The spokesman for the pope, Fr. Fredrico Lombardi, dismissed any intention of an attack on the Holy Father by a young German man at today's Wednesday audience.
At 10:35 am local time today, as the Pope was making his way through the crowds in his Popemobile, a 27 year-old German man attempted to board the vehicle. The man, who was wearing a baseball cap, jumped over a wooden barricade as the Pope passed by in his open-topped jeep and attempted to get into the car.
The man was stopped by the Pope’s bodyguards and taken away for questioning.
Upon determining that there were no other threats to the Holy Father, the 27-year-old was committed to a psychiatric hospital.
A Vatican spokesman said later that the man had shown "clear signs of derangement" but had "no intention of trying to kill the pope".
"He was just trying to draw attention to himself," the Vatican said, emphasizing that the man had been unarmed.
However, the incident brought back memories of the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II in 1981.
John Paul was shot and seriously wounded in the abdomen in the attack in the same square by Turkish national Mehmet Ali Agca who may have been in the pay of any one of a number of communist intelligence agencies. John Paul II later met Agca in prison and forgave him for the attempt on his life.