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Child from Rhode Island with cerebral palsy kissed by Pope

Posted by Angela Nelson, Boston.com Staff  April 2, 2013 12:29 PM

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While visiting Rome on Easter Sunday, Christiana Gondreau and her family of six didn't expect to be admitted into St. Peter's Square where Pope Francis was greeting people.

But Christiana's husband, Dr. Paul Gondreau, found one available spot in the handicapped section for her and their son, Dominic, where they got an Easter surprise no one expected.

Dominic, who suffers from cerebral palsy, rides in a wheelchair, and has severe mobility limitations, was lifted up by the crowd, where he was embraced and kissed by the new Pope himself.

"There was not a dry eye around us. It was really, really moving," Christiana told CNN. "Not in a million years, really, did I expect to end the Easter Sunday Mass with a kiss from the pope. It was very beautiful."

A video that captured the moment showed Dominic breaking out into a huge smile and wrapping his arms around the Pope.

"Dominic is a people person but I think he understood that that was exceptionally special," Christiana said.

The family was in Rome with 30 of Dr. Gondreau's students from Providence College in Rhode Island, where he is a professor of theology.

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