In A Hidden Life: Telling the Story of Saints, Mark Cooprider offers an accessible analysis of Terrence Malick‘s 2019 biopic of the Austrian conscientious objector St Franz Jägerstätter—executed in 1943 for his refusal to swear allegiance to National Socialism. Cooprider explores how Malick’s poetic narrative encompasses conventions of history, biography, myth, and legend, in ways akin to ancient Christian hagiography.

Note: Viewers interested in these connections may also seek out the work of academic Joel Mayward, for whom Malick’s distinctive approach to cinema can itself be considered a form of theology (or ‘theocinematics’).

31 July marks the feast day of Saint Ignatius Loyola (b.1491), the founder of the Society of Jesus (more commonly known as the Jesuits). In a breviary, I was interested to read a passage from the Acts of Saint Ignatius taken down by Luis Gonzalez, which describes the reading habits of the young saint:


Reading Butler’s Lives of the Saints, I come across a passage on St Pambo, an Egyptian monk (c.390) thought to be a disciple of St Antony. I was struck by the following passage:

“His life was typical of the desert monks: hard manual labour, long fasts and physical penance, and sustained periods of prayer. Pambo was especially noted for his silence and a reluctance to speak any more than was necessary, seeing in control of the tongue a basic first step towards a deeper spirituality; he is said to have meditated on this verse from the Psalms for six months: ‘I will watch how I behave, and not let my tongue lead me into sin’ (Ps. 39:1). On the other hand, he had a broader outlook than many of his colleagues in the desert and did not believe their way of life was necessarily the best; he settled an argument between to monks as to which was more perfect, becoming a monk or staying in the world and doing works of mercy, by saying: ‘Before God both are perfect. There are other roads to perfection besides being a monk.'” (18 July, Butler’s Lives of the Saints)