A year after her first attack, a woman in red leaped over the divider between crowds and Pope Benedict XVI and grabbed for him, sending security guards running toward her and screams from the assembled crowd. The woman’s attack took place in St. Peter’s Basilica during Christmas Eve mass. The pope, recovering from the incident, has not commented on the attack. 87 year old Cardinal Roger Etchegary was rushed to the hospital following the incident.
Cardinal Etchegary is not suspected to be in any mortal danger, and will have his broken hip operated on in the next few days. This is following a similar attack last year in which the woman made an attempt to leap over the divide and reach the pope, but was tackled by security before she could reach Pope Benedict XVI.
Some less than scrupulous outlets have labeled the attack an “assassination attempt,” but after reading the official statement released by the Vatican it appears the 25 year old woman, Susanna Maiolo, was unarmed and merely wished to meet the pope. She was unarmed and had made no comments to friends or family about the incident that lead others to believe it may have been premeditated. She has, however, reportedly displayed signs of mental instability.
Those viewing the footage of the incident can clearly see the woman as she raises up from the crowd poised and leans forward as though preparing at the last minute to lunge. She jumps nearly in front of the pope, and with security behind him she grabs at him and appears to knock him and at least one other man down amidst the screams of the gathered crowd. With lightning celerity security officials move in to take the woman away. The crowd is clearly terrified, but soon it is apparent that the pope is okay, and the thankful crowd exhales a sigh of relief.
Johnathon Keel’s book “The Mothman Prophecies” indicates that there will be an attack on the pope, whom many believers in the “Mothman Prophecies” say is the next to the last pope ever. Some are saying this attack is evidence of that fact. There has been no official statement made, however, regarding this latest attack and how it relates to Keel’s alleged prophecies.
Despite the attack, this morning and under heavy security, Pope Benedict XVI did visit a soup kitchen despite higher tensions regarding the matter of security and the threat of future attacks. Of course Vatican security increased their coverage of the area. And Sunday, the pope delivered his traditional Angelus prayer from a window several stories up in St. Peter’s square.
The Vatican is scheduled to review its security policy, and no doubt the attack on the pope will come up. Reverend Federico Lombardi said that though security was one of the ultimate concerns, it was unrealistic to expect the security forces of Vatican city to be able to offer 100 percent security when tens of thousands congregate weekly around the area for Papal greetings, Masses, and other events such as these.