At Pope's Request, French Actor Will Recite Texts of St. Augustine

Gerard Depardieu Hopes to Make a Film on the Bishop of Hippo

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ROME, SEPT. 20, 2002 ( French actor Gerard Depardieu announced that, at the Pope’s request, he will recite passages of St. Augustine in squares and churches around the world.

Speaking to journalists Thursday in Rome, where he attended the presentation of the film «Mission Cleopatra,» Depardieu explained that «it will not be a performance but a way of enriching the faithful worldwide.»

The actor, who won international recognition with the 1989 film «Cyrano de Bergerac,» said the idea came to him two years ago, during a meeting with the Pope.

«John Paul II saw me and immediately said, ‘St. Augustine,’ seeing what he thought was my resemblance to the saint of Hippo,» the actor said.

Depardieu also is thinking of working with Lux Vide Productions on plans for a film on the saint. Depardieu has discussed this with Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The film industry, especially television, is interested in filling spaces — it has become its nightmare, the actor told the cardinal during their meeting.

«For this reason, given that I also have to work with television, I have committed myself to make pictures taken from the classics of world literature: if I must also fill the screen, it is better to do so with something substantial,» Depardieu said.

The readings of Augustine’s texts — his classic «Confessions» narrates his undisciplined youth and conversion — will begin Nov. 23 in Tagaste of Numidia, today’s Algeria, where the saint was born on Nov. 13, 354.

Depardieu will also go to Hippo, ancient capital of Numidia, where Augustine was bishop and where he is buried.

«I will read in the squares and in sacred places, in churches and synagogues, carrying with me only four candles,» the actor said.

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