It can finally be told that Mel Gibson met and talked with Sister Lucia of Fatima at the Convent in Coimbra, Portugal.
Sister Sophia, Lucia, wife, Mel Gibson and Father Condor
During lent of 2004 Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of Christ" was making news all over the world. From our knowledge of Carmelite Convents, we knew that the Carmelites could not leave the convent and see the film, which we thought would be a great thing for preparation for Good Friday and Easter. But how could we get them the film since it was not yet out on DVD and the convent in Coimbra does not have a TV, except for editing tapes taken of important events in the convent and this is a very small TV.
Word was sent out to make contact with Icon Productions or Mel Gibson to get a DVD for the Convent in Coimbra during lent. Thanks to a wonderful young girl in Porto, Portugal, Luciana Regadas, who knew a volunteer worker for Icon Productions and Mel Gibson, named Lourdes Gutierrez, this contact was made. Lourdes Gutierrez responded the same day with the following.
My name is Lourdes Gutierrez, I live in Florida, Luciana Regadas sent me an email yesterday pertaining to "The Passion of the Christ." To give you a little background I have been involved with the movie since October in a volunteer capacity, I helped them put together two screenings in the Miami, Florida area. Since then it has almost become a full time job. Lucinda tells me that Sr. Lucia and her fellow sisters, would like very much to see this movie. Please confirm this, and I promise to do everything in my power to get this information to Mel Gibson, but I have to be sure about the request. Actually when he came to Miami for our screening he told me he had been to Fatima and had liked it very much.
Hoping to hear from you soon.
In other words, prove that the Convent wants to see the film and then things can happen. We went back to the convent for written confirmation but all but the Porter Nuns were in Lent prayers and could not be contacted. One thing we knew was that we could also contact two other people who could talk with the Mother Superior even if it was Lent, the Bishop and/or Father Fr. Luis Condor, Vice Postulator for the cause of canonization of the Fátima seers. We contacted Father Condor, who contacted the Convent Mother Superior, Celina.
Mel Gibson had come to Fatima in September of 2003 to ask Our Lady for help in the film and 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.
Ninety two emails back and forth later and many phone calls, a deal was set to show the film to the nuns. This was difficult because there was no DVDs yet and only 1 inch tapes, which require special cameras and large pull down screens. We even got approval for Mel Gibson to see Lucia in a private meeting, but because Mel Gibson might be attacked as using Lucia to promote his film, he, Mel Gibson, and not the convent insisted that such a visit would be strictly secret.
In the end only Father Condor, the convent and the Icon Production crew knew of the date of showing the film. We knew the month but that was all. It must have cost Mel Gibson ten to twenty thousand dollars to show this film to the convent because it took a full crew of camera men, a speaker, extras, and of course Lourdes Gutierrez came to show everyone what to do as she had make all the arrangements.
Mel Gibson later came into Portugal to promote the Portuguese version of the film and then sneaked over to the Convent without anyone knowing and met with Sister Lucia. We were told not to print this or let anyone know unless the Convent or Mel Gibson gave permission for it. This did not come until after the film ran its course in the theaters and the DVD ran its campaign in the stores.
Lucia shaking hands with Mel Gibson
We came up with the idea of Mel Gibson seeing Lucia for theological reasons, as she is very very pro Holy Father and we are not sure about Mel Gibson's feelings on this subject and he never says one way or the other. It seemed a good idea for the two to meet. Such meetings are not hard if you go through Father Condor and give good reasons.
Mel Gibson visited Lucia of Fatima at Carmel of Coimbra in July. The actor was accompanied by his wife, Robin Moore and Fr. Luis Condor. According to Mother Celina, the actor and his wife are wonderful and very humble people.
"He is very outspoken and a person easily to be liked, and he answered all of our questions about the movie. Some questions were asked by Sr. Lucy, who attended the meeting which lasted for about an hour, was always very alert following the conversation."
The language conversation was held in English, which, according to Sr. Celina, "was not a problem at all, since various nuns do speak and understand English well."
Lucia behind grate, Mrs. Gibson, Mel and Father Condor.
What the nuns or Lucia said about the movie is not known and may never be known because statements by Lucia or for that matter any Carmelite nun throughout the world are always sent through the bishop or the Holy Father first. Because of her power of influence Lucia must be very careful what she says publicly.