Miracle girls get audience with Pope

Published: July 7, 2008 | 7166th good news item since 2003

HER courage and extraordinary will to survive has won her the admiration of all Australians – now Sophie Delezio is set to be rewarded with an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

And she will be joined by bashing victim Lauren Huxley, another young Catholic who has shown a strong will to live

The two will be among a group of young people to meet the Catholic leader when he arrives in Australia later this month.

While 21-year-old Lauren’s introduction will take place at the Sacred Heart Church in Darlinghurst, Sydney, on July 18, seven-year-old Sophie – who, along with her family, has been named as one of nine official World Youth Day ambassadors – will be part of a large group of festival volunteers to be thanked by him at The Domain on July 21.

Sophie, who had excitedly waited since she got home from school to meet Lauren yesterday, immediately welcomed her new friend into her life.

It was a joyful first meeting and both excitedly spoke of the the once-in-a-lifetime chance.

“It’s just an honour, an amazing opportunity I can’t believe it,” Lauren said yesterday.

Sophie said she was would be “praying for all the sick kids” when she was in the Pope’s presence.

When she was just two, Sophie suffered third-degree burns, lost both her legs and a hand when a vehicle ploughed into her childcare centre, trapping her beneath it.

Two years later, Lauren was the victim of a violent bashing by a stranger in her family’s western Sydney home and was given only a 5 per cent chance of survival.

As she watched her daughter pose for photographs yesterday, Sophie’s father Ron Delezio said World Youth Day was incredibly special for their whole family.

“To go through what we went through without having faith in something, well it would have been a very lonely place,” he said.

“It will be wonderful if we could get the Pope’s blessing on Sophie, it would be a real dream come true.”

Lauren’s father Pat said the crime inflicted on his daughter left them with little else to believe in and they recited the Lord’s Prayer more times than they could count.

The family decided to have her baptised and confirmed in a special ceremony just prior to a marathon 13-hour surgery as she lay in a coma – in case she did not survive.

“She just moved her whole body for the first time after that. We knew that it was with God then,” her mother said.

World Youth Day coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher said both girls symbolised how courageous and inspirational young people could be.

“(They are) an absolute inspiration to us all,” he said.

Published in Kids & Teens
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