PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia family is taking in a special surprise from Pope Francis himself, almost a year after he changed their lives with a simple kiss on the head.
Many have called it the “Miracle on Market Street.” Gianna Masciantonio continues to fight a rare inoperable brain tumor that her parents discovered a few weeks after she was born in September 2014.
“That kiss meant more to my family than anyone could ever imagine, “her father Joey Masciantonio told Eyewitness News.
Gianna continues to make major strides and Eyewitness News has followed her along the way. She’s starting to talk, walk and she’s full of energy. She joined her mom, dad and brother Dominic, 5, for a special ceremony in Philadelphia honoring Dominic as he was sworn in as a Deputy U.S. Marshal for the day. He idolizes those who carry a badge.
The Masciantonio family has always had a special relationship with law enforcement. FBI agents helped them meet Pope Francis on that sunny day last September. FBI Special Agent Don Asper helped make it all possible, by getting the Pope’s attention as he made his way down Market Street in front of Independence Hall.
“No one there on the street knew anything was wrong with Gianna. They didn’t know her condition. The Pope certainly didn’t know that she had an inoperable brain tumor,” Asper told Eyewitness News.
Pope Francis, not knowing anything about her story, felt compelled to stop and kiss Gianna just centimeters away from the tumor. After Dominic received his pin from U.S. Marshal David Webb, the family got another surprise from FBI Special Agent in Charge William Sweeney.
The Pope, known to be simple, signed a small, simple “Francisco” on the bottom right corner of a photograph featuring the kiss. The family also learned that Pope Francis, not only knows about Gianna, but asks about her and continues to receive updates on her progress.
“To know that he knows about her and that he’s asking about her and that he’s praying for her and continuing to pray for her it’s amazing,” Gianna’s mother Kristen Masciantonio told Eyewitness News.
Gianna currently is finishing another round of chemotherapy. She has doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and in Houston. Her doctors tell Eyewitness News they are optimistic about her future. The family is raising money in Gianna’s name to help others with similar circumstances.
For more on her foundation visit, http://www.fortheloveofgracefoundation.com/.