To pay tribute to Michel Lonsdale (1931-2020), a great Franco-British actor and honorary president of the Diakonia of Beautywe are publishing – two years after his death – a text by Anne Facérias, his friend and director of the Diaconie de la Beauté.
As honorary president, Michel Lonsdale made the pilgrimage to Rome in 2018 and received the blessing of Pope Francis on February 20, 2019. He presented to him his book-interview with Anne Facérias written with Cardinal Paul Poupard : “On the way to Beauty and Love”.
Here is the text of Anne Facérias.
Second anniversary of the arrival in heaven of Michael Lonsdale
Already two years since our dear Michael left us. It was September 21, 2020 at the time of the Angelus for the Saint Matthew, in the light breeze and the midday light. A soft exterior light came to take for eternity all its interior light. After receiving the last rites the night before, he was ready for the big departure! I took in his last breath as a gift from holy providence.
Michael often spoke to us about light. He enjoyed saying and explaining: the artist is traversed by a light whose source he does not know! He is now near that spring which he has sought all his life. He calls us again and again to become those “beauty watchers” so as not to sink into despair.
Michael continues from the other shore to distill his bursts of light and love! At the heart of our movement of the Diakonia of Beauty created in the Vatican during the Synod of the New Evangelization (October 2012), Michael remains alive, a founding stone, a rock and an example! Regularly, we pick pretty “Blinks Gods” that allow us to believe that he is always there in our midst.
During his lifetime, and for several years, he was our Honorary President of a Beauty Festival in Cannes during the International Film Festival. Since his flight, we have been organizing Traveling Festivals in his memory! 5 cities last year, 10 this year: Paris/Nantes/Lyon/Autun/Toulouse/Lourdes/Rouen/Haute-Savoie/ Madagascar between the end of October and mid-December 2022.
These Festivals are decided in the spring during a spiritual retreat, in the shade of a monastery (Abbey of Solesmes in 2021, monastery of the Sisters of Bethlehem in 2022) and take shape in the fall around the feast of Saint Cécile, patron saint of musicians.
Each city chooses its own way of paying homage to Michael. In this spirit, we inaugurated during the festival in Paris on December 3, 2021 our “Michael Lonsdale Gallery” located behind the National Assembly. Since then, every month, artists come to exhibit.
Michael, a painter
Few know that his work as a painter is more discreet, but no less surprising and complementary to his work as an actor. If the actor translates the emotions by embodying them, painting allows him to give colors. The shapes he draws and the play of light that kneads these shapes are like his voice of incomparable originality. At 17 he wanted to be a painter and never stopped.
Michael, an actor
He has as an actor and comedian played in what culture counts as excellence from Marguerite Duras to Stephen Spielberg via Samuel Becket and Peter Handke. This dimension characterizes his talent and uniqueness. An extraordinary presence. He was able to play on all registers, interpret contradictory characters while always remaining himself. A reader of great texts, he knew how to give them life and thus grasp our entire being.
Michael, a witness
The faith that dwelt in him all his life molded his goodness and transformed it. His face soothed in his old age with a look of a child testifies to his spiritual realization. He was not a theologian, but he always lived with God, with The Love. This interior dimension allowed him to incarnate in an unforgettable way Brother Luc, monk doctor in the film ” Men and gods “.
His work and his humanity peacefully nourished our hearts and delighted our eyes. He, so humble, so unsure of himself, reached the stature of a perfect man, as Saint Paul would say. He entered into this glory which is not ephemeral and which radiates even more.
But what remains when, on the evening of our life, the book closes? There remain these sparkles which resemble the most beautiful stained glass. As Saint Bernard said: the book ends here, but not our story!