Disabled RI Boy Kissed by Pope Francis

Apr 2, 2013

The image of a Johnston, Rhode Island boy being cradled and kissed by Pope Francis has brought people around the world to tears. Now, his parents are speaking out about the extraordinary encounter.

It happened Easter morning after Mass. Among the thousands of people who thronged St. Peter’s Square to see newly installed Pope Francis, the pontiff chose to stop his Popemobile to hug eight-year-old Dominic Gondreau of Johnston.

Dominic’s father, Paul Gondreau, is a Providence College theology professor who’s teaching this semester in Rome.  He compared the experience to a “gentle kiss from heaven.”

“It was just a very powerful witness of this little boy with such severe physical limitations who in the eyes of the world is so weak and vulnerable and yet look at this powerful, incredibly powerful witness he’s giving to the whole world,” says Gondreau.”

The pope whispered something in Dominic’s ear during their brief encounter. Dominic says it’s private, between him and the pope, and he hasn’t told anyone what it was.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@ripr.org