Pope Delivers Christmas Blessing Despite Fall

Cardinal fractures hip in Christmas Eve assault by woman
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 25, 2009 8:03 AM CST
Pope Delivers Christmas Blessing Despite Fall
Christian priests hold a Christmas procession outside the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009.    (ODED BALILTY)

(Newser) – Pope Benedict XVI delivered his traditional Christmas Day blessing today, looking tired and unsteady but otherwise fine hours after being knocked down by a woman who jumped the barrier at the start of Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. The Vatican said the 82-year-old Benedict was unhurt in the fall and that his busy Christmas schedule would remain unchanged. French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, an 87-year-old Vatican diplomat, fractured his hip in the commotion and will be operated on at Rome's Gemelli hospital.

The woman who toppled Benedict was identified as Susanna Maiolo, 25, a Swiss-Italian national with psychiatric problems. Maiolo, who was not armed, was taken to a clinic for necessary treatment. She was the same woman involved in a similar incident at last year's Midnight Mass, Vatican officials said. In that case, Maiolo jumped the barricade but never managed to reach the pope and was quietly tackled by security. In both cases she wore a red sweat shirt. (Read more Pope Benedict XVI stories.)

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