PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) Dominic Masciantonio thought about wearing his police costume to the Ceremonial Courtroom inside the federal building in Philadelphia. But it might have clashed with his new role as honorary Deputy U.S. Marshal. Quite an achievement, for a 5-year-old. Philadelphia’s actual U.S. Marshal, David Webb, tweaked the oath for little Dominic:
"I'll always look out for my sister and protect her for as long as I live."
Dominic’s sister is 19-month-old Gianna. You may remember her from a poignant moment during the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia last September.
A friend of the Masciantonio family had arranged with a law enforcement connection to get a choice curbside spot along Market Street in hopes the little girl with an inoperable brain tumor could attract the attention of the pontiff for a brief kiss and a blessing. the FBI, US Marshals and the Secret Service made it happen, and the pontiff did, indeed stop for that kiss and blessing.
In the weeks that followed, Gianna’s brain tumor began to shrink.
"We don't think the pope healed our daughter,” said Dominic and Gianna’s father, Joey, of the ‘Miracle on Market’ talk that followed. “She's still in chemo now. (But) it gave us hope, it gave us strength."
As for her big brother Dominic, now U.S. Marshal Masciantonio? His job is to safeguard his little sister.
"Yeah,” said dad, “And we've been having that conversation for a long time, that he's the big brother and he always has to protect his sister and he does a great job of that."
Dominic was given a badge to commemorate his new duties, and federal agents presented mom and dad with a photo of the pontiff kissing Gianna, autographed by Francis himself.
Like the stoic U.S. Marshals of the Old West, Dominic is a (young) man of few words, pronouncing himself “very” excited to be a deputy marshal, and answering “better” when asked how it feels.
Gianna is due for her latest chemotherapy session Wednesday, with several more to follow. But she’s got good doctors (at CHOP) and now, a big brother with a shiny badge and orders to keep her safe.