Pope Receives, Forgives Susanna Maiolo

Woman Knocked Him Down on Christmas Eve

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI met briefly today with Susanna Maiolo, the young woman who jumped a security barrier and caused the Pontiff to fall on Christmas Eve.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, reported in a statement that the Pope received Maiolo after the general audience today in Paul VI Hall.

He said the young woman, who was accompanied by two relatives, «expressed her regret for what happened at the beginning of the celebration on Christmas Eve.»
«The Pope wished to express his forgiveness, as well as his cordial interest and good wishes for her health,» added the Vatican spokesman.
As on previous occasions, Father Lombardi confirmed that «the prosecution begun by the magistracy of Vatican City State, will continue its course to its conclusion.»
The incident took place during the entrance procession of the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, when Susanna Maiolo, of Italian-Swiss citizenship and with a history of psychological disturbance, climbed over a barrier in an attempt to reach the Pope.

Despite the swift intervention of the police, the young woman was able to grab the Pope by the pallium, making him fall to the floor. The Pontiff was unhurt.

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, 87, also fell in the commotion. He was taken to the hospital, where it was found that he had broken a hip and was in need of surgery.
Susanna Maiolo was interned in a health center to receive treatment. While there, the Pope’s personal secretary, Msgr. Georg Gaenswein, visited her and expressed «the Holy Father’s interest in her situation.»

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