Photos: 5-Year-Old Girl Who Is Gradually Going Blind From Rare Disease Gets Her Wish To See Pope Francis

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Pope Francis on Wednesday April 6 met Elizabeth
“Lizzy” Myers, a five-year-old American girl who
does not know she is gradually going blind from a
rare genetic disease, Usher syndrome.  Her parents
are trying to get her to see as many things as she
can, including meeting the Pope.

Photos: 5-Year-Old Girl Who Is Gradually Going Blind From Rare Disease Gets Her Wish To See Pope Francis

Accompanied by her parents and her little sister,
Lizzy was able to speak to the 79-year-old Pontiff
in an emotionally charged encounter at his weekly
general audience at St Peter’s. Pope Francis
stroked the little girl’s face and gave her a rosary.

“She was awestruck. She just teared up,” her
mother Christine Myers, who is Catholic, told
reporters afterwards. “To her he’s the big guy in
the white hat.”
“He asked us to pray for him and told us he would
pray for us,” she added.

Lizzy, whose case has received big media
coverage in the United States, is not aware that she
is suffering from Usher’s Syndrome, which will
eventually leave her deaf and blind.

Her parents said they would tell Lizzy, who already
wears a hearing aid, about her condition gradually
as she asks questions.

She could be blind in about seven years so they
have started what they call a “visual bucket list” of
sites and people they think she should see while
she can.

The Myers family, from Belleville, Ohio, have spent
the week in Rome taking in the city’s historic
sights as part of the “bucket list”, drawn up in the
knowledge that Lizzy has only limited time to see
some of the wonders of the world.

Lizzy gave the Pope a piece of a meteorite she was
given when she was a special guest at the Warren
Rupp Observatory in Mansfield, Ohio, one of the
first places on her parents’ list.

Her condition, Usher Syndrome Type II, means that
she will gradually lose her hearing and her sight.
Following publicity surrounding her diagnosis, the
family was offered free flights to anywhere in the

After reading of her case, an airline offered them
round-trip tickets to anywhere in the world and
the family chose Rome. They opted for Rome
partly because Lizzy had been struck by Francis’s
fatherly air.

As well as meeting the Pope, she has this week
visited the Colosseum and been treated to a VIP
tour of the Italian capital’s zoo.

“I feel like I have very little time to show her so
much,” her father Steve Myers said.
Her mother said she and her husband wanted to
make sure that she also saw simple things while
she could, “like bonfires and fireflies”

Source: AFP/REUTERS/Vatican Radio English/

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