On Wednesday morning, the Pope Francis asked the faithful general audience at St Peter’s Square in Rome, to pray for a sick girl he had just met and concluded his sermon by embracing and kissing a man covered in boils and joining him in prayer.
The man suffers from neurofibromatosis - a rare genetic condition that is not contagious. If it was before people living with the painful illness are often shunned by the public.
Photos of the pontiff embracing the severely disfigured man have gone viral online, with commenters praising the pope for his compassion and kindness.
In Italian press has drawn comparisons to his illustrious namesake, St Francis of Assisi - a revered 13th century holy figure, who according to legend kissed a leper he had encountered on a road after receiving a message from God.
Last month, the pontiff allowed a little boy to remain on stage with him as he delivered a speech to 150,000 worshipers.
In March 2013, Pope Francis washes the foot of a prisoner at Casal del Marmo youth prison in Rome.Earlier this year, Francis tweeted to his 3.2million followers: ’The Pope must serve all people, especially the poor, the weak, the vulnerable.’
“We need courage if we are to be faithful to the Gospel”. Pope Francis