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VATICAN CITY — A 5-year-old Ohio girl who does not know she is gradually going blind met Pope Francis Wednesday, part of "visual bucket list" tour of people and places while she can still see.
Elizabeth "Lizzy" Myers and her parents, from Lexington, were given special seats at Francis's general audience in St. Peter's Square, where the pontiff spoke to them briefly.
"She was awestruck. She just teared up," her mother Christine Myers, who is Catholic, told reporters afterwards. "To her he's the big guy in the white hat."
"He blessed Elizabeth's eyes,” she said. “He asked that we pray for him and said that he would be praying for us.”
Lizzy is not aware that she is suffering from Usher's Syndrome, which will eventually leave her deaf and blind. Her parents said they would tell her about the condition gradually as she asks questions.
She could be blind in about seven years so they have started what they call a "visual bucket list" of sites and people they think she should see while she can.
Along with the pope, the family also saw the Colosseum and other monuments in Rome. "I feel like I have very little time to show her so much," her father, Steve Myers, said.
After reading of her case, an airline offered them round-trip tickets to anywhere in the world and the family chose Rome.
Lizzy gave the pope a piece of a meteorite she was given when she was a special guest at the Warren Rupp Observatory in Mansfield, Ohio, one of the first places on her parents' list.
Her mother said she and her husband wanted to make sure that she also saw simple things while she could, "like bonfires and fireflies".
Steve Myers added that the family had come to Rome “hoping for some amazing memories.”
“I think that … what Pope Francis has done for her, if there is any chance for a miracle it would be there."