Coincidence or miracle? People have been debating this idea for centuries.
But ask the Masciantonio family what they think happened to their daughter and they’ll tell you it was more than just chance.
Joey and Kristen Masciantonio’s baby girl, Gianna, had been diagnosed with an extremely rare blood disorder and a brain tumor. They immediately began the recommended treatments, but doctors didn’t give them much hope.
A family friend, Donny Asper, worked for the FBI and was helping with Pope Francis’ security detail when he came to visit Philadelphia. Knowing the Masciantonios were devout Catholics, he called them and told them to hurry and head downtown if they wanted to meet the pope.
Joey and Kristen were hesitant to subject Gianna to the jostling crowds, worried that dealing with the chaos might worsen her condition, but they finally decided to make the journey. They headed to the spot Donny had told them about and craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the pope.
When Joey saw that Pope Francis was getting closer, he held Gianna up, hoping to attract the attention of one of the security guards.
His plan worked and one of the guards came over, took Gianna in his arms, and held her up to Pope Francis, who bent down and kissed Gianna’s head.
Joey and Kristen were overcome with excitement over the pope’s blessing. Once the day was over, though, they quickly returned to normal life full of doctors appointments and treatments.
Just six weeks later, Gianna went in for a scan to check how the tumor was progressing. Joey and Kristen prayed the tumor was shrinking, but they were afraid to get their hopes up too much.
When the scan came back, however, both the Masciantonios and the doctors were stunned. The tumor had shrunk drastically, allowing Gianna to begin her recovery.
Was it the pope’s blessing that helped heal Gianna or was it mere coincidence that the tumor began to shrink around the same time? We may never know for sure, but the Masciantonio family knows what they believe:
“The kiss was God’s work,” they say, “that’s for sure.”
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