A review of Tyburn Convent ‘Gloria Deo’ – a cinematic expression of joy

How to sum up the film I saw yesterday, Tyburn Convent ‘Gloria Deo’ ? The best way I can think of is to say it brings the romance of orthodoxy to the screen.

Beautifully shot and directed by one time fashion photographer Michael Luke Davies, it begins in London at the Motherhouse of the Order within yards of the site where 105 martyrs died for their faith between 1535 and 1681. From there, we are taken across the world, from Scotland to Columbia, from Rome to Ecuador, from New Zealand to Peru, to witness the life and spirit of sisters who make the love of God a present reality all across the world.

Whether we are watching the rebuilding of a Peruvian community after a flood, or looking at the life of Novices in Scotland, two things are ever present in this documentary; the importance of continuous Eucharistic Adoration and the rhythm the Rule of Saint Benedict gives to a community.

Speaking to the director, it’s clear that he took a lot upon himself but immensely enjoyed the experience:

“I went in on my own without a crew just to try and show their lives. There was a lot of travelling during the five months of shooting but the sisters took it all in their stride, much better than me!”

Thanks to his sacrifice, you have a sense of unobtrusively observing the lives of people who because they love God, are therefore able to love those around them, and this is thanks to a disciplined life of prayer, reading the Scriptures and work.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in films that give the viewer a window on monastic life. In 2005, Into Great Silence brought the daily life of the Carthusian Order to the big screen, then last year, the Carmelites were the subject of the documentary No Greater Love and Of Gods and Men, the story of Trappist monks in the Atlas Mountains, won the Grand Prize at Cannes.

It is clear that moviegoers and critics alike are attracted to this romance of orthodoxy. The most moving scenes for me were the ones where you see girls taking the veil and saying their vows, they are then given a ring as a sign that they are wedded to Christ. These emotional scenes are perfectly balanced by witnessing the daily domestic life of the Order.

It ends with an invitation to visit the sisters and at that moment, I felt like the only person in the room. On coming away from this gorgeously filmed story, I was comforted by the fact that perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament goes on both in the heart of London and atop mountains in Ecuador. That adoration is clearly the source of joy for the sisters, a joy that shines out from the screen.

Tyburn Convent ‘Gloria Deo’ is available from CTS priced £15.

Of related interest:

St Benedict –This booklet tells the story of St Benedict’s life, his novel monasteries and his many famous followers down the centuries. Most of all, the untold influence of his celebrated ‘Rule’ on sixth century – and twenty-first century – European life and culture is explored, particularly in the light of current concerns over a pervading de-Christianisation of Europe, its institutions, and its soul.
Forty Martyrs of England & Wales – The immortal stories of forty men and women who, to the last, joyfully died for their faith. Margaret Clithero, Edmund Campion, John Southworth, to mention a few, rank among this group of courageous people whose lives were inextricably caught up in the religious persecution in England and Wales during the 1500s and 1600s.
Heart Speaks Unto Heart – Celebrating Pope Benedict XVI’s historic first State Visit to the UK, this DVD tells the story of the extraordinary four days in September 2010, offering not just event highlights, but all of the Holy Father’s profound words from his 13 public speeches. Archbishop Vincent Nichols provides a narrative to introduce the different sections of the DVD.

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