Whatever curious and interesting subject strikes my fancy, be it silly or serious, gets posted for your reading pleasure.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

A Thought for Each Day of the Year


  

Meditation, or contemplative prayer, is the practise of dwelling upon the truths of religion in order to awaken within the mind good resolutions to practise. Together with vocal prayer, meditation aids the faithful to gain graces and to advance rapidly on the path to spiritual perfection. In addition to daily vocal prayers, the Catholic Church recommends the practise of meditation for at least several minutes a day in order to progress in the spiritual life.


    But meditation is difficult you say?

  'I don't have the time!'   

'I don't know how to meditate!'  

'I don't know what to meditate on!'  

'How do I form a good resolution to practise?' 

 

Fr. Marin de Boylesve, S.J. (1813-1892) provided an easy way to overcome these seeming hurdles with his helpful spiritual guide book 'A Thought For Each Day of the Year'.


Featuring a short passage from the Gospel readings for each Sunday, a clear and concise reflection to meditate upon and a prayer inspired by the reflection is provided, followed by a resolution drawn from the passage that anyone can easily put into practise, 'A Thought For Each Day of the Year' will provide a simple and time effective way to help fulfil your daily meditations in union with the liturgical year of the Church.


About the author: Fr. Marin de Boylesve is best remembered in France for spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart with his writings thereby promoting the cause for the construction of the Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris.

 

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Book details: 

5.5 x 8.5 inches

 PAPERBACK ONLY

336 pages

Batalha Publishers

ISBN:  9789893319956

 

WILL BE AVAILABLE  on September 30, 2021!

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(NOTE: the 'Look inside the Book" feature at Amazon is showing a completely different edition and not this new edition with clean printing.)

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PRE-ORDER your copy now at:

 

* Amazon USA, click here.

* Barnes and Noble USA, click here.

* Books-a-Million USA, click here.

 

* Amazon UK, click here.

* Waterstones UK, click here.

 

* Amazon Canada, click here.

* McNally Robinson Canada, click here.

 

* Amazon Australia, click here.

 

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 QUOTE from the book ~ the Meditation for Easter Sunday:


Gospel Passage "Who shall roll us back the stone from the door of the sepulchre?" (Mark 16:3)


Thought How would it be if we were to know everything? Not only does an enormous stone close the entrance to the sepulchre, but this stone is sealed by the powerful enemies of Our Lord and is surrounded by soldiers. Go on in spite of all this; God asks of you only that which you are able to perform; He takes what seems impossible upon Himself. When you draw near, all these obstacles have disappeared. True, your sweet spices are of no service, but your wishes have been accomplished and even surpassed.


Prayer Jesus, if Thou triest Thy friends, it is but to surprise them with consolations which more than recompense for any sacrifice.


Practise Make progress in spite of obstacles.


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If you like this book, check out the others!  Visit my Website, click here.

 

 



Thursday, 9 September 2021

Erik Satie - The Musician and the Mystic

 







Lately the music of a particular composer has been running through my mind, the Gnossiennes and the Gymnopédies of Erik Satie (1866-1925).


Deceptively sounding like a set of 'easy-to-play' compositions for piano beginners, these pieces are in fact haunting and quite captivating due to their very simplicity.   I love listening to them. You have heard them too – here are a couple of YouTube links, click on the titles. (I won't put the video itself on the blog as these embedded files from YouTube seem to disappear.)


  1. Gymnopédies (Graceful – you've definitely heard these.)

     

  2. Gnossiennes -- (Haunting! I bet you've heard these too in movie music.)



 (Image: painting of Erik Satie entitled "El Bohemio, Poet of Montmartre" by Ramon Casas, 1891.  The Moulin de la Galette in Montmartre can be seen in the background.)

 


 

 

I first became acquainted with Erik Satie and his compositions during my music student days, and not because his work was featured in the courses, which unfortunately they weren't, but because of my other obsession - with French author Gaston Leroux's (1868-1927) The Phantom of the Opera (1910).

 

(Image: cover of the first French novel publication of The Phantom of the Opera (1911), which originally was published as newspaper serialisation in Le Gaulois, 1910).


In Leroux's classic tale of the deformed 'Angel of Music' taking up his abode in the labyrinthine cellars of the Palais Garnier, or as is commonly known the Paris Opéra, the hidden genius is a great eccentric.   Among his various talents he plays the organ, composes Masses, and, continually contemplates the inevitability of one's own death and the Four Last Things by turning his bed chamber into a great memento mori, taking his nightly repose in an open coffin surrounded by copies of the medieval music from the 'Dies Irae' of the Latin Mass of the Dead on the walls.   There is even some slight evidence in the text he has read that monumental spiritual classic the 'Imitation of Christ' by Thomas A, Kempis.


This displays a surprising element of contemplative reflection, even deep piety, from a character portrayed most of the time as a maniacal monster, but then the author Leroux was Catholic who obviously struggled with his own inner demons.


Researching Leroux's story is when I discovered Erik Satie for the first time, and couldn't help but note the similarities between him and the Phantom – both are French and bear the same first name. Erik Satie was born in Honfleur, which is not that far from Rouen. Erik the Phantom is described has having been born in a village outside of Rouen. They are Catholic, have a deep mystical side to them, and, share the same 'gothic' eccentricities.   For instance, Erik the Phantom and Erik Satie the composer had the notion to write their music in red ink.   I found out Erik Satie also had rigged up one of his apartments to where it had to be opened with a secret system of tripwires, (the Phantom was a master of secret passageways and known as the 'Trap Door Lover'), and, Satie refused to allow anyone inside his apartment near the end of his life.  Satie once challenged the manager of the Opéra to a duel when he received no reply after sending him one of his manuscripts – he took the silence as a personal insult and was not about to let it pass! The Phantom declares war on the Opéra mangers too.  Of course, I couldn't help but wonder if the composer didn't influence Leroux in some way – he was contemporary with Leroux after all.


About Satie, although he is arguably not as famous as the composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918) who he became friends with and influenced greatly, he is famous of course as one of the father-composers of Impressionist music and is also associated with the French Symboliste movement, his avant-garde harmonies are capturing the attention of more people these days.  His work definitely caught the attention of another composer friend, Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), who described Satie as “the most rare and consistently witty person” he had ever known.


(Image: a photo of Debussy, left, and Erik Satie, right, taken by Igor Stravinsky.)



Learning a little more about Satie, he definitely was eccentric, at one point he got the notion to eat only white foods, and, could be very touchy about his art. When a critic accused his music of having no shape or form, he got back at him by composing music with the whimsical title – 'Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear'. (YouTube link).  He is also noted for having created the first 'ambient music', composing works intended to be played in the background and to be practically ignored – he even grew angry when people attempted to pay attention or tried to study the form of his ambient creations!


As for love, he had only one deep brush with romance with Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) who had been a model for the painters Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) and Renoir (1841-1919). Despite seeing each other for some time, they only spent one night of passion together after which Satie asked her to marry him -- and she flatly refused. She eventually ended their relationship five months later, after which Satie wrote this rupture had left him “flooded by an icy loneliness that fills the head with emptiness and the heart with sadness”.  

He spent the rest of his life a single man. Upon his death they found numerous letters her had written to Valadon, but never had the courage to send to her.

 


(Images - Right: Renoir's painting 'Dance at Bougival' featuring Valadon, 1882. 

 Below: Erik Satie in his Montmartre apartment c. 1891, painted by Santiago Rusiñol. )

 

 


 

I couldn't help but be interested in the fellow. Despite the eccentricities, it's interesting to see Catholics like Satie making a mark in the creative world … and then I discovered some other things that were disturbing.

 

Erik Satie was a friend of the Catholic literary art critic Joséphin Péladan (1858-1918) who was also a Martinist and deeply interested in dubious mysticism. He dabbled in what would be considered the 'white occult', the search for hidden knowledge and wisdom in ancient texts and symbols, such as in alchemy, Kabbala, the Far East, and also Gnosticism.

 


 (Image: Josphin Péladan)


Influenced also by Rosicrucian ideals, Péladan founded a 'Catholic-Rosicrucian' type order called the “Ordre du Temple de la Rose + Croix” that functioned as an outlet for his beliefs regarding idealism and spiritualism in the arts. Not intended primarily as an order like the Freemasons or the Rosicrucians, it was more of a quasi-mystico clique for artists and musicians, but there is evidence Kabbalistic and heretical gnostic mysticism was involved. Erik Satie was one of the musician-members and he composed music for the 'order'.


It is thought Satie's exploration of gnosticism was the prime source of inspiration for the Gnossiennes, a term which he in fact coined as a distinct form of musical composition for the first time.  However, some published versions of the score claim that the word derives from Cretan "knossos" or "gnossus" supporting the theory linking the Gnossiennes to the myth of Theseus, Ariadne and the terrifying Minotaur. Several archaeological sites connected to the myth of the inescapable maze were famously excavated around the time that Satie composed these pieces.   Perhaps his Gnossiennes were influenced by both – the haunting melody bears all the hallmarks of a wandering soul lost in a profound spiritual and emotional labyrinth trying to find answers that seem to slip beyond his grasp at each turn.

 

 


Eventually Satie parted ways with Péladan when they didn't see eye to eye regarding the arts and mysticism, and so Erik founded his own 'church' in 1893 ~ the “Metropolitan Church of Art of Jesus-Conductor”, of which he was high priest, treasurer, chapel master and sole believer. According to him his aim was to create “a refuge where Catholicism and the arts that are inextricably linked to it will grow and prosper under the shelter of any and all profanation”.


It was during this time that he adopted gothic-style apparel similar to dark monastic robes and assumed “the unctuous manners of a priest”, also calling his humble dwelling “abacial”.  Also this artistic phase in his life occurred around the time his relationship with Valadon had ended, so no doubt his sorrow only magnified his eccentric side and his attempt to seek solace for life's griefs in unorthodox mysticism.


(Image: Erik during his 'mystic phase', c. 1895)


 

Eventually he abandoned his 'church', the priest-like robes gave way to a flannel suit, umbrella and bowler hat which remained his personal style to the end of his days.   However, the piano-playing bohemian of the Montmartre cafés forever suffered from the grip of one particular afflication, alcohol, and, his personal favourite poison was absinthe, the 'Green Fairy', or rather, the enticing devil of the Belle Epoque days of Paris.

 


 (Image. Edgar Degas' famous work, L'Absinthe, c. 1875)


In 1925 Satie was admitted to St. Joseph's hospital after he fell gravely ill with pleurisy brought on by cirrhosis of the liver and passed away on July 1 of that year.


Sometimes, I cannot help but wonder where the souls of the famous end up for eternity.


So many people in the creative spheres have given so much to the world, only to be dragged down dark twisting paths by its tantalizing snares in their search for beauty and truth in all the wrong ways and places. The eccentric and the creative souls in particular appear to be enticed and led away by the false promises of this life dangled before them.


At least Erik of the Opéra house is given his chance of redemption.  Leroux, who claimed long after his story was published that the Opéra Ghost was indeed real, had pity on the man isolated in the depths of the cellars and prayed for his soul according to the Epilogue.   One cannot help but wonder what became of Satie the composer who apparently inspired the fictional side of the Opéra Phantom.


Then, I discovered this.


Satie's few close Catholic friends also worried for him, in particular, Jacques Maritain (1882-1973), a philosopher and professor at the Catholic University of Paris. He was also France's ambassador to the Holy See and is famous for his influence in the development and drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

 



(Image: Jacques Maritain).


Maritain was among the friends who came to see Satie in the hospital the first day he was admitted. It was obvious that Satie was not going to leave the place, but the composer himself didn't know it, or, was in denial his end was approaching.  Apparently he was gently urged to make his peace with Heaven, but said that 'once he got better' and was out of the hospital he would then amend his life, but “not too suddenly, as that would upset his friends.”  No doubt he meant the other bohemian free-livers he hung out with! Considering his drinking, and his dabbling with the occult and heretical off-shoot mysticism, no wonder Satie's friends were worried for him.


They were also deeply concerned he was delaying to complete his Easter Duty before the season passed, that is, confession and Communion once a year during the Easter period, practically the absolute minimum the Catholic Church requires of those professing to be its members if they hope to attain salvation.  The fact he was delaying something so important suggested he hadn't been attending the Sacraments regularly either.   However, there was some hope he had not lost the true faith completely as Erik held up a crucifix he carried saying his only hope was: “In this One.”  But, he was still in denial of his approaching end, and not accomplishing his Easter duty, a dangerous thing to do.


A thought then struck Maritain – if they couldn't get the touchy artist to prepare properly for death, perhaps someone else could ....


He suggested to Satie that he should see the 'Parish Priest of the Rag-Pickers', he just might like him, and, the composer consented.


Seizing this opportunity, Maritain bolted out of the room to fetch the priest.


Who was the 'Parish Priest of the Rag-Pickers'? 

 




None other than the mystic Père Lamy (1855-1931) gifted with the discernment of souls, prophecy, and who also received numerous visits from Our Lady and the angels. He also saw the devil numerous times. He once witnessed a battle of wills and words between the Queen of Heaven and Satan. The Archbishop of Paris once said with grateful admiration that they had another saintly Curé of Ars in their midst!


If anyone could reach Erik's soul it would be Père Lamy.


But, they had to handle this carefully.  As they drove to the hospital Maritain tried to gently explain the situation to the humble unassuming priest of the backstreets...the composer was touchy, and great artiste ... it was easy to upset him.  Satie himself once declared: "The musician is perhaps the most modest of animals, but he is also the proudest".   Satie's friends knew this was probably their last and only chance to reach Satie and they had to tread softly lest he shut them all out.


As they entered Satie's room the priest and the composer exchanged very polite greetings with “interest and respect”, but then against all the quiet warnings tactfully imparted by Maritain, Lamy launched into the most unexpected and banal conversation!


They small-talked about the rain and fine weather, health and sickness, then proceeded to share an absurd amount of old wives tales regarding home remedies and quack nostrums. They even seemed to enter a friendly 'competition' or 'one up on you', bantering to see who had the most bizarre cure-all for different ailments.


Imagine the scene.


We're trying to save a soul here, and all you two can talk about is -- that?


Wut?


Then, Satie made a passing reference to music.


“Ah, you are musician,” Père Lamy enquired.


“Yes, a bit,” Satie modestly replied.


“You conduct an orchestra?”


“No,” Satie replied, smiling into his sleeve.


“Then you give piano lessons.”


“No.”


Oh no.


Satie's friends were mortified with this turn in the conversation .... to think the great artiste was taken to be an obscure teacher who could not compose or perform and was therefore ended up giving lessons in some apartment.


“Ah, I see you are a Master?” Lamy asked.


The priest didn't know the man and was asking polite questions, but to suggest he was 'unknown' was dangerous territory! Was Satie insulted?  Maritain thought by now all was lost... .


Then, Père Lamy changed his tone, and with a regal gravity that was known to transform his jovial nature to majestic bearing, he asked:


“Will you let me give you the benediction of the Blessed Virgin?”


The composer consented, and the old priest slowly and solemnly gave him his blessing.


As Père Lamy left the room, he turned to Maritain:


“He is an honest man, a straight soul.”


This gave Maritain hope.


“You will come back to see him again Father,” he asked, no doubt of all people would convince Erik to accept his fate and fulfil his duty.


Apparently, Père Lamy could read his thoughts.


“There will be no need to – the chaplain will do everything.”


As `Père Lamy foretold, the hospital chaplain found Satie quite willing to accept his spiritual help after that. When asked if he wished to make his Easter duty, Satie declared;


“Yes, certainly. I am a Catholic.”


Pére Lamy

Before his death he received Communion twice as well. The musician's heart had been touched by the benediction of the mystic to the great relief of his friends.


And that's something they don't tell you about in the music books.




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(Source for the information Satie's deathbed moments - “Père Lamy (1855-1931)” by Comte Paul Biver.)


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Wednesday, 1 September 2021

My Review of: "Fifty-Seven Saints for Boys and Girls"

 


Excellent book for the young ones

I give it FIVE STARS   *****

~ ~ ~ Where to get it on Amazon - click here.

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If you are trying to find a decent biography of the saints for your children, even those in the early teens, and by decent I mean not 'fluffy' or over cutesy to where your children's intelligence is dumbed down, this edition is fantastic. Yes, it is written in an 'easy' style for children and young adults to enjoy and understand, but at the same time well done to where even I enjoyed it when in my later teens. Even now I kinda enjoy flipping through it! This kid in me still loves this.


Not only is there a decent biography of each saint told in a story style, but at the end of each chapter there is a recommended virtue or spiritual exercise that can easily be put into practice and therefore help youngsters learn how to imitate the saints, which is why we read books about them in the first place. For instance, I'll quote the recommend spiritual practice from the end of the chapter on St. Peter:


“One of the most beautiful qualities St. Peter had was his willingness to admit he was wrong and to accept corrections well. If we imitate him in this we will acquire the virtue of humility.”


There are also about 60 brown illustrations in a water colour style, but not cartoony in a 'silly' fashion. They are tastefully executed in the style of the late 1950s or 1960s as this book was first printed in 1963 according to the imprint page.


Below is the Table of Contents – you can see there is a good selection of saints featured:



Table of Contents:


St. Michael the Archangel – Prince of the Heavenly Hosts

St. Anne – Mother of Our Lady

St. Joseph – Patron of the Universal Church

St. Peter - Prince of the Apostles,

St. Paul - Apostle of the Gentiles

St. Thecla – Valiant Virgin

St. Cecilia – Martyr with a Singing Heart

St. Tarcisius - First Martyr of the Holy Eucharist

St. Sebastian – Patron of Soldiers

St. Lucy – The Shining Light

St. Agnes – Lamb of Jesus

St. Helen – Seeker of the Cross

St. Martin of Tours – Soldier of Christ

St. Monica – Model of Perseverance

St. Patrick – Apostle of Ireland

St. Brigid – Mary of the Gael

St. Benedict – Patriarch of Western Monks

St. Kevin – Kevin of the Angels

St. Columban – Missionary Monk

St. Dymphna – Patron of the Emotionally Disturbed

St. Margaret of Scotland – Patroness of Learning

St. Francis of Assisi – Herald of the Great King

St. Clare – Patroness of Television

St. Anthony – Wonder Worker of Padua

St. Elizabeth of Hungary – Queen Who Sped to Heaven

St. Peregrine – Patron of the Cancer-Stricken

St. Gertrude – Herald of Divine Love

St. Catherine of Sienna – Ambassador of God

St. Frances of Rome – Friend of the Poor

St. Rita of Cascia – Patron of the Desperate

St. Joan of Arc – Warrior Maid

St. Francis Xavier - Apostle of the Indies

St. Philip Neri – Saint of the Joyous Heart

St. Benedict – the Holy Moor

St. Stanislaus Kostka – Angelic Novice

St. Camillus de Lellis – Patron of the Sick

St. Aloysius Gonzaga – Patron of Youth

St. Jane Francis de Chantal – Model of Fortitude

St. Germaine – Shepherdess of the Pibrac

St. Rose of Lima – Flower of the Andes

St. Martin de Porres – Everyone's Brother

St. John Berchmans – Patron of Altar Boys

St. Isaac Jogues – North American Martyr

Katherine Tekakwitha – Lily of the Mohawks

St. Margaret Mary – Apostle of the Sacred Heart

St. John Baptiste de la Salle – Patron of Teachers

St. Elizabeth Seton – American-Born Saint

St. Joseph Cottolengo – Model of Faith

St. Bartholomea Capitanio – Lily of Lovere

St. John Bosco – Friend of Youth

St. Dominic Savio – the Teenage Saint

St. Bernadette of Lourdes – Petitioner for Penance

St. Frances X. Cabrini – First U.S. Citizen Saint

St. Therese of Lisieux – Patroness of the Missions

St. Gemma Galgani – Example of Eucharistic Life

St. Mary Goretti – Martyr for Purity

Alphabetical Index


This book definitely gets a thumbs up.

 

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TABLE OF CONTENTS - Past Blog Posts

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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Phantom Phan having some Phun ....



For a blog I intended to manage as a somewhat fun project, aka the 'Babble and Blarney' bit of the title, it tends to get more serious posts than I intended, so here is some light entertainment just to break things up a bit.

 If you've noticed one of my books is called 'Phantom Phantasia' then it's no secret I'm a Phantom of the Opera 'Phan'.  

 I've been completely hooked on the story since I first saw the mini-series in 1990 featuring Charles Dance and Teri Polo as the Phantom and Christine.  In fact, I must confess, this story introduced me to many other things from the French opera 'Faust', which then sent me on my 'Faust' book project, to classical music, opera, musicals, you name it, I will confess my 'phan obsession' was a curious blessing hidden behind a mask (please forgive the reference, I couldn't help it.)

 I still love the TV series, and while it is very loosely based on the story by Gaston Leroux, perhaps in some ways its even more poetically romantic and tragic than the original book.  It's the only film version that was shot on location in Paris and at the opera house set in the novel, except for the auditorium scenes which were filmed at the Odéon Theatre.  (One of my pet peeves, but at least it's still Paris, right?)

 The other thing that always irked me about this version is the Phantom plays practically every musical instrument befitting a musical genius, except the one for which he is most famous.  The Debussy-like music soundtrack by John Addison, as beautiful as it is, lacks this instrument.

Then, I watched the epic film 'Fall of the Roman Empire' and had an epiphany moment - what an overture!  Perhaps its my latest project putting a list together of epic films for my previous blog post that's made me reflect on the grand orchestral music of old Hollywood, but lo and behold - the overture to that film was composed using the same folk tunes John Addison incorporated into his soundtrack for the Phantom miniseries.  I couldn't help but wonder what that epic score would sound like when added in ... in fact, curiosity got the better of me, I couldn't rest until I tried it. 

 So, here's my latest little film project I did for some fun as a 'phan tribute' (and also to practice a bit with my annoying glitchy video editor ...) 

(UPDATE May 24: I've just uploaded another little film I did for fun, not fancy or anything, but hopefully interesting, 'The Dies Irae in The Phantom of the Opera' - it's under the first video.)


Hope you enjoy.

 (If video isn't showing below, click here for the You Tube link).

(Click here for the 'Dies Irae' video).




 

 

If  you like my blog, you'll LOVE my books!  Check out my site! (Click here.)

 


 

 

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Grab the Popcorn – A List of Catholic / Christian / Bible Epics / 'Sword and Sandal' Movies

 


 

Ah yes, the Covid lock downs. We're sick of them, but looking at the bright side, they've given us a legitimate excuse to vegetate in front of the 'Idiot Box'.


I personally love a good old classic or action packed 'sword and sandal' movie, especially the Catholic or Christian themed ones, and after running through the old favourites I've bumbled upon a few others I've never seen or heard of before. Anyway, thought I'd make a list and share the classics we've all come to know and love and also some movies that slid under the radar for me – I've discovered quite a few here I've never seen before thanks to people sharing what movies they've found during the global pandemic.


Basically, these are films I've seen, (not to mention I may have forgotten to put some good ones up), so if there are any old classics that would fit nicely here please drop it in the comment box at the end. Also, if I find anything else, it will be added below, so check back from time to time.



***  WHERE TO WATCH FOR FREE: If I actually find a link you can watch the movie online for free, I'll put it up. Just click on “YouTube” or “OK Videos” which is just as good as YouTube. They're safe links. Hopefully there are no restrictions depending on what country you're watching from, and I hope they don't take the videos down. The links were working when I found them.



Epics or Feature Films set at the Biblical Times, the Time of Christ, the Early Church, or Later Times


*) The Ten Commandments (1956): OK Videos The classic starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner. Fantastic. Who could forget the famous parting of the Red sea in this? Also love the sweeping epic music. I think we can safely say after this film came out we cannot picture Moses in any other way than how Heston portrayed him. Fun trivia fact: it is said that the producers were inspired by Michelangelo famous statue of Moses when it came to the make-up for Heston as the 'older' Moses.


*) Ben-Hur: (1959) OK Videos. Fictional tale set at the time of Christ, the Jewish Prince of Hur played by guess who, Charlton Heston, discovers what happens to his misfortune when ambition and the lust for power in the Roman Empire corrupts what was once an unbreakable friendship, and in the process, finds himself coming into contact with a Preacher from Nazareth which will change his life. This epic is timeless, a movie one never grows tired of watching.


*) Quo Vadis (1951) OK Videos Starring Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Sir Peter Ustinov. This epic is right up there with Ben-Hur. A Roman Tribune returns from the wars a hero, but of all the rewards offered to him, sets on a beautiful Christian and wants her come what may. Fantastic and disturbing scenes in this with Sir Peter Ustinov as the insane Rome-burning, Christian-persecuting Nero.


*) The Silver Chalice (1954) OK Videos An epic fictional tale about what is supposed to have happened to the chalice of the Last Supper. Okay, in my opinion this one is not that good, the story bears no resemblance at all to what happened to the chalice, (we Catholics know where it is, it was never lost), but hey, this film is something clean to watch, and is a piece of watchable Hollywood history as Paul Newman was introduced in this film. If only the plot did not feel so contrived and the sets didn't look like a weird art house experiment from the 60s more suitable for a live theatre stage and not a Hollywood studio. The fact the story mixes in the little known weirdo fake Simon Magus legends that were popular chapbook fodder centuries ago all spun around the real Simon Magus mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles makes it a bit wacky and cringy, at least to me. Jack Palance stars as the cursed magician of the fabricated legends who parodies the miracles of Christ and the Holy Spirit and then comes to a bizarre end. Probably why this movie didn't fly over so well and become as popular as the other epics. (Forgive the pun, you'll get it when you see it.)



*) The Egyptian (1954) OK Videos The story of this epic is not set around the early Church, but way back in ancient Egypt about a young man who sets out to help the poor with his skills as a physician. I found this intriguing as the story is set during the reign of the historical Pharaoh Akhnaton who attempted to abolish the multitude of gods and introduce one god to Egypt. An interesting fictional tale of a young man searching for love, truth, and the meaning of life in all the wrong ways and places spun around historical events. Will he finally find the answer he seeks? This movie is not bad, but seems to be under the radar when when compared to other old epics.


*) The Land of the Pharaohs: OK Videos True, this is not a Biblical film at all, but if you like those classic old Hollywood colour extravaganzas set in the ancient world this is another good one to watch, so I'm also putting it up on the list. Tells a fictional tale of greed and treachery during the building of the Great Pyramid of Khufu.


*) The Bible: In the Beginning (1966)OK Videos. Five sections from the Bible are portrayed from Genesis to the sacrifice of Isaac. John Huston narrates the scenes and also plays the part of Noah. Other famous stars also had cameo roles, e.g. Richard Harris played Cain, and Peter O'Toole as one of the Three Angels, George C. Scott played Abraham while Ava Gardner played Sarah.


*) Sodom and Gomorrah (1962): OK Videos Long epic with Stewart Granger as Lot. Yikes, the only point in the story that resembles the Bible at all is when Lot's wife turns to a pillar of salt, but hey, it's something else to watch, and, Stewart Granger is in it. Too bad about the wacky artificial plot.


*) The Story of Joseph and His Brethren (1962): OK Videos Italian 'sword and sandal' film about Joseph of the Old Testament who is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers.


*) The Story of Ruth (1960): OK Videos Hollywood version of Ruth and how she converted from her paganism and became one of King David's ancestors.


*) Esther and the King (1960): OK Videos the account of Esther of the Old Testament saving her people when there is a plot to massacre them. Joan Collins plays Esther.


*) One Night With the King (2006): OK Videos, Again, the Book of Esther. Omar Sharif plays one of the King's advisors.


*) King David (1985) : OK Videos. Richard Gere plays King David in this. Title gives this one away. LOL.


*) David and Goliath (1960) OK Videos Italian flick with Orson Wells as King Saul. Meh. Okay, ho-hum, production, but at least it's something to watch.


*) David and Bathsheba (1951): OK Videos Gregory Peck is King David, Susan Hayward is Bathsheba, and well, you can also guess from the title what this one is about.


*) Solomon and Sheba (1959): OK Videos Yul Brynner stars as King Solomon, Gina Lollobrigida as Sheba, keep in mind this strays widely from the Bible and to be watched simply for entertainment value.


*) Day of Triumph (1954): YouTube Semi-fictionalised film set around the Gospels featuring a zealot who wishes to use Jesus for political ends while witnessing His teachings and miracles.


*) The Great Commandment (1939) YouTube. Another fictionalised tale set within the historical setting of the Gospels. Two zealot brothers wish like many others to free Israel from Roman occupation while in the meantime their father's plans for their lives messes everything up and sets a tragic series of events in motion.


*) The Prodigal (1955): OK Videos An imaginary account of what the prodigal son in Christ's parable possibly got up to when he left his father's house. Invention. Still, another one of the those old colour extravaganzas that were all the rage in the golden days of Hollywood.


*) The Robe (1953): OK Videos. Fictional tale woven around the robe worn by Christ and what happened to it after the crucifixion. (Forgive the pun). Excellent performances by Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature.


*) Demitrius and the Gladiators (1954): OK Videos The sequel to The Robe. This was Hollywood's idea for a sequel to their movie and not the actual sequel to the Robe by the original novelist. (The Big Fisherman was the 'real' sequel, or rather, the 'spin-off'. ) The tale turns a bit dark as Demitrius' faith is severely challenged while the insane Emperor Caligula hungers to posses the robe believing it has magic powers.


*) The Big Fisherman (1959): OK Videos Yes, they made this movie too, the real 'spin-off' to the Robe, (eventhough the Robe isn't in the story at all in this film or the book). Features a plot line with St. Peter and an Arab princess, but frankly, doesn't make the cut as a 'believable' fictional tale inserted into historical events. Still, it is another clean film to watch if you're stuck.


*) The Power of the Resurrection (1958): YouTube One hour film that is an imaginary account of St. Peter comforting a fellow prisoner with the account of Christ and the Resurrection as they await martyrdom.


*) I Beheld His Glory (1953): YouTube: Another imaginary story, this time featuring the Roman centurion Cornelius after spearing Christ's side during the Crucifixion.


*) Barabbas (1961): OK Videos. Another 'let's make up an inventive story about a real person in the Bible'. This time, about Barabbas, the criminal whom the mob chose to set free instead of Christ. Interesting piece of fiction on what happened to the man after he was freed. Anthony Quinn plays Barabbas.


*) Give us Barabbas! (1961) YouTube. TV movie – another fictional story about Barabbas.


*) Pontius Pilate (1962) (There is an English edition, but I can't find a link, sorry). An Italian film depicting events leading to the Crucifixion from the viewpoint of Pontius Pilate.


*) Herod the Great (1959) YouTube. - Oldie about the infamous king of Judea.


*) The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) YouTube. Not 'Biblical' as much as a great old Roman Empire flick made during the golden days of epic films with no computer graphics. Seems this should be put up here on the list too.


*) The Fall of Rome (1963) YouTube. An Italian peplum film, the story based on persecution of Christians after the death of Emperor Constantine directed by Antonio Margheriti.


*) Cleopatra. (1963) OK Video The version with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Yeah I'm sticking this here too, why not? Another colourful extravaganza set in the ancient days.


*) Alexander the Great (1956) OK Videos Ancient days epic with Richard Burton as the great conqueror.


*) Spartacus (1960) OK Video. Another great Roman Empire classic. Kirk Douglas stars as the slave who dared start a revolt and lead the slaves of the empire to freedom.


*) El Cid (1961) OK Videos Another Charlton Heston classic epic, this time recounting the story of Spain's famous intrepid and loyal Christian knight during the early days of the Spanish Reconquest in the Middle Ages.


*) Kingdom of Heaven (2005) OK Videos Epic about Jerusalem during the Crusade era and the Battle of Hattin. Of course we know historical events regarding the life of Balian of Ibelin have been mushed around a bit, but who doesn't like epic medieval battle scenes and exotic locations? (Director's cut in the link is probably the best version.)


*) The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965): OK Videos Michelangelo and his struggle to paint his famous frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. Charlton Heston plays the artistic genius while Rex Harrison is the grumbly Pope Julius II hounding the procrastinating sculptor to finish his work. 'When will you be finished!'.


*) The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968): OK Videos Anthony Quinn stars as a (fictional) pontiff named Pope Kiril who is faced with the challenge of guiding the Church in a Cold War world threatened by real war from famine-ridden Communist China.


*) The Prisoner (1955) OK Films. A disturbing fictional film about a unnamed Eastern European country that has turned Communist. One of the patriotic WWII heroes of this country who was stood up to and was tortured by the Nazis is the Cardinal Archbishop played by Alec Guinness – but now as the country is Communist, he is seen as an enemy by the government. Yet, they simply cannot arrest him, he is loved by the people who remain staunchly Catholic and also consider him a patriot, so the government has to prove he is a criminal to the state. The tactics used are psychological mind games as they know he is conditioned to physical torture so that won't work. Still, will the Cardinal hold out against their insidious probing? A modern cautionary tale of Communism / Socialism and its attacks on the Church that will leave you with a uneasy knot in your stomach. One detail regarding the music in this – I loved the choral responses at the end of the Mass in the first scenes, (around minute 3:20 ) – if only choirs could sing the responses like this, wow.


*) The Cardinal (1963): OK Videos. Like many of the other movies here, based on a a novel. The story of an Irish American priest named Fr. Fermoyle from Boston who rises from rank to rank until finally that of Cardinal, the various struggles, challenges, temptations and tough choices he faces along the way shown via flashback starting from the turn of the last century to the eve of WWII. Not a ho-hum story as this synopsis sounds.


*) The Devil at 4 O'Clock (1961): OK Videos A tropical island is threatened by a massive volcanic destruction and the townspeople refuse to help a priest rescue leper children before the volcano blows. Will he get them out to safety before it's too late? Spencer Tracy plays the priest and Frank Sinatra a criminal who reluctantly agrees to help.


*) This Mission (1986): OK Videos. Compelling story of a Jesuit mission in South America. Due to political infighting between the Spanish and Portuguese regarding territorial acquisitions, the missionaries are forced with the decision to obey the order given them to abandon their missions for the sake of keeping the peace between the two European nations, which means abandoning their native converts to the threat of suffering slavery, or, be disobedient to the Church and their superiors in the effort to protect the natives as they are baptised Christians after all, knowing full well they face death if they disobey and stay behind. Naturally, Hollywood flubs historical events, but this is one of those powerful 'between a rock and a hard place' storylines that makes for a 'you-have-to-watch-at-least-once-in-your-lifetime' movie. Also compelling subplots about repentance and forgiveness.


*) Silence: (2016) (Sorry, can't find a free link to this. So here's the trailer video from YouTube, click here.) Film by Scorsese. Okay, be warned, this movie is very disturbing. Set in the 17th century, a respected and admired Jesuit missionary disappears in the reclusive country of Japan. The last thing heard about him back in Europe is he has done the unthinkable – he has renounced the faith and become a pagan Buddhist. Two young priests who cannot fathom how such a great defender of the Faith could fall into apostasy, perhaps he was captured and this lie was spread to weaken the courage of the Japanese converts and strike a blow to Westerners? The two young missionaries plan to sneak into Japan to spread the faith and also to find him if they can to see if such stories are true and hopefully to free him from his captors, knowing full well it means death if they are caught. It is so dangerous they are the last two missionaries permitted to make the attempt to enter Japan. While this particular movie is based on a novel, the book was written around the real historical Fr. Ferreira, a Portuguese Jesuit missionary who apostatised when he was tortured in Japan and converted to Buddhism, and also the Italian missionary Giuseppe di Chiara who went after him, so yes, this is based on a true story. While we love and admire the accounts of those who bravely spread the faith notwithstanding the knowledge they could be martyred, rarely do we hear of the infamous 'fallen priests' of missionary history, those whose courage faltered in the face of pain and death.

As much as I don't want to give the plot away, I'd like to say why I'm listing this, which requires some plot spoilers – it is a poignant example of how Satan has become more cunning. This movie gave me the distinct impression of how he has watched the missionaries in the early centuries of Christianity and observed what made their preaching successful. He therefore 'upped his game' so to speak centuries later to ensure the Gospel is not spread to the last corners of the world. The arguments against the Faith are serpentine and insidious, just imagine Satan speaking when the young missionary is questioned by the pagan Japanese authorities for example, all under the cover of 'kindness'. Study the subtle mind games and false charity used to weaken the resolve of the missionaries and the converts, and the psychological traps employed to crush their mission. Satan has even figured out the tactic of stopping blessed objects and sacramentals from coming into the country. Sacramentals aid the work of missionaries since demons are worshipped through pagan rites and their power needs to be bound up and driven out. The presence of blessed objects helps do that and bring graces. Turn a missionary to the bad, and you have a corrupt expert ready and willing to identify and destroy these blessed objects that would be missed by the pagans. Also, the tortures have evolved too, a reminder of what future Christians possibly face when the times of the Antichrist comes, it will be worse than all previous centuries combined. Chilling. View this film as a tough lesson on what to watch out for when evil begins to play his psychological games and attempts to mess with your mind and your faith. Prepare to be disturbed.



Gospel Films


*) Jesus of Nazareth (1977): YouTube (full series in one link) OK Videos, (full series all in one), (sorry about the foreign language subtitles in the OK link, but the sound is in the original English.) Yes, this is the famous TV classic serial by Zeffirelli. Still my favourite version of the Gospels even if details are flubbed.


*) The Passion of the Christ (2004): OK Video (Sorry about the added Arabic subtitles under the English ones.) Mel Gibson's film. This portrayal of Christ's crucifixion is allegedly based on the mystical visions of the Passion of Bl. Catherine Emmerick and filmed in the original ancient languages spoken then, Aramaic, Hebrew and Latin. I'd say the plot is very loosely based on her visions, but yes, Gibson captured the brutality of what she saw and at least attempted to put in the visions of the demons that also stalked around as the Passion was happening.


*) King of Kings (1961): OK Videos. The life of Christ, however, the movie starts first with the sack of Jerusalem and the desecration of the Temple by Pompey in 63 BC.


*) The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), OK Videos. Another old classic Hollywood production of the life of Christ.



*) The Life of Christ (Mysteries of the Rosary): YouTube. This look like someone took the short movies produced by Fr. Peyton's Family Theatre representing the traditional mysteries of the rosary and put them together into one Gospel movie. 'The family that prays together, stays together.'



The Good Old Feel-Goods and Assorted Classics



*) Going My Way (1944) OK Video Fr. O'Malley, aka Bing Crosby, is sent to help a struggling parish where a stubborn little old Irish priest doesn't like change. Cute as all get-out.


*) The Bells of St. Marys (1945): OK Videos Fr. O'Malley is sent to help out nuns who run an old school that has seen better days. Will they be forced to close down? Again, bittersweet, sad, but feel good film.


*) Come to the Stable (1949) OK Videos Heart warming tale. Loretta Young stars as a nun whose goal is to found a children's hospital. A force is let loose in New England that cannot be stopped. Feels very much like the Fr. O'Malley movies.


*) The Miracle of the Bells (1948): OK Videos. An actress with her dying wish helps give hope to the people of her old run-down coal mining home town. Frank Sinatra plays the priest in this. Another old clean wholesome movie.


*) Lilies of the Field (1963): OK Videos. Homer Smith is just passing on through, or so he thinks until he crosses paths with a Reverend Mother from Germany with her bunch of nuns stuck out in a backwater in the Arizona desert with comical results. Sidney Poitier won his first Oscar for his portrayal of Homer.


*) Christmas Lilies of the Field (1979) OK Videos. A television sequel to the movie classic. I had no idea this was made until I stumbled across it in my search for new movies. Has the same feel good factor as the original film. Sidney Poitier isn't in this but still has the same spirit as the first.


*) It's a Wonderful Life (1946). OK Videos. An angel has to earn his wings and is given the mission to convince a despairing man played by Jimmy Stewart that he has not wasted his life and is not the failure he believes himself to be when financial ruin is staring him in the face. I think it is safe to say this has become one of America's most favourite wholesome Christmas movies. (Yeah, we Catholics know angels don't have to earn their wings, but well, that's Hollywood.)


*) The Miracle of Marcelino, (Marcelino Pan y Vino) (1955): Gloria,TV: original Spanish version with English subtitles. Sometimes you can find the full English dubbed version, but I can't seem to find a free link to that one. The story: an orphaned boy is raised by Franciscan monks and the monastery is never the same. No, this was not based on a true story as many assume, it is a fictional tale written by a Spanish author who loved his mother's stories about miraculous images. Lovely, bittersweet film. Bit of a tear-jerker, so get the hankies. They have also made a new version of this in Mexico, and I've found an English version on YouTube, click here, but I still like the old black and white classic from 1955.


*) Never Take No for an Answer (1951): YouTube. A little orphaned boy named Pepino has only one family member left after his house is bombed and his parents killed - his beloved donkey Violetta. He refuses to go to an orphanage and lives in a stable with his Violetta. One day his beloved friend grows sick and is in danger of dying. Little Pepino is convinced there is nothing for it but to bring her down to the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi to be cured, and he will not take no for an answer. Heart warming tale about not giving up not matter what obstacles are placed in front of you.


*) Keys of the Kingdom (1944): YouTube. Gregory Peck stars in this film as a priest who seems to fail at everything, and so is finally thrown into the deep end of things and sent off to the missions in China where he must either sink or swim. A more 'serious' than the 'Going my Way' types of films, yet also has some humour. It is one of those old classics you love to watch again and again.


*) Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) – (Sorry, can't find a link). James Cagney plays a hard-boiled gangster who is respected by the city urchin hoodlums, and he has a soft spot for them too. Does he really want the kids ending up like him? One of those old classic bittersweet films.


*) The Fugitive (1947) OK Videos. Directed by John Ford. Henry Fonda plays a priest on the run during anti-Catholic persecutions in an unnamed South American country, (but I distinctly feel this points to the times leading up to the Cristero War after Mexico outlawed Catholicism in 1917).


*) Inn of the Sixth Happiness. (1958) OK Videos. Similar story to 'Keys of the Kingdom' starring Ingrid Bergman. A young English woman is determined to become a Christian missionary to China despite all the obstacles.

 

 *) Sergeant York (1941) YouTube.  Based on a true story - Alvin York, a poor farmer from Tennessee, finds religion and believes it is against the Good Book to kill a man for any reason, but then has to come to grips with the duty to defend his country when drafted into the army during WWI.  Gary Cooper plays Alvin York.

 

 *) Hacksaw Ridge (2016)  OK Videos   Based on a true story similar to "Sergeant York".   Desmond Doss refuses to carry a weapon as it is against the Good Book to kill and insists on becoming an army medic instead during WWII - a movie about standing up for what you believe against all obstacles and showing what true courage is.  Warning, this film has a lot blood and guts.  


*) The Jeweller's Shop (1988) YouTube.  Film of a play written by St. John Paull II about young couples from Poland during and after WWII.  A wise and somewhat mysterious jeweller gives them words of wisdom at important crossroads in their lives. Burt Lancaster plays the jeweller.

 

*) The Scarlet and the Black (1983): YouTube. TV movie about the real life story of the 'Scarlett Pimpernel of the Vatican', an Irish Monsignor from Killarney who helped hide escaped POW's during the Nazi occupation of Rome. Fantastic duo in this with Gregory Peck and Christopher Plummer playing a dangerous game of 'cat and mouse'.


*) The Little World of Don Camillo (1952): (Sorry, lost the English version link I had.) :-( When Communist politics and staunch religion clash in a zany little town in Italy. A funny, 'feel good' movie about 'frenemies' as the parish priest, Don Camillo and the local Communist mayor loath each other's points of view. Orson Wells plays the 'Voice of the Lord' as he tries to get Fr. Camillo to do what is right. Another cute movie.


There were several movies made in this series that I haven't seen yet, and so I'm still looking for English links: “The Return of Dom Camillo”, “Don Camillo's Last Round”, “Don Camillo, Monsignor” and “Don Camillo in Moscow.”



*) In This House of Brede (1975): YouTube. A reflective story of one woman's journey from life in the world into the Benedictine convent of St. Brede, and the personal and spiritual struggles she overcomes.


*) Heaven Knows, Mr Allison (1957): OK Videos. WWII flick about a US solider who has never known religion or what love means until he's stuck on a remote island with a nun who teaches him the importance of remaining true to her vows. Another clean classic with a dollop of war adventure thrown in.


*) The Detective (Father Brown) (1954): OK Videos. Alec Guinness plays Fr. Brown, the detective priest who not only wants to catch the thief, but save his soul. Based on G.K. Chesterton's first story in the Fr. Brown series, 'The Blue Cross'. Charming movie, I wish Alec Guinness made a few more of these.


*) I Confess (1953) OK Videos A crime classic set in Montreál, Canada. A murderer confesses to Fr. Logan played by Montgomery Clift who then is faced with the temptation to break the seal of confession or else get pinned for the murder, which carries the death penalty. Very compelling film directed by Alfred Hitchcock.


*) The Exorcist (1973) (Sorry, can't find a link). Horror flick. The story is loosely based on a real-life exorcism that occurred. The effects in this film still feel the most realistic of what can happen during an extreme possession case judging from my research on the subject. (To get a taste, just read the booklet 'Begone Satan'. ) No fancy camera tricks for 'force shock' tactics, it feels like you're watching an exorcism being filmed as is. This is still one 'The' best exorcism movies in my opinion that even the sequels to this one feel like corny spin-offs that fall flat in comparison, so I won't put them up. Also, the other movie 'The Rite' still isn't as good as it strays far from the original non-fiction book by Matt Baglio that I'd recommend reading the book instead of watching the movie.



*) The Way (2010): OK Video. A father is upset his son has plans to quit his stint at the university. Instead he wants to satisfy his 'itchy feet' and see the world first hand rather than learn about it from books. The son takes off to the south of France where tragedy strikes. Before he knows it, the disgruntled father ends up doing the very thing that upset him as he undertakes the on-foot pilgrimage of The Way to the famous shrine of St. James at La Compestela. A bittersweet tale of finding self-forgiveness and inner peace. Father and son are played by real father and son duo Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez.




Classic Films about Famous Apparitions or the Saints


*) Paul: the Apostle of Christ (2018): OK Video. The title gives this one away of course, but St. Luke is in this too. Warning, the persecutions are grisly in this to the point it reminds me of the movie 'Silence'. Again, a possible warning of what Christians will face again in the future when the Antichrist comes.


*) Constantine and the Cross (1961): OK Videos. Italian made 'sword and sandal' film about the famous vision of the Emperor Constantine.


*) St. Patrick, The Irish Legend. (2000) YouTube. Yep, says it all in the title, Ireland's patron saint.


*) Francis of Assisi (1961): OK Videos. Classic film about the life of one of the Church's most beloved saints.


*) Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972): OK Videos. Zeffirelli production about St. Francis of Assisi. Okay, the scenery in this with all the fluffy animals and birds is gorgeous, and while I can appreciate the attempt to portray the saint's spiritual simplicity, the rest is a bit bonkers with its weird stylised 'art house' medieval costumes and other oddities. Since this was filmed in the 70s, there is a definite 'hippy', 'love the planet and the animals' element complete with 'la la' song ballads that feels in keeping with the 'spirit of Vatican II'. Maybe this is just me, but it feels like a film attempt to make the Traditional Church look like a 'cruel', 'corrupt' relic of the past with its 'pompous' medieval decorations and rites. Also, went a little too realistic in the scene when St. Francis divested himself of all his clothes to where the audience is mooned for quite a considerable stretch - this scene is not for the kiddies. Stuck watching thus in desperation during the lock down, so I thought I'd at least give a warning about this one. I much prefer the other film version of St. Francis listed above, but if you're really stuck for a new movie, at least you can say you've seen this version and gave it a shot.


*) St. Anthony of Padua (1931) YouTube. Lovely old silent film about St. Anthony, the Wonder Worker. (PS: he was from Lisbon Portugal, not Padua!)


*) Little Margaret of Castello (1980): YouTube. This biography is heart wrenching. Born blind and crippled, little Margaret was abandoned by her well-to-do parents and lived a life of extreme poverty and suffering, but never once did say have a bad word to say about anybody, including her parents. She only returned hatred and cruelty with love and forgiveness. (P.S. I just found out she was finally canonised in April 2021 - at long last!)


*) Joan of Arc (1948), OK Videos. The classic with Ingrid Bergman. Still one of my favourite versions.


*) Beckett (1964): OK Video. Based on a play about the events leading up to the martyrdom of St. Thomas Beckett. With Peter O'Toole As King Henry II of England and Richard Burton as St. Thomas Beckett, the performance of these two together is epic. Some scenes will nail you to the spot, like the old rite of excommunication not seen these days. Awesome gothic-y stuff. Warning, there are somesemi-nude scenes in this before St. thomas is converted, so not exactly for the little kiddies either.  

 

 

*) A Man for All Seasons (1966): OK Videos. Movie version of Robert Bolt's play. As they say history repeats itself. Again we have a Thomas and a King Henry at loggerheads with each other in England. This time it's St. Thomas More and Henry VIII. St. Thomas is practically the last hold out regarding the King's invalid marriage to Anne Boleyn, yet, refuses to say why. Henry and his scheming minster Cromwell does everything to get him to bend. Also, a 'must watch' is the version starring Charlton Heston as Sir Thomas More, (1988 film, click here: YouTube).


*) Seven Cities of Gold (1955): OK Videos. I accidentally stumbled across this one and was pleasantly surprised to find a saint in the storyline. Spanish conquistadors in the New World set out on an expedition to search for the fabled seven cities of gold in the uncharted territory of what is now California. Who travels along with the mission to spread the Gospel? Why, St. Junipeiro Serra of course. This movie centres on the founding of San Diego. Although loosely based on history since the script itself is based on a novel, this was a rather interesting find. I'd say this golden oldie slipped under the radar for most of us.


*) The Reluctant Saint (1962) YouTube. Of course, not completely accurate to biographical details, but a classic movie about the life of St. Joseph of Cupertino played by Maximilian Schell with Ricardo Montalban as one of the Franciscan friars who thinks St. Joseph is nothing but a useless bumbling failure not fit for the monastery. But, never judge by appearances! The music was composed by Nino Rota, who composed the score for the Godfather. The mother of St. Joseph is unforgettable in this. This film just gels together. You'll watch it again and again.



*) The Song of Bernadette (1943): OK Video. This was based on a novelization of the story, but still is arguably one of the most favourite Catholic movies based on true events regarding an apparition. Jennifer Jones, who was introduced in this film, plays Bernadette of Lourdes, the young girl who sees a mysterious beautiful Lady that no one else can see. Vincent Price plays the Imperial Prosecutor who does everything to stop the wave of events that happens afterwards. Excellent film.


*) The Wizard of Heaven (1949) YouTube. French film about the Curé of Ars and his lifelong struggle to convert a miserable peasant parish spiritually decimated by the French Revolution to the most heavenly place on earth. You'll have to read English subtitles, but personally I think this captured the feel of an old French village and what the humble saintly priest had to put up with, including attacks from the devil. Wonderfully atmospheric early black and white film.


*) A Time For Miracles (1980): YouTube. A film about North America's first canonised saint, St. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton and her conversion from Protestantism and the founding of her teaching order. Featuring Kate Mulgrew as St. Elizabeth.

 

*) Don Bosco (1988) OK Videos: (RAI / Leandro Castellani version - English dubbed) - the story of the mystic priest St. John Bosco  who took abandoned and abused boys off the streets.

 

*) Molokai: The Story of Father Damien (1999) OK Videos. The story of St. Damien of Molokai, a missionary priest who ministered to forsaken lepers in the Kingdom of Hawaii before it was annexed to the US.


*) The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952): YouTube. OK Videos. (English with foreign subtitles in the OK Videos link.) Yes, some details were definitely flubbed, yet still one of the best film renditions of the Fatima apparitions that occurred to three shepherd children in Portugal in 1917.


*) The Miracle of St. Therese (1952) YouTube. Lovely old atmospheric movie about St. Theresa of Lisieux.


*) Brother Andre: (1987) YouTube. The story of St. André Bessett of Montreal, his devotion to St. Joseph, the tradition of St. Joseph's oil and the building of the shrine to the great Patriarch told through flashbacks as Br. Andre's niece pesters him to tell the story of his life.


*) St. Padre Pio: Miracle Man (2000) YouTube, The life and miracles of the famous stigmatist Franciscan priest, St. Padre Pio. Full Italian epic dubbed in English. Unfortunately, the movie adds the fantastic element St. Pio was found passed out in a pool of blood when he received the stigmata, which one of his close monk confidants in the monastery said was not true, he said St. Pio just left the chapel and went about his business as usual. But still, it's nice to have a biopic about St. Pio.

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