The Reluctant Saint

Synopsis: Joseph of Cupertino, a simple young man thought by many in his village to be an idiot, is pressured to enter a monastery. He does so, and surprises everyone by passing the entrance exam to study for the priesthood. But this is only the first of many surprises from the man who would become Saint Joseph Cupertino.
105 min

Leave the stuff alone.

lt's hot!


Throw it back to me, will you?


Why do you let them

do this to you?

l know it's nothing.

With you it's always nothing.

Everything is a joke with you.

School's a joke, life's a joke.

Giuseppe, you're 20 years old.

You're a man!

That's a serious matter.

ln the name of God,

what's going to happen to you?

Giuseppe, you're a cross

l can't bear anymore.

l want to talk to your father.


l know he's working.

Well, let's go

to his place of business.


Come on, get out.

Get out!


Take me now.

Strike me dead.

Two men in the house

and l have to do everything!

My fault.

l should have fixed the door,

but l had more

important things to do.

You show her this.

She'll be better.

l have to see a man about a job.


Milk the goat.

And then you can unload Nino.

And after that you can clean

up the mess in the house.

What's that?

- Diploma.

- Diploma?

Graduating in April.


The dunce of the class.

Whose idea was this?

Ah, l see.

Where is he?

l have a special diploma for him.

l graduate him right through the roof!

Giuseppe, Giuseppe...

You think l kept you in school

all these years

for this piece of paper?

You think it didn't break my heart

to see you a grown man

among school boys?

But at least l knew where you were.

A place to go everyday

where the sisters would look after you.


What will l do with you?

What will you do with yourself?

l can work, as a carpenter,

like Papa.


He hasn't driven a nail

in three months!

lf you could be a carpenter

or a shoemaker or a blacksmith,

l'd be the happiest

mother in the world.

But you can't, Giuseppe.

You can't!

You understand?

There you are, my friend...

Like Nino you'll tug and strain

until the end of your days.

Expect the worse,

then you won't be disappointed.

Now go. Unload Nino.




No more school.

We are going to work.

Giuseppe, 50 pennies a day,

and you are singing?


Fifty pennies a day,

and you are singing?




You've had too much sun

on your head!

The Baron!


Stupid imbecile.

Look what you've done!

My vines.

l'll kill you!


The bailiff has come at last.

He's taking the house

to clear my debts.

Baron Marco.

The Baron?

Here at our house?

You're crazy.


l ruined his vineyards.



Are you there, my son?

l just remembered something.

l have to see

a man about a job.


Giuseppe, we've been waiting for you.

What have you done?

Oh, not again. Not now.

ls Baron Marco here?

Baron Marco...

He never had such a character.

Come inside.

You don't recognize me, do you?

How could you?

The last time l saw you

l held you in my arms

and baptized you.

Uncle Giovanni.

Father Guardian Giovanni.

He's just been

appointed Father Guardian

of the monastery at Martina.

This is Father Raspi...

My nephew, Giuseppe.

He hurt himself

in the service of God.

Sit down, sit down.

The wine, pour it.

Cut some more cheese.

Cut some more cheese!

Come on.

Eat, drink.

This is your house.

That's enough, thank you.

Oh, please, please, Father Raspi.

He is so nervous.

Can you blame him?

Never have we had such

distinguished guests

under this humble roof.

My own brother -

a Prince of the church.

Thank you, Almighty God,

for answering

a poor woman's prayers.

Francesca, please.

l am only a Doctor of the Order.

We have just come from Rome

where even Bishops

are as common as cats.

Don't be so modest.

You are just like Giuseppe.

Hard-working, reliable, intelligent.

Ask Sister Nunziata.

She will tell you.

My son was the

brightest student in the liceo,

graduating three months

ahead of the others.

Would you like to see his diploma?

No, Francesca, l believe you.

l am not sure that this young man

would fit into monastic life.

How can you say that?

Talk to him.

Give him a chance.

Perhaps my sister is right.

This is a serious matter.

We must not be too hasty.



Giuseppe, come here!


Come here.

Sit down, my son.

Sit down.

Have you ever

considered Holy Orders?


We had something else

in mind, Francesca.

Something like a lay brother.

We can always use

a good carpenter,

a mason, gardeners, laborers.

Whatever we must do

in the service of Christ.

l'm sure that there is

a place for you at Martina.


Let the young man

decide for himself.


What do you want?

To be under my feet all day?

Stuffing your belly,

never bringing a cent into the house?

ls that what you want?

Losing one job after another

like your worthless father?

No wonder they

make fun of you,

because you are

a brainless idiot!

These Holy men of God

offer you the chance of a lifetime

and you don't want it.

Why? Why in God's name?

Mama, you know l can't do

any of those things.

l'm not a carpenter, l'm not a mason--

But at least try.

l've tried a hundred times.

l can't do it. l know it.

Senora, perhaps Giuseppe

knows his limitations.

Monastic life is hard, very hard.

The discipline is severe.

But Father--

There you are, Francesca.

lt was Giuseppe's decision to make

and he has made it.



Giuseppe, my son.

What is it, Mama?

These attacks...

l didn't want to

worry you with them,

but l'm not long

for this world, my son.

Giuseppe, what's to become

of you after l'm gone?

Who's to take care of you?

Mama, don't worry. l'll find a way.

- Promise me, son.

- Anything.

Go to the monastery

with your Uncle

and live the life of a Holy Man.

What more can a mother

ask of her boy -

to know that God

watches over him,

protecting him from

the wickedness of the world.

Promise, Giuseppe.

l promise, anything.

Anything, Mother.

Francesca, perhaps you

had better rest a while.


We are going to eat,

drink, celebrate.

This is the happiest day of my life.

Come on.

Your sister is

a remarkable woman, Father.

lf she were a man

she would be a Bishop.

She'd be the Pope.

Pride goeth before the fall.

You're not going to a ball;

you're going begging.

Father Raspi is waiting,

Your Eminence.

Where is he?

Up by the gate.

Charity and love

are capital virtues, Brother Giuseppe...

But my favorite virtue

is promptness.

Well, my brothers,

the time has come.

As l told you, today you will

begin a new spiritual experience.

You will go down

into the villages and beg.

l see there are still some doubts.

Coming from good families,

which some of you do,

it's only natural.

ls it lawful to beg?

ls it moral?

ls it good for the soul?

Well, the great St. Francis

has given us the answers.

And he tells us that it

is indeed lawful

and moral and good to solicit

alms for the monastery...

for humility's sake...

and as an antidote

against the poison of vanity.

The poison of vanity...

Fill the baskets, my brothers,

and God be with you.

One more thing...

Remember we have our own garden.

No vegetables, please.

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John Fante

John Fante (April 8, 1909 – May 8, 1983) was an Italian-American novelist, short story writer and screenwriter. He is best known for his semi-autobiographical novel Ask the Dust (1939) about the life of a struggling writer, Arturo Bandini, in Depression-era Los Angeles. It is widely considered the great Los Angeles novel and is one in a series of four novels, published between 1938 and 1985, that are now collectively called "The Bandini Quartet". Ask the Dust was adapted into a film made in 2006, starring Colin Farrell. In his lifetime, Fante published five novels, one novella, and a short story collection. Additional works, including two novels, two novellas, and two short story collections, were published posthumously. His screenwriting credits include, most notably, Full of Life (1956), based on his 1952 novel by that name, Jeanne Eagels (1957), and the 1962 films Walk on the Wild Side and The Reluctant Saint. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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