Pope Francis Blesses & Embraces Disfigured Man In St Peter's Square (PICTURE)

Pope Francis put on another touching display of compassion this week as he blessed and embraced a severely disfigured man.

The pontiff was holding his weekly audience in St Peter’s Square, when he was approached by the man.

Little is known about the devotee, who queued in the rain along with 40,000 others, but Francis did not hesitate to caress the man’s hands as he delivered his blessing on Wednesday.

Pope Francis met the man in St Peter's Square on Wednesday

Vinicio Riva suffers from neurofibromatosis, a genetic disease which causes boils, impaired vision and sometimes cancer.

The 53-year-old later told an Italian magazine of the encounter: "I tried to speak, to tell him something, but I couldn't. The emotion was too strong. It all lasted not more than a minute, but it seemed an eternity.

"But what astonished me is that he didn't think twice on embracing me.

"I'm not contagious, but he didn't know. He just did it; he caressed all my face, and while he was doing that, I felt only love."

Pope Francis caresses Vinicio Riva in Saint Peter's Square at the end of his General Audience in Vatican City, 6 November 2013

The kindness of Pope Francis has seen him heralded as a champion of the poor and disadvantaged since he was elected earlier this year.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, before his appointment as Pope, Francis washed the kissed the feet of people including drug addicts and HIV/ AIDs patients.

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