Recommended: Quo Vadis? (1951)

Recommended:  Quo Vadis? (1951)

Parents always ask for recommendations for books and films and one of my family’s favorite films is Quo Vadis?, which was produced in 1951.


This film tells the story of the triumph of the Christians in the Roman Empire in the first century. It is a very helpful film for classical Catholic studies because it brings together Roman history and biblical history in the way I do in the Academy’s World Chronology course — and this is very rare today.

The story begins with a look inside the daily life of the emperor Nero, who is masterfully played by Peter Ustinov. We learn of a number of Roman institutions — the Roman government, the Roman army, the Praetorian Guard, etc.. We learn of the Roman religion and its role in the empire. We learn of the role of the ancient fine arts and their corruption by the powerful. We meet a number of important Roman characters, including the author Petronius, the philosopher Seneca and the poet Lucan.

While we learn of Roman culture another story develops, which is the spread of Christianity through the Roman Empire, and its arrival in Rome. We meet the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, boldly evangelizing the Roman people, and we follow the life of one Christian family to their martyrdom.

The main character of the film, a fictional Roman military commander named Marcus Vinicius, observes the clash between these two worlds and, seeing the limits of Roman power and the transcendent life of the Christian community, converts and dies for the faith.

While the film is great for historical study, it is also very entertaining. Ustinov’s performance as Nero is one of my favorite performances of all time. This is a beautiful, lengthy film that can be watched again and again with profit.

Moral Concerns

As for moral concerns, since we’re dealing with Roman culture, there are some sexy ladies — Nero’s wife, Petronius’ slave and the Christian Lygia who is pursued by the main character Marcus Vinicius. The attractiveness of these women and their relationships is a necessary part of the study and is tasteful. I don’t find anything in the film offensive or “immoral”. The message of the story is wholesom — and clear. There is very little violence in the film and scenes of death are not gory in any way.

In my opinion, Quo Vadis? is a very good and tasteful film that devout Christian families can enjoy. I recommend that Mom and Dad watch it first so that they can judge for themselves whether they are comfortable sharing it with their children.

I have watched the film on Amazon Prime Video, which is available here.

God bless,
William C. Michael



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William C. Michael

William C. Michael


Mr. William C. Michael is the founding headmaster of the <a href=”">Classical Liberal Arts Academy</a>. He graduated from Rutge