A DYING woman whose last wish is to visit the Vatican is set to be granted an audience with the Pope after the Church learned of her situation.
Corinne Barber, 42, from Leith, has less than a year to live and feared her life-long dream of visiting Rome would be impossible to achieve.
A heart condition has left her too ill to fly, so she can only get there by making an expensive trip by boat, rail and road – and she also faces a £5000 bill for medical insurance to cover the journey.
But her devoted brother, Darren Barber, 43, from North Berwick, set up a GoFundMe fundraising page entitled “Help with Corinne’s Final Wish” to help raise money to fund her longed-for visit, which has seen thousands of pounds pour in from well-wishers across the world.
Among those who read Corinne’s story was the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh.
He was so moved that he pledged to seek an audience with the Pontiff.
Archbishop Leo Cushley said: “It’s a beautiful thing that Corinne wants to make a pilgrimage to Rome, the heart of the Church and the resting place of St Peter, and we would urge people to help her in making that aspiration become a reality.
“We’ll certainly look at what we can do as an archdiocese to help Corinne, including seeking a Papal audience with Pope Francis, somebody who I know Corinne has great affection and respect for.”
Corinne has suffered from a heart disorder from birth which is so serious it could kill her at any time.
Her only hope was a heart and lung transplant, but sadly this did not come to pass and the family were told to prepare themselves for the worst.
Darren said: “The support now shown by the Most Reverend Leo William Cushley has confirmed in our minds that we can now really make this happen.
“It’s Corinne’s 42nd birthday this week and this would be the best birthday present we could ever imagine giving her.
“The whole process has been truly transformational and Corinne has been elated by the way people have been connecting and reconnecting with her.
“We have received donations and messages of support from all over the world, and, touchingly, even from old school friends we haven’t seen in 30 years.”
Corinne aims to be in Rome with her mother by late October, while she is still strong enough to make the pilgrimage.
It is also hoped that her twin sister, Sandra, will fly to Italy and spend some time with them there.
Corinne said the trip had been in her mind since she was a teenager.
She said: “In my early 20s I began to develop a growing interest in Church history which in turn became an academic interest.
“I personally view the Vatican as the beating heart of Heaven on Earth.
“This would be a spiritual pilgrimage for me to visit the holy land of the Catholic Church.”
Corinne’s online page at www.gofundme.com/nvf8q3sk has already raised £4708 towards the family’s target of £12,000.