D.C. woman makes risky move to give gift to pope

WASHINGTON– A local woman made a risky move this week, hoping to get close to Pope Francis. When the pope’s motorcade passed by her in Northwest D.C., Zaida Mulitz ran up to the pontiff’s open window.

“I just wanted to get close to him, to see me and bless me and my family,” Mulitz said.

The insurance agent from Chevy Chase waited along Massachusetts Avenue for the pope to leave the Vatican Embassy on Thursday afternoon. She took off her hat, which she had brought from her native Paraguay, put an American flag and a note inside of it and placed it in her hand.

Mulitz says the letter read: “You’re my friend, Papa Francisco, Pope Francis, and I said to please bless America, Paraguay and world peace.”

The motorcade was approaching, with the pope’s fiat visible through the crowd of SUVs full of armed agents. As it passed, Mulitz made the decision to run up to the pope’s open window to hand him the hat.

The flag fell out, but Francis took the hat from her hands as he drove by.

When asked about the risk she took, running up to the pope while armed agents kept close watch, Mulitz says she has no regrets. She does recognize she might have put herself in harm’s way.

“That was amazing that nobody did anything,” Mulitz says.

Mulitz says she loves the pope, and wouldn’t do anything bad to him. She believes his security detail recognized that she wasn’t a risk.

She says the moment was special for her, and that she felt a special energy being that close to the pope. He smiled at her, she says, as he reached through the window to take her hat.

After the motorcade moved away, Mulitz says an agent did walk up to her but didn’t give her a hard time.

Mulitz doesn’t recommend a risky move like hers, but she’s hoping it pays off. She’ll be traveling to Philadelphia for Francis’ visit, and if he read her note, she hopes he’ll give her a call.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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