On November 6, 2013, in front of St. Peter’s, Pope Francis prayed with Vinicio Riva, an Italian man with neurofibromatosis type 1, a severely disfiguring genetic disease. The picture went viral within hours, and was followed up by a similar event two weeks later.
The pontiff’s pointed embraces of both men heralded back to Francis of Assisi, who famously ministered to lepers. The photos stand as powerful symbols of his commitment to the ignored.
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