A woman jumped the barriers in St. Peter's Basilica and knocked down Pope Benedict XVI as he walked down the main aisle to begin Christmas Eve Mass on Thursday, a Vatican spokesman said.
The Rev. Ciro Benedettini said the 82-year-old pope quickly got up and was unhurt. As the pope's procession was making its way toward the main altar gasps rang out through the public and a commotion could be seen among the clergymen surrounding Benedict. The procession came to a halt and bodyguards rushed to the trouble spot.
Benedettini said the woman who pushed the pope appeared to be mentally unstable and had been arrested by Vatican police. He said she also knocked down Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who was taken to hospital for a check up.
"During the procession an unstable person jumped a barrier and knocked down the Holy Father," Benedettini told The Associated Press by telephone. "(The pope) quickly got up and continued the procession."