The High Priest of Heavy Metal
First he found God. Then he found death metal. But Father Robert Culat believes there’s no reason the two can’t co-exist.
Illustrations by Tom Toye | Edited by W. M. Akers
Robert Culat’s journey into the dark world of metal music wasn’t unusual by most standards, though he came to the genre later than the typical rebellious teenager. Having converted to Catholicism at the age of 13, he spent his teenage years devoted to his faith, allowing no time for Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath. In 1993, when he was 25, Culat still had no idea what heavy metal was, until the serendipitous day that he encountered two young metalheads at the local high school.
As a freshly ordained Catholic priest, recently returned from his studies in Rome to serve the diocese in Avignon, France, Father Culat was charged with preaching to the young people and schools in the community.
“I was waiting at the beginning of the school year for young people to sign up for religion classes,” Culat says. Among the first to sign up were two young brothers who looked quite strange to Father Culat. “I was surprised,” Culat says, “the long hair, all i…