The idea for the film arose in 2006. At the beginning of the year, writer-director Lori Pieper was invited to attend the international conference on St. Elizabeth to be held in Rome in February 2007. She traveled to Rome in September 2006 to attend the meetings of the committee of the Secular Franciscans planning the formation program for St. Elizabeth’s centenary and returned in November for the Mass opening the celebrations. The discussion and meetings convinced her that a documentary should be made about St. Elizabeth, and the presence of a number of scholars and representatives of the various Franciscan orders at the upcoming conference would be just the time to do it.
After only a couple of months of preparation, production began in Rome in February 2007, with a series of interviews with historians and Franciscan leaders who were attending the conference, all shot on high definition video (HDV). Locations were at the convent of the Suore Francescane Angeline, the Antonianum (the Franciscan University), and the beautiful ancient Basilica of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, the headquarters of the Franciscan Third Order Regular (left).
The next event to be filmed was the commemoration of the actual centenary of Elizabeth’s birth, held in Assisi on November 16-17, 2007, beginning with a prayer service at the Portiuncula chapel, inside the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli on the evening of the 16th (below), followed by the Mass celebrated by the bishop of Assisi in the Basilica the next morning, then the concert by the Schola Hungarica at the Basilica of San Francesco in the evening.
The crew then went to the historic chapter of the Secular Franciscan Order, held November 15-22, 2008 near Esztergom Hungary, the site of the Hungarian royal court of Elizabeth’s father, King Andrew II. We shot the Mass and other closing ceremonies of the 2-year centenary in Esztergom, along with concluding interviews, and also filmed inside the actual castle where Elizabeth lived as a child (right).
In Budapest, we shot in the famous Heroes’ Square, with its statues of Elizabeth’s ancestors, and attended Mass at the beautiful church of St. Elizabeth in Roses Square with its famous statue of St. Elizabeth in front.
The historical recreations of Elizabeth’s life were shot in November 2009 on high-definition video in Los Angeles. Interiors were filmed at the Hollywood Presbyterian Church, and exteriors in the beauitful Waterman Canyon in the San Gabriel mountains just north of the city (left). This was undoubtedly the most thrilling part of the production, because Elizabeth’s story really came to life before our eyes.
The final few shots, including those of Elizabeth as a child, were filmed in New York, and concluded more than three years of a wonderful adventure in filmmaking.