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.
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
Her parents said they would tell Lizzy, who already wears a
hearing aid, about her condition gradually as she asks
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 world.
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
“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/Tv2000