As the eightieth anniversary of its October 2, 1928 founding approaches, Opus Dei is producing an Italian TV cartoon and mini-series on the life of its founder St. Josemaria Escriva.
The cartoon is in its production phase at Mediaset, a media company owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Opus Dei spokesman Pippo Corigliano told ANSA on Wednesday that the children’s cartoon will give a “necessarily simple” view of the Spanish priest who founded the organization and was canonized in 2002.
The miniseries, developed by the media company RAI, aims to include more diverse opinions of the saint.
Opus Dei has about 90,000 members in 90 countries, a few of whom are priests. While about one third of the lay members are celibate, living in Opus Dei centers and devoting themselves to social and charity work, the majority lead regular family lives.
The organization was depicted as sinister in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code. In the book and movie, the villain is an albino monk assassin from Opus Dei, even though the group has no monks.
Corigliano told ANSA that the popularity of the books had helped spark interest in Opus Dei.
“Especially after the film came out there was a huge fascination about us on the part of the media and the general public,” he said, explaining that the new media drive aims to correct views about the organization.
Brian Finnerty, a spokesman with the U.S. Communications Office of Opus Dei, told CNA on Wednesday that an animated English-language program on the life of St. Josemaria already exists and has been shown on EWTN. The program, produced in Spain, is titled “God’s Footprints: The Life of St. Josemaria Escriva.”
That program was apparently not created in response to the Dan Brown book.
Finnerty spoke to CNA about the lingering effects of The Da Vinci Code at Opus Dei.
“Immediately after the movie came out, there was a sharp drop-off in attention,” he explained.
“The controversy died out. There is no longer any suspense about what would be in the movie and how people would react to it. After the movie came out, the topic became a whole lot less newsworthy.”
According to Finnerty, the book and movie had resulted in elevated hits to the group’s web site, more inquiries, and several projects intended to “keep up the dialogue with the movie.”