Pope Francis has blessed the eyes of a five-year-old Ohio girl who suffers from a rare genetic disease that is gradually robbing her of her sight.
Lizzy Myers and her family had special seats for Francis’s general audience.
The Vatican visit capped off a week of touring that is part of the “visual bucket list” her parents have crafted to show Lizzy some of the wonders of the world while she can still see them.
So far, they’ve seen the statue of Julius Caesar, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
Lizzy does not know she suffers from Usher’s Syndrome, which will take away her hearing and gradually make her blind.
Lizzy and her family, including three-year-old sister Michaela, met Francis, who spent several minutes with her at the end.
He caressed her, hugged her, and placed his hands over her eyes. She gave him a meteorite chunk.
Her mother, Christine Myers, said afterward that Lizzy was “awe-struck. She was totally big-eyed and it was a very powerful moment for her”.
The family is in Rome courtesy of Turkish Airlines; Its general manager heard her story and offered free plane tickets to anywhere in the world.
The family chose Rome because of its history and beauty.
A local hotel offered them lodging.
Lizzy’s father, Steve Myers, said he had been nervous ahead of the audience but that as the Pope approached his family, he felt an incredible sense of calm.
“You know, I believe myself, and I think that what Pope Francis has done for her, if there is any chance for a miracle, it would be there,” he said.
“He asked that we pray for him and said that he would be praying for us.”
Her father said after Lizzy received the diagnosis “we realised that we have to do as much as we can to let her see as many wonderful things as possible”.
The first item on their bucket list was the Warren Rupp observatory near their home, where Lizzy could look through a telescope at the moon and the stars.
Someone at the observatory invited a journalist and before the Myers knew it, Lizzy’s story was all over the news and they were receiving generous offers to help them show her much more in the short time she has before her sight fails.
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