Pope Benedict XVI was attack and knocked down as he walked to the main Altar at St. Peter’s Basilica to give Christmas Eve mass Thursday.
The 82-year-old Pontiff got on his feet quickly and resumed the processional to the altar. He was unhurt said a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini. The incident caught on videotape by Italy’s RAI state TV. The Image caught a woman dressed in a red jumper climbing over the wooden barricades lunge at the Pope. Then the Pope’s bodyguards in turn caught the woman.
Police say the woman was mentally ill.
The attack on the pope also knock down Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, a member of the Pope’s processional. Cardinal Etchgaray taken to Hospital in Rome for a check up.
“During the procession an unstable person jumped a barrier and knocked down the,” Benedettini told The Associated Press by telephone. “(The pope) quickly got up and continued the procession.”
The Pope went on to the Altar and sit on the throne as a choir sang the pontiff sprinkle holy water on the altar then open the service with a peace greeting in Latin: “Pax vobis” (“Peace be with you”). The faithful responded: “Et cum spiritu tuo” (“And also with you”).
The Pope did not mention the incident in his homily.
This was the second time in a year that security was breached. Last Year a woman jumped the blockade but the pope guards stopped the intruder.