The Passion

There have been many Christian movies on the screen throughout the years. In days of old, perhaps, the most noteworthy of them was The Ten Commandments.

Before opening credits at the theaters, Director Cecil B. DeMille gave a speech, introducing the film:

Ladies and gentlemen, young and old, this may seem an unusual procedure, speaking to you before the film begins, but we have an unusual subject, the story of the birth of freedom, the story of Moses. As many of you know, the Holy Bible omits some 30 years of the life of Moses’ life, from when he was a three-month-old baby and was found in the bulrushes by Bithiah,the daughter of Pharaoh and adopted into the court of Egypt, until he learned that he was Hebrew and killed the Egyptian. To fill in those missing years, we turn to ancient historians, Philo and Josephus. Philo wrote at the time Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth and Josephus wrote some 50 years later and watched the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. These historians had access to documents long since burnt, destroyed – or perhaps lost like the Dead Sea Scrolls. The theme of this picture is whether a man ought to be ruled by God’s law, or whether by the whims of a dictator like Rameses. Are men the property of the state or are they free souls under God? This same battle continues throughout the world today. Our intention was not to create a story but to be worthy of the divinely inspired story, created 3,000 years ago. (Mayol,

As you read the words of Mr. DeMille you can sense the deep respect that he has for this “divinely inspired story” found in the “Holy Bible,” his words. Moreover, he states the care that he took to use reputable ancient historians to fill in the Biblical gaps for the missing 30 years of Moses’ life. While in all honesty I still hesitate watching anything in which the Word of God is added onto – and dialogue is an addition – I think this is a movie a Christian could safely watch.

However, in recent years there have been “Christian “ movies that are definitely not safe for the simple, but most important, reason that they are not truly based on the Bible. The following research may shock you, but it is totally factual…and so infinitely sad.


My husband, John,  and I walked up to the top tiers of the movie theatre where there was a bit of light. We found a place away from everyone else. I needed to concentrate and pray for composure and wisdom. I had spent over three months reading the Marian visions of a Catholic saint/mystic named Anne Catherine Emmerich and much more time reading the gospels, the chapters in Isaiah and Psalms  covering all the verses surrounding the last week in Jesus’ life. I had a notebook in my hand and I knew my responsibility was to record everything I viewed on the screen in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and compare it with the Truth of the Bible. I thought I was prepared for what was to come…but I was wrong. My heart and spirit ached throughout it all.

I was a devout Catholic for 35 years before the Lord brought me into His kingdom of love and forgiveness. I went to Catholic school; fasted 40 days during Lent; prayed my rosary devoutly. I was in love with Mary and wore her Miraculous Medal around my neck and her scapular medal next to my heart.  My middle name is Mary after her. All this was done with the understanding that it was holy and acceptable to  God. It was all I knew and I did it with all my heart.

I had never read the Bible and fell in love with it as soon as I was born-again. Each day I would read at least 5 chapters a day and, additionally, I attended  two Bible studies a week. For 35 years I had been so empty; I was so hungry; He so gloriously filled me. Then one day after three years in His service He led me to take a course from the Catholic Church itself to study their doctrine. The dilemma I had! On the one hand I now knew the truth that the Bible taught. On the old hand I had from the Catholic Church itself what they believed. Yet they were diametrically opposed to each other! I had to find out if this was really Truth and error I was looking at – was it really this extreme? I will leave that question for a future research paper where I will cover the answer in depth. Insofar as this report on The Passion is concerned I will simply say that with as much zeal as I devoted to finding out the differences between Catholicism and Christianity so too have I devoted to discovering if Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion, is based on the Bible.

If any read this report who are Catholic, please know that I am aware that what you will discover about the Catholic Church and Mary might fill you with dismay. I remember how heart-breaking it was for me to have believed so many principles from my youth on for 35 years – and to have believed them so profoundly – only to have one day discovered they were false. A large part of my world was gone. Mary had been such a real and dynamic force in my life and now I had to give her up. Yet, to be true to Jesus, that is exactly what I did. For those of you who are not Catholic, that may sound like a very emotional response to a born-again experience. Yet, it does happen because even a false relationship can have a great hold on you.


While Anne Catherine Emmerich (A.C.E.) is not a name you are probably familiar with, it is a name that figured prominently in Mel Gibson’s screenplay as he himself admits. Mel gave her credit for her part in his screenplay in the following interview with Ray Arroyo:

All of [the screenplay] didn’t spring from his [Mel’s] imagination  overnight. He combined his lifetime of experience in Catholicism with his last dozen years of studying the Passion, and packaged it in his film craft. Mel gave some of the background to Ray Arroyo of  EWTN:

ARROYO: I want to talk for a second about the violence….Why did you decide,“I want it to be this brutal?”

GIBSON: I don’t think it’s as brutal as it really was…I stopped way short of what I think probably really happened. However, it is brutal. It is graphic….I don’t know—it should be shocking….(emphasis in original)

ARROYO: You didn’t just throw—slap this together. You spent a lot of time studying flagellations, crucifixions…tell me a little about that study.

GIBSON: Oh, gosh, I mean there’s a lot of books you can read on the subject, not the least of which was Anne Emmerich’s [The Dolorous Passion], in which she talked of these things. (McMahon,

Who was this Catholic nun who so attracted Mel’s attention?

[She] was a German nun allegedly gifted with amazing abilities: ecstatic levitation, visitations to different places in the spirit (including purgatory), guidance by angels, the psychic discovery of Mary’s house in Ephesus, and reception of apparitions of John the Baptist and the mother of Jesus. In addition, it was said that she lived solely on the Eucharist wafer and water for the last dozen years of her life. She manifested the stigmata (the wounds of Jesus) in her hands, feet and side and also exhibited puncture wounds reminiscent of a “crown of thorns.” Though we can only speculate as to the veracity of such claims, we can apply the prophet Isaiah’s test to her writings: To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because There is no light in them (Isaiah 8:20).Her Book, The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus (covered by a Nihil Obstat and an Imprimatur – ed.full approval of Catholic Church), is what got Mel’s attention. The book claims that Jesus took her in the spirit to record historical events, including His Passion. (McMahon, Showtime for the Sheep, pp.63-64).

The question must be asked: what does the book, “The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ” by Anne Catherine Emmerich purport itself to be? The back cover of this book gives us a glimpse:


Michelangelo Study for the Colonna Pieta
Michelangelo: Study for the  Colonna Pieta (1538) [Public domain image]
The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ Anne Catherine Emmerich [1862]








“The DOLOROUS PASSION has been inspiring thousands since it first appeared in 1833 – being based on the detailed visions of Our Lord’s Passion and Death as seen by Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774 – 1824), a German Augustinian nun, and recorded by Clemens Brentano, a prominent literary figure of the day. A saintly person from her youth and a great mystic, Sister Emmerich was privileged by God during almost a lifetime of ecstatic visions to see all of the events of Our Lord’s suffering and death, which visions we can now understand in hindsight were a great gift from God to the world. Her account of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, while faithful to the bible, is heart-rending, edifying and surprising – and filled with intimate detail. THE DOLOROUS PASSION recounts with incredible precision the horrendous sufferings undergone by our Savior in His superhumanly heroic act of Redemption. Also illuminating is its description of Mary’s participation in the sufferings of her Son, so that this book gives the reader a poignant understanding of why Our Lady is often called our “Co-Redemptrix” and “Queen of Martyrs.” THE DOLOROUS PASSION is a singular book that conveys a lasting impression of the terrible Agony of Our Lord, of His infinite love for us that motivated His Agony, and how His Passion and Death were brought on by each person’s sins. Here is a book that gives one a holy feeling just to read it. Here is a book that will melt a heart of stone!”

The purpose of this report is to show that these visions are not, on the contrary, faithful to the Bible. It is also to show the extent that these visions, not the Bible, were used as the foundation for the movie. In addition, this report also challenges the non-Biblical notions of Mary as portrayed in the visions/book and then inflated onto the movie script/screen. I am also using this report as discernment preparation not only for the March 23rd unveiling of the “Paul, Disciple of Christ” movie but also in preparation for the up-coming “The Passion, sequel” which is to debut in two years. All three of these movies will have, more or less, the same people connected with its production.

This is an account of the events leading up to the Crucifixion of Christ by a 19th century German stigmatic and visionary, Anne Catherine Emmerich. This once-obscure book recently achieved a much higher profile because it was used as an inspiration for the screenplay of Mel Gibson’s controversial movie, The Passion of the Christ. A riveting ‘you are there’ account of this pivotal event, the story is told with great attention to small details, many not mentioned in the Gospels. This is not a novelization; it is a recounting of Emmerich’s ecstatic visions, which were accompanied by painful and mysterious physical torments. (“Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ,

Notice the accompanying picture on the website of this book advertisement. It is of Michelangelo’s Pieta. Having lived in New York City when this exquisite masterpiece was on display at the World’s Fair, I can attest to the fact that it is an artistic masterpiece. I can also attest that, when seen, it is obvious that the dominant figure is not Jesus, but Mary. This idea is consistent with the Catholic teaching that Mary is the Co-Redeemer along with Jesus).

Mel Gibson told Peter Boyer of The New Yorker that Emmerich’s book had some “amazing images. She supplied me with stuff  I never would have thought of.”  The scene of a chained “Jesus” being thrown off the bridge was one “amazing image” from Emmerich.

When they were half over the bridge they gave full vent to their brutal inclinations, and struck Jesus with such violence that they threw Him off the bridge into the water. (Emmerich, p.136)

In an article I wrote, Dolorous Passion” Excerpts. In Line With The Passion Movie But Not The Bible” I provide a significant list of discrepancies between what the Bible states as the Truth that occurred during Passion Week and what Mel Gibson depicted on the movie screen, a great deal of which he credited to the visions of Ms. Emmerich. While Mr. Gibson states that the basis of his movie script was the Bible and “accepted authorities,” it must be acknowledged that the “accepted authorities” he refers to are the Anne Catherine Emmerich visions. Compare that to ancient historians Philo and Josephus, who are the recognized accepted authorities used by Mr. DeMille.

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I would like to thank my fellow consultants for all their assistance in getting this blog published:  Hannah Hall, Michelle Arrington, Ariel Mcgarry, Carol White, J.P.Wilhelm, and Tracy Yoder. Their encouragement and patience have been invaluable to me.

Works Cited

Emmerich, Anne Catherine, The Dolorous Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 1983 p. 136.
Mayol, Philip Andrew. “Trivia Facts about the 1956 The Ten Commandments Movie.” Cebu Finest, Cebu Finest, 13 Apr. 2017,
McMahon, T.A. “Showtime for the Sheep?”, The Berean Call , 1 May  2004,
“The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ,

Featured Image:

Matthew 27:46 taken from