.- A Hollywood movie about the birth of Jesus, “The Nativity Story,” made its world premiere on Sunday at the Vatican.
The premier was the first time a feature film has debuted at the Vatican. About 7,000 people attended the benefit screening of “The Nativity Story,” filling Paul VI Hall, reported The Associated Press. Proceeds from the event will go toward the construction of a school in Mughar, a village that is 25 miles from Nazareth.
Although Pope Benedict XVI due to his preparations for this week’s trip to Turkey, several Vatican officials were on hand for the debut.
Before the screening, Archbishop John Foley, who heads the Vatican's social communications office, praised what he called a dialogue between faith and culture.
"Cinema, a powerful means of communication, once again carries a universal message," he reportedly told the audience.
The 102-minute film, shot between Morocco and Italy, tells the story of Mary's pregnancy, the trip she and Joseph take to Bethlehem, where Jesus is born, the visit of the Magi and the escape into Egypt from the jealous wrath of King Herod.
The 16-year-old Australian actress Keisha Castle-Hughes, who plays Mary, did not attend the premiere. Shohreh Aghdashloo, who plays Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, was present, as was Oscar Isaac, who portrays Joseph.
The Nativity Story opens in the United States and Canada on Dec. 1. It was produced by New Line Cinema, which made "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.