Vatican City, Nov 6, 2013 / 14:30 pm
At the end of the Nov. 6, 2013, general audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis drew attention by warmly embracing a man who suffers from a rare disease causing neuronal tumors all over his body.
His name is Vinicio Riva, a 53-year-old Italian who has suffered from neurofibromatosis since he was 15. A few days ago he moved Pope Francis in a meeting that touched the world. He recently retold what happened and felt on Nov. 6 before the crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Neurofibromatosis causes great pain and can result in impaired vision, learning impairnment, and even cancer, according to non-profit research group Mayo Clinic. Treatment of the condition is very complicated.
People with this disease – which is genetic and not contagious – often face discrimination because of their appearance.