An Italian-Swiss woman with a "history of mental problems" leaped a Vatican City barricade, grabbed Pope Benedict XVI's vestments and knocked the 82-year-old pontiff to the floor as he walked down the aisle of St. Peter's Basilica to deliver Christmas Eve mass.
The incident was over in a matter of seconds as Vatican guards rushed to his rescue and wrestled the woman to the ground before taking her away for questioning. Unfazed and unhurt, Pope Benedict got up immediately and continued with the procession, blessing the faithful. He began with a wish for peace in Latin "Pax Vobis," but there was no mention of the tackle. The Vatican identified the woman as Susanna Maiolo, a 25-year-old Italian Swiss national. The statement says she was not armed but shows signs of mental instability, and has since been admitted to a health facility for compulsory treatment.
Maiolo is the same woman who tried to attack the Pope in a Christmas Eve 2008 security breach at St. Peter's. At that time she was detained by Vatican police and taken to a mental institution.
His Holiness was unscathed but the 87-year-old Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who was also knocked down, broke his hip and will undergo surgery. Pope Bendict delivered his Christmas message today and did not mention the assault. The Vatican is reportedly reviewing security procedures. Watch raw video of the incident AFTER THE JUMP...