The conversion of John Wayne on his deathbed

Hollywood legend, John Wayne (1907 – 1979) converted to Catholicism at the end of his life.

Known worldwide for his long film career, notably his westerns, John Wayne is also known for having won the Oscar for best actor in 1970 for his role in True Grit. He has acted in, directed or produced more than 175 films, half of which were westerns. But if his face and his voice are particularly well known, his relationship to faith is much less so.

From his real name Marion Mitchell Morrison (his real name), John Wayne grew up in a Presbyterian family of Scottish and Irish origin. A family environment where he discovered the importance of going to church, the Bible and faith. However, he quickly abandoned religion and any religious practice, making life choices that took him far from the teachings received: he married three times, drank a lot and is known to have had many mistresses including Marlene Dietrich and Maureen O’Hara. His son Patrick has himself declared that his father was not particularly religious: “Dad was not religious, and not Catholic (we were raised Catholic by my mother, Josie). »

God kept knocking at the door of her heart

But God kept knocking at the door of his heart. His first “significant” contact with Catholicism in his adult life was with his first wife, Josephine Alicia Saenz, who involved John Wayne in various parish events and who prayed unceasingly for his conversion, even after the death. failure of their marriage. All his wives were catholic , his seven children went to Catholic schools and his 21 grandchildren grew up in the Catholic faith. Moreover, his friendship with John Ford, who made no secret of his deep faith, influenced his life .

Father Matthew Muñoz, a Catholic priest from the Diocese of Orange, California, one of Wayne’s grandchildren, revealed some details about his grandfather’s spiritual life. Matthew Muñoz was 14 when John Wayne died of cancer. He has Explain to the Catholic News Agency that when his grandfather was ready to be baptized, Archbishop Marcos Gregorio McGrath, Archbishop of Panama and “friend of a friend” of John Wayne, went to see him. “My mother and my uncle were there when he came. So there is no doubt whether he was baptized or not. He wanted to be baptized and therefore received Catholic baptism. It was wonderful to see him come to faith and leave this testimony to our whole family.

From an early age, he sensed what was good and right and what was not.

The priest also spoke of his grandfather’s regret at not converting to Catholicism sooner, although he recalls that John Wayne had a degree of spirituality even before making the decision. “From an early age, he sensed what was good and right and what was not. He was brought up with a lot of Christian principles and a kind of “biblical faith” which I think had a strong impact on him. Father Muñoz also explains that his grandfather wrote letters to God: “He wrote beautiful letters of love to God, they were prayers. His texts were at the same time very simple and very deep. »

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The conversion of John Wayne on his deathbed