Catholic Movie Reviews offers Christian movie reviews and news with a Catholic perspective from St. Anthony Messenger magazine, Every Day Catholic and Catholic News Service.

[ St. Thérèse of Lisieux ]

Opening in theatres in October 2004, Thérèse marks the release of Hollywood’s first non-profit, donation-funded movie. It presents the brief, yet influential, life of Thérèse of Lisieux, a Catholic saint who resonates with people of all ages, faiths and backgrounds. Director Leonardo Defilippis, who decided to release Thérèse after the success of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ, hopes that the popularity of St. Thérèse, a woman who “always gives hope to people,” will fuel the success of the film.

Defilippis is also hopeful that Thérèse will reach and inspire young audiences who are searching for depth and spirituality generally non-existent in Hollywood productions.

Strong in its weakness

The screenplay for Thérèse was inspired by a piece written by Defilippis’s wife, Patti, and Lindsay Younce, a recent Catholic convert, was awarded the film’s lead after initially auditioning for the role of Celine, Thérèse’s sister. Preparing for her part, Younce (pictured above as Thérèse) read biographical works as well as Thérèse’s Story of a Soul and Last Conversations.

In addition, the young actress stayed with the Carmelites in their Eugene, Oregon monastery during filming. The Carmelites, the “backbone” of the film according to Defilippis, donated props to aid the film’s authenticity. With the film’s creation reliant upon donations and small monetary contributions, Defilippis admits that Thérèse is “weak” compared to most movie industry projects but asserts, “that weakness is also our strength, because that’s how Thérèse worked.”

For more information on the making of Thérèse or on how you can support the distribution of the film, visit the official Web site ( and read our St. Anthony Messenger article, “Thérèse: Sacred Art on the Silver Screen.”

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