SEE IT: Little girl in wheelchair weeps after being blessed by Pope Francis

Posted: 7:44 PM, Sep 24, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-24 19:44:07-04

NEW YORK – Despite being more than 45 minutes behind schedule, Pope Francis stopped his procession up the aisle at St. Patrick's Cathedral when he noticed a young girl sitting in a wheelchair.

Stephanie Gabaud, 17, of White Plains had her 4th surgery this year to deal with her Spina bifida. Tonight, Pope Francis kissed her forehead and hugged her in her wheelchair. right near the main altar of St Patrick's Cathedral. Gabaud was dressed in a lovely red velvet top and white satin skirt.

He approached her, leaned close over Gabaud, and blessed her.  Gabaud, overcome by emotion, wept as he rose.  It was an incredible but not unexpected gesture by the pontiff, who seems most content when he is surrounded by everyday people.

"He said something in Spanish that I couldn't understand at first," an excited Gabaud told PIX 11 News. "I wished him blessings, and then he gave me a hug. Oh my God, it was amazing," Gabaud exulted.

Gabaud came to the Cathedral with a group from White Plains.  One of her escorts told PIX 11 Gabaud just had back surgery three weeks ago, and she wasn't sure she would be recovered in time. But Gabaud made it--and received the hug of a lifetime!