A little girl evaded tight police security Tuesday inside Abu Dhabi’s city stadium and ran to Pope Francis to deliver him a letter.
The cute episode unfolded as the Pope was ferried around the venue in his popemobile before celebrating a historic Mass for some 130,000 attendees in the United Arab Emirates.
Viral footage shows the Pope signaling the driver to stop the vehicle as the girl, in a white shirt and pink pants, dashes through barricades to approach him.
A security guard lifts the girl up so the Pope can bless her, video shows. Another girl then follows her.
A photo of the moment shows the first girl in tears as Francis, smiling, touches her head.
“She was courageous,” the Pope later told reporters. “I said, ‘No, let her come!’ That girl has a future,” before jokingly adding: “I dare to say, ‘Poor husband!’”
“I liked that,” he added during a news conference aboard the papal plane on his return flight to Rome. “It takes courage to do that.”
The Pope did not offer any details about the contents of her letter.
Francis became the first pontiff to celebrate Mass in the Arabian Peninsula. In his homily, the Pope praised congregants as “a choir composed of numerous nations, languages and rites.”
Nationals of the UAE are overwhelmingly Muslim, but some 90% of the population comprises expatriates, including around 1.2 million Christians.