Philomena Lee, the real-life woman of the Oscar-nominated “Philomena,” was recently invited to the Vatican for a meeting with Pope Francis. At 18 years old, Lee entered an Irish home for unwed mothers and was forced to give up her son, Anthony, after three years:
“Sixmith’s book about her — “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee” — was adapted into the acclaimed movie “Philomena.” British actress Judi Dench’s portrayal of Lee earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination in the Best Actress category.
“No way. No way. No way would I ever have imagined it,” Lee told ABC News’ Cynthia McFadden, who traveled with Lee to the Vatican, of her journey that has taken her to Washington, D.C., as an advocate, and to the Golden Globes.
Lee and her daughter, Jane Libberton, have co-founded “The Philomena Project” to push the Irish government to open sealed adoption records to mothers and children looking for each other.
An approximate 60,000 unwed Irish Catholic women were forced to give up their babies and Lee hopes that the pope may help those women and those children reunite.
“You can’t go through life being so unyielding …so you’ve got to forgive,” Lee said of how she was able to keep her faith. “You’ve got to. You just have to forgive.”