Pope gives sick girl free run of audience stage, delighting crowd
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis allowed a girl suffering from an undisclosed illness to move around undisturbed clapping and dancing on the stage for most of his general audience on Wednesday, delighting the crowd.
The girl, wearing a pink T-shirt reading "Love," slipped away from her mother at the front of the audience hall and reached the big marble stage. She pranced back and forth in front of him, jumped, and occasionally let go a loud, sharp clap.
Francis signaled to security to let her be. The girl returned to her mother, who tried to keep her still, but only to slip away again and go back to the stage, drawing applause from the crowd in the Vatican's audience hall.
"This poor girl is a victim of an illness and she does not know what she is doing," Francis said at the end of the audience, which lasted more than an hour.
"I ask one thing and everyone should respond in their own heart. Did I pray for her when I saw her? Did I pray so the Lord heals her and protects her? Did I pray for her parents and her family?"
"When we see a person who is suffering, we must pray. This situation should help us always ask this question," he said.
Last year, Francis allowed a boy with autism to romp around the stage undisturbed.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)