Pope chats with Scorsese, tells director he read 'Silence'

Associated Press
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US film director Martin Scorsese arrives at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, Tuesday, Nov. 29 2016. Scorsese is in Rome for the presentation of his film 'Silence', adapted from the 1966 novel of the Japanese writer Shusaku Endo and which recounts the persecution of a group of Jesuits in the seventeenth century Japan. (Giorgio Onorati/ANSA via AP)

US film director Martin Scorsese arrives at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, Tuesday, Nov. 29 2016. Scorsese is in Rome for the presentation of his film 'Silence', adapted from the 1966 novel of the Japanese writer Shusaku Endo and which recounts the persecution of a group of Jesuits in the seventeenth century Japan. (Giorgio Onorati/ANSA via AP)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has met with director Martin Scorsese, whose new film, "Silence," about Jesuit missionaries in 17th-century Japan, was screened this week in Rome.

The Vatican says that during the pontiff's "very cordial" meeting Wednesday with Scorsese, Francis mentioned he had read the novel on which the film is based. Francis is a Jesuit who joined the order while a young man in Argentina with the idea of becoming a missionary in Japan. But health problems scuttled that dream.

Francis thanked Scorsese for his gift of two paintings. The work of an 18th-century Japanese artist, the paintings served as a reference for some of the details in the film.

Some 300 Jesuits studying or working in Rome attended the screening Tuesday at the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Scorsese answered the audience's questions afterward.