A dying woman who feared her lifelong dream of visiting the Vatican would never come true has had her prayers answered with a personal blessing from Pope Francis.

Corinne Barber, 42, from Leith, Edinburgh was determined her heart condition would not stop her pilgrimage and today returned elated after experiencing a “journey of a lifetime”. Mrs Barber, who has just months to live, said: “I feel more energised and more focused than I have done in years.”

She made the pilgrimage 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 page and the office of the Archbishop of Edinburgh - included a private tour of the Vatican and a Papal audience with Pope Francis.

HeraldScotland:

Mrs Barber said: “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.”

Mrs Barber's brother Darren Barber, 43, from North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland who set up the GoFundMe fundraising page entitled "Help with Corinne's Final Wish" in September this year was delighted when the public rallied behind the campaign and that Archbishop Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, offered his support.

Archbishop Leo Cushley said: “We are thrilled that Corinne finally made a pilgrimage to the Vatican and also that she received an audience with Pope Francis.

"It’s a dream come true or, rather, a prayer answered and we were delighted to play our part – along with many others – in making it happen.”