“In 1940s Hollywood, an Irishman burst onto the scene with a crusading vision to save America”
Martin Sheen narrates this fascinating documentary on Fr Patrick Peyton, the Irish-American priest who brought Hollywood celebrities and millions across the globe to their knees in praying the Rosary.
FR PATRICK PEYTON was an Irish priest who became an unlikely Hollywood mogul, recruiting celebrities to a global prayer campaign that reached millions. Controversially, Fr Peyton’s efforts came to the attention of the CIA which secretly funded his Rosary Crusade as a weapon of mass devotion to fight ‘Godless communism’ during the Cold War.
GUNS & ROSARIES Originally from County Mayo, Patrick Peyton contracted TB while studying for the priesthood in America in the late 1930s.
On his sickbed, he prayed the Rosary and made a full recovery, and then promised to dedicate the rest of his life to promoting family prayer.
From the mid-1940s and with his famous slogan ‘the family that prays together stays together,’ Fr Peyton built a media empire in radio, TV and movies. He created a roadshow and turned it into an international campaign for family prayer that attracted millions on every continent.
This international Rosary Crusade came to Ireland in 1954 – 21 Rosary Rallies were held across Ireland attended by 400,000 people.
“HE USED A CULTURE OF CELEBRITY TO SUPPORT HIS OWN MESSAGE IN WAYS THAT WERE INNOVATIVE AND HARD TO IMAGINE TODAY.”
Diane Winston, Professor of Media and Religion, USC
“EVERYBODY KNEW WHO HE WAS… AND WHAT HE WAS SELLING.”
“VIEWING HIM WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE COLD WAR AND WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE CIA, PERHAPS THERE ARE TOUGH MORAL AND ETHICAL QUESTIONS THAT COULD BE ASKED.”
Hugh Wilford, California State University Long Beach
“The family that prays together stays together”
At the dawn of the 1960s, the Rosary Crusade and American Foreign policy fell into sync; Fr Peyton’s efforts came to the attention of the CIA which secretly funded the Rosary Crusade as a weapon of mass devotion to fight ‘Godless communism’ in Latin America during the Cold War
– a partnership that ended only with the intervention of Pope Paul VI. However a changing society and a changing church through the 1960s
did not suit a conservative priest and his traditional devotions. And yet he continued his family Rosary Crusade and media work. In 1985, two
million attended the Rosary Rally in Manila in the Philippines – a last great hurrah in his final years. Fr Patrick Peyton died in 1992 aged 83.
An hour long TV documentary produced by Esras Films for RTÉ with the assistance of the Sound & Vision fund of the BAI © 2019