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Wed. Dec 1st, 2021
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It’s not easy to upstage the pope — unless you’re Paolo Bonavita, the 10-year-old Italian boy enchanted by Pope Francis and his white skull cap. 

Bonavita, who has autism and epilepsy, walked onto the stage to meet the pope at the Vatican last month, showing a keen interest in his zucchetto. He was offered a seat next to Francis, and, his mother says, the cap off the pope’s own head.

The young boy was in Rome for medical tests after doctors suspected a tumor or multiple sclerosis. So Bonavita climbing the stairs in Paul VI Audience Hall to reach the pope was the real gift, his mother Elsa Morra said. 

“Climbing stairs by himself, when he normally needs help, I thought, ‘This can’t be happening,'” she told CBS News. 

It was especially surprising after his health appeared to have taken a turn for the worse. 

“The doctor was almost certain it was a brain tumor,” Morra said. 

Francis told her he would pray for her son. 

“He took my hand and said, ‘For you, the impossible does not exist,'” she said. 

About three weeks later, she understood what that meant: She says doctors told her her son’s test results showed no sign of cancer, and his symptoms had improved.  

“Thank you for the miracle,” she said of what she’d tell the pope. 

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