Pope Francis has always been close to the people—maybe even closer than any other Pope in history. During his visits, he has been vocal about his focus on reforming the Catholic Church, mending the family, and making life better for the children. The Pope has always set aside time to meet the sick and the disabled, demonstrating this firsthand when he visited the country early this year.
So it’s no surprise that during his visit to Rome’s St. Cyril Parish in December 2013, a teenager asked him what miracle he would like to perform if he could. According to Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the Holy Father's answer was: “To heal children, because it pains me to see children suffer.”
The latest news about Pope Francis’ miraculous healing touch involves one-year-old Gianna Masciantonio. Gianna was kissed by Pope Francis when His Holiness dropped by Philadelphia two months ago during his U.S. Papal Visit. Her parents believe that Gianna’s encounter with the Pope made her brain tumor shrink until it was barely detectable, according to Mom Kristen’s Facebook post.
Gianna was diagnosed with a brain tumor shortly after birth. She has endured five rounds of chemotherapy before she was told that she had a rare histiocytic disorder called systemic juvenile xanthogranuloma and had only a few weeks to live. While the tumor isn't completely gone, dad Joey believes that the papal kiss was a crucial factor in her daughter’s road to recovery. “We believe that it’s God’s miracle, but it’s been his hand all along for us. Faith has kept us going through the really dark, dark times. Her whole life is a miracle,” he said in an interview with Yahoo Parenting.
Three-month-old Ave’s heart was reportedly “healed” by the Pope, her mom Lynn claims, after their whole family visited Rome last year in order to see Pope Francis in person during the canonization of Pope John Paul II and John XXIII. They waited for hours at the barricades as it rained, and when the Pope-mobile drove by, dad Scott raised Ave, à la Lion King-style, so His Holiness could bless her with a touch and a kiss to the forehead.
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Apart from the two holes in Ave’s heart, she also has Down syndrome, eye problems, and hearing complications. Shortly after they got home, a checkup with a cardiologist revealed that one of the holes in Ave’s heart had closed and the other was down to half its original size. "I mean it's possible that it closes just over time," Lynn said in an interview with USAToday. "But when you see the picture that the professional photographer took, his hand is here and he's a servant of God." Ave has undergone two eye surgeries and also received two hearing aids; her heart is now healthy.
Julia Bruzzese is getting treatment from a previously undiagnosed paralysis
Twelve-year-old Julia was wheelchair-bound from an unknown paralysis with no known cure when she was blessed by Pope Francis at the Kennedy airport in September this year. She wanted to meet the Pope despite her condition because “I believe in a miracle,” she says. Now, she has gotten a proper diagnosis, and there's a great chance she could walk again.
The seventh-grader found herself unable to walk a month after she lost feeling in her legs. Doctors were unable to diagnose the cause of her inability to walk; they couldn’t confirm that it was Lyme disease at first. It was only five days after Julia met the Pope that her doctors definitively confirmed that she had Lyme disease, and she was filled with renewed hope. “[It] just shows a miracle can happen if you believe, just like I did. If you believe and pray, everything can happen,” Julia said in an interview with CBS New York.
The Rhode Island couple’s encounter with the Pope happened when they visited the Vatican last year. Just weeks after they were given a marital blessing by Pope Francis, they found out that they were expecting triplets—and they said they conceived naturally. Liz and Ryan welcomed Andrew, Elliot Francis (yes, in honor of His Holiness), and Nicholas into their lives last August 20.
Liz and Ryan were told by doctors that their chances of conceiving were impossible -- a mere one to two percent, to be exact. Ryan Tremblay said in an interview with local TV channel WPRI-TV, “I was waiting for that something almost magical to happen. And you know, and for me, it was kind of the awareness that we had just been blessed by Pope Francis.” Liza described that she “just felt so full of joy” when they were in the Pope’s presence.
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True miracles or not, Pope Francis has proven to the world that he is a Church leader that the world needs, one who welcomes rather than excludes those who seek help, guidance, and spiritual healing, and also stresses the importance of keeping families intact for kids, for the future generations.
Sources: November 24, 2015. Pope Helped Cure Baby’s Brain Tumor With ‘Miracle,’ Say Parents (yahoo.com) September 29, 2015. Wheelchair Bound Girl Finds New Hope After Encounter With Pope Francis (newyork.cbslocal.com) September 23, 2015. Pope held sick baby, what happened next is amazing (usatoday.com) September 16, 2015. RI couple beats medical odds and has triplets after Pope’s blessing (wpri.com) December 10, 2013. If Pope Francis Could Do One Miracle, He Would Heal Suffering Children (huffingtonpost.com)