Church is ‘illuminating presence’ in award-winning film

Church is ‘illuminating presence’ in award-winning film Saoirse Ronan in Ladybird

Saoirse Ronan’s Golden Globe triumph is for a film about “a strange and surprising breakthrough of grace”, according to a prominent Los Angeles-based bishop. The 23-year-old Irish actress won her first Golden Globe award on Sunday for her performance as the title character Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson in the film Lady Bird. She had previously been nominated in 2008 and 2016 for her performances in Atonement and Brooklyn.

Los Angeles-based Bishop Robert Barron, who in 2010 became the first American cleric since the 1950s to have a regular show on US commercial television, has noted how Catholicism underpins the film’s complex tale of love and conflict.

“Though not a Catholic herself, Lady Bird attends a Catholic high school, with quite a number of priests and nuns on the faculty. At regular intervals in the film, we see Lady Bird and her classmates attending Mass and other religious services – and none of this is presented mockingly or ironically, as we’ve come to expect from most Hollywood productions,” he says.

Noting that “by far the most powerful and positive personages in the film are the religious sisters who staff the high school”, Dr Barron says “throughout the film, the Catholic Church is an encouraging and illuminating presence”, with this having a “spiritual payoff” at the story’s end.

The film’s director Greta Gerwig had herself studied in a Catholic high school, the bishop says, noting how she has spoken of how the priests and nuns there “inspired her to realise that there is no single path to holiness, that God can use ‘whatever you’ve got’.”

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