This warm and funny film combines personal narrative, old movie clips, and documentary news footage to tell the story of a recovering Catholic who finds her world turned upside down when she unintentionally captures a “miracle” on film.
As the on-screen narrator of her amazing adventure, Beth begins by filling us in on her upbringing as a young Catholic in an idyllic 1950s suburb of Boston. Surrounded by modern “how do you solve a problem like Maria” nuns and obsessed with the hair-raising lives of the saints, Beth was a good Catholic girl who prayed fervently — hoping that the Virgin Mary would appear to her just like She did to pious young girls in Hollywood movies. But like the rest of her generation, the pivotal events of the ’60s led Harrington to become “the quintessential fallen-away Catholic.”
The adult Beth, enamored of her larger-than-life Italian relatives, moved to Boston’s Italian North End. Caught between the incoming yuppies and old neighborhood diehards, Beth was an “Italian wannabe” — flashing her Italian heritage (from her mother’s side) for all it’s worth, much to the bemusement of her “real” Italian neighbors. A filmmaker, Beth began making films chronicling the neighborhood feasts and slowly (after nearly a decade!) was accepted by the neighborhood as one of their own, albeit unmarried and unlucky in love.
Recently dumped and unemployed, Beth concentrated on videotaping the annual feast for her neighborhood friends. But later, when the old guys at the local social club sat down to watch her tape, there it was — a miracle! Their beloved statue of the Madonna del Soccorso had blinked — a sign if there ever was one. Beth is faced with a dilemma. She knows immediately that a technical glitch is the culprit, but who was she to discount a miracle — especially one so embraced by her friends and neighbors? Soon she finds herself in a media vortex of newspapers and nightly news — a real circus, until she realizes “Just as bad things happened to me that I couldn’t control, so too, good things could happen that were out of my control — like the goodwill, attention, and humor generated by the blink.”
A vibrant story full of warmth and wonder, The Blinking Madonna and Other Miracles reminds us to keep our minds and hearts open to life’s unexpected miracles, great and small.