Whatever might happen in little Lizzy Myers’ life, today something happened that has all the characteristics of a miracle. Visibly moved were her mother Christine and father Steve, after their Lizzy was able to crown their dream: to come to Rome to meet Pope Francis.
Lizzy is not a little girl as any other: she has been diagnosed with a rare ailment: Usher’s syndrome (type B), which in just a few years will make her blind and deaf. It will be an endless torment for a little girl who wins the heart of anyone who meets her, given her incredible intelligence and her profound and acute conversation, despite her six years of age.
The whole Myers family is Catholic, as is Lizzy’s nursery school. So Pope Francis is often present in her teachers’ talks, which whetted her curiosity and, in the long run, her admiration for the Argentine Pontiff.
The Myers were supposed to go to the Vatican on the occasion of the Audience on Wednesday, March 30, but they lost their connecting flight. Fortunately, their trip was postponed for just a few days and made possible thanks to the generosity of Turkish Airlines, which offered the four tickets for Lizzy, her parents, and her little sister Kayla.
The Appia Antica Resort offered hospitality in Rome over these days to the American family from Ohio, while UNITALSI’s capital section made possible the meeting with the Holy Father at the end of today’s General Audience.
UNITALSI hosted this morning’s press conference with Lizzy’s parents, who talked about the exceptional event that cheered their difficult life. in its Casa Bernadette, in the Valle Aurelia district,
The Roman President of UNITALSI, Emanuele Trancalini, introduced the couple. After recalling the social objective of Casa Bernadette – to host, through its Children’s Project, families of sick children, with children recovering in Roman hospitals – Trancalini made an appeal to make known the drama of families like the Myers: “The message we wished to give them is that they are not alone,” he said.
Steve Myers said to journalists that his family’s meeting today with Pope Francis was the most beautiful and unexpected thing that could happen to them. ”I never imagined I could see him up close,” he said, adding that he was moved by the affection they received not only from the Holy Father but from all the Italians they met.
Lizzy’s predicament in fact unleashed a real competition of solidarity, which, in addition to UNITALSI, involved other subjects, among them the mentioned Appia Antica Resort, whose owner Maurizio D’Atri has accompanied the Myers during these days, and shared with the press some stories of their stay in Rome.
“When we went to the Colosseum, Lizzy observed carefully every particular of the brochure, then she identified it in the reality. When she read about the ferocious beasts, which tore Christian to pieces, she asked me: ‘where are the lions now?,’” said D’Atri.
Mrs. Myers, instead, described the meeting with the Pontiff, who “blessed Lizzy’s eyes, saying that he prays for us all. We answered that we also pray for him.” Very surprised, the little girl took the paternal hand of the Bishop of Rome, opening wise her eyes that one day will no longer be able to see.
In the course of the private meeting, Lizzy gave the Pope a small piece of a meteorite, which she picked up in the premises of their home in Ohio, said her father.
Both Steve and Christine were overwhelmed. However, while he was radiant, she was still scared, almost as if she still did not realize that extraordinariness of the meeting she had this morning.
“At the beginning I was nervous. Then, when I saw that the Pope was speaking to my daughter, I realized that a miracle was happening … And Lizzy’s life itself is a miracle, whatever might happen to her in the future,” said her father.
The young American mother confided, instead, that she had felt an “overflowing sense of peace,” a sensation that “can’t be described in words.”
Lizzy does not yet know what is happening to her, and her parents’ apprehension is that she might find out about it sooner or later from the newspapers and the television. At the media level, however, her predicament is going around the world only during these days, while in America, the case of her rare ailment was reported only once in the press.
So Lizzy’s parents presented these days to her in Rome as a vacation and, in the audience with the Pope, they did not enlarge too much on the particulars. When she learned about the trip, Lizzy said: “I want to knock on the Pope’s door in Rome.”
Despite her six years, Lizzy has a way of reasoning and of expressing herself that she seems like an adult. Her father also confirmed this, describing the attention with which she sat in the middle of the Sistine Chapel, pausing several minutes to admire in silence Michelangelo’s masterpiece.
Mr. Myers said that their next visit would probably be to Wyoming, with its mountains, scenery and natural beauty unique in the world, yet another delight in store for Lizzy’s eyes, before darkness covers them.
In the meantime, UNITALSI has invited Lizzy and her family to take part in its annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, planned for next October. It is an opportunity for which Steve and Christine expressed their warm gratitude to UNITALSI, in the hope of a new miracle …