they were battling it out, trying to impress the crowd. The video, recorded by a journalist at the back of the refectory, has notched up more than a quarter of a million views on YouTube – and has drawn comparisons to Sr. Cristina Scuccia, who won the Italian edition of "The Voice" in June with a series of unadorned pop song performances, in full habit.

Some commentators on YouTube wrote that the priests shouldn't have been dancing under a crucifix and a painting of Pope Francis, calling it "disrespectful." But Rider told the Associated Press: "We would just refer them to the Bible, where the Lord tells us to live with joy."

Rider was ordained in May and is still in Rome studying at the college, said Joseph Zwilling, communications director for New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who was believed to be in the audience at the event. “[Rider] was famous for this,” Zwilling said. “He was always well known for step dancing.”

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- Christina Boyle and The Associated Press

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