Published April 02, 2013
March 31: Pope Francis hugs Dominic Gondreau, 8, who has cerebral palsy. The boy’s father says he was moved to tears when he saw it was his son on the giant video screens. (AP)
Paul and Christina Gondreau of Johnston and their five children attended Easter Mass at the Vatican. An usher directed the boy, Dominic, who has cerebral palsy, and his mother to an area designated for handicapped children, said Paul Gondreau, a theology professor at Providence College who is teaching this semester in Rome.
When the pope’s vehicle arrived, the same usher motioned to the driver to stop and with the help of the mother, held the boy up to Pope Francis, who took the boy in his arms and kissed him, The boy appeared to try to bring his right arm around to embrace the pontiff.
Videos and photos of the pontiff standing in the “popemobile” and holding Dominic were transmitted worldwide. Pope Francis also hugged and kissed other children as he greeted the crowd after Mass.
A story on the Providence College website says Paul Gondreau called the moment “an incredibly moving encounter.”
He says his son teaches him daily lessons about how to love.
The Associated Press contributed to this report