Today we finished in Smyrna (Izmir Turkey). We have been able to do everything needed plus were blessed in many other ways by Our Lord.
Today we shot the scenes on the Mediterranean Sea outside Ephesus. I was portraying the conversion of Justin Martyr. He was walking along the sea when approached by an old man who began to question Justin. After a long dialog, Justin converted to Christianity as the “only true philosophy.” It was great fun reenacting in a sense, the dialog.
Yesterday we had shot all the footage for the port scenes (Ignatius on his way to martyrdom in Rome) and the scenes at the Tomb of St. John in Selçuk. We finished the scenes in St. Polycarp’s Church (with the piece of his skull), and at the location of the Temple of Artemis where I smashed an idol!
But the wonderful thing was this. I had asked my priest for a dispensation for missing Mass on Sunday because I thought it would be impossible. But when we arrived in Izmir we discovered that there was a special Mass in the Church of St. Polycarp for the ordination of a new priest.
But you have to understand—this was a HUGE event. In this huge Muslim country with a population of 75 million—99% Muslim, there was only ONE Turkish priest. All the others are from Italy. We joined in the special Mass where Mesut Kalayci was ordained a Catholic priest. Every bishop and priest from Turkey was here for the ordination. I counted 2 archbishops, 27 priests, and several brothers and possibly a deacon or two. It was a grand affair.
Mesut Kalayci is a handsome, engaging, young and brilliant young priest. It was so nice to meet him and offer our congratulations.
So, we met our Sunday obligation.
BUT, that was not all. We were invited by my good friend and former archbishop of Smyrna (Izmir), Msgr. Giuseppe Bernardini to Mary’s House for Mesut Kalayci’s first Mass in Ephesus on Sunday morning. The archbishop even asked if he could ride the one hour trip with us. Ah, well, of COURSE!
So, on Sunday morning we sat outside Mary’s House as the new priest celebrated Mass along with two archbishops and 27 priests from across the country of Turkey. It was another grand affair and we were all very blessed and impressed with the beauty and universality of the Catholic Church.
I have so much more to write but we have to get to sleep. Tomorrow we get us very early and fly to Rome to begin shooting the scenes of the Clement of Rome and the martyrdoms of Ignatius and Justin Martyr.
Please keep us in your prayers. Sts. Justin, Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius and Irenaeus, pray for us.