knocked down by woman at Christmas
AP – Pope Benedict XVI is assisted to his seat during
Christmas Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, …
By ARIEL DAVID, Associated Press Writer Ariel David, Associated Press Writer –
5 mins ago
VATICAN CITY – A woman jumped the barriers in St. Peter's Basilica and knocked
down Pope Benedict XVI as he walked down the main aisle to begin Christmas Eve Mass
The 82-year-old pope quickly got up and was unhurt, said a Vatican spokesman, the Rev.
Ciro Benedettini. Footage aired on Italy's RAI state TV showed a woman dressed in a red
jumper vaulting over the wooden barriers and rushing the pope before being swarmed by
The commotion occurred as the pope's procession was making its way toward the main
altar and shocked gasps rang out through the public that packed the basilica. The
procession came to a halt and security rushed to the trouble spot.
Benedettini said the woman who pushed the pope appeared to be mentally unstable and
had been arrested by Vatican police. He said she also knocked down Cardinal Roger
Etchegaray, who was taken to hospital for a check up.
"During the procession an unstable person jumped a barrier and knocked down the Holy
Father," Benedettini told The Associated Press by telephone. "(The pope) quickly got up
and continued the procession."
After the incident, Benedict, flanked by tense bodyguards, resumed his walk to the
basilica's main altar to start the Mass. He did appear somewhat shaken and leaned heavily
on aides and an armrest as he sat down in his chair.
Benedict made no reference to the incident as the service started. As a choir sang, he
sprinkled incense on the altar before opening the Mass with the traditional wish for peace
in Latin: "Pax vobis" ("Peace be with you"). The faithful responded: "Et cum spiritu tuo"
("And also with you").
It was the second year in a row there was a security breach at the service. At the end of
last year's Mass a woman who had jumped the barriers got close to the pope but was
quickly blocked on the ground by security.
Benedettini said it was not immediately known if the same woman was behind