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A version of this interview was first published by Croatian magazine Bitno. It has been adapted and reprinted with permission.

Marko Purišić. Credit: Eurovision.

At the age of 25, Marko Purišić already had a successful career as a musician. He performed for audiences of thousands, and he was a sought-after songwriter. 

But despite his musical success, Purišić felt empty — until a religious conversion that changed his life.

Better known by his stage name, Baby Lasagna, Purišić released the hit song Rim Tim Tagi Dim earlier this year. He won a national music contest in his home country of Croatia and went on to represent the nation at the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest, where he placed second earlier this month.

Since his conversion a few years ago, Purišić said he knows how to distinguish between the happiness of succeeding in a musical competition and the true joy that comes from following Christ.

But just a few years ago, that was not the case.

“I was a god to myself, and everything was subordinated to me. And inside? Darkness, brokenness and sadness. I cried for days on end sometimes,” he told Bitno in March.

“I couldn't be around people, and I would escape to the isolation of my flat. I felt pressured, just like my heart was clenched mercilessly in someone else's fist. I was tired and despaired all the time, and soon I became depressed.”

When the heaviness became unbearable, he recounted, he called his father, who took him to meet a priest whom his dad was close friends.

That conversation marked a turning point for Purišić.

“Having met with him, the darkness slowly began to disappear, and happiness and a feeling of fulfilment took its place,” he said.

“For the first time I wanted to listen in the church, and not just talk,” he explained. “What do you want to tell me, God? How can you help me? And I received an answer. It was not some kind of audio recording directed at my ears, it was more of a feeling in my heart, with which God let me know: ‘You are mine’.”

“God became a living person for me at that moment. When I remember those words, I start to cry,” he said.

Born in Umag, Croatia, Purišić had grown up attending church with his parents regularly. 

But he said that while he went through the motions of the faith, he viewed Catholicism as a kind of folklore, meant to give him good luck.

“I went to church, but I behaved the way I wanted to. Even when I prayed, that was always subordinated to my current wants and needs,” he recalled.

At one point, he said, he was part of a band with anti-Christian iconography. 

When he made the decision to embrace his faith, Purišić knew he would need to give up certain elements of his life.

“I quit listening to some bands I used to like, especially those whose iconography and songs were anti-Christian, but that happened naturally. Just like a bodybuilder who wants to win some contest gives up pizza. It just doesn't go together.”

But ultimately, he said, “I didn't lose anything, and I gained everything. With God I got myself back.”

Living the faith does not mean that his problems have disappeared, he clarified.

“After my conversion, I thought - naively - that my life would be easier. Darkness disappeared from my heart, replaced by light, but some suffering is still there,” he said. “I expected God to be some sort of a manager, who will direct my life and solve my problems, but I encountered challenges and struggle instead. But I would say I am making progress in that struggle.”

Purišić admitted that sometimes he has a feeling that his time for God is slipping from his hands because of his new fame and increasing preoccupations it brings. That is why he often wonders if this kind of life really is for him.

“It was always a dream of mine to make a living making music, but sometimes I'm not sure if that's God's will for me,” he admitted. “I’m inspired by saints, by their modesty and poverty, so I wonder if you can combine those two things. But then again, perhaps it's necessary to bring something that isn't merely sex, drugs and cheap ditties in this sludge we call music. That's the next thing I will discuss with my spiritual advisor.” 

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When it comes to saints, Purišić said his particular role models are Saint Padre Pio and Saint Paul. He also draws inspiration from the Russian literary classics and classical music. 

Despite the demands of his musical career, Purišić takes care to nourish his faith.

“I read several chapters from the Bible every morning, because I think it is important to know His Word. I also listen to Christian music. I watch ‘The Chosen.’ I think every single episode made me cry,” he said.

“Actually, I find things that console me everywhere around me. But the Eucharist is the thing that means the most to me, and during Advent I love to go to Rorate Masses. Last year I missed it only once,” he continued.

As Purišić continues to discern his future, he said his focus is on his ultimate heavenly goal.

“I would like to be like those saints who wanted to die for their Lord. Like Saint Peter, who asked to be crucified with his head down,” he said. “There is a voice in me that tells me I am not brave enough or strong enough. But there is a louder voice, that says: ‘Do not be afraid’.”

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