In the summer of 2021, the Shia LaBeouf was secured for the title role of an upcoming biopic on St. Pio of Pietrelcina, affectionately known to Catholics as Padre Pio.
Soon after, the In August, Transformers star spent some time with a group of Franciscans from Northern California, to research and get into the role. he made a brief video to express how moved he was by the brothers’ faith.
Now, the Capuchin Franciscans of the Western American Province of Our Lady of Angels are sharing a pilgrimage they took with LaBeouf. Photos of the trip were
shared by Father Hai Ho through his Instagram page. The shots show a cheerful crew with LaBeouf dressed in the brown robes of the Order of Friars Minor.
According to Fr. Hai Ho’s post, the pilgrimage took the group to the Italian town of San Giovanni Rotondo, where Padre Pio lived and served from 1916 until his death in 1968.
The town is a popular destination to those devoted to the storied saint, with the Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church established in 2004. There is also the renowned hospital and medical-research center Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Home for the Relief of the Suffering), founded by Padre Pio himself.
Fr. Hai Ho’s post read:
“Shia and Br. Alex report that there have been ‘many unexpected blessings’ throughout their time filming in #Italy. Br. Alex even has a part in the #movie!”
The pilgrimage did not stop at San Giovanni Rotondo.
The group made their way to Assisi and Loreto before ending in Rome. There, Shia was introduced to the Minister General of the Capuchin Order.
The photos are a mix of shots of Shia with the monks and glimpses of the places they’ve been. Shia can be seen posing in front of a Padre Pio statue and hanging out amidst the brilliant Italian landscape.
The slideshow also includes a close up of St. Pio Pietrelcina’s partially incorrupt remains, housed at the Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church.
The production team is keeping the project close to the vest, but we know that the filming has begun. It is also possible that the pilgrimage had some work elements to it as well.
In one image from Fr. Hai Ho, director Abel Ferrara can be seen in a group shot, pulling Shia into the frame. It’s not clear where they are, but they’re standing in front of some beautiful icons.
Fr. Hai Ho commented on Instagram:
“We continue to [pray] for them, for those involved in the movie, and for continual graces to flow through the intercession of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. Padre Pio, pray for us!”
As the upcoming biopic is still in the filming phase of production, little is known about what events of Padre Pio’s life it will cover.
The only actors who have been named to the project are Shia LaBeouf, Willem DaFoe, and (as of the Instagram post) Brother Alex. Director Abel Ferrara has noted that he wants all filming to be completed on location in Puglia, Italy, to keep it as authentic to Padre Pio’s life as possible. Ferrara has previously made a short film about Padre Pio.