“Life is but a brief passage on earth, but it is prolonged eternally in a light that is never extinguished,” said Michael Lonsdale. The great actor, 89, died in his sleep in Paris on Monday, September 21, 2020, falling asleep in God.
“A great gust of wind opened the windows,” said Anne Facerias, who watched over him daily. The little night light went out, leaving us an imprint of God that, day after day will fill us with peace, joy, and love. An artist out of the ordinary, unique of his generation, for having shown the way to holiness.”
On the eve of his death, Sunday, September 20, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who had come to the Sacre-Coeur in Paris for the National Congress of Mercy, administered to him the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
In 2011, Michael Lonsdale confided to JDD (Adeline Fleury), that he was not afraid of death. “It’s altogether natural. One is born, one disappears, the great mystery of the after remains. But I believe in Christ’s word: “In truth, I say to you, you will be with me in Paradise.” I am serene, I place things in God’s hands.”
Among an exceptional filmography and an incredible list of rolls played in the theatre, his interpretation of Fr Luc, the Trappist doctor in “Of Men and Gods” (of Xavier Beauvois) stays in everyone’s memory. It earned him his first Caesar.
For John Paul II and Therese of Lisieux
The actor confided: “My father was a non-practicing Protestant and he never spoke of religion; my mother was Catholic but had distanced herself.”
It was at the Studios of Sacred Art, Furstenberg Square in Paris, that he met his future Spiritual Father in 1952, on the occasion of one of his conferences: a French Dominican art historian, a talent scout, Father Pius Raymond Regamey. They saw one another again a few days later. The actor said he was looking for “something beautiful, pure, authentic.” The Dominican diagnosed: “I think that it’s God you are seeking.”
During a lunch last August 22, he recalled his dear blind godmother, on his arm, in the streets of Paris, who awakened him to the faith, while he guided her for hours.
In 1998, just after Saint Therese’s “Doctorate,” he staged “You Will Call Me Little Therese” for John Paul II, in the courtyard of the papal palace of Castel Gandolfo.
The Adventure of the Diaconate of Beauty
He was the Honorary President of the “Diaconate of Beauty.” In this capacity, he made a pilgrimage to Rome in 2018 and received Pope Francis’ blessing on February 20, 2019.
He gave him his book-interview with Anne Facerias written with Cardinal Paul Poupard: “On the Way of Beauty and Love” (Tequi).
In May of last year, he said: “The Holy Spirit Saved my Life” in his book “Come, Holy Spirit, in Our Hearts” (Philippe Rey). In 1987, he did not hide his engagement in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement.
One can read of the same publisher his “Little Treatise of Hope,” which is a spiritual autobiography entitled ”It’s Never Too Late for the Greatest Love.”
One can admire Angels he loved in “On the Wings of Beauty: Angels in Art” and 50 representations of the Virgin Mary in “Beautiful and Sweet Mary: The Virgin of Painters” (Philippe Rey).
In “Love Will Save the World” (Points) he gathered “sixty texts on God, among the most beautiful of literary history and of holy history.”
All together, more than twenty titles burning with interior fire and poetry.
It can also be said that he was a “Laudato Si’” actor, close to Saint Francis, so much did he love nature, sunsets, flowers, gardens, animals that came to the old sage with trust, instinctively. He also loved Saint Benedict and the peace of the Abbey of Lerins.
He was a man of prayer, able to pray interiorly on the set during the long monologue of a comrade or in a Metro compartment.
Under the Gaze of Merciful Jesus
He was hospitalized for a few days last July 11 for analyses but returned to his Paris residence shortly after.
He contemplated, at the foot of his bed, a picture of “Merciful Jesus” of Vilnius (two meters by one meter) painted by two French artists: Frederic Khan and Elisa, after a painting made in Lithuania by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski following the instructions of Saint Faustina, and with the inscription “Jesus, I trust in You.”
He staged “Faustina, Apostle of Mercy,” show of Daniel and Anne Facerias, with Francoise Thuries, Daniel Facerais, and Marie Lussignol in the role of Faustina Kowalska.
“I also love the bird above my bed with beautiful feathers symbolizing the Holy Spirit and the large picture of Divine Mercy — small signs that help me pray!” he confided last July 26, in his testimony given to Zenit, which ended with a prayer to Saint Anne for artists.
‘Saint Anne, help us to reconcile the world with God’s Beauty so that every moment of the day is praise and act of love.”
Testimony of Michael Lonsdale
Honorary President of the Diaconate of Beauty
July 26, 2020
A text of Saint John is often joined to my prayer: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. I am the vine, you are the branches. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this, my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.”(John 15:1-8).
He who abides in me, he who confines himself in me, in my love, he will bear fruit. The egoistic world is no more than an empty shell, a soap bubble. Life in Jesus is the only fruitful life, the only rich and profound life.
In my life as a film actor, I found myself confronted by appearance, a seeming, a varnish without depth. Each one loves himself excessively because he does not abide in Christ, does not allow himself to be loved by Him, does not allow himself to be led by the Virgin Mary. It is truly the tragedy of our time: superficiality.
This Gospel leads us to the true reality, that of the Life that is not this brief passage on earth, but that is prolonged eternally in a light that is never extinguished.
He who abides in me, as the branches of the vine, is like a small child, he marvels at the grace of living in the intimacy of Christ, the intimacy He shares in the depth of our heart.
Art can divert us from God because it can flatter our ego and can make us believe that we are gods. The milieu of the cinema, which I know well, allows itself to be trapped by this form of idolatry, which puts stars on pedestals. If we only knew the interior misery of these stars, who console themselves by expedients, alcohol, drugs, etc. . . . It’s not a moral judgment that I bring but a look of compassion because I love them. These persons, which ephemeral glory has seized, have forgotten the essential; they have forgotten that “He who abides in me” is a greater happiness than money and celebrity.
On this day of the feast of Saint Anne, I pray for our Movement of the Diaconate of Beauty, so that we are ever more at the service of the Word of God and of our brothers by the way of beauty: beauty of body, beauty of soul, beauty of spirit, which leads us to the Beauty of Eternal Love.
Let us pray for all the artists we meet. In the image of Saint Mary Magdalene may they turn to Him who can reconcile all. “Mary” — Rabboni,” may they turn to Her who can appease their anxiety and heal their wounds, Virgin All Pure, Queen of Heaven.
Today, after having received the Holy Communion, which came from the Miraculous Medal, it’s a happiness to have received at home a Relic of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, and of her parents, Louis and Zelie Martin. We had a beautiful moment of prayer.
I also love the bird above my bed with beautiful feathers, symbolizing the Holy Spirit and the large picture of the Divine Mercy — small signs that help me pray!
Come in aid of artists who do not know you and who today,
in the time of health and economic crisis, see their future uncertain.
May they find true inspiration in Christ, may He be their
assurance and joy.
Mother of the Virgin Mary, help us to overcome the trials we are going through.
Help us to reconcile the world with God’s Beauty, so that
every moment of the day is a praise and an act of love.