Kim Davis' lawyer claims she had secret meeting with Pope Francis

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
FROM SEPT. 28: Conscientious Objection Is a Human Right, Pope Says

Attorneys for Kentucky official Kim Davis claimed Tuesday that she had a secret meeting with Pope Francis during his trip to America -- and said he told the defiant county clerk to "stay strong."

The clandestine communication occurred in Washington, D.C., on Thursday -- the same day as the pontiff's historic speech to a joint session of Congress, according to Liberty Counsel, which has represented Davis in her legal battles.

Davis sparked a national firestorm after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Rowan County, citing her religious beliefs as an Apostolic Christian. She was jailed for five nights before a judge allowed her to return to her job -- as long as she doesn't interfere with the granting of licenses.

See photos of Davis since her release from jail:

10 PHOTOS
Kim Davis (Kentucky clerk) since her release from jail
See Gallery
Kim Davis' lawyer claims she had secret meeting with Pope Francis
ABC NEWS - 9/21/15 - Paula Faris speaks to Kim Davis, the Kentucky court clerk who went to jail because she refused to issue gay marriage licenses. The exclusive interview will air on all ABC News programs and platforms. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) PAULA FARIS, KIM DAVIS
ABC NEWS - 9/21/15 - Paula Faris speaks to Kim Davis, the Kentucky court clerk who went to jail because she refused to issue gay marriage licenses. The exclusive interview will air on all ABC News programs and platforms. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) PAULA FARIS, KIM DAVIS, MATHEW STAVER (ATTORNEY)
ABC NEWS - 9/21/15 - Paula Faris speaks to Kim Davis, the Kentucky court clerk who went to jail because she refused to issue gay marriage licenses. The exclusive interview will air on all ABC News programs and platforms. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) KIM DAVIS
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 14: Rowan County clerk Kim Davis walks through the halls of the courthouse on her first day back to work, after being released from jail last week, at the Rowan County Courthouse September 14, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Davis was jailed for disobeying a judges order for denying marriage licenses to gay couples on the basis of her religious faith. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
GRAYSON, KY - SEPTEMBER 8: Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis (L) holds her hands in the air with her attorney Mat Staver (C) and her husband Joe Davis (R) in front of the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail last week for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
GRAYSON, KY - SEPTEMBER 8: Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis (2L) joins hands with her attorney Mat Staver (2R), husband Joe Davis (R) and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (L) in front of the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail last week for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
GRAYSON, KY - SEPTEMBER 8: Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis (L) walks off stage with her husband Joe Davis (R) in front of the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail last week for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
GRAYSON, KY - SEPTEMBER 8: Kim Davis, Clerk of Courts in Rowan County, Kentucky, looks over at Mike Huckabee after she was released from six days of incarceration at the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail last week for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
GRAYSON, KY - SEPTEMBER 8: People hold signs in support of Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis during a rally in front of the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail last week for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

In a statement released by Liberty Counsel, Davis says she was "humbled" and never thought she would be granted an audience with the popular and unpredictable pontiff. The conservative legal nonprofit said Davis and her husband, Joe, shared face time with Francis at the Vatican Embassy.

She and the pontiff hugged, and he presented her and her husband with two rosaries, which she is giving to her parents, who are Catholic, Liberty Counsel said.

"Who am I to have this rare opportunity? I am just a county clerk who loves Jesus and desires with all my heart to serve him," Davis said in the statement. "Pope Francis was kind, genuinely caring, and very personable. He even asked me to pray for him. Pope Francis thanked me for my courage and told me to 'stay strong.'"

Davis was in Washington for the Values Voter Summit, where the Family Research Council, which opposes same-sex marriage, presented her with an award for defying the federal judge.

NBC News could not immediately verify Liberty Counsel's statements with the Vatican.

But the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, didn't deny the encounter took place but told The Associated Press that he had no comment on the topic.

But Francis appeared to back Davis when asked about the issue during his return flight from the U.S. on Monday. He said people, including government workers, have the right not to do something in which their conscience objects. He did not specifically mention Davis by name.

"I can say that conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right," the pope reportedly said.

Gay marriage, however, was not a topic that Francis dwelled on during his six-day, three-city tour of the United States. Rather, he delved frequently into immigration, climate change and fighting poverty.

More from NBC News:
Planned Parenthood Chief Cecile Richards Faces Off With Congressional GOP
Tropical Storm Joaquin Lurks as Meteorologists Disagree Over Threat to U.S.
Swarming Honeybees Trap Deputy on Oklahoma Interstate

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners

Don't Get Too Close To a Newborn Giraffe Unless You Want to Get Kicked in the Nuts Don't Get Too Close To a Newborn Giraffe Unless You Want to Get Kicked in the Nuts
Man Suspects His Wife Is Cheating On Him - Then His Daughter Reveals What's Really Going Man Suspects His Wife Is Cheating On Him - Then His Daughter Reveals What's Really Going
Nature Gets Revenge On Safari Hunter Who Killed Elephants And Lions For Sport Nature Gets Revenge On Safari Hunter Who Killed Elephants And Lions For Sport