Pope attacked during Christmas Eve Mass

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI circa 2006

A woman attacked Pope Benedict XVI during Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, causing a disruption to the ceremonies. The pope was unharmed and got to his feet and completed the Mass, although afterwards he was taken to a local hospital for evaluation. French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray also fell down and broke a leg. The accused assailant, Susanna Maiolo, is a 25-year-old Swiss national from the Ticino region, is reported to have psychiatric problems.

Susanna Maiolo also attempted to attack the pope during last years Midnight Mass, although she was stopped by security. During both assaults it appears that she was wearing the same red sweater. Vatican spokesman, Rev Federico Lombardi said that "She is known to the Vatican but she was never thought to have been of any serious danger to the Holy Father."

Despite the attack the pontiff decided to continue the midnight mass services. Although noticeably shaken, he still delivered the traditional "Urbi et Orbi" speech. In this years speech he mentioned the current financial crisis, conflicts in Africa and Israel, and the state of the Christian minority in Iraq.