VATICAN (CWN) -- The film "Brother of Our God," a biography of the Polish painter Adam Chmielowski, was presented for viewing at the Vatican today. The occasion was a historic first, because the film, by director Krzysztof Zanussi, is based on a script by Karol Wojtyla; it is the first film ever to come from the pen of a pope.

      The film, which will open in Italy late in May, was originally screened for the Holy Father last September, at his summer residence in Castel Gandalfo. It uses the original dialogue which he wrote for a theatrical play.

      With an international cast, the film portrays the life of Chmielowski (1845-1916), who gave up his art to work among the poor, becoming a monk and founding two congregations-- one male, one female-- for charitable work. His life story was portrayed by the young Karol Wojtyla as a journey of spiritual discovery. He was beatified by the Pope in 1983, and canonized in 1989. On the occasion of his canonization, the Pope-- who says that the example of Chmielowski helped him decide to leave his work in drama behind and become a priest-- said that the ceremony was "one of the greatest joys of my life."

      Producer Giacomo Pezzali said that the film version of the story seeks to preserve the original message of the Pope's play, indicating how Christian belief inspires concern for social justice and "the dignity of the person independent of his social condition, race, and religion."

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March 30, 1998 volume 9, no. 63         DAILY CATHOLIC