Pope Benedict Knocked down by Woman at Midnight Mass

At Christmas midnight mass in St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI fell briefly as a woman trying to get to the pontiff jumped a cordon barrier knocking Pope.

Immediately after the incidence, the pontiff, 82, who seemed unharmed, again took hold of the golden cross he was carrying before falling, and carried on to lead the procession for the beginning of the Mass.

Attired in gold-embroidered robes and wearing his bishop’s mitre, Benedict then chaired the rest of the ceremony and delivered his homily.

Reports said that French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who was also knocked down in the scuffle, received some unspecified medical attention.

Later, Vatican guards detained the woman who was wearing red. ANSA news agency reported that she is believed to suffer from psychological problems.

Earlier, the Vatican’s conventional midnight Mass began two hours earlier than usual this year to give the pontiff some rest.

Vatican denied earlier this months the reports that the decision to begin the mass at 10 pm was taken because of unspecified ‘health problems’ afflicting German-born pontiff.

At the time, papal spokesman Father Federico Lombardi explained that the move – first announced by the Vatican in October – aimed to ‘tire the Pope a bit less’, giving him a few extra hours sleep before his Christmas Day duties.

On Thursday night, thousands of people flocked to St Peter’s Basilica for the ceremony. Many more followed the proceedings on giant video screens in St Peter’s Square on a mild but damp winter’s night.

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