Thursday, 16 August 2007

Five Catholic Facts About Elvis

I have a grave confesion to make. I own some Elvis CDs. In fact, I used to be quite keen on his music and one has to admit that, despite his unedifying lifestyle and tragic final years, he was a talented musician. Many people around the world are marking the 30th anniversary of Elvis' death. Here are five top Catholic facts about the 'King':
  • one of Elvis' early performances (1955) was at the Catholic Club, Helena, Arkansas. However, his unorthodox performance did not impress the parish priest, Fr Keller, especially when the singer autographed a female fan's leg. 'You are a disgrace to manhood', he was allegedly told, 'don't come back anymore'. Read more about it here.

  • It is well known that the beautiful Dolores Hart, the niece of Mario Lanza who starred alongside Elvis in Loving You (1957) and King Creole (1958), left Hollywood in 1963 to become a Benedictine nun at the Abbey of Regina Laudis, Bethlehem, Connecticut. There have long been rumours that Dolores previously had romantic attachments to Mr Presley. 'I'd done two movies with Elvis Presley', she later said, 'I'd been around Hollywood for a while - and saw how needlessly competitive and negative it could be. It never held my interest'. She eventually became Prioress and Mother Hart now holds the unique distinction of being the only nun to be a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


    ...and after

  • I've mentioned before Elvis' last feature film, Change of Habit (1969), in which he plays a doctor working alongside three sisters 'on placement' (see picture at top of post). The unique finale, showing Elvis as part of a folk group at an interim, pre-Novus Ordo Mass, can be seen here.

  • Elvis recorded a song called 'The Miracle of the Rosary' in 1971 (issued on the 1972 album, Elvis Now), with the lyrics: 'O 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/O 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'.

  • When Elvis died in his Graceland bathroom thirty years ago today, he is said to have been reading a book about the Holy Shroud of Turin - normally identified as A Scientific Search For The Face Of Jesus (1972) by Frank O. Adams, which argues that the Turin Shroud really is Our Lord's Shroud. It has since become eagerly sought after by Elvis fans. Less impressive is the other book he was allegedly reading - Sex and Psychic Energy. Hmmmm, we better move quickly along.

NB There really was a Celtic saint called St Elvis, who was a bishop of the Irish See of Munster and may even have baptised St David, Patron of Wales - so it is a valid baptismal name!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing facts!He was so troubled & unable to cope with fame..i kind of feel sorry for his descent into diaster..a bit like Monroe..Interesting post Fr.

9:30 am  
Blogger Pro Ecclesia said...

Excellent post, Father!

3:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd never heard that story about Mother Hart before - how amazing!

4:08 pm  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Father: Only a hardcore fan would know those kinds of facts. Admit it, you are really sorry you did not go to Graceland for the 30th Anniversary celebrations! :-)

6:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That story about Dolores Hart is a fraud,she denied any romance about 5 years ago when a man came forward claiming to be their child.

6:31 pm  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

Cathy of Alex - you're right, if I happened to be in the area, I probably would pop into Graceland to pay my respects. As to being a hardcore fan, it's amazing what facts can be found via google...

7:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ambiguities trouble me. Please excuse and indulge me: "English Catholic Priest" as in "English ethnicity Catholic Priest" or as in "English, Church of England Catholic Priest"?

Thank you for your attention and response.


8:29 pm  
Blogger Kevin J. Jones said...

There's a very sarcastic scene-by-scene review of Change of Habit here.

9:11 pm  
Blogger Jeff Miller said...

Here is a parody post I once did on Elvis' true Catholic connection.

9:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This might interest you:

1:38 am  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

Anonymous - Thanks for your question. I trust that the content of my blog and the fact that I am a priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster makes it unambiguous that I am a Roman Catholic priest born, bred and working in England - therefore an 'English Catholic Priest'. I do not run my own sect (the English Catholic Church)!

5:45 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elvis sings Miracle of the Rosary

11:12 am  
Blogger James H said...

THis is great :)

3:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Catholic blogs are just so wonderfully catholic in every sense of the word. Thank you father for being you. Congratulation on you blog 100,000 hits. Please pray for me. Judy

9:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments on Elvis. I remember singing along to his songs while ironing in boarding school in the 50's.

Several months ago I saw Mother Hart interviewed on TV. She came across to me solid as a rock in being true to her vocation in such a loving way. Something she said toward the end of the interview gave me the impression that she is a true human being who has taken the difficult but most rewarding way for her.

Anonymous: thanks for the link to the Rosary song. I love it!! Peg in Denver, CO

10:14 am  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

In a television interview Mother Delores did indeed deny any romantic involvement with Elvis and described him as a wholesome young man, a perfect gentleman when they acted together. Not long after the interview aired, Mary Tyler Moore ("Change of Habit"), a lapsed Catholic, hinted that she hadn't been the 'only nun' in Elvis' life when she had been a guest on a late night talk show and she was asked if she (Ms.Moore) had slept with Elvis. Her answer seemed to be an obvious attempt to discredit Mother Delores.

I believe Mother Delores' story.

5:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Rosary song sounds like it was based on our Lady's message at La Sallette. Do you know who wrote the words?

I first heard it when members of Youth 2000 (also Elvis fans) played it to me in the presbytery at Bow Common - not a million miles from your own parish, which we should now perhaps call 'The King's Land' ...

4:58 pm  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

The writer of the lyrics was a chap called Lee Denson, but I klnow nothing of the inspiration behind the hymn.

'The King's Land' - I like that!

6:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elvis sang "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" on the "Elvis's Christmas Album" 1957.

Mother, Dolores Hart, Prioress osb. lives in the Abbey of Regina Laudis, Bethlehem.............. Connecticut :-)

3:44 pm  
Blogger Roses and Jessamine said...

Rock on Elvis, and Fr. Nicolas.

11:57 am  
Blogger west texas priest said...

I always felt sad Elvis ended up the way he did.  All that talent, but all those drugs!  There but for the grace of God ... Mother Hart, by the way, gave an interview once recalling that she gave Elvis his first on-screen kiss.  She uses her fame as an introduction to her good work.  

4:16 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dolores Hart has agreed to participate in a six part series BBC Radio Documentary about Elvis Presley to celibrate what would have been his 75th birthday 8th January 2010.

I spoke to Dolores Hart in Connecticut by telephone last night, from Ireland.

12:35 pm  

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