Disfigured Man Embraced By Pope Breaks Silence

'It was like being in Paradise. I felt only love': Terribly disfigured man who was held by the Pope in moment that moved the world is revealed as Italian, 53, who has been sick since childhood

  • Vinicio Riva has been ravaged by neorofibramatosis
  • Growths began to develop when he was just 15
  • His sister Morena suffers from lesser form of disease
  • Their mother died from the same horrific condition
  • Met Pope Francis in St Peter's Square earlier this month

 
You might find the pics disturbing.
 
 

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.

 

Act of kindness: Pope Francis (left) comforted Vinicio Riva, a 52-year-old Italian who had travelled to Rome for a audience in Saint Peter's Square earlier this month
 
Act of kindness: Pope Francis (left) comforted Vinicio Riva, a 52-year-old Italian who had travelled to Rome for a audience in Saint Peter's Square earlier this month
 
 

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 of a fortnight 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"'.

 

Francis

Touching moment: The pontiff kissed Mr Riva, who suffers from a rare disease called neurofibromatosis, which is genetic and not contagious 
 
 

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.

 

This fucking Pope......is fucking awesome.

This pope may be able to help the way the catholic church is viewed.

Yea i still dont care much for religion, but this pope seems like a real straight shooter with upper management written all over him.

PUBLIC's_bsc_in_my_bloodyfluid - Yea i still dont care much for religion, but this pope seems like a real straight shooter with upper management written all over him.


I concur.

New pope kisses male freak. Gay agenda pushes onward.


- Fox news.

Sagiv Lapkin - 


This fucking Pope......is fucking awesome.


Im an atheist, a former catholic


and I completely agree with you.

What we have seen from this man thus far is nothing short of impressive.

BigEyedFish - 
Sagiv Lapkin - 


This fucking Pope......is fucking awesome.


Im an atheist, a former catholic


and I completely agree with you.

What we have seen from this man thus far is nothing short of impressive.


I'm also an atheist, but I have to give this guy his due. He is consistently doing awesome shit.

Ridgeback - 
PUBLIC's_bsc_in_my_bloodyfluid - Yea i still dont care much for religion, but this pope seems like a real straight shooter with upper management written all over him.


What is religion?  Try to define it in a way and you will see that it is nearly impossible to find a definition that fits all the forms that exist in human history.  I don't know how you could be for or against something so diverse.  It is like being against language or money.


because the vast majority of them claim to be either the right one or the only one despite the pluralities and diversities that you site.

but lets not turn this thread into another debate over religion. There are tons of others for that.

shaqitup - 


This pope may be able to help the way the catholic church is viewed.


He will be disposed of before this happens.

Dude is going to shake too much shit up

New pope seems to be a decent human Phone Post 3.0

Ridgeback - 
PUBLIC's_bsc_in_my_bloodyfluid - Yea i still dont care much for religion, but this pope seems like a real straight shooter with upper management written all over him.


What is religion?  Try to define it in a way and you will see that it is nearly impossible to find a definition that fits all the forms that exist in human history.  I don't know how you could be for or against something so diverse.  It is like being against language or money.


I said i dont care for it, not that i am "Against" it.

I dont really work in any way to prevent people from being religious. I say live and let live. I am a supporter of religious freedom. The only thing i am "against" is religion forced on anyone through government or force.

I dont think its like language or money at all. All religion organized or not, seems based on falsehood.

PatK - 
shaqitup - 


This pope may be able to help the way the catholic church is viewed.


He will be disposed of before this happens.

Dude is going to shake too much shit up

wouldnt surprise me one bit if that were the case

if you see whackjobs like sarah palin disagreeing with the pope of all people, that is a sign...

the skeptic in me has me wondering if they knew the guys condition wasn't contagious

the pope is pretty well guarded... I have a hard time believing a regular joe wouldn't be vetted

Didn't I read about the pope turning a $40 000 000 mansion that was obtained in a crooked fashion to a $40 000 000 soup kitchen? I'm not a religious man, but this pope will do beautiful things to this world of ours. Phone Post 3.0

best pope ever?

I wonder if the Westboro babtist church people see this and think maybe they are going about it the wrong way? Phone Post 3.0

Baptist* Phone Post 3.0

Is The Pope giving him some of his holy juice?

 

PUBLIC's_bsc_in_my_bloodyfluid -
Ridgeback - 
PUBLIC's_bsc_in_my_bloodyfluid - Yea i still dont care much for religion, but this pope seems like a real straight shooter with upper management written all over him.


What is religion?  Try to define it in a way and you will see that it is nearly impossible to find a definition that fits all the forms that exist in human history.  I don't know how you could be for or against something so diverse.  It is like being against language or money.


I said i dont care for it, not that i am "Against" it.

I dont really work in any way to prevent people from being religious. I say live and let live. I am a supporter of religious freedom. The only thing i am "against" is religion forced on anyone through government or force.

I dont think its like language or money at all. All religion organized or not, seems based on falsehood.
Shhhhh.... We're feeling good. Shhhhhh Phone Post 3.0