At Wednesday’s general audience, Pope Francis met and blessed the eyes of Lizzy Myers, a five year old girl from Ohio suffering from Usher Syndrome Type II, a rare condition causing the gradual loss of vision and hearing.
When Lizzy was first diagnosed, her parents, Steve and Christine Myers, decided to make a “visual bucket list” to help Lizzy see as much of the world as she could before she starts to lose her sight. One of their first visits was to an observatory, where Lizzy could see the moon, stars, and meteors. Once the media picked up this story, Turkish Airlines offered to cover the cost of a trip to anywhere in the world. When they decided on Rome, the Italian charity U.N.I.T.A.L.S.I. invited them to the Vatican for this once in a lifetime opportunity.
“I never expected this in a million years when we first started the journey,” Steve Myers said.
Upon meeting the Holy Father, Lizzy handed him a small meteorite. He thanked Lizzy, told her parents he will pray for their family, and asked them to pray for him as well. Vatican Radio's Sophia Pizzi spoke to Lizzy's parents after the audience and asked them about their feelings on meeting the Pope.
Awestruck, Steve Myers said he was nervous beforehand, but a sense of calmness came over him as the Pope blessed his daughter. Christine Myers described it as “the first time she had felt an overwhelming sense of peace" since the diagnosis of their daughter's illness.
The family originally chose to visit Rome because of its rich visuals in artwork and architecture. So far, Lizzy has been “enthralled” by everything she has seen, including the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Sistine Chapel. “You have to be with her to understand how much she enjoys everything she sees,” her father said after describing how she sat and stared at the walls of the Sistine Chapel.
Next on Lizzy’s bucket list is a visit to Wyoming, though her parents note that not everything on the list involves travel. It includes normal activities too, such as catching fireflies at night, blowing bubbles, and flying a kite.
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