Mantegna and production partner Danny Ramm will make the film through their company Acquaviva Productions. It will be filmed in locations in Italy but made in English.
According to the website, “the film will highlight Padre Pio’s impact on the Catholic Church and the building of his hospital, Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza in San Giovanni Rotondo, Puglia, Italy”.
Padre Pio was born Franceso Forgione in 1887, the son of peasant famers in Campania in southern Italy. He died in 1968 and was canonised by St Pope John Paul II in 2002.
Mantegna was born in Chicago in 1947 to parents from southern Italy – his father from Sicily and his mother was Apulia.
In a video appeal for more funding the actor described Padre Pio as “one of the most extraordinary men of the 20th century” and said his life was “truly the stuff of legend”.
He said: “When news of his stigmata spread, senior figures in the Vatican tried to disprove his wounds and undermine his reputation. This film will be an in-depth look at Padre Pio’s life and the titanic struggles that lasted decades between faith and doubt, spirituality and scepticism, and the humble country priest and the perfumed princes of Rome.”
He said: “Painstaking efforts will be made to recreate the time period, including the costumes, hairstyles and furniture, right down to the sandals on Padre Pio’s feet.”
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