If God, to quote a common belief, works in mysterious ways, so do saints who follow His will.
Take the making of Jesuit Communications (JesCom) Philippines’ Ignacio de Loyola, which is slated to be screened in the Vatican on June 14.
This film is about the founder the Society of Jesus, which we all know as the order of priests called the Jesuits.
Director Paolo Dy; JesCom head Fr. Nono Alfonso, SJ; JesCom creative director Pauline Mangilog-Saltarin; and lead actor Andreas Munoz knew they can only do so much with P50 million when they shot the film in Spain.
They had to rely on the kindness of Jesuits abroad. They had to improvise. And most of all, they had to lean on Divine Providence.
They weren’t disappointed. One fine day when they were looking for sheep, the production designer spotted a shepherd tending to his flock. The production designer went up to the stranger asked if he’s available on a certain shooting day. Lo and behold! The shepherd nodded! He promised to bring his sheep on the appointed day.
ST. IGNATIUS' PRESENCE. Not only that. The kind shepherd happened to own a bakery where the production can get the artisanal bread essential for a scene. And he gave it for free!
Needless to say, the JesCom production was beside themselves with joy. But that was not the end of this series of saintly interventions.
“Going back to our place, the production team saw a pickup full of soil. It stopped and driver went down and started removing the soil. We asked what he was doing. He said he had to get rid of the soil,” relates Saltarin.
What happened next was nothing short of amazing. The JesCom team asked the driver if he can bring the soil to the location site. And he agreed, no ifs and buts.
Everyone in the production team believes this series of fortunate events starting from Day 1 of shooting meant only one thing: St. Ignatius, Ignacio de Loyola’s more pious self, was right behind them.
Blessings came unbidden. The production team found themselves with a warehouse full of props right across the place where they stayed because townsfolk gave items to make the story of one of their favorite sons as real as possible.
“We can feel St. Ignatius exerting editorial control,” Dy states.
Lead actor Andreas Munoz himself felt the saint’s hand touching him and changing him for the better.
The Spanish actor, whose film credits includes visionary director Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone, admits he learned to become more patient after playing St. Ignatius and seeing his devotion to God after the Virgin Mary converted him to a life of faith.
“I learned a lot,” Andreas told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in an exclusive interview. “I used to want results fast.”
The extent of St. Ignatius’ power to change lives will again be tested when the film is screened in the Vatican, where another Jesuit, Pope Francis, holds court. The screening in Rome is scheduled to take place on June 14.
JesCom has ambitious plans for Ignacio de Loyola. It wants to show the film in all Jesuit universities around the world. Screenings in film festivals abroad is also part of the plan.