La Virgen que Forjo una Patria (Saint That Forged a Country) is one of several Mexican films inspired by the 16th-century sighting of the Virgin Mary -- a phenomenon that abruptly ended hostilities between the Spanish Conquistadors and the Aztec Indians and spearheaded the spread of Catholicism throughout Latin America. Former romantic lead Ramon Novarro delivers a sincere, thoughtful performance as Juan Diego, the humble peasant who built the church on the hill where first he saw the Blessed Virgin. The film expansively covers the years 1531 to 1810, and features such prominent Mexican clerics as Brother Martin (played by Domingo Solar) and Father Hidalgo (Julio Villareal). Gloria Marin also appears as the Aztec slave girl who figured so importantly in the proceedings. Somewhat long and drawn out, the film nonetheless held Mexican audiences in thrall back in 1944.
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