Cancer-fight schoolboy has plea for Pope's blessing answered

A BOY who wrote to the Pope asking him to "help keep his cancer away" will be blessed by the Pontiff on his visit to Scotland today.

Anton McManus, from East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, will meet Pope Benedict XVI ahead of his Glasgow Mass after the Vatican granted the schoolboy's request.

The nine-year-old has a cancerous tumour on his spine and has undergone chemotherapy, radiotherapy and two operations. He said he is scared that the cancer will return.

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After hearing about the Pope's visit to Scotland, the youngster wrote to the Vatican for help.

His parents, Kevin and Tammy, said Anton has been given a "chance in a million" after receiving confirmation the Pope will bless him.

Anton wrote: "I was really ill and now I am feeling better, even though I can't do a lot of things my friends can do.

"I am writing this letter to ask if you could bless me when you come to Glasgow to help keep my cancer away as I think if anyone could help, God can."

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The Pontiff will stop and bless the schoolboy as he enters Bellahouston Park today before taking Mass with an estimated 65,000 pilgrims.

The event will also include a performance from talent show phenomenon Susan Boyle, who is expected to perform three songs, including her smash hit I Dreamed a Dream, which catapulted her to fame on the TV show Britain's Got Talent.

Speaking of her excitement last night, the 49-year-old said: "It's beyond my imagination, beyond my wildest dreams."

In the first state visit by a Pope to Britain, Pope Benedict will meet the Queen and Prime Minister David Cameron during his four-day tour.

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He arrives in Edinburgh today before travelling to Glasgow and later London and Birmingham.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend several scheduled public events, culminating in a beatification ceremony for Cardinal John Henry Newman on Sunday.