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'Christ' actor meets Pope in Vatican

March 16, 2004
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Hollywood star Jim Caviezel, who plays Jesus in The Passion Of The Christ, had an audience with the Pope on Monday. The handsome 35-year-old was accompanied by his wife and in-laws to the meeting, during which he received a blessing from the Catholic leader.

Jim is himself a devout Catholic, and says that playing the Messiah has deepened his religious convictions. He had to endure harsh physical challenges during the production and at one point he was even struck by lighting.

Pope John Paul was given a private screening of the film prior to its release, but the Vatican has denied that he personally endorsed it. The flick has drawn accusations of anti-Semitism from some circles, but critics are broadly agreed that Jim gives a powerhouse performance in the title role.

The movie, which tells the story of Christ's crucifixion, has also become a surprise hit at the box office. Director Mel Gibson ploughed $25 million of his own money into the production, but it has already taken more than ten times that figure in the US alone.

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Jim has won rave reviews for his portrayal of Jesus in the new film. Critics warn that it is one of the most disturbing pieces of cinema of recent years, howeverPhoto: © PA

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