Paul and Christina Gondreau of Johnston and their five children attended Easter Mass at the Vatican. The pope cradled their son, Dominic, who has cerebral palsy.
Videos and photos of the pontiff standing in the "popemobile" and holding Dominic were transmitted worldwide. Pope Francis also hugged and kissed other children as he greeted the crowd after Mass.
Paul Gondreau is a theology professor at Providence College and is teaching this semester in Rome.
A story on the Providence College website says Paul Gondreau called the moment "an incredibly moving encounter." He says his son teaches him daily lessons about how to love.