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Popular French actor converts from from Judaism to Catholicism

Gad Elmaleh

France Inter | Youtube

Cerith Gardiner - published on 11/12/22

Gad Elmaleh's curiosity about the Catholic faith started as a child, and the Virgin Mary had a big role in his decision.

The 51-year-old French actor and stand-up comedian Gad Elmaleh has recently shared some interesting stories about his conversion to the Catholic faith.

Elmaleh, who was born in Morocco, has a large fan base, and is particularly appreciated in the Jewish community in France. He is also known for his relationship with Grace Kelly’s granddaughter, Charlotte Casiraghi, with whom he shares a son called Rafael.

According to El Mondo, the comedian will adopt the name Jean-Marie when he is baptized, honoring the Mother of Christ. who was instrumental in drawing him into the faith. In fact he shared with a leading French newspaper, Le Figaro, that “the Virgin Mary is my most beautiful love.”

He went on to share how childhood curiosity led him into a church, which he wasn’t allowed to enter in those days. He explains how seeing a statue of the Virgin Mary had a great effect on him:

“It wasn’t a vision, just a simple statue, but I was petrified. I began to cry and hid for fear of being discovered by my family, for fear of curses and superstition. I kept it a secret for my entire childhood.”

The actor recounts his conversion in a new film called Reste un peu, or “Stay a while.” As he shared in an interview on L’Invité, on France Inter, his parents, who are practicing Sephardi Jews, are featured in the movie. While they are not happy with his decision to convert to Catholicism, they support him.

Mary is the “star of the film”

Elmaleh studied theology and has also participated in a musical about St. Bernadette Soubirous, the young saint who claimed that the Blessed Virgin instructed her to have a shrine built in her honor at Lourdes.

But in the movie, that will be released in November 16, the actor describes Mary as the “star of the film,” and his “guide and inspiration.”

As Catholic News Agency points out, Elmaleh talks of his conversion, saying: “It’s true that it’s a spiritual, religious coming out. There’s a lot of mixture of fiction and reality, [but] it’s true that I question myself at the age of 50.”

“It’s a search in which I ask myself where, who, when, there’s a God, there is no God,” adding, “the Virgin Mary calls me and protects me.”

In the video of the interview below, Elmaleh talks of his path and the place of Judaism, Islam. and Catholicism in his life. And with his usual touch of humor, he shared how one interviewer told him that “between his mother and the Virgin Mary, there’s not a lot of room for another woman in his life.”

And in the few extracts of the film, it is clear that his parents are berating him for his decision, but they have a deep love for their son, possibly as deep as Elmaleh’s love for the Virgin Mary. As the father of two shared, the movie is fundamentally a love story.

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