Pope Francis on Wednesday quoted Italian actress Anna Magnani in slamming cosmetic surgery and the cult of eternal youth. Criticising those that “cultivate the myth of eternal youth as the desperate obsession for incorruptible flesh,” Francis slammed “so much cosmetic work, so many surgical interventions” at his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square. He recalled that great neorealist star Magnani once said “don’t hide my wrinkles, I’ve taken so many years to get them”. On cosmetic medicine in general, he concluded “wellbeing is one thing, but feeding the myth of youth is quite another”.
His comments were part of a general reflection on “the myth of eternal youth.” Referring to Magnani’s comment, the Pope said, “This is what wrinkles are: a sign of experience, a sign of life, a sign of maturity, a sign of having made a journey. Do not touch them to become young, that your face might look young. What matters is the entire personality; it’s the heart that matters, and the heart remains with the youth of good wine — the more it ages, the better it is.”
The pope’s live-streamed catechesis was the 13th in a cycle on old age that he began in February. He entered St. Peter’s Square in a white jeep, stopping to invite children in bright green hats to join him for part of his journey among pilgrims. He was leaning on a walking stick.
Focusing on the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, a Pharisee, described in John 3:1–21, Pope Francis added that, “Indeed, being old is not only not an obstacle to the being born from above that Jesus speaks of, but it becomes the opportune time to illuminate it, disassociating it from being equated with lost hope.”
He went on: “Our epoch and our culture, which demonstrates a worrisome tendency to consider the birth of a child as the simple matter of the production and biological reproduction of the human being, cultivate the myth of eternal youth as the desperate obsession with an incorruptible body.”