PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Tons of Philadelphians and visitors alike have walked away from the historic Papal Visit with fond memories and personal stories of their interactions with Pope Francis.
One of the most touching stories centered on little Gianna Masciantonio and her family.
Little Gianna was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor when she was just one month old. According to her father, Joey Masciantonio, she spent the first six months of her life in hospice care.
Her parents were told by medical professionals that she had “days to months to live.”
But Gianna has since defied those odds, and just celebrated her first birthday on September 17.
And when her family learned that Pope Francis was coming to town, they wanted him to bless their family, and especially their little girl.
But the family of four had no idea that they would even be able to get as close to the pope as they did.
“There are no words,” Kristen Masciantonio said on Good Day Philadelphia. “A gift from God.”
Kristen explained that one of her friends, Lori, is friends with someone who works for the FBI. Lori emailed the FBI connect months again, sharing Gianna’s story, but unfortunately there was nothing he could do at that point.
But the night before the family was planning on making their way into the city to see the pope, Lori received an email back. Kristen says that the email was sent late, so Lori didn’t see it until the next day.
Then, the Masciantonio’s set out that day at 1:30 in the afternoon, arriving at the security line by three.
“And everything just aligned,” Kristen said.
Joey explained that they walked to the federal building where they got a sneak peek of the Popemobile before the pope’s took his ride around the city.
But at that point they still didn’t know they were going to see the Pope.
“We just thought we’d see him drive by. We never thought in a million years that he would bless our daughter,” Joey said.
A member of the Swiss Guard picked little Gianna up so that the Pope could bless her. Also, other marshals and FBI agents stood around the family, pointing and yelling towards the family so they would be noticed.
The blessing proved to be a significant improvement for baby Gianna’s health. Kristen tells FOX 29 that Gianna’s story has turned to truly be a miraculous one.
“We feel blessed for her incredible medical care and for God's grace. So, Gianna had her first scan since her kiss from Pope Francis. We are ecstatic to announce that her tumor is almost undetectable in a lot of the MRI cuts,” Kristen said.
Kristen tells FOX 29 radiologists are unable to determine the percentage of the shrinkage because they can no longer tell where the edges of the tumor are to be able to give a measurable difference. The only thing they could say for certain is that the tumor is "less conspicuous." There is one large cyst left.
“We also received more amazing news that day. After her MRI, Gianna had tubes placed to help drain fluid from her middle ear. The ENT surgeon put a camera down her airways to check her vocal chords: Both vocal chords were moving! She believes that her right vocal cord is no longer paralyzed,” Kristen said.
The Masciantonio’s are thankful for continued prayers and support. Gianna is healing and getting stronger each day.