We are showing another film in our Doctors & Saints of the Church series. This Sunday at 6 p.m. in the pastor’s residence it is “St. Francis” starring Bradford Dillman as St. Francis and Dolores Hart (photo) as St. Clare. We are showing the 1961 film version in honor of Hart being in it, and that she is in the news this month over a book about her life in leaving Hollywood 50 years ago (after this film) and joining Catholic religious life.
Dolores went from being a famous actress to joining a convent for a religious life. She is in Washington on a book signing day this month to talk about “Ears of the Heart” a book she wrote of her whole experience so far of being a woman religious. It is probably an interesting read. Dolores was a pretty big star when she answered a vocation from God to leave Hollywood. She had been in the Paramount film Loving You with Elvis Presley in 1957. She acted in nine more movies with other big stars such as Montgomery Clift, Anthony Quinn and Myrna Loy. She also gave a Tony-nominated performance in the Broadway play The Pleasure of His Company and appeared in television shows, including The Virginian and Playhouse 90. Yet an important chapter in her life occurred while playing Saint Clare in the movie Francis of Assisi, which was filmed on location in Italy. She longed in real life for the very role she was playing.
Mother Dolores, as she is known now, entered the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, at the peak of her career, to answer a mysterious call she heard with the “ear of the heart”. While contracted for another film and engaged to be married, she abandoned everything to become a bride of Christ.
She entered the convent, and began a new life as a cloistered sister, which continues to today. Her 2013 book by Ignatius Press answers some curious questions as to what has happened to her over that time. The book will be on sale at the National Shrine Basilica of Mary in D.C., among other places.
When Mother Dolores was asked to compare her experience of working with Elvis and working in a cloister, she amusingly said: “God is bigger than Elvis.” As for her relationship with Hollywood today, she commented: “As a former actress, I remain a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, though now prioress of an abbey. Assisi in Italy is shown in the photo below, where Francis and Clare lived their saintly faith.
St. Edward the Confessor parish is showing films all through this Year of Faith. We are featuring saints that became Doctors of the Church. This motion picture aims to tell the story of Francis of Assisi. We hope it sheds a little light on him for our movie goers.