Aidan Gallagher, director of EWTN Ireland, receives a blessing for the film “Faith of Our Fathers” from Pope Francis after the pope’s general audience May 3, 2023. / Credit: Courtesy of EWTN News Nightly

Denver Newsroom, May 13, 2023 / 06:00 am (CNA).

A new film from EWTN Ireland was shown at the Vatican earlier this month. “Faith of our Fathers” tells the story of a Catholic priest in hiding during the 16th and 17th centuries. The film depicts the community’s efforts to protect him as he ministered to the faithful and celebrated outdoor Masses during the penal times in Ireland when civil disabilities were imposed on Catholics.

Aidan Gallagher, director of EWTN Ireland, recently spoke with EWTN News Nightly about the release of the film.

Gallagher explained that during the penal times Catholic education and doctrine was banned, it was forbidden to celebrate Mass, and the Irish language (Gaelic) was outlawed. Additionally, Catholics were barred from public office. Although this took place hundreds of years ago, Gallagher said he sees many modern-day comparisons.

“We decided to create this particular piece because it has so many contemporary correlations and relationships to the modern day,” he said during the interview. 

The film was shown at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome on May 2. Participants — who hailed from many parts of the world including India, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates — gave feedback and offered testimonies of similar experiences in their countries.

Audience members watch the film “Faith of Our Fathers” at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome on May 2, 2023. Credit: EWTN Ireland
Audience members watch the film “Faith of Our Fathers” at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome on May 2, 2023. Credit: EWTN Ireland

“It was almost like a proof of concept, if you like, because so many people stepped forward to say, ‘This movie may be set in the penal times many hundred years ago in Ireland but we are still experiencing this in our country today,’” Gallagher explained.

He added that the film left the audience inspired because it showed that “even though evil tries to root out the manifestation of Christ, in his Church, through the holy sacrament of the Mass, that as the Lord said, ‘Peter you are the rock and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of the underworld cannot hold out against it.’”

“And that’s what happened in Ireland and that’s why I suppose there were so many people who came to us, particularly from those countries, and voiced those very positive sentiments.”

One month before the film was to be shown in Rome, Gallagher sent the Holy Father a letter in which he asked for a blessing upon the film. His letter explained the relevance of the film today, in that even though it takes place during the penal times, Christians around the world continue to be persecuted for their faith. The letter also expressed that a papal blessing would help the film’s success and the propagation of the faith worldwide.

Gallagher received a blessing from Pope Francis after his general audience on May 3.     

“It was a very blessed occasion for me personally, and for the whole mission of EWTN Ireland,” he expressed.

“The Holy Spirit is what we need to propagate this message of truth, propagate this message of commitment to the Catholic faith, particularly in these modern times, so that was a very very strong thing for us and thanks be to God for it,” Gallagher concluded.

Watch the full EWTN News Nightly interview below.