Thursday, August 12, 2010

Who was Dolores Hart?

Was Elvis Catholic? No, but then again why did he sing a song called "the Miracle of the Rosary" in 1971?

This is not your typical pop song. It contains the full text of the Holy Rosary. Here are the lyrics of the song.
Oh blessed Mother we pray to Thee
Thanks for the miracle of your rosary
Only you can hold back
Your holy Son's hand
Long enough for the whole world to understand

Hail, Mary full of grace
The Lord is with thee
Blessed are thou among women
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus
Oh holy Mary dear mother of God
Please pray for us sinners
Now and at the hour of our death

And give thanks once again
For the miracle of your rosary
Maybe this was sung in tribute to an old friend, Dolores Hart. Her story stands out as someone who at the peak of her stardom in Hollywood, decided to turn away and leave it all behind.

Who was Dolores Hart? She was born Dolores Hicks. She was the young starlet that gave Elvis his first onscreen kiss in the movie "Loving You (1957)"; she was one of the stars of the classic spring break flick "Where the Boys Are (1960)".

She later starred in the role of St. Clare in the movie "Francis of Assisi (1961)". During the filming she met Pope John XXIII. She greeted the Pontiff with the words, "I am Dolores Hart, the actress playing Clara." He responded, "No, you are Clara! ("Tu sei Chiara" — in Italian)."

In this scene from the movie, she accepts her vows as a nun - and her beautiful long blonde hair is sheared off.

Two years later in 1963 - to the bewilderment of Hollywood - she would become a nun in real life. She was just 24 years old. Dolores Hart ceased to exist. She is now Mother Dolores having become the  Prioress of the Abbey in 2001.

For the rest of the story watch this very rare 2002 interview with Mother Dolores. (You can also read the story here.)

I think her opening statement in the interview pretty much says it all. "Once you have decided to become a public figure, you've made an agreement with your audience. And it's a lifetime agreement. So even if you pull away, there is a part of you that - you can't just say you no longer belong. You do!"

This is the Faustian bargain (deal with the Devil) that stardom required then and now. All the would-be future Britney Spears should stop to consider this - are all the riches and fame truly worth the price that must be paid?


  1. I forgot to mention that yesterday, August 11, was St. Clare's feast day.

    "Clare was a beautiful Italian noblewoman who became the Foundress of an order of nuns now called "Poor Clares." When she heard St. Francis of Assisi preach, her heart burned with a great desire to imitate Francis and to live a poor humble life for Jesus. So one evening, she ran away from home, and in a little chapel outside Assisi, gave herself to God. St. Francis cut off her hair and gave her a rough brown habit to wear, tied with a plain cord around her waist. Her parents tried in every way to make her return home, but Clare would not."

  2. Hi there, nice to see you are back and posting. Thanks for these insightful articles. I had no idea about Dolores Heart, really interesting info. Today is 'Saint Mary's' day in the Greek Orthodox world - its a HUGE holy day and big feasts and celebrations since yesterday, lasting until probably Monday night. It's also what they call my 'name' day - although I don't celebrate it realy as I don't much understand the point of it. However, its a funy coincidence that you shouls post the Elvis link with the St Mary rosary pray at the same time!!

    aka Marie

  3. Hi Marie - Your right! I didn't realize that today, August 15, is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. There is more about the origins of this feast day here.

    Probably one of the saddest realities of Christianity is the split between the Catholic and Orthodox churches. I've been reading about this recently. It seems inevitable that someday in the future the two will be reunified and share a common communion. We have so much that we share in common and there can be no doubt that this is the wish of Jesus.

    In the history of Christianity I think I see God's plan at work. He is constantly testing the Church and putting obstacles in our way. Through all of this ultimately our Faith will grow stronger as we persevere. If the early Church was an infant, then the Protestant reformation was at the adolescent stage of development, and now we are perhaps in the young adult stage where we are constantly tempted by worldly pleasures. (Of course I don't have to mention the priest sex scandals.)

    Once again the Body of Christ here on earth will persevere according to God's plan. One good thing about the present day challenges to religion like gay "marriage" is that it has brought together various Christian denominations through our commonly shared beliefs. Hopefully we can learn to set aside our differences and embrace each other in brotherly love as our Lord commanded: "I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another."

  4. I just found out that today, August 16, is the 33rd anniversary of Elvis' death. In fact the video interview with Mother Dolores that I feature here was recorded in 2002 on the 25th anniversary of Elvis' death.

    Elvis Presley was born in 1935 and died in 1977 at the relatively young age of just 42. If he were still alive he would be 75 years old. While Elvis may have been the "king of rock and roll", let's not forget that the true King of Heaven and earth is Jesus Christ.

    The strange thing is that when I wrote this post, I had no idea that this time in August had so much significance to the subject matter. First St. Clare's saint day, then the Feast of the Assumption, and now the anniversary of Elvis' death. Perhaps the spirit of Elvis is asking us to pray for him as it says in the "Miracle of the Rosary"... "Please pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death." (These words of course are directly from the Rosary prayer.)

    In our culture, entertainment "stars" like Elvis are venerated like saints. Elvis was no more a saint than most of the rest of us, but we don't need to be saints to go to Heaven. We only need to ask Christ for forgiveness and humble ourselves before him. Yet many people today would prefer eternal punishment rather than bowing before God. Our faith in Man and Science is so great that it has caused us to abandon our Faith in God the Creator. We refuse to acknowledge that Man is a lowly creature when compared to Almighty God. Our ego's have become so inflated that we have forgotten (or even deny) the opening words of the Apostles' Creed:

    "I believe in God,
    the Father Almighty,
    creator of Heaven and earth."

  5. In another strange coincidence Mother Dolores is scheduled to be a guest on "The World Over" news program on EWTN on Friday, August 20, at 8PM.

  6. I watched this interview last night. Although I don't generally like Raymond Arroyo and his "news" show, I must admit he did a pretty good job interviewing Mother Dolores. She was radiant as always.

    My problem with "The World Over" news program is that it presents a VERY conservative view of Catholicism. I see this as an attempt to politicize the Catholic Church which is very disturbing. For example, Arroyo loses no opportunity to take a crack at Obama. I might as well be watching Fox "News". In this case he tried to stir up the so-called "ground zero mosque controversy". This has to be one of the biggest non-news stories to ever hit the front page. Anything to stir up anti-Muslim emotions.

    What people like Arroyo don't seem to realize is that the anti-religious groups are just as happy taking a poke at Muslims as taking a poke at Catholics. And one of the reasons is that Muslims share many values with Catholics such as being anti-abortion and against gay marriage. So by creating anti-Muslim sentiments, the anti-religious groups are keeping a coalition between Catholics, Protestants and Muslims from ever happening. Divide and conquer.

    Anyway, I can't get over the coincidence that Mother Dolores appeared on this program just about a week after I had written my article. The interview pretty much covered exactly the same territory that I did in my piece. They even showed the exact same clip from the St. Francis movie. I was hoping he would ask her if that was her real hair that was cut off, but he never did. Mother Dolores showed tremendous grace in answering the same questions she gets repeatedly asked in every interview. I don't think anyone could blame her if she declared that Elvis was off bounds for an interview, but she never does.

    A viewer actually called in and asked about the Rosary song by Elvis. She confirmed that Elvis had no Catholic tendencies, having grown up in the Bible Belt South. She did mention that Elvis used to read the Bible, although I'm not sure if the Gideon's Bible found in hotel rooms really qualifies. Eventually the interview should find its way onto the EWTN YouTube site, but so far it hasn't been posted.

  7. EWTN has posted the interview with Mother Dolores on the "World Over" news show - otherwise known as the "Raymond Arroyo show". You can watch it here (starts around the 29 minute mark):

    Sorry, but I can't get over how much Arroyo reminds me of Pee Wee Herman. It also grates me how he tries to turn EWTN (a Catholic TV station) into a right wing talk show.

    A case in point is the interview with Bill Donohue which takes up the first half of this show. (Do yourself a favor and skip it.) Donohue is the Catholic version of Abe Foxman. He's the self-appointed defender of Catholicism. While it's nice to have someone speaking out against anti-Catholicism, I'd prefer someone who was a little less bigoted. While he does a fine job of speaking out on conservative issues like abortion, he doesn't seem to have much to say about the Catholic Church's social doctrine such as opposing war and helping the poor and disadvantaged.

    I just don't think we can adopt the tactics of the anti-Christians and be effective. And as Christians we need to keep from getting dragged into the power struggles between the different political parties. They are more than happy to give lip service to a particular issue, just to gain some Christian votes. Usually the politicians will latch on to the more polarizing issues that are of concern to Christians. Just look at the so-called "ground zero mosque" debate. This is clearly aimed at inflaming the passions of the more reactionary Christians.

    I have to admit though that Donohue actually made a good point in observing how the humanists (atheists) are all jumping on board to defend the mosque because of "freedom of religion". Where is that support on the abortion issue or gay "marriage" issue? Why don't they defend the right of Catholic Hospitals to refuse to do abortions on religious grounds? Or how about supporting the right of Catholic adoption agencies to refuse to place children with gay couples because of religious beliefs?

    So when the humanists (atheists) step up to defend a mosque, you can bet it's not because of religious "tolerance". They've never shown any religious tolerance before. No, it's just another opportunity to poke a finger in the eye of the Christian Right. And of course the Christian Right makes it so easy in this instance - who could resist.

    And for the record, I have absolutely nothing against this Muslim cultural center in Manhattan. (Notice I didn't call it "the ground zero mosque".)

  8. UPDATE: I changed the embedded video for the "Miracle of the Rosary" song by Elvis Presley because the old YouTube video was no longer available.