New Line cinema's Virgin Mary themed picture Nativity is to hold its world premiere at the Vatican on November 24.

Eagle Pictures, the film's Italian distributor, said the Catholic prelates, academics and experts in Catholicism gave approved the film's "poetic and faithful retelling of the Scriptures" after a private viewing.

The premiere of Catherine Hardwicke's film will be overseen by the Pontifical Council of Culture, The Pontifical Council of Social Communications, The Vatican Filmoteca (film archives) and the Pontifical Council to the Vicar of Vatican City.

The event will be organised by Foundation for Music and Sacred Arts.

Nativity is filmed partly in Matera, thethe same location as Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ Pasolini's The Gospel According To St. Matthew.It recounts the Bible story from the Angel Gabriel's announcement of the immaculate conception to the visit of the wise men to the Bethlehem crib.

Hardwicke, screenplay writer Mike Rich and actor Oscar Isaac (Joseph) will be present at the Vatican world premiere that will take place at the Vatican's Paul Six Hall.

The hall is used for Papal Wednesday Audiences and Sunday masses when they are not held out of doors on St Peter's Square.

2005 TV biopic Pope John Paul II starring John Voight was also premiered in Paul Six Hall.

Stefano Dammicco (CEO of Eagle Pictures) said, "Nativity is an extraordinary event, a real message of hope, peace and love that unites all believers."

The film's release comes more than two years after Gibson's Passion Of The Christstunned film executives, grossing more than $600m worldwide.