Pope Francis surprised the residents in a small Italian town on the weekend when he stopped his motorcade to meet a young disabled girl and her family who had waited for him by the side of the road.
The Holy See and his entourage were travelling on a road near the home of the Catholic family, when he noticed the family holding banners reading: 'Please Pope stop here to see an angel who has been waiting for you', and 'Please come and bless little Roberta', the Catholic News Agency reported.
A video uploaded by the family on Facebook shows the Pope step out from his car as Roberta, who is lying in a stretcher, is taken by her family to meet him.
The pontiff then kisses Roberta, who needs a machine to enable her to breathe, according to news.va.
In pictures: 'The many popes of Pope Francis'
In pictures: 'The many popes of Pope Francis'
1/12 The Pro-Gay Pope
In just a year, Pope Francis has managed to change the public perception of the Catholic Church, and the stance it takes on civil issues, like gay rights. Despite originally protesting the legalisation of gay marriage in his native Argentina some years ago, he told reporters this year: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?”
2/12 The Rebel Pope
No other Pope has urged a shake-up of the Catholic Church quite like Pope Francis, a true rebel of the dioceses. Who, incidentally, used to be a night club bouncer.
3/12 The Graffiti Pope
Pope Francis become... SUPER POPE in this Vatican-approved street art. But was he happy with the reference to the fictional DC comic character?"To depict the pope as a sort of superman, a sort of star, seems offensive to me. The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps tranquilly and has friends like everyone else, a normal person," he said. So, that's a no, then.
4/12 The Biker Pope
Yes, the Pope used to own a Harley Davidson. And yes, he auctioned it off this year and donated the proceeds to a charity that feeds the hungry in Rome. Very Papal.
5/12 The ‘Blue’ Pope
Dropping the 'F' bomb during Sunday service? Classic Pope Francis. Sadly, down to a Spanish-speaking slip of the Italian language rather than pure bad-assery.
6/12 The ‘Because I’m Worth It’ Pope
That awkward moment when your Papal hat blows off, forcing your barnet into Sesame Street-like spikes. Pope Francis has been there.
7/12 The Chocolate Pope
Imagine the Pope's delight (horror?) when he was presented with a giant chocolate replica of himself outside the Vatican by by students on a chocolatier course at the Accademia of Maestri Cioccolatieri, near Venice.
8/12 The Rock Star pope
The one and only religious leader ever to grace the cover of Rolling Stone magazine? Introducing... Pope Francis.
9/12 The People’s Pope
His U-turn attitude towards sexuality won him Time magazine's coveted Person of the Year accolade, and the cover of gay rights magazine The Advocate.
10/12 The Merchandise Pope
Thongs, mugs, onesies, earrings and even a baby mobile adorned with decapitated Pope heads, the 'Francis Effect' has seen sales of Papal merchandise soar by 200% over the last year.
11/12 The Fashion Pope
The only Pope, as far as we're aware, to be compared to fashion royalty (Karl Lagerfeld. Yes way.) and win Esquire's Most Stylish Man of 2013 award, too.
12/12 The Modern Pope
Let it be said, Pope Francis knows a thing or two about social media. He might be a way off 'doing a Dalai' and opting for Instagram, but he's not above posing for the odd 'Selfie' on Twitter.
Her family voiced their gratitude to the Holy Father on Facebook.
“I still can't believe it, thank you Holy Father...I thank the Pope for having given us a moment of great joy,” her sister, Pamela, wrote.
Ivan Vania, a friend who helped make the posters calling the Pope’s attention said on the website: “it was very emotional to see how Pope Francis greeted Roberta.
"There are gestures in life that are worth more than speeches, much more than you would think...Pope Francis is unique.”
Pope Francis met Roberta on his return from Cassano allo Jonio, where he excommunicated the Mafia and called out the organisation for what he saw was its “adoration of evil and contempt”.
During his tenure, the Pope has been praised for attempting to refresh the Catholic Church by renouncing privileges he is entitled to, and attempting to focus attention on how Catholics can help the poor and vulnerable.
Earlier in June, the Pope removed the entire board of the Holy City's financial watchdog, in an attempt to clean up the Institute of Religious Works (IOR) bank which has been mired in scandal.