Plucky toddler snatches the Pope's cap - and he's delighted

Three-year-old Estelle isn't shy about claiming the pope's zucchetto for herself and his delight is infectious.
Three-year-old Estelle isn't shy about claiming the pope's zucchetto for herself and his delight is infectious. Photo: Mountain Butorac/Twitter

In a typical toddler escapade, one little girl has got the whole world - including the Pope - belly laughing.

Three-year-old Estella Westrick from Atlanta, Georgia, was enjoying her first day out in Rome with her family, having secured a front row position to view Pope Francis. She was with her godfather Mountain Butorac when a security guard approached and asked if he could hand her to the Pope. Butorac agreed and filmed the girl being passed to His Holiness.

The Pope gave her a kiss on the cheek - then she boldly plucked his cap, known as a zucchetto, clean off.

Pope Francis laughed at her toddler antics as he gently retrieving it from her hands.

Butorac posted the humorous video to Twitter with the caption, "Took my Goddaughter to meet the pope. She stole his hat!"

He also told Today that in his 12 years of running day tours in Rome and Catholic pilgrimages, he has never seen such a thing happen.

Butorac says the pontiff and his entourage were laughing about the funny incident for quite a while as they continued their stroll to meet the attendees for the weekly Papal Audience event.

Having viewed the pope's official photographer images, it was quite clear Estelle had hatched a plan the second she laid eyes on him. (See the official photos on the website L'Osservatore Romano).

"You can see that as they brought her, she was kind of staring at the hat," he said. "So as the pope was going in to kiss her, she was already eyeballing it and her hand was starting to move up. It was like she went in with a plan."

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Photo: Mountain Butorac/Twitter
 
Mum Alexis was confined to the apartment with Estella's younger brother who was sick, but says her daughter told her all about it when she returned. "She told me, 'I met the Pope, and he gave me a rosary - and I took his hat!' She was so excited about it," recounted Alexis.
 
The excitement was shortlived, however. Speaking to  WXIA, her mum now says the toddler is bored by it all. "She's like, 'Why does everyone want to keep talking about this? I'm bored,'" she said.
 
The short video has struck a chord of joy with the world. It's a moment of pure fun and innocence, all caused by one spirited toddler, blissfully uninhibited by the significance of the man she was meeting.