The model who gave up Chanel for a life of prayer

Model and TV presenter Ania Golędzinowska tells Paolo Gambi why she left the world of glitzy celebrity for Medjugorje

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By Paolo Gambi

As Silvio Berlusconi grapples with the greatest crisis the Italian republic has ever seen, a member of his extended family has gone on a long retreat to Medjugorje. Ania Golędzinowska, the Polish girlfriend of Paolo Enrico Beretta, the Italian prime minister’s nephew (he is the son of Silvio Berlusconi’s late sister, Maria Antonietta), has moved to the town in Bosnia and Herzegovina to lead a life of prayer.

How did you end up in Medjugorje?

The first time I was invited by a friend who also paid for the trip. I had a sort of an allergy for priests and the Church. But that first trip changed my life, so much so that for the following two years I was no longer able to live serenely, because I realised that I had never been really happy in my entire life. What I was living was an illusion, not true happiness. I became depressed. I had a privileged life that I no longer liked. Instead, I wanted simple, normal things. One morning I woke up, called a friend and asked him to find me a place to stay in Medjugorje – or I would have jumped out of the window. I left Italy with two bags without telling anyone. And here I am.

How long have you been in Medjugorje and when are you going to come back to Italy?

I’ve been here almost three months. Actually, my first thought was to come here just for a few days, because on June 25 I should have started a PR job in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, at the billionaire Flavio Briatore’s club. But June 25 was also the 30th anniversary of the apparitions in Medjugorje. After five days here I terminated the contract and have decided to remain. I am in a Marian community and I live with priests and nuns.

How do you spend your day?

I wake up at five in the morning. We climb the mountain Podbrdo to recite a rosary, then we go down, we have prayers, then Holy Mass. Until noon we work. I clean the rooms and bathrooms, then I do the ironing, or peel potatoes. We also have a vegetable garden and chickens. After that we recite another rosary. In the afternoon we rest, then at six there are other prayers.

You’re spending the summer in a place of prayer, far enough away from everything and everyone. Don’t you miss Formentera, Sardinia and other places like that?

Absolutely not. Many of my old friends cannot comprehend what I am doing. They don’t understand how I can be happy doing what maybe my cleaning lady did before. In fact, I think I have never been so happy. I feel like when I was a child, when I was little and I lived with my poor and simple family. Everything I do makes me feel satisfied. I feel loved by God and by those around me, without having to disguise myself by what I have never been. I know that people are close to me for who I really am, not for profit. I left everything. I get dressed with the “clothes of Providence”, which sometimes the pilgrims leave here, because my clothes did not fit in Medjugorje. I could not come here wearing Chanel shoes…

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For God to live in your hearts, you must love.