Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Photos: "I felt as though my heart was leaving my body': Terribly disfigured man who was held by the Pope shares his story

The disfigured man whose full-body tumours were lovingly kissed by the Pope has told the moving story of his life for the first time in an exclusive interview with DailyMail.
Vinicio Riva, from Vicenza in northern Italy, is covered from head-to-toe by the growths, a symptom of his genetic disease neorofibramatosis.Earlier this month the 53-year-old's picture shot round the world, when he was warmly embraced by Pope Francis at one of the pontiff's weekly audiences.

The brave man has described the encounter, saying that being caressed by the Pope made his heart beat so fast he thought he 'would die'.

The pontiff's hug was like paradise. 'He didn't even think about whether or not to hug me. 'I'm not contagious, but he didn't know that. But he just did it, he caressed me all over my face, and as he did I felt only love. 'He came down from the altar to see the sick people. He embraced me without saying a word. I felt as though my heart was leaving my body.
'He was completely silent but sometimes you can say more when you say nothing.'  'First, I kissed his hand while with the other hand he 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.'
He was accompanied to the Vatican by his aunt, Caterina Lotto, 68. Afterwards he felt so emotional and his heart was beating so hard he turned to her and said: 'This is going to kill me .'Mr Riva lives with his sister Morena, 46, in the council house they share outside Vicenza.He has endured numerous operations on his heart, throat and eyes, and often gets short of breath as a result of his condition.Mr Riva suffers from open wounds on his legs that bleed onto his clothes and always wakes wearing a T-shirt covered in blood.
Mr Riva with his Aunt and sister
His sister Morena also suffers from the disease, although from a far milder form. Their mother Rosalia was the genetic carrier that passed on the disease but she did not develop any symptoms until she had children. Until the age of 15, Mr Riva was an unblemished, self-assured adolescent. But then the growths appeared all over his body, inch by painful inch.Now his entire face and head are covered in the boils. Only his left cheek, which is warped, is free of the painful growths.

He has not had a girlfriend since he was a young man after having his heart broken.But despite the heartache,he says he would like to meet a person who suffers from the same condition 'out of interest' but especially a woman, for a possible relationship.


  1. This is touching, sickness de this one can tell what this man is going through emotionally. Even I know he is not contagious, I myt still run away or be repulsed. Thank God for lil acts of kindness

  2. Only God heals....I believe God can heal dis man if only he believes and prays to God wholeheartedly......May God have mercy on him and answer our prayers as we pray for him...

  3. So touching
    The good Lord will heal you

  4. If you want your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (no matter why you broke up) you have to watch this video
    right away...

    (VIDEO) Want your ex CRAWLING back to you...?


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