Awesome pope (and former bouncer) is awesome


The shockingly disfigured man, whose full-body tumours were lovingly kissed by the Pope, has been revealed as a 53-year-old Italian suffering from a rare genetic disease. Vinicio Riva’s entire body has been ravaged by the growths, a symptom of neorofibramatosis, which is not contagious.

Earlier this month his picture shot round the world, when he was emotionally embraced by Pope Francis, at one of the pontiff’s weekly audiences in Rome.

The severely disabled man, who is shunned in the street, and has induced horror even in his doctors, has for the first time described the encounter, saying that being caressed by Francis was like ‘being in Paradise’.

He told Italian news magazine Panorama he was left speechless when Pope did not hesitate to touch him.

He said: ‘His hands were so soft. And his smile was so clear and open. But the thing that struck me most is that there has not been thinking about whether or not to hug me. I'm not contagious, but he did not know. But he just did it: he caressed me all over my face, and as he did I felt only love.

He recollected the meeting that occured two weeks ago: 'First I kissed his hand while he, with the other hand, 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.'

Mr Riva was accompanied to the Vatican's St Peter's square by his aunt, Caterina and his younger sister Morena, who also suffers from a lesser form of the disease.

The meeting with Francis marked a new beginning for him he said: ‘Later I turned to my aunt and told her: "Here I leave my pain."

Mr Riva first needed medical attention at the age of two for the genetic condition, and has since endured numerous operations on his heart, throat and eyes.

But it was the growths, that first appeared at the age of 15, that destroyed his appearance.

Now his entire face and head are covered in growths, Panorama reported. Only his left cheek, warped as if burnt in a fire is free of the painful growths. His feet are deformed and devastated by the sores, which makes walking difficult.

He lives with his sister in the council house they share in a suburb of Vicenza, working part-time as handyman in a retirement home.

Their mother was afflicted by the same condition and eventually died of it. Mr Riva himself was only expected to live until the age of 30.

The severely sick man has been reviled in the street as an ‘Elephant Man’, with mothers crossing the street to avoid him, but those in his community have now come to love him.

He said: 'Those who I have known for a long time are kind; the others are horrible.’

He is taken to Lourdes, a popular place of pilgrimage in France, every year by Catholic group Unitalsi, but it was the first time they had thought to take him to St Peter’s.

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Recent Comments »

EazyG site profile image  

11/26/13 4:01 PM by EazyG

The Pope continues to shake things up. I wish him much success in this effort as he will face much institutional resistance. Seems like he is basically calling out much of the leadership. It will be very interesting what changes he makes and what types of Cardinals he appoints.Dare I say the this Pope has some parallels with Jesus who made a life of shaking up convention and standard approaches?

MickColins site profile image  

11/26/13 1:12 PM by MickColins

The last pope looked line the emperor, this one seems to be Obi-Wan pope.

Dougie site profile image  

11/26/13 1:00 PM by Dougie

Damn, this guy is a like "Master Chief" from Halo!

CaptainWoody site profile image  

11/26/13 12:29 PM by CaptainWoody

(CNN) -  Pope Francis on Tuesday called for big changes in the Roman Catholic Church – including at the very top  – saying he knows it will be a messy business but he expects his flock to dive in feet first. "I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security," the Pope said in a major new statement.

Res ipsa loquitar site profile image  

11/21/13 12:21 PM by Res ipsa loquitar

Dumbass. The role to prove the miracles is essential to the process... You think the DA should be a serious scholar. Yes? By default, it is not a leap to assume that the people that will defend against the DA would also be scholarly, or should be based on your  position of what type of person the DA should be... So if you fing that l'eap' incredible and ridiculous, then so be it. Pure projection? no.  What I wrote has EVERYTHING to do with your point, but I will no longer be interacting with you. Your propensity for shutting down honest discussion here is second to evilyoshida as far as I have seen. I find you pretentious and an asshole anyway. good day  

Fighting site profile image  

11/21/13 11:50 AM by Fighting

Athiest here, but to be 100% honest, I teared up several times reading about this man.  The compassion he has, the look in his eyes, I feel love resonating through this man.  May he live long, and continue down this path!      

TSMontana site profile image  

11/21/13 11:34 AM by TSMontana

Am I the only one who wants to pop all of those zits?

David@accu site profile image  

11/21/13 9:29 AM by David@accu

Besides being one of the "cool kids" on the internet please explain to me what exactly about wiki makes it an unreliable source? All information is gathered from other sources and cited at the bottom of each page. The information is vetted more than most stuff out on the net. The information is also unbiased as multiple people and sources are used. If anything wiki is more reliable then most of the sources we cite. Your talking about yours and my ability to scour the net for information versus thousands of people doing it. Nine times out of ten the information we do cite from "reliable sources" is the same that's being cited on wiki. Does the information become less reliable if wiki cites it as opposed to one of us? If I went to the bottom of each wiki page and cited using the sources listed only there and not the information gathered above that, does it make the information less reliable if I didn't actually click the link to the given citation?

nottheface site profile image  

11/21/13 4:24 AM by nottheface

As a non-Christian, this is the first time I've seen this. But I love it. In this is the heart of heroism and courage.

Invisible Lats Syndrome site profile image  

11/20/13 8:01 PM by Invisible Lats Syndrome

Penn and Teller are full of shit.The journal services I have access to aren't subscribed to any medical journals. Reference is this:Mother Teresa's care for the dyingDavid Jeffrey, Joseph O'Neill, Gilly BurnThe Lancet, Volume 344, Issue 8929, Page 1098, 15 October 1994.The wikipedia article you shit on has a number of major newspaper references also.