A man once voted the most handsome in Italy has quit his modelling job, and abandoned his dreams of becoming an actor, to join the priesthood.
Edoardo Santini, 21, was voted Italy's most beautiful man in 2019, when he was 17, in a pageant organised by ABE, a fashion group.
However, after years of studying drama and dance to achieve his dream of becoming a star, he took to social media on Saturday, Dec. 2, to disclose that he would renounce his career for his faith.
He wrote: "At 21 years of age I find myself on the path towards becoming a priest, God willing."
He added that he has joined a seminary near Florence.
"I've decided to give up modelling work, acting and dance, but I won't abandon all my passions, I'll just live them differently, offering them up to God," said the Castel Fiorentino native.
He added: "At 21 years old my father took the decision to marry my mother because she was pregnant and my mum, at 21, became a mother.
"Me, at 21-years-old, I find myself taking the path to become, God willing, a priest. In these past years I've been able to meet people who have shown me what it means to be 'church'.
"They have given me the strength to investigate this question that I've taken with me from childhood but various fears stopped me from studying it at a deeper level. Last year, I took the first step," he said.
Edoardo said he went to live with two priests and called it the "best experience of my life".
"At the end of the year it was natural for me to ask the bishop to enter the preparatory course, the year that precedes life in the seminary. And here I am, studying theology and serving two parishes in the Florentine diocese."
Now, he says, he has "put aside my job as a model and a dancer", in favour of a new "world" where he has "met marvellous people with pure hearts, to whom I owe a lot, who allowed me to grow".
"Of course I won't abandon everything," he added. "Because they make me who I am but I will live them in a different context."
Edoardo said he would continue to follow his new path in spite of backlash.
He said: "Of course I have people that speak behind my back. There are those who have no problem telling me that I'm a disappointment, even in my family. But there are also those who support me, believers and non-believers."
He said that although it "terrified him" to abandon his dream and become a priest, he was sure he will not regret the decision "because now I can shout: I am Edoardo, I am 21 years old and I am happy".
In a video shared on his Instagram page last week he shared a clip of him appearing to pray in a church, with the caption: "I got back on my path".
He also updated his profile bio to "I'm a Christian, priest wannabe".