Madonna surprised guests at the Met Gala on Monday night with a performance of her legendary hit Like A Prayer.

The 59-year-old singer, who has peppered her career with religious references, kept with the evening’s Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination theme by belting out her famous 1989 tune.

Madonna wore a black hooded monastic-style cloak to start as she appeared on the steps of the Great Hall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, before dancers then helped her remove the outerwear, to reveal a white flowing gown with Joan of Arc-inspired armour accents beneath. The pop veteran then sang Like A Prayer before segueing into an eerie version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Sharing a snap of herself in the white dress mid-performance on Instagram, Madonna wrote: “With The Light on the Steps of the Met! #jeannedarc #metgala #hallelujah #catholicimagination #heavenly. @guyoseary.”

She later posted a clip of the performance, writing: “Stairway to Heaven! #metgala #epic. #jeannedarc #catholicimagination @jpgaultierofficial thank you all who helped make it happen!”

Earlier, Madonna had walked the red carpet at the event in a Jean Paul Gaultier black gown, which she teamed with a black net veil over the face.

Speaking to Billboard in 2015 about her relationship with the church, Madonna explained: “Catholicism feels like my alma mater. It’s the school I used to go to, and I can go back any time I want and take whatever I want from it because I suffered all the oppression, and all the abuse – and also enjoyed all the pomp and circumstance, the drama and the confusion, and the hypocrisy and the craziness.

“I feel like I can say whatever I want and do whatever I want. I’ve been ex-communicated by the Catholic Church a few times.”

The controversial Like A Prayer music video was famously condemned by the Vatican at the time for scenes including burning crosses, stigmata and a black Jesus.