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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

There Be Dragons

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org


Wes Bentley stars in a scene from the movie "There Be Dragons."
The death of a Spanish priest by the name of Josemarie Escriva in 1975 generated a lot of talk about his holiness.

A Spanish journalist living in London, Robert Torres (Dougray Scott) , is assigned to investigate the life of Escriva, the founder of a Catholic group called Opus Dei. Robert is surprised when he learns that his father Manolo (Wes Bentley) and Escriva (Charlie Cox) were from same village and actually studied at the same seminary for a brief time. Robert return to Spain hoping to learn more about Escriva from his father, but Manolo will not speak with him.

However, Manolo has recorded and written his memories and this new film by the Oscar nominated director, Roland Joffe (“The Killing Fields” 1984 and “The Mission” 1986), uses this method to flash back to tell the story of these two men and the separate paths they take in life.

Most of the film is set during the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. Josemaria becomes a priest and founds a community called “Opus Dei” to help everyone become holy in daily life. Manolo chooses the dark side, his heart consumed by envy, jealousy, and rage.

“There Be Dragons” is not a biography of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer. Instead, Joffe decided to use a dualistic formula and created a fictional character whose flaws and evil choices offset the holiness of Josemaria. One chooses good, the other chooses evil.

The title, “There Be Dragons” is taken from ancient maps that termed mysterious regions as “Here be dragons.” Joffe assigns many dragons to Manolo, but Josemaria has few interior struggles, if any.

The film was shot in Spain and Argentina and is gorgeous to look at. The acting is good. I had hoped to learn about Josemaria and Opus Dei but was disappointed. Alas, the film is more about Manolo, his violence and need for forgiveness and reconciliation than about the saint’s interior life and an understanding of his work. Nevertheless, there are some luminous moments that can inspire.


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Cornelius: 
		<p>There was no pope for 14 months after the martyrdom of St. Fabian because of the intensity of the persecution of the Church. During the interval, the Church was governed by a college of priests. St. Cyprian, a friend of Cornelius, writes that Cornelius was elected pope "by the judgment of God and of Christ, by the testimony of most of the clergy, by the vote of the people, with the consent of aged priests and of good men." </p>
		<p>The greatest problem of Cornelius's two-year term as pope had to do with the Sacrament of Penance and centered on the readmission of Christians who had denied their faith during the time of persecution. Two extremes were finally both condemned. Cyprian, primate of North Africa, appealed to the pope to confirm his stand that the relapsed could be reconciled only by the decision of the bishop. </p>
		<p>In Rome, however, Cornelius met with the opposite view. After his election, a priest named Novatian (one of those who had governed the Church) had himself consecrated a rival bishop of Rome—one of the first antipopes. He denied that the Church had any power to reconcile not only the apostates, but also those guilty of murder, adultery, fornication or second marriage! Cornelius had the support of most of the Church (especially of Cyprian of Africa) in condemning Novatianism, though the sect persisted for several centuries. Cornelius held a synod at Rome in 251 and ordered the "relapsed" to be restored to the Church with the usual "medicines of repentance." </p>
		<p>The friendship of Cornelius and Cyprian was strained for a time when one of Cyprian's rivals made accusations about him. But the problem was cleared up. </p>
		<p>A document from Cornelius shows the extent of organization in the Church of Rome in the mid-third century: 46 priests, seven deacons, seven subdeacons. It is estimated that the number of Christians totaled about 50,000. </p>
		<p>Cornelius died as a result of the hardships of his exile in what is now Civitavecchia (near Rome). <br /> </p>
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