A DYING woman who feared her lifelong dream of visiting the Vatican would never come true has finally had her prayers answered and even received a personal blessing from Pope Francis.

Corinne Barber, from Leith, Edinburgh, was determined her heart condition would not stop her pilgrimage and she has just returned elated after experiencing a “journey of a lifetime”.

The 42-year-old, who only has months to live, said: “I feel more energised and more focused than I have done in years.”

Corinne made the trip with her mother Irene Barber and her husband Andrew and spent the week in the Vatican City. The trip – which was made possible by well-wishers from her GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign and the office of the Archbishop of Edinburgh – included a private tour of the Vatican and a papal audience with Pope Francis.

Corinne said: “The whole experience has been beautiful and extremely emotional. I have had the honour of seeing the Sistine Chapel, the Apostolic Palace and have been brought to tears visiting the chambers under the Basilica and seeing the bones of St Peter. But, of course, the highlight of my trip was receiving the blessing from Pope Francis.

“The walk through the Vatican and into the general audience was like a journey back in time. It was almost as though the scene may have been trapped in amber for hundreds of years. The sound of voices echoed around the square some lifted in song, some in greeting and some in laughter but they all fell silent as the audience began.

“Towards the end of the service Pope Francis descended and moved to meet those in wheelchairs personally. He walked amongst us – greeting and touching the hands of many. Then he stopped in front of me and touched my head and blessed me. It was the most wonderful experience imaginable. Afterwards, I went back to my hotel and slept solidly for six hours.”