I understand that a movie based on Brown’s book ‘‘Angels and Demons’’ is about to premier. Portions of the plot take place in my titular church in Rome.
I read the book a few years ago and I didn’t find it a great piece of literature. The ending is a kind of a “deus ex machina” and, although it does not present a favorable picture of the Church, in my recollection it is not as damaging as ‘‘The Da Vinci Code,’’ which calls into question the basic tenets of Christianity -- Jesus’ divinity and the divine origins of the Church.
I understand that “The Da Vinci Code” was not a successful movie and this one will probably not be very successful either, but Dan Brown’s books are very profitable.
But “The Da Vinci Code” was a particularly virulent attack on the Church filled with many untruths that underscores the need for our Catholics to be more informed about their faith and the history of the Church.
The story line of “Angels and Demons,” I’m sure, will underscore many of the interesting architectural and artistic aspects of the city of Rome, including my own Church, Santa Maria della Vittoria, which has one of the finest statues in Rome: the Bernini statue of “The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.”
I always joked that I wanted to bring that statue back to Boston, but the Carmelite friars who run my church told me that Napoleon tried to take it to Paris and not even he was able to. They also tell me that they get a lot of tourists coming to the church because it is on the Angels and Demons tour of Rome. But, apparently, the director of the film was refused admission into the Church (although I’m sure they will still do something to replicate it in the film).
Visiting with an Ethiopian bishop
Wednesday (April 22), I visited with Bishop Musie Ghebreghiorghis, O.F.M. Cap. He is the bishop of a relatively new diocese in Ethiopia. There are 10 dioceses in Ethiopia and three of them are led by Capuchin bishops. The Capuchins have been very involved in the history of the Church in Ethiopia because it was a Capuchin missionary, Cardinal Massaia, who in the 1800s reintroduced the Catholic Church into Ethiopia.
Cardinal Massaia was a missionary there for almost 40 years and wrote a several volume history of Ethiopia, which has been very important to understanding the history of the country. He was also, along with other missionaries, responsible for writing down the native language and translating the Bible into their native language. His cause of beatification has been introduced; he is certainly one of the great Capuchin missionaries from Italy.
The first friars who went there were Italian, but now we have a province of friars in Eritrea, which was the first province of Capuchins in Africa, and another province in Ethiopia.
The bishop was here as part of the 800th anniversary of the Franciscan order and he gave a lecture at St. Bonaventure’s University in New York. While he was in the country he wanted to visit Archbishop Chaput and myself, the two Capuchin bishops in the U.S. We were very pleased to have him celebrate Mass for our own Ethiopian community in Boston and he brought me a beautiful Ethiopian icon of Our Lady.