11/19/1998 AT 12:00 AM EST
The CBS miniseries "Jesus," which is scheduled to be broadcast during the upcoming May sweeps period, has been given a sneak preview airing in Italy -- and it's a hit. Variety reports that CBS president Leslie Moonves first screened the miniseries for the Pope, seeking papal approval. Then, on Dec. 5, the mini (which stars Jeremy Sisto as Jesus and Jacqueline Bisset as Mary) was aired on Italian TV and earned the highest ratings of the year. More than 10 million viewers tuned in to the first part and even more caught the conclusion (12 million).