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Saving Grace (1986)

A young pope who feels he has lost touch with the people accidentally locks himself out of the Vatican and believes it is part of God's plan for him.


Robert M. Young


Celia Gittelson (novel), Richard Kramer | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Conti ... Pope Leo XIV
Fernando Rey ... Cardinal Stefano Biondi
Erland Josephson ... Monsignor Francesco Ghezzi
Giancarlo Giannini ... Abalardi
Donald Hewlett ... Monsignor Colin McGee
Edward James Olmos ... Ciolino
Patricia Mauceri ... Lucia
Angelo Evans Angelo Evans ... Giuliano
Marta Zoffoli ... Isabella
Guido Alberti Guido Alberti ... Cardinal Augusto Morante
Massimo Sarchielli ... Fortunato
Massimo Serato ... Monsignor Betti
Agnès Nobecourt Agnès Nobecourt ... Mother of Sick Boy
Jorge Krimer Jorge Krimer ... Secretary, Sistine Chapel
Tom Felleghy Tom Felleghy ... Ambassador


A newly-elected Pope Leo XIV finds himself accidentally locked out of the Vatican. Unknown to the outside world, he winds up in an impoverished Italian village, where his adventures ultimately teach the Pope and his new friends some important lessons about friendship and self-esteem. Written by Chris DeSantis <ccdesan@burgoyne.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A warm, compassionate comedy! See more »


Comedy | Drama


PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

13 November 1986 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Ein wahrer Jünger seines Herrn See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$17,590, 4 May 1986, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Robert Duvall was originally offered the leading role. The studio rejected him; some say because they felt he wasn't right for the role, and others stated it was because he wasn't a bankable leading man. See more »


Pope Leo XIV: For Popes the flames are hotter.
See more »

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User Reviews

the Pope's big adventure
28 April 2004 | by cindy_bcrSee all my reviews

&#65279;After one year as pope, Leo XIV becomes disillusioned with the job. He is caught up in the cramped schedules of visiting dignitaries and the sick expecting miracles. Every morning he is briefed on world events, for which he feels powerless to do anything. He feels `completely out of touch with how most people live,' and wonders if anything he says has any effect outside the Vatican walls. He misses being a priest, when he knew he helped those he came in contact with.

One day, as he makes his way past one of the rooms, he hears a nun talk as she signed to a deaf girl who'd hitch-hiked to see the pope and ask for a priest to come back to her village. He promises her he'll find a priest for Montepetra. So when the wind blows the paper with his gardening instructions up over the walls and he chases it and finds himself locked out, he makes the most of his predicament. He makes his way to Montepetra, to be able to actually answer one of the many requests he'd had. He finds a town crippled by a plague, but more importantly, townspeople crippled by poverty. It is there that he struggles to actually do some good as a priest. He seeks to empower the residents to find the will to improve their lives.

One character worth watching is the mysterious stranger, the shepherd who stumbles upon Leo, and recognizes him as the pope.

The scenery is beautiful, as it's filmed in Italy. There's a shot early on of an aerial view of Rome, and scenes of people going about their business among the statues. The rural views must have been beautiful in the theater, but it's hard to appreciate them on the small screen.

I found this move, a comedy-drama, to be a delightful little tale about how we might be able to do some good for others, and find ourselves, our purpose, even if we get lost. While the story of Leo as the rural priest is touching, the scenes of the runaway pope is where the comedy comes in. For instance, on the same day the visitor list includes the ambassador of Brazil and the Italian soccer team, and when told of the second group, Leo asks, `Is it all right if I bless them, or would that set off an international incident?' We are shown that things aren't as bleak as they often seem. The line that illustrates this is when Leo tells the shepherd that the pope can even be `a tramp who comes to a deserted village to help some neglected people.'

It may just as well be that God can better use a tramp than a pope, or whoever we are in between.

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