"God is the Bigger Elvis": A nun's story

2012-02-25 Vatican Radio

When Hollywood roles out the red carpet on Sunday for this year’s Academy Awards, those watching will expect to see actors and actresses such as George Clooney and Meryl Streep being caught by the flashbulbs.

But there is someone else who will also be taking part in this high profile event that many won’t be expecting to see, that is Mother Dolores Hart, a cloistered nun who now lives a life of contemplation at the Regina Laudis Benedictine monastery in Bethlehem, Connecticut.

Mother Dolores left behind a successful stage and screen career in Hollywood in the 1960’s to become a nun after starring alongside leading men such as Elvis Presley (Loving You 1957), and Anthony Quinn (Wild is the Wind” 1957). She also starred in the film about Francis of Assisi (1961), in which she played a nun.

So what brings this Prioress of a cloistered monastery to the awards? She is in fact the subject of an Oscar nominated short documentary entitled, “God Is the Bigger Elvis” produced by HBO. The thirty eight minute film charts her life and that of her fellow nuns at the Abbey, which also has a working farm and a theatre.

Explaining how the project came about, she told Lydia O’Kane that she was told by the late Archbishop Pietro Sambi that she must make a film about consecrated life. Recalling Archbishop Sambi’s words, Mother Dolores said that he told her “ it is important for the church that you make this film”. She goes on to say that she didn’t know how she would accomplish this, but just two days later HBO rang her and asked her if she would be interested in making a short documentary.

Speaking about her vocation, Mother Dolores said it was something she felt she had to do, “anyone who has ever been in love knows what it is to do what you have to do”.
Mother Dolores who attended the Academy awards three times during her Hollywood career and is a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences says attending the event will probably be an emotional experience. “I think there will be nothing at all like it when I go, I think it will be completely new”.

She adds that she wants to bring home to her sisters at the monastery a true reality of life that will give them joy and a reason to pray for the work of the film industry. Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s interview with Mother Dolores Hart