As Pope Francis leaned forward to give Estella Westrick a kiss on the cheek as he greeted the faithful on St. Peter’s Square, the 3-year-old from Georgia caused a sensation by reaching up and yanking his white skullcap, or zucchetto, off his head.
The pope broke out into good-humored guffaws when he realized what had happened.
Estella was visiting Rome with her parents and was taken to meet the pontiff by her godfather, Mountain Butorac, a Catholic tour organizer who moved to Rome with his family from Atlanta three years ago.
“Took my Goddaughter to meet the pope. She stole his hat!, ” he later wrote in his twitter @MountainButorac
It happened too fast for her dad Scott to stop her. “She does what she wants,” he said.
“It was the first thing she told me when she came in the door, she said ‘Mommy, I saw the pope, I go his hat,’” said her mother
It was clear this independent three-year old does her own thing, whether taking a skullcap from a pope or phone from a reporter.
“OK, you’re taking a photo of me!” Doane, a CBS reporter asked her.
“I got ya!” Estella said.
That’s certainly how Estella dealt with him.
Tell me about taking the pope’s hat, Estella,” Doane said.
“Um, it was good,” she replied.
“It was good? Was it a surprise? Did you surprise yourself?” Doane asked.
“Yeah,” Stella said.
“Why did you do it?”
“I don’t know!”
“Did you think it was funny?”
Apparently the pope thought so too.
Greg Burke, the head of the Holy See press office, says the pope relishes these unscripted moments.
“Obviously, the Pope is not a regular guy, he’s the Pope! But as much as possible, I think he wants to deal with people as if he were,” Burke said. USA Today, CBS