When Pope Francis left Capitol Hill last Thursday for a visit to a local church, Kim Davis was already waiting for him at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C., for a secret meeting arranged by aides to the pope weeks ago.
“I put my hand out and he reached and he grabbed it, and I hugged him and he hugged me,” Davis told ABC News. “And he said, ‘Thank you for your courage.’”
The Vatican today confirmed a claim by lawyers for Davis who revealed the private session with the antigay Kentucky clerk and her fourth husband, Joe Davis. ABC News reports that Vatican officials kept the rendezvous off the official schedule because they didn’t want media coverage of the papal visit to be overshadowed by his meeting with Davis.
Davis said he also told her, “Stay strong.”
Liberty Counsel said in its release that Pope Francis spoke in English with no interpreter, they hugged, and they promised to pray for each other.
The clerk said the private audience with the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics inspired her and gave her a renewed sense of purpose.
“I was crying. I had tears coming out of my eyes,” Davis said in the interview with ABC News. “I'm just a nobody, so it was really humbling to think he would want to meet or know me.”
Davis and her husband each received a set of rosary beads from Pope Francis, which he personally blessed, and they prayed together, according to her attorneys at Liberty Counsel, who released a photo of the beads to ABC.
Father Benedettini of the Vatican press office told ABC, “I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I will not comment on it further."
Watch ABC's Good Morning America report of the meeting, including an exclusive interview with Kim Davis, below.