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Opus Dei strikes back

Religious order, Lux to make Escriva de Balaguer pic

ROME — In what is being touted as Opus Dei’s answer to “The Da Vinci Code” Italy’s Lux Vide and Opus Dei are developing a theatrical biopic about Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the onetime secretive Catholic organization’s founder.

A helmer is not yet attached to the untitled English-language Escriva de Balaguer pic, which would mark Lux’s first foray into the theatrical arena.

Lux is Italy’s religious skein specialist, maker of CBS mini “Pope John Paul II,” and of a mega “War and Peace” telepic, now in post.

Project was unveiled by Opus Dei in Rome in an office packed with publications about Escriva de Balaguer, who founded Opus Dei in Madrid in 1928. The organization, whose name means “The Work of God,” has about 85,000 members, most of whom are laymen.

“We used to not like disclosing information about ourselves,” Opus Dei spokesman Giuseppe Corigliano told Daily Variety.

“But ‘The Da Vinci Code’ put us in the spotlight, so we decided to respond in several ways, including this movie.”

“We want people to know there are no Albino monks among us.”

The Opus Dei spokesman said the org is collaborating on the screenplay, but is not putting up any of the pic’s financing.

Screenplay is being penned by “Pope John Paul II” scribe Francesco Arlanch, and by Armando Fumagalli, an academic at Milan’s Catholic University.

The Opus Dei founder, whose credo was that everyone is called to become a saint, died in 1975 and was canonized a saint in 2002, the fastest canonization in Catholic Church history.

Lux, which has been expanding lately, is 44.3% owned by its founders, the Bernabei family; other shareholders include U.S. investment firm State Street Global Investments, which purchased a 25% stake in 2006, Franco-Tunisian entrepreneur Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications (8.7%), and Italo attorney Vittorio Caporale’s Video Delta (10.7%).

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