Slaves and Kings—Humility Transforms

Slaves and Kings—Humility Transforms

Stories of saints make interesting films because they are about people with colorful personalities and tough characters who happen to be Catholic. One the most recent stories to hit the big screen circuit is Slaves and Kings by renowned Spanish director and writer, Pablo Moreno. Retelling the life of Saint Anthony Mary Claret is no easy task. His apostolic life as an Archbishop in 19th century Spain challenges the cultural leaders of his day through his preaching, teaching, writing, and publishing. He used the media of his day to preach the truth of Jesus Christ when it was not popular in the political world. 


Produced by Bosco Films and the Claretians, this story about their founder sets the record straight about his life and position against the government and communists who defamed his good name and altered his writings. They successfully undermined his work for more than sixty years, long after Claret had died, until the intellectual Jose Martinez Ruiz, known as Azorín (Carlos Cañas), in the 1930s discovers the true story. His investigation uncovers the facts and historical evidence of Claret’s humble and faithful character, but one that does not back down in face of error and persecution. 


Antonio Reyes as Antony Mary Claret © 2022 Bosco Films. All rights reserved.


Claret (Antonio Reyes) was a talented evangelist. After his ordination to priesthood, he founded the Missionary Sons of Immaculate Heart of Mary (the Claretians), preached against slavery while Archbishop of Cuba, encountered socialist violence in the Canary Islands, and wrote extensively against the injustices of society. 


I prefer watching foreign language films in their original language with English subtitles. I feel it makes the film more authentic. If you get past the awkwardness of the dubbing into English, the film does have many positive elements, especially since Claret is a colorful yet humble character who accomplished much in his lifetime. Moreno reflects, “Claret was an abolitionist, pro inter-racial marriages, criticizer of the state, reformer of the Spanish curia, and advocate for better education of the poor.” He was also one of the most prolific spiritual writers of the 19th century.


Antonio Reyes as Antony Mary Claret © 2022 Bosco Films. All rights reserved.


When the Archbishop is called back from Cuba because of his social justice stance, he is appointed by Queen Isabel II (Alba Recondo) to be her confessor, a role he loathed to take. He wanted to remain neutral in politics and being the confessor would always assume him to be for the Queen and her decisions, even if he counseled her otherwise. A complicated story to express, Moreno says, “Claret didn’t want to meddle with politics because if he gets in a situation he would be [siding] with one group.” Instead, Claret would say, “Christ is for all.” Moreno explained, “It bothered him that the pulpit was so close to the throne.”


Alba Recondo as Queen Isabel in exile. © 2022 Bosco Films. All rights reserved.


Though I knew a little bit about the story of this daring prelate, I did not realize that his enemies did everything they could to destroy his reputation. “At the end of the day,” says Fr Byron Macias, CMF, a Claretian from Chicago, “there is nothing stronger than the power of God. If I was in Claret’s place, I’d quit…What makes him hold on to the principles and values, it has to be a deep connection with God.” Azorín discovers the deception in the 1930s paving the way for the Church to declare Claret a saint in the 1950s.


Moreno shares that, “this movie appeals to all of us because we are always looking for something…. Claret had the ability to transform something that is complicated into something that is life-giving…without forgetting his love for the Blessed Virgin Mary…and the Eucharist.” During these years of Eucharistic Revival in the Church in the United States, this film centers the viewer on the reason for our hope…and that is Christ present in the Eucharist. He who is with us guides us every step of the way. Claret’s humble suffering transforms his life and leads him to intimacy with Christ and His Mother. 


Antonio Reyes as Antony Mary Claret © 2022 Bosco Films. All rights reserved.


An amazing faith story told in a powerful way, this film will show in the theaters on August 22nd in English and August 23rd in Spanish through Fathom events. 






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