During a chance encounter with Pope Francis on Wednesday, a young girl took advantage of the Catholic leader's friendly demeanor with hilarious results.
As the girl was being lifted up to greet him, Pope Francis leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. It was a touching moment, but what she did next left the Pope laughing and smiling ear to ear:
The young prankster used the pope's kindness to briefly whisk his white skullcap (called a zucchetto) from his head. Surprised by her actions, the cameraman turns the phone towards himself and remarks “She really took his hat!”
Long celebrated for his personable and humble nature, Pope Francis was just as entertained by the girl as the thousands of people who have already shared the video on Twitter.
The girl's godfather, Mountain Butorac, recorded and posted the video to Twitter. According to his Twitter bio, Butorac resides in Rome and operates a travel blog known as “The Catholic Traveler.”
Butorac explains on his blog that he leads small group tours and pilgrimages to Vatican City, writing, “I’m passionate about what I do and I’m very thankful for every moment I get to spend helping people explore their faith through travel.”
An earlier tweet shows the trickster posing with another girl before their encounter with the pope:
Wednesday's encounter was far from the first instance that showcased Pope Francis's sense of humor. During his 2015 visit to the U.S., the pope was greeted by a small child dressed as him. Letting out a hearty laugh, Francis stopped his vehicle so a member of his security detail could bring the child to him.
Pope Francis's lighthearted nature is just one of his many attributes contributing to his soaring popularity. A January poll by Pew Research indicated that 87% of American Catholics view the pope favorably.
But perhaps the most astonishing result of the poll was the pontiff's popularity with Americans who described themselves as being atheist, agnostic, or having no religious affiliation. With that group, he enjoys a remarkable 71% favorability rating. Just over two years into his papacy, Pope Francis's ratings put him above his immediate predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, and nearing the record popularity of Pope John Paul II.
Mountain Butorac did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Independent Journal Review.