A PHOTOGRAPH showing the Pope holding hands with a little girl with Down's syndrome went viral thanks to an incredibly heart-warming story.
However the real story behind the adorable image now emerged – and for once, it’s even sweeter than the fake viral versions.
The photograph in question shows Pope Francis holding hands with a little girl with Down's syndrome sitting next to him as he read something out.
The image went viral on Sunday after a Twitter user posted it with the following caption: “A girl with Down syndrome, got up during a regular papal service & went toward @Pontifex
“Security men quickly moved in 2 take her back to her mom. The Pope stopped them & said to her "come sit next to me.” She then sat down near him and he continued his homily, holding her hands”
The most was retweeted more almost 40,000 times and liked more than 191,000 times on Twitter, going viral in just hours.
While an adorable story, it wasn’t quite true.
According to Buzzfeed, the photograph was actually taken back in October at a pre-arranged meeting between the Pontiff and the Italian Special Olympics football team in Rome.
The little girl in the image is Gemma Pompili, a five-year-old girl chosed to present Pope Francis with some Special Olympics-branded training shoes.
Gemma is also the youngest member of the team and was photographed handing the delighted Pope the red shoes.
Buzzfeed also clears up the mystery of what the Pope was reading as he held hands with the happy little girl.
According to them, he wasn’t delivering a sermon or homily, he was giving a speech to athletes about the importance of unified sport.
According to the Special Olympics website, little Gemma climbed into the chair behind the Pope spontaneously after handing him the shoes.
While her parents attempted to stop her doing so, she shook her head and called out ‘Papa!” to attract the attention of Pope Francis.
There is no mention anywhere of any security guards intervening or attempting to remove her.
There is also no record of the Pope asking the child to come and sit next to him – she merely decided to all by herself.