An Italian model once crowned as the “most beautiful man” has announced his plans to give up on dreams of fame and fortune to enter the priesthood.
“At 21 years of age, I find myself on the path toward becoming a priest, God willing,” Edoardo Santini said in a video posted to social media last week. “I’ve decided to give up modeling work, acting and dance, but I won’t abandon my passions, I’ll just live them differently.”
Santini said he would be “offering” his passions “to God” now that he has found his life’s purpose. He entered a seminary and has begun his studies as of this week.
Santini grew up near Florence and won fashion group ABE’s 2019 pageant, earning the title of “most beautiful man” at only 17 years old, according to Italian outlet Il Globo. He also won swimming competitions.
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On his Instagram account, which normally serves as a promotional platform for his modeling work, Santini recently started posting questions about faith, writing last year that he “discovered the real Church, which I thought was dead,” The Times UK reported.
He admitted recently that he was “scared to go deeper,” but that he last year went to live with two priests to get a sense of the lifestyle and called it “the most beautiful experience of my life.”
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The Times reported that the Catholic Church has found it difficult to recruit new priests, with numbers dropping by almost two-thirds over the past few decades: The church trained just over 2,100 new priests in 2019, compared with over 6,300 in 1970.
Santini has over 11,000 followers and has added “I’m a Christian, priest wannabe” to his profile description.
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“Obviously, some people talk about me behind my back, some people have no problem telling me I have let them down, both inside and outside my family, but others are supporting me, believers and non-believers,” Santini said of his lifestyle change.
Santini affirmed his choice, saying he would have no regrets because “I can shout: ‘I am Edoardo, I am 21 and I am happy’” after entering the seminary.
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“Will I become a priest? I don’t know, I am here to discover,” Santini said in his video. “But I have taken the step that terrorized me, that stopped me finally being myself. I am ready to say I made a mistake.”