Pope Francis, pausing for a moment to pray and lay his hands on a man with a disfiguring disease. The man gently burying his head in the Pope’s chest, his many facial tumors visible.
His encounter with the ailing man occurred in Vatican City on Wednesday at the end of the general audience, which had about 50,000 attendees.
Images of the Pope’s embrace in St. Peter’s Square went viral on social media.
“I’m an atheist, but the more I hear about Pope Francis, the more I like him,” Donna Hosie tweeted.
Some say Pope Francis is living up to the ideals of his namesake, Francis of Assisi, a preeminent figure who considered himself a servant to the poor and destitute.
Since taking over as the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, the Pope has highlighted the need to reach out to the poor and afflicted.
“Lord, teach us to step outside ourselves,” he tweeted in August. “Teach us to go out into the streets and manifest your love.”
A month later, he echoed the same sentiment. [More]