Philly child becomes honorary U.S. marshal after helping ailing sister

Five-year-old Dominic Masciantonio is honored for supporting his baby sister

Five-year-old Dominic Masciantonio is honored for supporting his baby sister

An honorary U.S. marshal was installed in an unusual ceremony in the James Byrne Federal Courthouse in Philadelphia Tuesday.

Five-year-old Dominic Masciantonio of Philadelphia received the honor for supporting his baby sister, Gianna, who suffers from a rare blood disorder affecting her brain stem.  Juvenile xanthogranuloma (JXG) can be fatal when affecting an organ such as the brain.

When Pope Francis visited Philadelphia in September, the FBI worked with the U.S. Secret Service to get Gianna and her family close to the pontiff.  As the popemobile passed, Pope Francis bent down and kissed Gianna. Two months later, her condition had improved dramatically.

FBI special agent William Sweeney called it “the miracle of Market Street,” though an actual miracle can only be declared by a committee at the Vatican.

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The family has set up a foundation to bring attention to rare, life-threatening diseases.  The group seeks to help families dealing with such conditions.

This story was re-edited because a previous version misidentified Gianna Masciantonio’s medical disorder.  We regret the error.

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