Every Day More Closely to Heaven (2001)

Genres - Culture & Society, Spirituality & Philosophy  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Religions & Belief Systems  |   Run Time - 24 min.  |   Countries - Poland   |  
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This 24-minute Polish documentary examines the life of an elderly Catholic woman who, on the advice of her priest, has worn a cilice, or hairshirt, for most of her life to express her religious devotion. The hairshirt, a rough garment worn about the torso or the loins, has been adopted by members of religious orders and especially devout lay people since Biblical times to express mourning or to mortify the flesh. The goal is to help the wearer resist sensual temptation and focus on the life of the spirit. Usually hidden from view lest it inspire pride in the wearer, the garment is fashioned of goat's hair -- or, in centuries past, even fine wire. It causes sensations ranging from severe discomfort to agony every moment that it's worn. In the case of director Maciej Adamek's documentary subject, who wears her hairshirt beneath her clothing but literally never removes it, that has meant 56 years of constant pain. As the cameras follow the woman through her quiet daily life, Every Day More Closely to Heaven examines the traumatic early experiences that led to her voluntary agony and the cultural and political ramifications of her quietly defiant spirituality. Every Day More Closely to Heaven was show at the 2003 San Francisco Independent Film Festival.



Catholicism, cultural-traditions, devotion [dedication], endurance, humility, pain, penance, spirituality, symbolism