Best Hollywood portrayal of the Mass

Many consider this to be the best Hollywood cinematic depiction of the Tridentine Mass, because De Niro, in the role as the priest, gives so accurate a portrayal of a priest doing the rubrics of the Mass. There’s also the inclusion of the Jacob Arcadelt Ave Maria, which is beautifully performed.

It’s from the 1981 film-noir, True Confessions, which is knowing a new audience because it can be downloaded on Netflix.  

One of the producers was Robert Chartoff, who also worked with De Niro on Raging Bull.


  1. Dear Mary O'Regan,

    Diary of A Country Priest has moments of the Tridentine Mass but as Low Mass. The film itself is not exactly 'Hollywood', being a French production, so I'm afraid this suggestion may not count. Have you seen this movie? Do you have any opinions as such?

    God Bless.

  2. Mary, following this post I sent off for the DVD and it is an excellent film showing the Church in both good and bad forms.
    De Niro makes a great priest except for the fact that he cannot handle the thurible. God bless.

  3. Dear Christopher and Richard,

    Apologies for the delay in moderating your great comments, I've been away in California. I agree, Richard, that the film is excellent (I saw it on Netflix). The film does capture the choice that the young high-flying monsignor has to make: promotion and prestige in the Church at the price of aiding and abetting a villain or bringing the bad-man to justice and being consigned to a punishment-parish in the desert.

    It might be too graphic for everyone's tastes and the one thing that I didn't like was that it left very disturbing violent images in my mind. Having said that, maybe the shocking footage of finding the scene where the girl was murdered and the scenes in the morgue were necessary to show a world where some human lives are treated as lesser than animals. True Confessions also doesn't glamorize prostitution and pornography, if anything it showed that young women caught in these 'jobs' are viewed as meat. There was also a grisly mention of abortion, when one of the key characters, a lady of the night mentions that she has to skip town, because she did 'a scrape' on a girl and that the girl hemorrhaged. A very macabre storyline, but an authentic one, and it shows that the vile practice of abortion can also maim the mother.




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