The moment of paradise

Pope Franc n isvinicio-riva

A severely disfigured man who was warmly embraced by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square has described the moment as ‘like being in paradise’.

Vinicio Riva, who suffers from the genetic disease neurofibromatosis, leaving his body covered in painful tumours, was pictured meeting the pontiff earlier this month. The Pope hugged the 53-year-old from northern Italy as thousands gathered to watch his weekly address.

Remembering the moment, Mr Riva said: ‘I felt as though my heart was leaving my body.’

He told MailOnline: ‘I’m not contagious, but he didn’t know that. But he just did it: he caressed me all over my face, and as he did I felt only love.

The Pope was praised for his compassion following the embrace. ‘He came down from the altar to see the sick people. He embraced me without saying a word.’

‘He was completely silent but sometimes you can say more when you say nothing.’

He added: ‘First, I kissed his hand while with the other hand he caressed my head and wounds. Then he drew me to him in a strong embrace, kissing my face.

‘My head was against his chest his arms were wrapped around me. It lasted just over a minute, but to me it seemed like an eternity.’

The picture of their embrace saw the pontiff being compared to St Francis of Assisi, who he took his name from.

 

Source: http://metro.co.uk/2013/11/19/vinicio-riva-pope-francis-meeting-was-like-paradise-says-disfigured-man-4192528/

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