Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is unhurt after he was knocked down tonight as he entered St. Peter's Basilica to celebrate the Christmas vigil Mass, reports a Vatican spokesman.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, told reporters that an "apparently unbalanced" woman jumped the barriers and ran toward the Pope and knocked him to the ground as he walked down the main aisle toward the altar.
The woman also collided with Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, 87, who also fell to the ground.
The Holy Father, 82, got back on his feet quickly. When seeing that the Pontiff recovered, the thousands who had gathered in the basilica for Mass cheered.
Cardinal Etchegaray, who is the former president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was taken to the hospital for a check-up.
The woman was seized by bodyguards and was arrested by the police and taken in for questioning.
The Christmas vigil Mass was celebrated for the first time in recent memory at 10 p.m., instead of at midnight, in an effort to make Christmas "a little less tiring for the Pope."
From AP via Yahoo! News, "Woman knocks down pope at Christmas Eve Mass"
From AFP via Yahoo! News, "Woman rushes at pope, pulls him down ahead of Christmas mass"
From Reuters, "Pope knocked to floor but unharmed at mass incident"
And this photo:
Associated Press Thu Dec 24, 7:44 PM ET
In this image made from amateur video obtained by APTN, an unidentified woman, center, is pulled by a guard as she grabs Pope Benedict XVI after jumping over a barricade as he walked down the main aisle to begin Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009.(AP Photo/APTN)