Tragedy struck just days before the canonization of Pope John Paul II when a giant crucifix dedicated to the late pontiff crushed an unfortunate pilgrim in northern Italy. The victim, 21-year-old Marco Gusmini, was posing for photographs with other members of a group of young Catholics in front of the 100-foot wooden cross when it suddenly collapsed yesterday, the Telegraph reports. The local mayor calls the collapse of the cross, which bore a 20-foot, 1,300-pound statue of Christ, an "unexplainable tragedy."
"When they heard the crunching noises coming from the cross they fled in all directions," the mayor says. "Unfortunately Marco ran in the wrong direction." In a strange twist, the young man lived on a street named after Pope John XXIII, who will also be canonized on Sunday in a ceremony expected to bring 800,000 pilgrims to Rome, the Daily Mail reports. Bizarre as it is, the tragedy has precedent: A decade ago, a 72-year-old woman in southern Italy was killed when a 7-foot metal crucifix fell on her, the BBC notes. (Last week in the Philippines, men crucified themselves in a grisly Good Friday tradition.)