At Philadelphia airport, pope kisses head of disabled boy

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Pope Arrives in Philadelphia


PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Pope Francis kissed the forehead of a boy with cerebral palsy after landing in Philadelphia on Saturday morning, coaxing a small smile from the severely disabled 10-year-old.

Francis apparently spied Michael Keating as he was being driven away from the plane. Ordering the Fiat to stop, Francis got out and walked over to the boy, put his hand on his head and kissed him as his sobbing mother looked on.

SEE ALSO: The 'people's Pope' parades through Central Park

Kristin Keating thanked the pope, who grasped her hand. Francis also shook the hand of Keating's husband, Chuck Keating, the band director at Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown. The band serenaded Francis as he arrived in Philadelphia for the last leg of his six-day visit to the United States.

"It was an unbelievable feeling," Kristin Keating said of the papal encounter, adding she felt "totally blessed and loved" by the pope.

Her son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 6 months old. He also has a profound intellectual disability as well as vision and hearing problems and cannot do anything for himself, communicating through various moans and cries.

Michael, who got up 2:15 a.m. for the trip to Philadelphia, had been agitated off and on throughout the morning, but he seemed to calm in the pope's presence.

"When the pope took his hand off him, he had a bit of a smile on his face. To me, in that moment, he must have felt that blessing," said Kristin Keating, a fourth-grade teacher from Elverson.

"For us, it was beautiful," she added. "For us, it meant something."

Francis later blessed several disabled children at a Mass at Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Photos of Pope Francis' visit to Central Park in New York:

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At Philadelphia airport, pope kisses head of disabled boy
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis travels through Central Park to meet and greet New Yorkers on September 25, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis travels through Central Park to meet and greet New Yorkers on September 25, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25: Crowds of people stand behind a police barricade as they await the arrival of Pope Francis in Central Park September 25, 2015 in New York City. The pope is in New York on a two-day visit carrying out a number of engagements, including a Papal motorcade through Central Park and celebrating Mass in Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Richard Drew-Pool/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Thousands of people watch Pope Francis ride in the popemobile through Central Park on September 25, 2015 in New York City. The pope is in New York on a two-day visit carrying out a number of engagements, including celebrating Mass in Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis waves as he drives through Central Park in a Papal motorcade on September 25, 2015 in New York City. Pope Francis is in New York on a two-day visit. He spoke at the United Nations General-Assembly earlier and will lead a Mass in Madison Square Garden tonight. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis waves as he rides through Central Park in a Papal motorcade on September 25, 2015 in New York City. The Pope is in New York on a two-day visit. He spoke at the United Nations General-Assembly earlier and will lead a Mass in Madison Square Garden tonight. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Thousands of people watch Pope Francis ride in the popemobile through Central Park on September 25, 2015 in New York City. The pope is in New York on a two-day visit carrying out a number of engagements, including celebrating Mass in Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: People wait in line to see Pope Francis ride through Central Park on September 25, 2015 in New York City. The pope is on a six-day visit to the U.S., with stops in Washington, New York City and Philadelphia. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: A man sells Vatican flags outside of Central Park before the arrival of Pope Francis on September 25, 2015 in New York City. The pope is on a six-day visit to the U.S., with stops in Washington, New York City and Philadelphia. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Thousands of people wait to go through security screening to enter Central Park where Pope Francis will ride in a motorcade on September 25, 2015 in New York City. The pope is in New York on a two-day visit carrying out a number of engagements, including a Papal motorcade through Central Park and celebrating Mass in Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Thousands of people wait to go through security screening to enter Central Park where Pope Francis will ride in a motorcade on September 25, 2015 in New York City. The pope is in New York on a two-day visit carrying out a number of engagements, including a Papal motorcade through Central Park and celebrating Mass in Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Pope Francis travels through New York's Central Park in a motorcade, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Wilfredo Cedron displays a specially made hat near New York's Central Park where thousands of people were waiting in line to get in to see Pope Francis' precession through the park, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. Cedron, a native of Colombia, said he stayed up until 2am constructing the animated headwear to welcome the pope. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
People make their way in slow-moving lines on the western edge of New York's Central Park waiting to get in to see Pope Francis' precession through the park, Friday, Sept 25, 2015. Those waiting for hours in the snaking line more than 20 abreast in places, seen from the roof of 80 Central Park West at 68th St., were recipients of 80,000 free tickets issued by the city in a lottery. (AP Photo/Barbara Woike)
People react after Pope Francis passed by while traveling in a motorcade in New York's Central Park, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
A cardboard cutout of Pope Francis is visible over the crowd waiting in lines to pass through security before entering Central Park to watch a papal procession in New York, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
People point their cameras towards a nearby Pope Francis as he came closer to a crowd of well-wishers while traveling in a motorcade in New York's Central Park, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
A woman holds up rosary beads as Pope Francis' motorcade passes through Central Park during his visit to New York, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Pope Francis waves to the crowd from his popemobile as it moves through Central Park in New York, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
People pose with a likeness of Pope Francis, and a sign reading "Please save The Church of Our Lady of Peace" just after the pope passed well-wishers while traveling in a motorcade in New York's Central Park, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Lupe Proano, left, watches as her daughter Janet Ciresi takes a group selfie with family members Victor and Stephanie Calderone, all from Farmingdale, N.Y., after they watched Pope Francis' motorcade pass through Central Park in New York, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
A woman holds a cross and artificial flowers as she waits for Pope Francis and his papal motorcade to pass through Central Park in New York, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
NEW YORK -- SEPTEMBER 25: People look on as Pope Francis passes through Central Park on September 25, 2015 in New York. The pope is on a six-day visit to the U.S., with stops in Washington, New York City and Philadelphia. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
NEW YORK -- SEPTEMBER 25: People wait for Pope Francis to pass through Central Park on September 25, 2015 in New York. The pope is on a six-day visit to the U.S., with stops in Washington, New York City and Philadelphia. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
NEW YORK -- SEPTEMBER 25: People wait for Pope Francis to pass through Central Park on September 25, 2015 in New York. The pope is on a six-day visit to the U.S., with stops in Washington, New York City and Philadelphia. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
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