Actor Gives Augustine's "Confessions" a New Twist

Gerard Depardieu Gives a Reading in Notre Dame

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PARIS, FEB. 10, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The "Confessions" of St. Augustine came to life in Notre Dame Cathedral with a public reading by French actor Gerard Depardieu.



On Sunday he delivered a reading of Books X and XI of the classic work. The renowned actor conceived this idea during a meeting with John Paul II in the Jubilee Year 2000.

"John Paul II saw me and immediately said: 'St. Augustine,'" referring to the similarity that the Pope saw between the actor and the saint.

The texts proposed for the reading were chosen by André Mandouze, a Latinist and writer who helped reintroduce St. Augustine in France.

In 2001, Mandouze participated in an international colloquium dedicated to the saint, which was held in Algeria, the site where Augustine was born in 354.

"At the beginning, the reading was not easy, but Augustine's words captivated me," Depardieu, 54, told the French Catholic newspaper La Croix.

"His reflection seemed sublime to me and has led me to take stock of myself, of my own journey," the actor said. "I have remained attached to that book, which since then has never left my side and which I read every day."

"I went to a psychoanalyst for 20 years, and I can say that Books X and XI of the 'Confessions' offer answers to our most intimate questions and calm our most painful queries," he added.

When Depardieu visited Rome last September, he announced that the initiative to read passages of St. Augustine was not a performance "but a way to enrich the faithful of the whole world."

The actor is planning to read the saint's writings in churches, synagogues and mosques to share his enthusiasm with the "wisdom" and "modernity" of Augustine.

"My dream would be to read excerpts of St. Augustine at the Wailing Wall," he said.

Depardieu gained worldwide fame in 1990 with his performance in Jean-Paul Rappeneau's film "Cyrano de Bergerac."