By Joe Bukuras
Catholic News Agency
BOSTON — A new movie about St. Padre Pio, starring Catholic convert Shia LaBeouf is available for public viewing in theaters and streaming, as of June 2.
The movie has been released and distributed in North America by Gravitas Ventures.
One of the most popular Catholic saints of the 20th century, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, commonly known as Padre Pio, was a Capuchin Franciscan friar, priest, and mystic.
Padre Pio is mostly known for his deep wisdom about prayer and peace; his stigmata; miraculous reports of his bilocation; being physically attacked by the devil, and mastering the spiritual life.
The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2022 and played again at the Mammoth Film Festival in early March 2023.
LaBeouf, who plays the role of Padre Pio, spent four months living with Capuchin friars while preparing for the film.
The film features a subplot about the rise of fascism in Italy, AP reported, focusing on the 1920 massacre of 14 people in the village of San Giovanni Rotondo near the monastery where Padre Pio lived.
Abel Ferrara, the film’s director, who had made a documentary about Padre Pio before working on the movie,told AP he felt that the intersection between the saint’s spiritual battles and the political bloodshed at San Giovanni Rotondo made sense as a scope for the film.
“I thought the confluence between the massacre and his stigmata both happening in the same place at the same time … I mean how could you not make a movie about that?” he told the AP.
Ferrara told AP that Church officials and Capuchin friars were supportive of the film project despite his having produced pornography and extremely violent films early in his career.
“Given the list of films I’d made you’d be wondering,” Ferrara said.
“It’s just that these cats have got that optimistic take,” Ferrara said of the Church. “Don’t judge someone on their worst moment.”
LaBeouf made headlines in August after he revealed in an 80-minute-long interview with Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, and Word on Fire, that his on-screen portrayal of Padre Pio led him to a love of the Catholic faith.
“I start feeling a physical effect from it,” he said of going to Communion. “I start feeling a reprieve, and it starts feeling, like, regenerative, and [I] start enjoying it to such a degree I don’t want to miss it, ever.”
LaBeouf, 36, says he was agnostic before finding God.
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