Farewell to Cece: The First Disabled Person Kissed by Pope Francis

His Photograph Taken during the Pope’s Inaugural Mass Touched Many Around the World

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Cesare “Cece” Cicconi died. He was the first disabled person that Pope Francis kissed during his first public appearance in Saint Peter’s Square on March 19, 2013. The news was reported in a press release by UNITALSI, which for years assisted him and accompanied him to the Mass of inauguration of the pontificate.

Cece was 52. He was totally paralyzed from the age of eight months, as the result of a spastic tetraplegia. A native of San Benedetto Del Tronto (AP), he came to Rome to meet the Holy Father. He was also the first disabled person on a stretcher to board a plane to go to the Shrine of Lourdes.

His photograph with Pope Francis went around the world, and became symbol of the Pontiff’s care for disabled persons.

A few months ago, Cece wrote to the Holy Father asking if he still remembered their meeting. The Pope answered him, saying that he always had him in his heart and sent him a Rosary.

«A symbol of our association is gone with Cece, an amazing person from whom we all learned to regard disability as an added value and not a weight. We remember him affectionately and to his family we assure our closeness,” the national president of UNITALSI said.

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