Papal blessing tops off Corinne’s pilgrimage of a lifetime
A Scottish woman has returned from her dream trip to Rome and the Vatican saying she feels more energised than ever after meeting the pope.
Corinne Barber, 42, from Leith, Edinburgh, has a severe heart condition which she thought would prevent her from fulfilling a pilgrimage to the Holy See.
But she refused to let illness stop her from experiencing a “journey of a lifetime”.
Corinne made the pilgrimage with her mother Irene Barber and her husband Andrew and spent the week in Vatican City. The trip – which was made possible by well-wishers from her GoFundMe page and the office of the Archbishop of Edinburgh – included a private tour of the Vatican and a papal audience with Pope Francis himself.
“I feel more energised and more focused than I have done in years,” said Corinne.
“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.
“The walk through the Vatican and into the general audience was like a journey back in time. It was almost as though the scene may have been trapped in amber for hundreds of years. The sound of voices echoed around the square some lifted in song, some in greeting and some in laughter but they all fell silent as the audience began.
“Towards the end of the service Pope Francis descended and moved to meet those in wheelchairs personally. He walked among 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.”
Corinne’s brother Darren Barber set up the GoFundMe fundraising page, entitled ‘Help with Corinne’s Final Wish’, in September 2015. The 43-year-old, from North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland, was delighted when the public rallied behind the campaign and that the Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh offered his support.
“The whole family would like to thank everyone who has supported the GoFundMe campaign and made this trip a reality for Corinne,” he said.
“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.
“It has been a truly challenging and wonderful experience which has inspired me to now consider making ‘Corinne’s Wish’ a formal charity that will help others.
“It’s very early days but I would love to help other people and do it all again, if I possibly can.”
Archbishop Leo Cushley expressed his happiness at Corinne’s dream coming true. “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.”
Kelsea Little, spokesperson for GoFundMe.com, said the fundraising site was delighted that Corinne’s trip had turned out so successfully. “We are delighted that Corinne finally made her pilgrimage to the Vatican and even had an audience with Pope Francis. We hope the family have some magical memories from the experience they can treasure forever.”
To ‘Help with Corinne’s Final Wish’ GoFundMe campaign, see www. gofundme.com/nvf8q3sk or Corinne’s own site, at www.corinneswish.org.
GoFundMe, the world’s most popular fundraising website, provides a platform for people to organise their own campaign to raise money for personal causes and life events and invite those in their community to support their fundraising.