When Pope Francis visited Philadelphia in September, several children were brought to the Popemobile, including one-year-old Gianna Masciantonio, who was suffering from a rare brain tumor. And while her parents had spent a lot of time in the cancer ward in the weeks that followed, little Gianna’s tumor appears to have shrunk dramatically in the past week. Reporters are now calling the phenomenon the “Miracle on Market Street.”
In a report from Philly.com, Joe Masciantonio said that the tumor was “basically gone” following rounds of surgery and chemotherapy. After blood cells attacked Gianna’s brain stem mere weeks after she was born last year, a tumor developed, and it had come to the point where it was declared to be inoperable. “They said go home, enjoy the last weeks, maybe months, that you have with her,” said Joe, speaking to Philly.com. He added that his wife Kirsten insisted that they have Gianna meet Pope Francis, despite his earlier objections.
With the help of a friend, FBI agent Donny Asper, the Masciantonios were informed that the Pope would be visiting Philadelphia on September 26. And while Joe expressed concern that Gianna’s immune system would suffer even more after a long day at a public event, the child’s doctor advised them it would be okay to proceed. They were able to make it from their hometown of Warrington to Philadelphia in 40 minutes, as police officers waved the Popemobile over to the couple and their ailing child.
And, in an interesting twist, Vatican City security head Domenico Giani brought Gianna to Pope Francis, who then kissed her on the head – Giani’s name turned out to be a combination of the Masciantonio children’s names, as their four-year-old son is named Dominic.
“Sometimes coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous,” commented the FBI’s Philadelphia chaplain, Monsignor Mike Mannion. “The fact that they were literally able to flag the pope down, he stopped and blessed the baby . . . it’s very special.”