During this past autumn, October 2020, I experienced online a televised Easter special that had been produced in 1981 by Father Patrick Peyton. This production by Family Theater featured Princess Grace Kelly, among other celebrants of Easter.
The goal of uniting, and re-uniting, families through prayer and through the Family Rosary was the guiding inspiration of this, and other, televised programs created by Family Theater Productions. Those shows were a logical and very necessary outgrowth of the radio shows by this production company that broadcast uplifting stories, voiced by Hollywood stars of the Golden Era. Those heartfelt messages have since been remastered for a more modern audience by Family Theater Productions.
Father Peyton was born in January 1909 in Attymass, County Mayo; he died in June 1992. Between those two dates of earthly significance, this servant of God found his most profound mission: to preach the duty of prayer, specifically of the Rosary, most crucially during the era of the Cold War. In many ways, Father Peyton was to devout, and lapsed, Catholics, what the Reverend Billy Graham was to faithful, errant, and unbaptized Protestants. With the assault of Communism upon basic human rights, including the right to believe in God, the Holy See saw that Father Peyton had a very vital job to do. He thus fulfilled that mission, worldwide, through enormous rallies for the Rosary. His thick Irish accent only added to the appeal of a man who was a true believer in beliefs worth believing in.
Father Peyton was a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross. That congregation of missionary priests and brothers was founded in 1837 in Le Mans, France by Blessed Basil Moreau. Their motto is “Ave crux spes unica, Hail to the Cross, our only hope.” Such a motto is morally imperative, now more than ever.
This ardent priest, the Rosary Priest, became, in 2017, the Venerable Father Peyton. His fundamental message was: “The family that prays together stays together.” Father Peyton also stated, with abundant accuracy, “A world at peace is a world at prayer.” I would like to add a third statement, a correct corollary: “A nation at peace is a nation at prayer.”
When I first saw and heard Princess Grace in this religious presentation, filmed in 1981, I was struck by several dynamic aspects. Firstly, she was introduced by John Huston, director, actor, hell-raiser, and heaven-seeker. Mr. Huston also boldly narrated this nearly 30-minute televised program entitled The Greatest Mystery. Secondly, I was moved by the intensity of the sincerity, and by the effortless assurance of this princess, who was born an American. Thirdly, I recognized how very long long ago was the time when Hollywood was prayerful. The era when America was prayerful may not be too far into the past. The warped perception of a godless nation has been fiendishly fomented by a corrupted philistine media, by greedy craven elites, and by all of the hypocrites attached to those two doomed dregs of American society.
Lastly, I was extremely taken by the magnificence of this spoken performance by Grace Kelly — because it was not an accomplished acting job. Grace was triumphantly giving voice to the promptings of her heart, the commands of her soul, and the credo that she had devoutly held since her childhood. The voice of the motion picture star had become enriched, through pathos, with a sense of her own ascendency over her self. Her diction had deepened not merely in timbre, but in sensibility, in discernment, in the soulful awareness of her own life.
The stage and screen elocution of Grace Kelly was a rigorously learned achievement, a critical factor that went into the creation of her persona. She’d worked hard to erase any trace of the “Philly accent” and to properly place a highly pitched, nasally intonation that would have marred the elegance of her desired image. Her trained voice was not phoney or pretentious or even foreign to her. Rather, it expressed a part of her that had always yearned to express itself. The tone that sounds forth, that sounded forth, during those minutes of this religious celebration was, for me, startlingly compelling.
Those words emerged from an intimate domain of the person who was Grace Kelly. They spoke to me in a way that is difficult to describe, but which persists, perhaps because of its indescribable nature. This essay was inspired, to a certain degree, by my desire to offer some kind of a tribute to a naturally beautiful woman who was, and remains, a majestic but gracious enigma. She thus represented Woman, at her most real, and at her most ideal.
In The Greatest Mystery, girls and boys, women and men, simply, earnestly and eloquently speak the Rosary in their native tongues, some of which I understood, some of which I could only sense the most important element: the purity of a deep devotion to God; to Mary, mother of Jesus; and to Jesus, the resurrection and the life.
Not having been raised in the Catholic faith, I may experience hearing the Rosary in a very unique manner, since the words of that prayer are not routine or even very familiar for me. The passion and the beauty of the “Crown of Roses,” verbalized by each individual professing his belief, are what moved me, more than denoted meanings of the words.
During this filmed affirmation of Easter in 1981, Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco prays the Rosary with Father Patrick Peyton. Her wise, gently yet firmly enunciated and powerfully prophetic statements at the end of this production appear below. Those truths have become only more true with the passage of time, from the moments of their tranquil pronouncements by a princess whose love of America never died.
By Easter of that next year, 1982, Grace Kelly would not have many more days remaining on this earth. During those minutes of telling her truths to the world, Her Serene Highness found a serenity that guided her home.
Easter, the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, transcends the boundaries of man.
It is a cause for joy the world over.
Governments, philosophies, and fashions lose their followers.
A government may decree there is no God,
but the spirit of the people will outlive that decree.
A world without God’s existence would be pathetically mortal
And like anything mortal
doomed to die.
The strongest, the eternal belief is in God.
For only that will enable the human spirit to live forever.
And that is why people the world over celebrate Easter.