Vinicio Riva suffers from a non-infectious genetic disease, which has left him completely covered from head to toe with growths, swellings and itchy sores. CNN
CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman met Riva to talk about his recent encounter with Pope Francis. CNN
Pope Francis embraced Riva during a morning public audience. Riva then buried his head in the Pope's chest. The image of the two went viral. CLAUDIO PERI/EPA/LANDOV
Riva pictured as a boy, before neurofibrosis began to take hold.
Riva's mother also suffered from the same illness before she died.
A change had come over him after meeting the Pope. "I feel stronger and happier. I feel I can move ahead because the Lord is protecting me," he said. CNN
Riva works at a home for the elderly and says the residents don't seem to notice his illness. CNN
Riva says his unusual appearance has led to a lifetime of living on the margins. CNN
He still savors his moment with Pope Francis, saying it made him stronger. CNN