VATICAN CITY: Elizabeth "Lizzy" Myers, a little American girl who is losing her sight to a rare genetic disease, got her wish on Wednesday to meet 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.
Francis stroked the little girl's face and gave her a rosary.
The Myers family, from Belleville, Ohio, have spent the week in Rome taking in the city's historic sights as part of a "bucket list" they drew up in the knowledge Lizzy has only limited time to see some of the wonders of the world.
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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.
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.