Pope Francis took the time Wednesday to do one simple thing that has now captivated the globe: He embraced and prayed with a man covered in tumors in St. Peter’s Square.
The encounter between the pontiff and the unnamed individual reportedly took place after Francis addressed his general audience, when the man approached the Catholic leader and asked to be blessed.
The man reportedly suffers from neurofibromatosis, which according to the Mayo Clinic is a “genetic disorder that disturbs cell growth in your nervous system, causing tumors to form on nerve tissue.” It is not contagious.
While individuals with neurofibromatosis are sometimes shunned because of their appearance, Francis wasted no time kissing the man’s face, embracing him and offering up a blessing.
The response to the pontiff’s action was strong, with The Washington Post noting that it reminded some of Matthew 8, a Bible chapter in which Jesus heals a leper. And there’s also his namesake St. Francis Assisi, the 13th century Catholic friar who was said to have once kissed a leper.
Among those commending the pope was the star of “The Middle” and “Everybody Loves Raymond,” actress Patricia Heaton. Heaton, a Christian, tweeted, “How much do I love (Pope Francis)? SO much.”
We will be discussing this story and all the day’s news on our live BlazeCast with Editor-in-Chief Scott Baker (@bakerlink) beginning at 2:00 pm ET:
Here are some of the other responses floating around Twitter:
Pope Francis has repeatedly tweeted and spoken out about the importance of caring for the poor and infirm. It seems he’s putting his words into action.
(H/T: Daily Mail)