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'Passion' actor Caviezel meets pope

VATICAN, Italy, March 16 (UPI) -- Actor Jim Caviezel, who portrays Jesus in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," met with the pope at the Vatican Monday and received his blessing.

Pope John Paul II had gotten a private early screening of the film, and had reportedly endorsed the movie, which dwells upon the Crucifixion.

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The 35-year-old Caviezel was accompanied at the Vatican meeting by his wife and parents-in-law, the BBC said.

In the movie, Caviezel spends much of the time covered with fake blood. His blue eyes were digitally darkened to brown, and he wears a prosthetic nose.

The movie has been No. 1 at the United States box office for several weeks.

During a visit last month to the Crystal Cathedral in Southern California, Caviezel told the congregation that being in the movie had served to deepen his religious faith.

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