- Mar 21, 2009
Pope knocked down at start of Christmas Mass in Vatican
Pope knocked down at start of Christmas Mass in Vatican | Top Russian news and analysis online | 'RIA Novosti' newswirePope Benedict XVI was knocked to the floor while walking to the altar of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican to begin the traditional Christmas Eve service.
The 82-year-old Pontiff fell during commotion that started when an unidentified woman, believed to be mentally unstable, jumped over a barrier. He was back to his feet almost immediately with the help of his bodyguards.
87-year-old French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who was near the Pope, was also knocked down. He felt unwell and was taken to hospital for a medical examination.
Despite the incident, the Midnight Mass began as scheduled, at 22:00 local time [21:00 GMT]. This year the service began two hours earlier than usual to ensure that the Pontiff would have enough energy to deliver the traditional Urbi et Orbi speech at noon.
VATICAN, December 25 (RIA Novosti)