|At a small
chapel In Casa Cueva, Mexico, Father Sanchez declares that the
Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe has begun. Victoria, Buck and
Manolito are happy participants. Father Sanchez explains to
the crowd that the statue of Our Lady, made of gold and
studded with precious jewels, was stolen many years before.
But now the statue has been found in New Orleans. The
parishioners have only to give generously one last time to
bring her home. Victoria immediately steps forward with her
donation and even Buck pulls some bills out of his hat. The
money being collected is watched with great interest by an
unknown man. He is Gillis, currently the cook for Father
Buck, Victoria, and Mano
are among the crowd listening to Father Sanchez.
Mano, Victoria, and Buck
with Father Sanchez.
Sanchez dines that night with Victoria, Mano and Buck. Buck
appears to have enjoyed too much liquid refreshment at the
fiesta, though he declares that his discomfort is due to a
bad enchilada. Victoria wants to know if her brother has
also had this "bad enchilada" so Mano changes the subject by
congratulating Father Sanchez on the success of the fiesta.
The Father tells them that he has raised false hopes. The
donations raised at the fiesta arenít enough to retrieve Our
Lady from New Orleans.
invites the Father to the High Chaparral, where there will
be others who havenít heard the legend of the statue. Maybe
there will be more donations to gather there, and the
congregation wonít have to wait so long. Father Sanchez
declines; he has too much work to do.
serving their dinner, Gillis listens to everything they say.
Then he sneaks into the chapel, making sure no one is
watching. He breaks into the locked money chest. Just as he
discovers that it is completely empty, Father Sanchez finds
him and, his anger getting the better of him, knocks Gillis
to the floor with a colossal punch. Gillis asks where the
money is thatís supposed to be in the box. Father Sanchez
tells him that there is no money. Gillis calls him a fraud.
The Father justifies his actions Ė because of the legend and
donations, the people have shoes and medicine.
Gillis confronts Father
Sanchez about the missing donations in the money chest.
himself to the candlesticks on the alter, Gillis wonders
what the people would do if they found out the good Father
had dipped into the till and lied as well. Telling him he
need not defile the alter, Father Sanchez hands over the
money from the fiesta to buy his silence.
Victoria explains the
of the statue to John.
Father arrives at the High Chaparral. Victoria tells Big
John how sad it is that each year the effort to bring home
Our Lady has failed. John tells her not to worry about it
anymore. But when Father Sanchez tells John that it will
cost 8,000 pesos to deliver the statue, even Victoria is
shocked. John tells him the price should be high, if it
means as much to the people as it does to his wife. And if
the Father can deliver the statue then the money is his. The
Father says it is too much but Victoria insists. Overcome,
Father Sanchez rushes outside.
fervently Ė God knows he canít produce the statue. How can
he produce a statue he canít afford, even if he can find it?
8,000 pesos is a fortune to his people. He only asked for
enough to see them through another year. He will leave the
predicament to God. At that moment, a dark cloud passes over
the moon. Father Sanchez takes this as a sign that God is
leaving the solution up to him.
Father Sanchez tries to
dilemma on to God.
Father Sanchez travels
to New Orleans to get a fake gilt statue from a craftsman.
Sanchez picks up a fake Our Lady of Guadalupe statue from a
craftsman, who is just putting the finishing touches on it.
Riding home, the Father speaks to God about how hard itís
going to be to fool so many people. Suddenly he grabs the
statue and throws it over a cliff. But the statue lands
safely in the branches of a bush just on the edge. He is
just about to try it again when Mano and Buck ride up.
Victoria has sent them to bring the Father safely home.
They take a little detour to a nearby town so Buck can get
his horse re-shod at the local blacksmithís.
village, the people crowd around to see the statue. Even a
saloon girl, Mavis, wants to have a look. She is Gillisís
girl, and Gillis immediately has a plan. He tells her that
soon sheíll have all the gold she wants.
as a respectable woman, Mavis approaches Father Sanchez and
asks if she can accompany them to Casa Cueva to visit her
sick sister. Manolito, taking in her blonde hair and fine
figure, thinks it is a great idea. On their travels,
he guards her while she bathes in a lake. When she emerges,
he moves in for a kiss. Mavis is overcome because he has
called her a lady Ė something she has never heard. She
kisses him whole-heartedly. Gillis and his partner
wait nearby. Gillis is confident that "my Mavis" is coming
soon. He canít wait to see the Padreís face when he takes
the statue away from him.
Mavis is overcome when
her as a lady.
Mavis, looking for
redemption in the statue.
the night, Father Sanchez discovers Mavis holding the
statue. She says she canít sleep. Sheís been thinking how
she hasnít led a good life. Can someone or something change
a person, she asks the Father. Sheís never met anyone like
Manolito. Father Sanchez says that the person who searches
for gold is usually looking for respect. And itís the same
with love. How happy we are depends on whether or not we
know what we are looking for. What we deserve and what we
get are up to us.
the Father who canít sleep. He takes his burro with the
statue and leaves the camp. He buries the statue in the
sand, asking God to please keep her this time. Immediately
it begins to storm, complete with thunder and lightening.
Father Sanchez shoos the burro away and returns to camp.
When they wake in the morning, Manolito notices the burro
carrying the statue is gone. But then the donkey approaches,
minus the precious cargo. They all go off in search of it,
the Father protesting that it will be too difficult to find.
But there is Our Lady, washed up on the bank. Father Sanchez
agrees through gritted teeth that it is indeed a miracle.
Buck and Mano are forced to surrender.
road again, Mavis asks the Father what she can do to be
deserving. Father Sanchez tells her itís by telling the
truth and expounds on how difficult it is to tell it. Better
to rid oneself of the lie, he says. Mavis starts to tell him
something, then changes her mind. Shots ring out. Mano
falls from his horse but he is not wounded. They all run for
cover. Gillis hollers out that he has the Padre right in his
sights, so they drop their guns. Mavis hands Our Lady over
to Gillis. "So this is your lie," Father Sanchez says. She
apologizes, but Gillis declares that the Father knows all
about lying. The Father agrees.
|For once, he has to
speak the truth. The statue has no value. It is nothing
but glass and gilt. He didnít intend to carry the lie so far.
Buck realizes that when they came along with their good
intentions, they upset his plan. Mavis
tells Gillis to let them go. But Gillis doesnít care that the
statue is worthless because no one else knows. Heís going to
get rid of those who do, but Mavis wrestles him for the gun.
Buck, Mano and Father Sanchez manage to knock Gillis and his
partner to the ground, even with their hands tied. Mavis
shoots at Gillis when he goes for his dropped gun. Mano tells
the shocked man that she knows what she is doing.
Mavis turns the gun on Gillis.
Father Sanchez confesses that the statue
is a cheap fake.
Cueva, the church bells ring. Everyone is gathered around the
door while Father Sanchez holds Our Lady of Guadalupe up for
all to see. He is about to take the statue into the church
while the crowd kneels in prayer. But he stops. He asks God
for forgiveness and prays for strength. Turning back, he tells
his parishioners to stand Ė he can no longer see them kneel
before a lie. The statue is a cheap copy; a lie. One heís been
using to hide his failings as their priest. He apologizes.
Since he has disgraced his cassock he wonít wear it any
longer. He will pay back what his lies have cost and pray for
turns away. Victoria begs her brother to help him. Mano
reminds the people of the good things Father Sanchez has done
Ė feeding and clothing them, caring for them in sickness. The
offerings werenít stolen Ė the Father used it for the people.
Manolito then asks the Father to bless the statue anyway, and
place it in the church. Buck also speaks up Ė telling
the crowd that the good things that came out of the statue
have no market value unless they want to put a price on their
faith and on Father Sanchez. Victoria begs Father
Sanchez to bless Our Lady of Guadalupe for the people.
The villagers realize that the missing
money has been spent to benefit them.
everyone kneeling, he does so. He tries to give the statue to
Mano but Mano motions to the crowd, who smile encouragingly at
their priest. Father Sanchez takes the statue into the church,
the congregation following.
by Ginny Shook)