Pope Benedict XVI took a fall at Thursday evening’s Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica when he was pulled to the ground by a woman who jumped a barrier and appeared to try to hug him. The Pontiff was not hurt, but Cardinal Roger Etchegaray of France who was nearby was also thrown to floor and suffered a broken leg.
The Italian Daily La Repubblica reported that Benedict XVI, members of the Roman curia and other clergy were processing into the basilica to begin Mass on Christmas Eve when Susanna Maiolo, a young Italian-Swiss national, leaped a barrier and attempted to run to the Pope. She was met by a security guard before she reached the Holy Father, but as she fell away from him she managed to grab at the Pontiff and pull him down with her.
Pope Benedict was not hurt, but the 87-year old Cardinal Etchegaray was taken immediately to the emergency room where it was found that he had sustained a fractured femur. The Mass continued without any further disturbances.
This is the second time Maiolo has attempted to embrace the Pope at the Christmas Mass. Last year, she was caught before she got within reach of the Pontiff. It is reported that she suffers from psychiatric problems and meant the Pope no harm.
The Vatican is reviewing its security procedures following the incident.