The Brazilian actor received a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican
Credit: Courtesy Nazanin Boniadi

He’s portraying Jesus Christ in the upcoming new version of Ben-Hur, and now he’s doing it with a special blessing by Pope Francis.

Rodrigo Santoro, 39, received an audience with the Pope on Wednesday in which he received a papal blessing. The photo was snapped by costar Nazanin Boniadi, who plays Esther in the film.

The Brazilian actor may be best known to American audiences as Laura Linney’s hunky love interest in Love, Actually though he also played Xerxes in 300 and its sequel as well as the ill-fated Paolo on Lost.

Boniadi posted several more snapshots of the Vatican excursion, including one in which she thanked Touched by an Angel actress Roma Downey, a Roman Catholic and the co-creator of the History Channel minisieries The Bible, in which she also played Mary, Jesus’ mother.

The new Ben-Hur is slated for release in early 2016. It also stars Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman.

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