On September 9, the movie “Padre Pio” will be released. Focused on the Franciscan friar’s early years, it is a story of war, terror, faith, and redemption, told powerfully through the acting of Shia LaBeouf in the title role, and directed by Abel Ferrara.
The selection of Shia LaBeouf may come as a surprise to many who are familiar with the actor’s reputation. LaBeouf has been accused of sexual battery, assault, disorderly conduct, harassment, and public intoxication. His conduct led to legal trouble and alcoholism and brought him to the brink of suicide.
Abel Ferrara, too, has a directorial history that would seem, on the surface, to preclude him from guiding the telling of the story of one of Catholicism’s most storied saints, and he, too, has battled alcoholism and drug abuse over the years.
But the thread running through both of their lives is their common redemption from alcoholism and the liberating transformation of their lives. Shia LaBeouf has very publicly embraced Catholicism, and Abel Ferrara has embarked on a spiritual journey of his own.
Some will say, “Surely, there could have been other actors and directors to be a part of this film than these.” Perhaps so, but Padre Pio’s own life is a testament to the fact that we will always be surprised by the sovereignty of God and His grace. Shia LaBeouf’s portrayal of Padre Pio brings a kind of realism to our understanding of this modern Catholic Saint that gives this story an immediacy and force that commands our attention in a way that more fanciful stories do not.
When interviewed by Catholic New Agency on August 30, Saint Pio Foundation Founder and CEO Luciano Lamonarca said, “My hope is that people will be attracted to watch this movie out of genuine interest and will move forward to learn more about the life of Padre Pio.” The Saint Pio Foundation encourages you to see this stirring film about our beloved saint, portrayed vividly and compellingly by a newfound brother in Christ.
We invite you to click on the video link above to watch Shia LaBeouf discuss his conversion to the Catholic faith with Bishop Robert Barron from the Diocese of Winona Rochester.