The Catholic Defender: The Conversion of Vincent Price
As I was growing up to be a young man, one of my favorite movies that had a positive impact on me was the movie, “The Song of Bernadette”.
Even though it is a black and white movie, I still find it to be an excellent movie. It brings you really into the story of St. Bernadette.
One of my favorite characters in the movie was Vincent Price as he played the role of the Imperial Prosecutor, Vital Dutour. Interestingly, it was a most fitting role for Vincent Price as he was totally against the happenings at Lourdes France.
Vincent’s Mother, Marquerite Cobb Wilcox, was vehemently anti-Catholic and raised young Vincent with a certain hatred of the Catholic Church. Because of this, Vincent Price became a Secularist who personally fit the role he played in the movie, “The Song of Bernadette.”
Towards the end of the movie, when the story of Our Lady, the Virgin Mary appearing at Lourdes went global, Vital Dutour (Vincent Price) developed throat cancer and is seen at the site of the cave-grotto, Massabielle, where the visions to St. Bernadette took place. In the movie, at it’s end, Vital Dutour becomes a believer and petitions intercessory prayer for himself and for forgiveness.
This particular role would impact Vincent Price in a most important way. We are talking about a giant within the movie business. He was known as the “Renaissance Man” for all the work he did captivating audiences. In his career, he was in 120 movies between 1938-1993, 11 plays in theater between 1935-1978, and was involved with 17 series between 1949-1991.
Vincent Price will forever be remembered as the Master of Horror in films, his voice was used in Michael Jackson’s musical video, “Thriller” which kind of helped jump start the fascination with zombies. With all that in mind, his most important role will always be the “Song of Bernadette.”
After some failed relationships, the magazine, “The Enquirer” October 1974, reported Vincent Price was seeing a woman, Carol Browne.
Carol Browne was a Catholic Convert coming to the Faith shortly after World War II through the influence of American Actor, Ernest Milton, who was a convert from Judaism.
After a civil wedding, every Thursday evening, Vincent Price would be off away from home, soon, Carol would be concerned with what Vincent was up to. None of his given excuses really held much water for Carol.
After some time and frustration, Carol began demanding for Vincent to be honest what he had been doing every Thursday night. Finally, after trying to stall an answer, Vincent came clean, he revealed to his wife that he was taking instructions for the Catholic Faith at the local Parish, St. Victors Catholic Church.
At age 63, the Renaissance Man, the Master of Horror films, would surrender to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
This would be the greatest of all wedding gifts he would give to his wife Carol.
Later, another role Vincent Price played would give a lifetime merit playing the role of Oscar Wilde, a middle 19th century playboy and artist. I wrote of his story, “The Catholic Defender: Oscar Wilde Receives God’s Mercy” which I share his story and conversion to the Catholic Faith: “By November 25, 1900, Wilde developed cerebral meningitis, his friend Robbie Ross on 29 November, called for a Catholic Priest, Father Cuthbert Dunne, a Passionist priest from Dublin, who gave Wilde a conditional baptism on the fact that Wilde was baptized a Catholic as a child.
Father Dunn records: “As the voiture rolled through the dark streets that wintry night, the sad story of Oscar Wilde was in part repeated to me….Robert Ross knelt by the bedside, assisting me as best he could while I administered conditional baptism, and afterwards answering the responses while I gave Extreme Unction to the prostrate man and recited the prayers for the dying.
As the man was in a semi-comatose condition, I did not venture to administer the Holy Viaticum; still I must add that he could be roused and was roused from this state in my presence. When roused, he gave signs of being inwardly conscious…
Indeed I was fully satisfied that he understood me when told that I was about to receive him into the Catholic Church and gave him the Last Sacraments… And when I repeated close to his ear the Holy Names, the Acts of Contrition, Faith, Hope and Charity, with acts of humble resignation to the Will of God, he tried all through to say the words after me.” Vincent Price suffered from Emphysema and developed Parkinson’s disease in his later stages, due to his heavy smoking.
He would succumb to lung cancer on October 25, 1993 at age 82. In this world, Vincent Price was among the greatest in his field.
Even today, his voice is well recognized and his work continues to play a role in modern usage of movies and screen play.
Yet, what is most important was his surrender to follow Christ that liberated him from the darkness that tries to hide the Light.
1 Corinthians 1:21 states, ” For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” Lord Jesus Christ, most merciful Savior of the world, we humbly beseech You, by Your most Sacred Heart, that all the sheep who stray out of Your fold may in one days be converted to You, the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, who lives and reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, world without end.