L'Osservatore Romano/PA Wire
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Terminally ill woman meets Pope as final wish

Wed 16 Dec 2015
By Hannah Tooley

A terminally-ill woman has met Pope Francis after a fundraising campaign paid for her dream trip to the Vatican. 

Corinne Barber, 42, has a complex congenital heart disorder with a life expectancy of five to 12 months.

It was feared it would be impossible to achieve her lifelong dream to visit the Vatican after her condition left her too sick to fly and costs started mounting.

But donations from around the globe to aid her journey meant that she was able to have an audience with Pope Francis.

Her family attracted the support of Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh Leo Cushley, who helped to ensure that the insurance fees of the trip were covered.

Ms Barber, from Leith in Edinburgh, received a personal blessing from Pope Francis and was taken on a tour of the Vatican including historic sites like the Sistine chapel and the Apostolic Palace.

More than £9,000 was raised and the 42-year-old made the pilgrimage with her mother Irene and husband Andrew, who all travelled by train.

 

Ms Barber said: "I feel more energised and more focused than I have done in years.

"The whole experience has been beautiful and extremely emotional.

"I have had the honour of seeing the Sistine chapel, the Apostolic Palace and have been brought to tears visiting the chambers under the Basilica and seeing the bones of St Peter.

"But, of course, the highlight of my trip was receiving the blessing from Pope Francis.

"Towards the end of the service Pope Francis descended and moved to meet those in wheelchairs personally. He walked amongst us - greeting and touching the hands of many.

"Then he stopped in front of me and touched my head and blessed me. It was the most wonderful experience imaginable. Afterwards, I went back to my hotel and slept solidly for six hours."

Her brother Darren set up the GoFundMe fundraising page in September and is now planning to turn the campaign into a formal charity to help others.

Darren Barber said: "The whole family would like to thank everyone who has supported the GoFundMe campaign and made this trip a reality for Corinne.

"For myself, I would like to say to those who donated that no matter how much you gave it would not have happened without you. Take any one of those kind and generous people out and the trip wouldn't have happened."

Archbishop Cushley, who helped support the trip, said: "We are thrilled that Corinne finally made a pilgrimage to the Vatican and also that she received an audience with Pope Francis.

"It's a dream come true or, rather, a prayer answered and we were delighted to play our part - along with many others - in making it happen."

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