A 17-year-old was blessed by Pope Francis in a touching moment at St. Patrick’s Cathedral during his big trip to New York Thursday evening.
Stephanie Gabaud was thrilled about meeting the Pope after also seeing Pope Benedict XVI during his NYC visit in 2008. The White Plains native suffers from spina bifida, a birth defect that doesn’t allow a child’s spinal cord to develop properly. Gabaud underwent four surgeries recently and was worried she wouldn’t be healthy enough to meet the Pontiff.
But her moment came shortly after 7 p.m. on Thursday, when Pope Francis entered St. Patrick’s Cathedral and blessed her.
Pix 11 reports:
As Pope Francis began his procession down the aisle at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, he stopped to hug Gabaud and kiss her on the forehead.
“He said something in Spanish that I couldn’t understand at first,” an excited Gabaud told PIX 11 News. “I wished him blessings, and then he gave me a hug. Oh my God, it was just so amazing.”
The Pope also blessed a seventh grader in a wheelchair when he arrived at the John F. Kennedy Airport earlier that day. Julia Buzzese, 12, says the blessing reassured her she will be able to walk again, NBC Philadelphia writes. The St. Bernadette School student lost feeling in her legs in May. Doctors have not yet diagnosed her.
At the newly renovated St. Patrick’s Cathedral, over 2,000 people were in attendance, including 1,000 priests. Pope Francis opened his service by paying respects to the 800 people killed in a deadly stampede near the holy city of Mecca during the annual Hajj. He also praised the priests and nuns of New York.
Since arriving in the Big Apple, the Pope has visited the United Nations, the 9/11 Memorial, and Central Park.
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