Pope Francis' loving embrace of a man with a severe facial deformity has drawn widespread attention.
The pope was holding his usual audience in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, greeting pilgrims, when he drew the man to him, the Catholic News Agency reported. He then held the man's face, kissed him and blessed him.
The unnamed man is believed to have a genetic condition known as neurofibromatosis. It causes tumors to develop on nerve tissue, including the spinal cord and brain, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can be a painful condition, and the tumors may become cancerous.
The disfigurement caused by neurofibromatosis can cause social stigma, and the pope was lauded in social media for the public embrace.
The Catholic News Agency characterized the incident was the latest warm gesture by the pope to those who are marginalized in society. The good feelings were plentiful on social media.
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Can I just say that I totally love this @Pontifex, and I am not even catholic!— Richard A. Fowler (@Richardafowler) November 7, 2013