· Vatican City ·

Audience with participants in the Surgical Congress of the Association of Alumni of Professor Ivo Pitanguy

Drawing smiles on the faces of children who are sick

 Drawing smiles  on the faces of children who are sick  ING-021
24 May 2024

Pope Francis on Thursday, 23 May, received in audience a group of plastic surgeons and thanked them for their compassionate service, particularly in helping sick children. The physicians present were in Rome to attend the aexpi meeting taking place 24-25 May on the theme, “When science meets beauty”. He highlighted the fact that as human beings, doctors, and Christians, they respond to a calling that goes well beyond physical aesthetics. True beauty, the Pope noted, “transcends what is visible to the eye”. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s words.

Dear brothers and sisters,

I welcome you with a smile on my lips — natural, not remodelled! In one of your cooperation projects, you try to “draw” a smile on the faces of many sick children and, by helping them, you also bring it to their families and, in a certain sense, society as a whole. I thank you for this discreet service to others.

But as human beings, as doctors, as Christians, we know that our faces are destined to reflect a beauty that goes beyond what can be perceived with the eyes of the body. A beauty that is not subject to the planned trends of the fashion business, the business of culture, the business of appearances, but which connects to the truth of humanity, to its most intimate being, which we cannot disfigure.

Saint Paul tells us: “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness” (2 Cor 3:18). May this truth always guide your hand to bring to the world that image of God that is impressed upon our being, upon good works, upon love that is given, upon love that is spread.

It is interesting that Scripture presents Jesus to us as “the fairest of the sons of men” (Ps 45:2), and as he whose appearance, through suffering, as “so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the sons of men” (Is 52:14). Jesus shows us in this paradox his true image, and our own, which passes through the journey of the cross, through the acceptance of our smallness, to the point of reaching perennial glory, a hope that neither disappoints nor withers (cf. 1 Cor 9:25). I hope that God may bless you and the Virgin keep you. And do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.