10 FEBRUARY 2003
There was plenty of drama but little acting for French star Gerard Depardieu when he confessed his faith at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
The actor spoke about how the writing of St Augustine had touched him deeply and showed him the way to salvation. The 54-year-old, whose personal life has been characterised by hedonism and relationship difficulties, said that Augustine's Confessions "resembled the poetry of a man who does not know what he is going through".
The ceremony was attended by cardinals and bishops and relayed through loudspeakers to thousands of fans and worshippers gathered outside. It was also broadcast live to millions of homes.
Gerard said it was a meeting with the Pope that led him to rediscover his lost childhood faith. Describing his discussion with the pontiff, Gerard said: "He looked at me and told the cardinals around him 'You must talk to him about St Augustine'."
The actor admits that until then he knew nothing about the North African bishop whose writings have since changed his life. "Augustine's quest touched me deeply because it reflected my own fragile life," he said. "I have a mystical, religious temperament, coloured by a persistent temptation to ask 'why?'. In Augustine, I have rediscovered these questions, the quest for truth – the why of what we are."