Newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Girls-in-BarnIn this still from the new, locally made movie "St. Bernadette of Lourdes," Connecticut children portraying village children of Lourdes, France, ask Francois Soubirous if they can go to a grotto where the Blessed Mother has appeared to his daughter Bernadette. (Photo courtesy of Jim Morlino, Navis Pictures)

In 1858, 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous was wading across a brook near a cave in Lourdes, France, when she was visited by an apparition of Our Blessed Mother. Many of us know the story through the 1943 movie "Song of Bernadette," which relates the widespread skepticism and eventual acceptance of the miraculous events. Bernadette (1844-1879) was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1933.

Now, a new, 75-minute movie is available, filmed locally in 2009 and featuring only children – 166 of them. "St. Bernadette of Lourdes" was produced by Navis Pictures and was shot at several locations within and near the Hartford Archdiocese.

"The movie industry exerts a very strong influence on our culture, and I don’t see many Catholics producing great films," said Jim Morlino of Danbury, creator of Navis Pictures and the man who wrote, directed, produced and narrated the movie.

"I think it’s a Catholic duty to understand what beauty is and who the author of beauty is," Mr. Morlino said. "Most of the world’s greatest art, the faith can’t be separated from it. That’s what I was hoping for. If you can’t get to that stage, at least get the children mindful of what is good art and what is not good art," he said.

The movie stars Mr. Morlino’s daughter, Genevieve Morlino, as Bernadette. His two other daughters, Annette and Cecelia, portray nuns. Our Lady is played by Stephanie Lamore of Farmington.

It opens with a battle scene between Charlemagne and Mirat in about 778, in what was to become Lourdes. Local leader Mirat and his forces are nearing starvation, but he vows never to surrender to a mortal man. Roracius, Bishop of Le Puy, confronts him and asks if he would surrender to an immortal lady – Mary, Queen of Heaven.

Released from his vow, Mirat surrenders and is converted, taking the name Lorus as his baptismal name. From that name, legend holds, comes the name Lourdes.

In this way, Mr. Morlino said, Our Lady had influenced the location for more than 1,000 years before Bernadette Soubirous was born.

Mirat is portrayed by Joseph Henares, then 16, of Avon, who also played the part of Jacomet, the town official who tried to discredit Bernadette.

"It was very fulfilling," he said. "[Mirat] was a major role in the movie, even though he was an antagonist. He lived when Europe was beginning to turn away from Christ. He represents those forces, while Bernadette represents innocence."

He said he did not find it difficult to portray the bad guy. "I just had to have a very supercilious attitude and basically act superior," he said, adding that his family has an acting background. He said that his sister, Marian, who portrays Jeanne Abadie, Bernadette’s friend, wants to pursue a professional acting career. His younger brother, John Paul Henares, portrays a priest, Father Pene.

Jean Henares, their mother, said her children and Mr. Morlino’s children belong to the same home-schooling association in Cheshire and have been involved in stage productions and small films he has produced over the years.

She said her favorite of the many locations for the Bernadette film was the Lourdes in Litchfield Shrine. "Our whole family goes there every year in October and May. We say the rosary and go on pilgrimage there," she said.

Montfort Father William Considine, director of Lourdes in Litchfield, said the brook on the property was used as the brook Bernadette waded into when she experienced her first apparition. Exterior shots of the priests’ residence, Montfort House, and its courtyard were also used, he said.

"I guess the thing that struck me was this sort of wonderful mix of professionalism and these wonderful young actors," Father Considine said. "The main actors had to shoot and re-shoot. This wasn’t quite right, change the light. I was very impressed."

He said it would be a great film for a religious education class to show, but even adults would appreciate it, he added. "The beauty and the holiness of Bernadette’s life come through in the children’s acting, every bit as much as it would with adults. We were enchanted," he said.

Brian Murphy of Avon was 17 when he portrayed Francois Soubirous, Bernadette’s father. He said, "When Mr. Morlino first asked me to do it, I had no idea how professional it would turn out. I thought it would be some kind of small school project or something. I was just amazed at how very professional he was with camera and lighting."

His brother Michael, then 11, has a brief, comic appearance as a photographer who uses too much magnesium when photographing Bernadette. He said he was impressed with Mr. Morlino’s work ethic. "People would take a break and he’d always be working, setting up the next scene," he said.

Kathryn Mihaliak, who was 15 when she portrayed the mean Sister Damian, said she worked with Mr. Morlino in two previous short films. "He spent a lot of time with me, one on one, trying to teach me. He had a very clear vision of how the scene was going to look," she said.

Cecelia Joliat, 12 years old when she portrayed Madame Millet, said she knew the story of Bernadette but not every detail. "I liked how he put the story together. I thought it was really well done," she said.

Dee-dee Mihaliak is the mother of four of the actors and also runs a home school in Avon where several scenes were shot. "It’s a great way for the children to see how movies are actually constructed, so they can make better decisions about what they think is truth and fiction when they go to see a movie," she said.

Mr. Morlino said the movie was shot over a four-month period in Connecticut and upstate New York. The grotto scenes were shot at a cave formation in Ridgefield. Cobblestoned courtyard village scenes were shot at the Convent of St. Birgitta in Darien. St. Mary Catholic Church in Norwalk was also used, as well as several private residences.

"It is a work of the soul, because God is the ultimate creator, and we sort of image him in a way when we create something," Mr. Morlino said. "I think it’s a valuable thing, creating something together that is beautiful for the greater glory of God."

"St. Bernadette of Lourdes" is available through the Web site www.navispictures.com and selected Catholic retail outlets. It is being marketed through Ignatius Press and may soon be shown on EWTN, Mr. Morlino said.

Events Calendar

August 2014
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St. Michael Church, Beacon Falls, Beacon Falls, Conn., United States
Credo Catholic Singles, a community of single, widowed and divorced Catholics from throughout the [...]
Date :  August 09, 2014
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10:00 AM
Archbishop O'Brien Library, Bloomfield, Bloomfield, United States
BLOOMFIELD – The Archbishop O’Brien Library will sponsor a summer film series, Catholic Cinema [...]
Date :  August 12, 2014
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05:00 PM
St. Michael Church, Beacon Falls, Beacon Falls, Conn., United States
Credo Catholic Singles, a community of single, widowed and divorced Catholics from throughout the [...]
Date :  August 16, 2014
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10:00 AM
Tunxis Plantation Golf Club, Farmington, Farmington, United States
The 19th Annual Franciscan Golf Classic to benefit the Franciscan Life Center and Franciscan Home Care and Hospice Care, will take place Aug. 18 at Tunxis Plantation Golf Club, Farmington.  The $175 [...]
Date :  August 18, 2014
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10:00 AM
Archbishop O'Brien Library, Bloomfield, Bloomfield, United States
BLOOMFIELD – The Archbishop O’Brien Library will sponsor a summer film series, Catholic Cinema [...]
Date :  August 19, 2014
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06:00 PM
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Hamden , Hamden, United States
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Hamden will have its monthly Pro-Life Holy Hour Novena from 6-7 p.m. August 20 and again on September 24.The Holy Hour will include exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, [...]
Date :  August 20, 2014
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03:00 PM
Rosary Hall, Albertus Magnus College, New Haven, New Haven, United States
David Allaway, director of the Heritage Program for the St. John’s Bible, will give a lecture titled “Illuminating the Word” from 3-4:30 p.m. Aug. 21 at Rosary Hall on the campus of [...]
12:00 PM
St. Joseph School, Meriden, Meriden, United States
Open House at St. Joseph School
Date :  August 21, 2014
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St. Paul Catholic High School, Bristol, United States
BRISTOL – St. Paul Catholic High School will have its fifth annual Falcon 5k event at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 22. [...]
Date :  August 22, 2014
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St. Elizabeth Church, Branford, Branford, United States
The Knights of Columbus Eldorado Council 10 in Branford will sponsor an End of Summer Carnival from 6-10 [...]
Date :  August 27, 2014
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St. Elizabeth Church, Branford, Branford, United States
The Knights of Columbus Eldorado Council 10 in Branford will sponsor an End of Summer Carnival from 6-10 [...]
Date :  August 28, 2014
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St. Elizabeth Church, Branford, Branford, United States
The Knights of Columbus Eldorado Council 10 in Branford will sponsor an End of Summer Carnival from 6-10 [...]
Date :  August 29, 2014
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St. Elizabeth Church, Branford, Branford, United States
The Knights of Columbus Eldorado Council 10 in Branford will sponsor an End of Summer Carnival from 6-10 [...]
Date :  August 30, 2014
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