Pope Francis has apparently left quite an impression on pop star Katy Perry.
“It’s a combination of compassion, humility, sternness and refusal,” Perry said in a wide-ranging interview published Wednesday. “He is rebel ― a rebel for Jesus.”
Perry said she appreciated the pope’s love of animals, and that he took the name of her favorite saint, Francis of Assisi. She also said she admires that he sticks to his vow of poverty, even at the Vatican.
The pope is indeed known for his simple lifestyle. He has opted to live at a Vatican City guesthouse instead of the much grander papal apartments at the Apostolic Palace, and he’s known for popping out to local shops in Rome to buy his own shoes and eyeglasses.
“He is bringing the Church back to humility and connecting with people,” Perry said. “He’s very humble and not frivolous.”
Perry briefly met Francis at the Vatican while she was in town for a health conference in April. She was chosen to speak at the international meeting about the benefits of Transcendental Meditation, a technique she credits with helping her gain control over her anxiety and stress.
Perry’s parents are evangelical Christian pastors, but her mother was raised as a Roman Catholic. The singer told Vogue that she went to Mass with her mom while on her recent tour ― an experience that left a deep impact on her.
“She hadn’t sung those songs in 40 years and watching her made me cry,” Perry said. “It’s so beautiful and humbling to re-center in a place where it’s not about anything else but reconnecting with the divine.”
The star has often spoken about breaking free from her sheltered, conservative upbringing ― and about how she has found comfort in spirituality that exists outside of traditional religious denominations.
Perry told Marie Claire in 2013 that she has connected with her spiritual side through meditation and the writings of Eckhart Tolle. She said she doesn’t believe in a heaven, hell “or an old man sitting on a throne,” but that she does believe in a higher power and feels a deep connection with God. She said she prays for self-control and humility, as well as to give thanks.
Perry told Vogue Australia she felt a sense of “brokenness” and “situational depression” when she received negative reviews for her 2017 album “Witness.” To help her find her balance after the setback, she said she attended a week-long personal growth retreat at California’s Hoffman Institute in January.
“That brokenness, plus me opening up to a greater, higher power and reconnecting with divinity, gave me a wholeness I never had,” she said. “It gave me a new foundation. It’s not just a material foundation: it’s a soul foundation.”
Perry said her mom has prayed for her throughout her life, hoping that the star would “come back to God.”
“I never left him,” Perry said. “I was just a little bit secular, I was more materialistic and more career-driven. But now that I’m in my 30s, it’s more about spirituality and heart wholeness.”