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Franciscans petition Gibson for Francis of Assisi movie

A group of Franciscan friars in the US has asked Passion of the Christ director Mel Gibson to make a movie biography of their founder St Francis of Assisi.

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have posted a letter to Gibson on their website, along with an online petition.

It praises the director for his "work of sacred art" and asks him "to produce a sequel about a man many acclaim to be the Church's greatest saint".

St Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment.

In the letter to Gibson, the friars say they believe the film, if made, "would show the world what happens when a person totally and unequivocally responds to the Passion of the Christ."

It goes on to suggest Gibson could call the film Man of the Passion.

St Francis has been portrayed on screen on numerous occasions, notably in Franco Zeffirelli's 1972 film Brother Sun, Sister Moon and by Mickey Rourke in 1989's Francesco.

According to Fr Glenn Sudano, head of the community of 82 friars in the New York metropolitan area, saints are too often depicted as caricatures.

"They are much more powerful, more interesting [and] engaging," he said.

Father Sudano admitted the chances of Gibson heeding his order's plea were limited, but hoped the petition would raise the issue.

Franciscan friars petition Gibson (BBC 21/4/04)

An Open Letter and Respectful Petition (text of letter)
Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (currently unavailable)

Movie-loving monks' plea to Gibson (NZ Herald 22/4/04)

22 Apr 2004