We are all Vinicio Riva

The Anchoress gets the scoop—and the man’s name: 

Vinicio Riva, whose head and neck are covered with tumors due to a rare disease, told an Italian magazine that his disfigured appearance has led to a lifetime of living on the margins. [...]

Riva, who lives in Vicenza in northern Italy, said he suffers from neurofibromatosis Type 1, which causes painful tumors to grow throughout his body. His younger sisters and late mother also suffered from the rare disease, Riva told Panorama.

The first signs of the disease began when he was 15, Riva said, and since then, he has often felt ostracized because of his unusual appearance.

But the Pope showed no sign of discomfort as he approached, said Riva. Instead, the pontiff’s face broke into a calm smile.

“But what most astonished me is that he didn’t think twice on embracing me,” Riva said. “I’m not contagious, but he didn’t know. He just did it; he caressed all my face, and while he was doing that, I felt only love.”

And she adds:

Rather than instinctively looking away from Vinicio Riva; we now can’t take our eyes off of him, so fascinated are we by the revelation of love’s awe-full beauty, and the way it renders adorable what had previously seemed unlovable. Though we are afraid, we want it, too.

Pondering of all of this in the light of our broken, disfigured souls, we may literally tremble. I know I do.

There’s much more. Read it and weep.

We are all Vinicio Riva.


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