Anita Ekberg, the Swedish actress who became famous (if not infamous) for her part in Frederick Fellini’s 1960 film La Dolce Vita, when she walked through the Trevi Fountain in Rome, has died at the age of 83, after a period of poor health.
Born in Malmo, Sweden, in 1931, Ekberg was the sixth of eight children.
She said her father, a harbour master and a strict Protestant, was “the apple of my eye”, although she later fell out with all but one of her siblings.
Her lawyer said that, in her last days Ekberg was saddened by her illnesses and her advancing age. “She had hoped to get better, something that didn’t happen,” she said.
But in an earlier interview, Ekberg had said she was not afraid of death.
“I don’t know if paradise or hell exist,” she told Sweden’s Aftonbladet, “but I’m sure hell is more groovy.” (Sources: BBC News online)
It is clear from this statement, if there was no change from this belief in her final days, that she died without the salvation that only comes through a personal faith in Jesus Christ. But hers is a common view of heaven and hell: in hell life continues eternally as one enormous, never-ending party, where all the excesses and sins of this life can be enjoyed even more, and forever.
Nothing could be further from the truth! In the words of Jesus, Himself, recorded by the Apostle Matthew, chapter 24, verses 47-50:
“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.
This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
But there is hope, even at the point of death – which sometimes Christians who have been faithful servants of God for many years find it difficult to come to terms with – for people like Anita Ekberg, who apparently confess to have lived life to sinful excess. Even at that dreadful point, it is possible for sinners to be saved by grace. Those who are truly “in Christ” know that it is not a life of righteous that sees them safe to heaven, but the love of God for them expressed in the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made when He gave Himself to be crucified as a sacrifice for sin – not his, because He was and is the Perfect Son of God, but the sin of mankind – you and me.
In the Letter to the Church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul writes:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”
(Eph . 2:8-10)
The grace of God is a free gift, so all we have to do is to receive it. From her “strict Protestant” upbringing, Anita Ekberg should have known the way of salvation. Let us pray that that she changed her view and looked to heaven and Jesus Christ before it was too late.