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A Saint Is Born: An Interview With Roland Joffe

Unless he is an exorcist or a pedophile, the chances of a priest being the main character in a Hollywood movie are sinfully scant.  Giving star treatment to a real-life priest who would become a saint, however—and presenting him truthfully—seems as improbable as Dan Brown donning sackcloth and, as penance for miscasting Opus Dei as a murderous cult protecting the hoary hoax of orthodox Christianity in The Da Vinci Code, donating his ill-gotten gains to Peter’s Pence.

Yet Hollywood miracles do occur, behind the scenes as well as on the screen.  The brilliant new movie There Be Dragons was not made as a corrective to The Da Vinci Code, yet its portrayal of St. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei (“Work of God”), is sure to generate wholesome interest in him, the Church he served, and the movement he founded: that personal prelature of the pope (akin to a diocese without territorial borders) whose members, predominantly lay, pursue the universal vocation to holiness by striving for sanctity in everyday life.  Indeed, the movie’s marketers were happily surprised to report that random test audiences responded to unfinished versions of the film with an enthusiasm sometimes exceeding that of specifically Catholic audiences.

Although a Hollywood production, the movie premiered with much fanfare and public acclaim in the country where it is set: Spain, which is marking...

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