Mel Gibson met with Sr. Lucia of Fatima at the Convent in Coimbra, Portugal, and screened “The Passion of the Christ” for the Carmelite community there during Lent 2004, reveals the latest issue of the Fatima Bulletin.
The request came from the community. A young Portuguese girl offered to communicate with a volunteer worker for Icon Productions, whom she knew, to try to organize of the film at the convent. This contact got the ball rolling. After 92 e-mails and several phone calls, a screening was organized.
The logistics for the secret screening were challenging since the nuns have only a very small TV and the film was not yet out on video or DVD.
Therefore, Gibson had a large pull-down screen, a full crew of cameramen, a speaker and extras set up at the convent for the Lent screening. The Fatima Bulletin estimates that it must have cost Gibson up to $20,000.
When Gibson later came to Portugal to promote the Portuguese version of the film in July 2004, he was snuck over to the convent for a private meeting with Sr. Lucia, one of the three Fatima visionaries.
Since Gibson thought he might be attacked for using Sr. Lucia to promote his film, he insisted that this visit would be strictly secret.
The actor was accompanied by his wife, Robin Moore and Fr. Luis Condor. According to Mother Celina, the superior of the convent, the director and his wife are wonderful and very humble people.
Gibson had come to Fatima in September of 2003 to ask Our Lady for help in the film. Later, Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Christ, came to show the film to religious institutions to get their opinions of the movie. He even went to the Convent in Coimbra to show the film but was refused because he insisted on going behind the cloister, which is not permitted, reported the Bulletin.
"He (Gibson) is very outspoken and a person easily to be liked, and he answered all of our questions about the movie,” Mother Celina said, according to the Bulletin. “Some questions were asked by Sr. Lucia, who attended the meeting which lasted for about an hour, was always very alert following the conversation."
The Bulletin said its staff was told not to print this story unless the convent or Gibson gave permission, which only came after the film ran its course in the theaters and the DVD ran its campaign in the stores.
What the nuns or Sr. Lucia said about the movie is not known and may never be known because statements by Lucia or for that matter any Carmelite nun are always sent through the bishop or the Pope first, the Bulletin explained.