2007 marks the 30th anniversary of the presumed death of Elvis Aron Presley. Presumed, not because of stories of him being spotted shelf stacking in Bacup Co-op or driving a Nashville bus. Doubts arise because of the mis-spelling of his second name as Aaron’ on his memorial – a clue that he is not dead. Also the banning of visitors from the upper floor of Graceland, to which home some think that Elvis secretly returns.

If thousands believe that ‘Elvis lives,’ only a mere handful realize that this Southern Baptist country boy was also a covert Cardinal, Pius XII’s last inpectore choice, a tribute from a rock’n’roll loving pope to a pop primate.

Elvis’s Romanist leanings will be familiar to anyone hearing his My Rosary. However, that he was a Franciscan tertiary, and that this was the reason for Pius XII’s decision, has only recently become clear.

For proof we go first to the Memphis studio where Elvis cut his first disc, Sun Studio, an obvious link between the country boy cantor and St Francis’ Canticle of the Sun.

The title of the debut record? That’s All Right, Mama. Supposedly acknowledging his mother, Gladys, but, in reality, Elvis’ coded message to the rockabilly Pope that Presley was 100% behind the declaration four years before by Pius of the Assumption.

More proof? Medieval Franciscans and Dominicans were rivals and Dominic’s heresy hunting followers were dubbed ‘hounds,’ from ‘Domini canes! Elvis brought the taunt up-to-date with ‘You’re nothing but a hound dog’ – his target liberal Dominican, Edward Schillebeeckx.

In his lifetime some folk uncovered Elvis’ secret, clues including his fondness for a white jump-suit plus yellow scarf (papal colours). One of the many TVs in Graceland was always tuned to Vatican Radio. Yet Franciscanism was his major influence. Consider his simple diet: endless peanut butter sandwiches when he could have afforded caviar. Remember his Franciscan love for animals displayed when he sang T wanna be your teddy bear.’

Still unconvinced? Note his birthplace, Tupelo. If you cannot see that the initial T and final O = “Third Order’, then ‘I’m all shook up.’

Alan Edwards