Pope Francis brought great joy to residents in a small Italian town at the weekend when he stopped his motorcade after a group of people with signs caught his attention.
The Holy See and his entourage were travelling on a road near the home of a family when he noticed them holding banners reading: "Please Pope stop here to see an angel who has been waiting for you," and, "Please come and bless little Roberta."
A heartwarming video uploaded by the family on Facebook shows the Pope step out from his car as Roberta, who is lying in a stretcher, is taken by her family to meet him.
The family of Roberta, a young woman who cannot breathe unassisted or travel very far away from her home, hoped to greet Pope Francis as he returned to the Vatican from Cassano allo Jonio, where he denounced the mafia.
The family got their wish as the pope rushed to greet them, blessing Roberta with a kiss before shaking hands with her friends and family. He hopped out of his car almost before it stopped moving in his eagerness to meet the family.
Pope Francis has repeatedly emphasised the importance of caring for the vulnerable, particularly the disabled and the poor. This past Holy Thursday, he performed a ritual foot washing for twelve elderly and disabled people at the Don Gnocchi Center in Rome, wiping and kissing their feet.
Roberta's family showed their appreciation with a large banner hung in front of their house, which said, "Thank you very much!"
Her family also voiced their gratitude to the Holy Father on Facebook, the Catholic News Agency reported.
“I still can't believe it, thank you Holy Father...I thank the Pope for having given us a moment of great joy,” her sister, Pamela, wrote.
Ivan Vania, a friend who helped make the posters calling the Pope’s attention said: “It was very emotional to see how Pope Francis greeted Roberta.
"There are gestures in life that are worth more than speeches, much more than you would think...Pope Francis is unique.”Suggest a correction