"What makes a beautiful girl? Is it her charm, her smile, her physique, her intelligence, her elegance, or her character?" St. Peter further says that woman's beauty resides in a heart which is chaste, having the imperishable qualities of a gentle and quiet spirit. (1Pt 3:4-7) Woman created in the image of God symbolizes or points to divine beauty which is eternal.
Unfortunately, our society has emphasized physical beauty which is exploited for commercial ends. Men are attracted to physical beauty, so she is being used to sell cars, cameras, and countless other objects. Likewise, advertizers appeal to her desire to be beautiful suggesting that she will be beautiful if she uses cosmetics and jewelry. But, physical beauty devoid spiritual beauty is an empty shell, an empty promise which aging takes away. In the end what is left is the beauty of her heart.
To get a glimpse of divine beauty listen Jakie Evancho, a ten year old girl, who has an inspiring angelic voice, a voice which rouses the human spirit. Please click on image to hear her rendition of "O Mio Babbino Caro" on YouTube. Her beautiful voice and harmonic performance is beautiful. It appeals the the hearts of both men and women who recognize their capacity for tragic love. I do not understand why her producers have left out from this aria by Puccini the words, "O Dio, vorrei morir!" meaning, "Oh God, I wish to die!".
Precisely because woman is a living symbol of the beautiful there is in man's heart the tendency to idealize woman. So there developed in Medieval Europe the "Courtly Love" tradition. For the troubadour, "The Beloved was usually the woman. She was to embody the ideal of the Divine Feminine, Sophia, Divine Wisdom. She was to be ever slightly out of reach, but within sight. Her presence was to draw the Lover with her presence, her goodness, her feminine divinity. She was to be a beacon. In striving to embody this for her Lover, she was to merge with the Divine she embodied."( Ivan M. Granger Website: Troubadour Poets and Poetry)
The above description surely fits the love of Dante for Beatrice who said of her,
all that I have looked on with these eyes
Thy goodness and thy power have fitted me
The holiness and grace to recognize.(Paradiso, Canto 31, 82)
So, what was Beatrice like? A true lady who when she walked down a street in Florence people ran to see her. "And when she was near to someone, such reverence entered his heart that he did not presume to raise his eyes or respond to her greeting. There are many who can bear witness to this from their own experience, for anyone who doubts it. She went crowned and clothed in humility, displaying no pride in what she saw of heard. Many people said, after she had passed by: 'This is no woman, but one of Heaven's most beautiful angels!' Other said: "She is a marvel! Blessed be the Lord Who can perform such wonders!'" (Dante Alighieri, New Life, Hesparus Press Limited, London, 2003, p. 48)
Even after her death, his love for her was ever present in his life. She is immortalized in his Paradiso as one of his guides toward the vision of God. Her influence was unmistakable as he wrote in the Paradiso, Dante prays that she may gaze always upon him so that at death his soul may please her. Before leaving him on his journey toward God, Beatrice seemed to look upon Dante with a smile "Then to the eternal fountain turned her head". She turns to God who is the eternal fountain of love as if to say, the goodness and beauty which you see in me is only a reflection of God's infinite goodness and love which surpasses our understanding.
"True femininity arouses true masculinity. Think about it -- all those heroes in all these tales play the hero because there is a woman in his life, a true Beauty who is his inspiration. It's simple and profound. True femininity call forth true masculinity. We awaken it, arouse it in a way that nothing else on earth comes close." (John & Stasi Eldredge, Captivating, Thomas Nelson, Inc, TN, 2005, pp. 130-131) She encourages man to do what is hard and virtuous in life for the love of her who points toward Divine Beauty.