Pope Francis Blesses Actor Playing Jesus Christ in Roma Downey and Mark Burnett Produced 'Ben Hur' Movie

Rodrigo Santoro blessed by Pope Francis in Rome on April 15, 2015.
Rodrigo Santoro blessed by Pope Francis in Rome on April 15, 2015. | (Photo: Instagram/ Nazanin Boniadi)

Actor Rodrigo Santoro, who will portray Jesus Christ in the upcoming "Ben Hur" movie, recently received a special blessing from Pope Francis during a trip to Rome.

The Brazilian star and his "Ben Hur" co-star Nazanin Boniadi paid a visit to the Vatican on Wednesday during a break from filming to attend the Papal Audience. During the trip, Boniadi caught a snapshot of Santoro receiving a papal blessing.

"What a remarkable experience to witness Pope Francis bless my dear friend and co-star Rodrigo Santoro, who is playing Jesus in #BenHur. #Vatican #Rome," the actress shared on Instagram.

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Clad in all white, Pope Francis is seen reaching toward Santoro's forehead offering his blessing to the actor. In addition to sharing the photo of her co-star and The Holy Father, Boniadi also posted a group shot taken in front of the Vatican with several others from the cast and crew of "Ben Hur," including executive producer Roma Downey. The actress also shared her thanks to Downey for the Vatican trip.

"With Rodrigo Santoro (Jesus in #BenHur) at the #Vatican," Boniadi wrote in the caption of a photo with her co-star. "Thanks for an incredible experience @romadowney! #Rome"

"Ben Hur," which is expected to hit theaters on Feb. 26, 2016, follows a falsely accused nobleman Judha Ben Hur who survives years of slavery. Originally intent on vengeance against his accuser, Ben Hur eventually finds redemption. The movie also stars Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Morgan Freeman, Ayelet Zurer and Sofia Black D'Elia, among many more.

Author Lew Wallace's "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ" was also adapted to the big screen in 1925. Downey is among the executive producers on the newest film while her husband Mark Burnett and others are producing. The Timur Bakmambetov-directed film was written by Keith Clarke and John Ridley.

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