Dying woman’s audience with Pope Francis is a dream come true

Corinne Barber will fulfil her final wish as she travels to Rome ' and she will meet Pope Francis. Picture: Contributed
Corinne Barber will fulfil her final wish as she travels to Rome ' and she will meet Pope Francis. Picture: Contributed
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A woman with just months to live feared her lifelong dream of visiting the Vatican would never come true.

But Corinne Barber will fulfil her final wish as she travels to Rome – and she will meet Pope Francis.

The 42-year-old from Leith, who was determined her illness would not stop her pilgrimage, will set out today on the “journey of a lifetime”.

A question mark had been hanging over the trip as costs started to spiral and her heart condition left her too sick to fly.

But devoted brother Darren Barber has made sure everything is in place after generous donations from well-wishers flooded in from across the world.

The 43-year-old, from North Berwick started a GoFundMe campaign page entitled ‘Help with Corinne’s Final Wish’ in September and was delighted when the public and the Church rallied behind it.

He said: “I am absolutely ecstatic that we are finally in a position to make this happen. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity shown by people who have supported our GoFundMe campaign and Corinne has been elated by the way people have connected with her.

“We have received hundreds of donations and messages of support and have been thrilled to have received such encouragement from the Archbishop and Metropolitan of St Andrews & Edinburgh who have very generously covered the insurance costs of the trip.”

Corinne will be making the pilgrimage with her mother, Irene Barber, travelling by train from Edinburgh to Paris and then from Paris to Rome. Corinne’s twin sister Sandra and her husband Andrew will then be flying out to join them in Rome.

Corinne, who has cherished a wish to visit the Vatican for many years, said “I can’t believe that this is really happening.

“I’m both incredibly excited and quite nervous. The effort involved in getting there is significant but I am looking forward to the experience once we’re there.

“Visiting the many historical sites, tying it all into both my academic work and my faith, to see it all in the flesh, so to speak. With the opportunity of being able to meet the Pope it promises to truly be a spiritual journey of a lifetime.

“I am truly humbled by this whole experience and very, very grateful to everyone who helped to make this a reality.”

Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, had been so moved by Corinne’s plight that he worked behind-the-scenes to secure next week’s rare papal audience.

He said: “We are thrilled that Corinne is finally able to make her pilgrimage to Rome and we will now make sure that she is at next week’s audience with Pope Francis.

“We also hope to arrange a private tour of the Vatican for Corrine including the Sistine Chapel. It’s the very least we can do to help.”

So far, £8,413 has been raised towards the £12,000 total needed to fund the trip.

The trip was originally forecast to cost around £14,500 but that was revised down to £12,000, of which up £5,000 is for the medical insurance required for someone in her condition.

Kelsea Little, Media Director at GoFundMe.com, added: “We are over the moon that Corinne is finally able to make her pilgrimage to the Vatican. We have been willing the family on every step of the way and all the team here hope she has an absolutely wonderful experience.”

Pope Francis was in Kenya yesterday urging the country to stand together as a nation.