Riva opens up about the moment when Pope Francis came directly to him and embraced him for over a minute without saying a word. Vinicio Riva is an Italian man who suffers from a non-infectious genetic disease called Neurofibromatosis-1. This painful disease covers the body with itchy sores, swellings, and tumors. Riva said he "felt a great warmth" from the Pope and that a load had been lifted from his shoulders since the incident. Pope Francis was elected to the papacy on March 13, 2013. He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and is the first American and first Jesuit pope.