DENVER — A recent film on the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe has helped reawaken devotion to the patroness of the Americas, while inspiring a deeper conversion of heart among Catholics.
“We need things that are artistic, that leave impressions, that will help guide people back to our faith,” Tim Watkins, director of The Blood and the Rose, told CNA.
The film is now going on its promotional tour. It centers around three major aspects of the apparition of the Virgin Mother to St. Juan Diego: the historical background; the apparition itself and Mary’s message; and the scientific analysis of the image on St. Juan Diego’s tilma.
The film’s executive producers are Bella star Eduardo Verastegui and Braveheart executive producer Stephen McEveety. Verastegui narrates the film, while Mexican telenovela actress Karyme Lozano (For Greater Glory) plays the voice of the Virgin Mary.
“Even though this image was made in 1531, there are still things that we found in the 20th century that made us go, ‘Oh wow,’” Watkins said. “It begs the question: What else is in this image that hasn’t been discovered yet?”
Careful study and inspection of the image throughout recent history has yielded surprising discoveries about the image, such as the tiny human figures and faces that appear in the lifelike eyes of the Virgin and the way the stars on her mantle match the constellations at the winter solstice of 1531.
In promoting his film, Watkins hopes Catholics will be strengthened in their faith while growing bolder in proclaiming the Gospel.
While researching the film, Watkins said he discovered more about the apparition than he could have imagined — something he hopes viewers will experience when they see the film.
“They know bits and pieces, but they don’t know the fascinating totality of the story,” he said. “There’s something in [the film] that people do not know.”
While the film is meant to be a work of art inspired by the apparition, it also explores the humble sanctity of St. Juan Diego, the faithful messenger to whom the Virgin Mother appeared.
“I’m not worthy to touch the tassels of Mary’s gown, but what I am capable of doing is achieving the kind of life Juan Diego lived,” Watkins said.
The saint, he added, is an example of “humble, childlike faith,” whom all Catholics can emulate.
“What we try to do with the film is inspire people to be like Juan Diego, the servant who heard the word and spread it,” Watkins said.
To that end, Watkins has established the Messenger Eagle Foundation, an organization dedicated to catechizing Catholics and helping them spread the Gospel in their parts of the world. The name is taken from St. Juan Diego’s native name, Cauthatlatohuac, which means “the eagle who speaks.”
The film, which was released in January, has been shown to audiences nationally as well as in several different countries, including Brazil, where the film was shown to World Youth Day audiences.
At each showing, a reflection on St. Juan Diego and the work of a special local charitable organization is given before the film. Following that is a reflection from the local bishop or a priest.
Watkins said, “Hopefully it becomes a fulcrum to an awakening to get us out of being pacifists in the pews to a point where we’re helping our priests succeed by getting their message to a bigger community.”
To learn more about the film or to request a local screening, visit thebloodandtherose.com.