Woman Who Lunged at Pope Tried Same Thing Last Year

About that attack on the Pope last night… this comes from Hell’s Bible (aka New York Times):

Woman Who Lunged at Pope Tried Same Thing Last Year

Published: December 25, 2009

ROME — The woman who leapt at Pope Benedict XVI during Christmas Eve Mass, causing him to trip and fall, had tried the same thing last year, only to be stopped by security, the Vatican said Friday.

The Vatican identified the woman as Susanna Maiolo, 25, a Swiss and Italian citizen with a history of mental problems, and said she was not armed.

The attempt last year came after Midnight Mass last year, said Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, but guards stopped her before she did any harm.

Television cameras show a woman in a red jacket leaping over the barriers as the papal procession entered the main aisle of Saint Peter’s, and security guards leaping toward her. The pope, 82, and an 87-year-old French cardinal, Roger Etchegaray, fell.

The cardinal broke his femur, Father Lombardi said, but is recovering well at a Rome hospital.

The incident alarmed the crowds and Saint Peter’s on one of the most momentous events in the Roman Catholic calendar and raised questions about the level of security surrounding the pope, who traditionally receives his flock during the Christmas season. Father Lombardi said that the Vatican had to balance the pope’s pastoral role with security concerns. “If the pope wants to be among people, it is impossible to have total security,” he said.

Father Lombardi said that Ms. Maiolo was being monitored in a medical facility and that she had not been arrested. He said he did not know whether the Vatican would pursue any legal consequences. The Vatican, an independent state, would have to formally petition Italian authorities on any judicial action.

Benedict is said to be in fine health, but he had moved Christmas Eve Mass to 10 p.m. from midnight to save his strength for his demanding public schedule during the holidays.

On Friday, Benedict looked well as he gave his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” message “to the city and the world” and offered Christmas greetings in a host of different languages from the loggia of Saint Peter’s Basilica.

In his message, Benedict said that the Catholic Church was in solidarity with “a human family profoundly affected by a grave financial crisis, yet even more by a moral crisis, and by the painful wounds of wars and conflicts.”

He spoke of the conflict in Iraq and the “little flock of Christians” in the Middle East. “At times it is subject to violence and injustice, but it remains determined to make its own contribution to the building of a society opposed to the logic of conflict and the rejection of one’s neighbor,” Benedict said.

The pope also singled out the situation of Christians in Sri Lanka, the Korean Peninsula and the Philippines, and in Africa called for more human rights in Guinea and Niger, and “begged” for an end to conflict in Madagascar.

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  1. Thomas S says:

    Gee, do you think maybe it’s time to actually lock her up? Or should we expect this to be an annual event. Maybe we can emend the liturgical books to provide specific rubrics for assault on the Pope.

    This is a ridiculous failure on the part of those responsible for the Holy Father’s security. Same woman, same date, same action. Why the hell was she given a second chance? And now an elderly cardinal has a broken bone, and we know how good that is for the health of the elderly.

    If she’s unstable, institutionalize her. If she’s not unstable, put her in jail.

  2. Bornacatholic says:

    Susanna Maiolo, 25, a Swiss and Italian citizen with a history of mental problems

    i.e. A Liberal

  3. tzard says:

    A broken femur is kind of serious – it’ll take a long time to properly heal, moreso given his age. Let is pray for his recovery.

  4. Mike says:

    I would say, not being a professional in this area, nevertheless this seems a grave breach of security. And a failure of the Italian courts to deal with these apparently unbalanced woman.

    Ok so we don’t need Blackwater defending the Pope. However, the security around him should receive a thorough review. I will bet, despite B16’s serenity, he will ask for this, or accept it…he doesn’t just belong to himself, and I’m sure he realizes this…

  5. You’d think they’d have better security for the Vicar of Christ…

    I had a broken femur took me a few months to recover, but then again, I’m young…praying for the speedy recovery of the French Cardinal

    The attack on the Holy Father is absolutely unacceptable, she shouldn’t have been allowed at St Peter’s from last year’s incident

  6. Frank H says:

    A priest with whom I was speaking after Mass last night said that one of the problems is a lack of clear authority between the Italian security detail and the Swiss Guards. Sounds like a shake-up is needed.

  7. JMody says:

    Hmm Swiss Guards AND Italian Security, unsure over who has what jurisdiction? How can that be? Would the situation be different if the Palatine Guards had not been dissolved by Paul VI?

    And another thing that’s been in Italian news recently — exorcisms. Is our young perp a likely candidate? I would expect that once she starts to behave with a pattern – ATTACK POPE CHRISTMAS – anyone with a semblance of professionalism would feel that some form of confinement is appropriate.

  8. jdskyles says:


    This attack on the Holy Father could be an impetus in calling for the return of the sede gestatoria.

  9. Thomas S says:


    I’m all for the return of the sedia gestatoria, but if anything this incident would scare the hell out of me concerning its return. How much worse would it be if the Holy Father was toppled out of the sedia from 5 or 6 feet in the air?

    So while I would love to see the sedia again, the recurring claim that its return would have prevented this seems highly dubious to me.

  10. JohnMa says:


    The way I look at it, it is easy for anyone to knock down an 80+ year old man while he is walking. However, it is much, much tougher to knock down a strong young man who is carrying the sedia.

  11. Hidden One says:

    How about a bullet-proof sedia with bulletproof glass sides carried by young men wearing bulletproof jackets and flanked by half a platoon of security forces*, with individuals amongst them trained specifically to ensure that the sedia never falls?

    *The other half will form the fore and rear guards and defend the Cardinals.

    I’m only half kidding.

  12. Leonius says:

    A return of the noble guard and the sedia and a return to the sedia been flanked by an outer rank of Swiss guards and a inner line of the noble guard would make this kind of incident impossible and thanks to the sedia the people can still see the Pope in fact the people in the back will have a better view than they currently do.

  13. Agnes says:

    Imagine the grand procession!

    Liberal or fanatic? Either way, a break from St. Peter’s seems in order.

  14. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Swiss guards? More like Swiss cheese.

  15. Vetdoctor says:

    Most security forces, given their way, would never let their “charge” walk in open public for just this reason. if it happens it is because the “charge” has overruled the secutity. EG: Obama on the Inagural Parade and the Pope on the way to Mass. Most Popes are understandably shy of cutting themselves off from the public even in barely controlled open spaces. All security advisors dread just this sort of happening. When’s the last time you’ve seen a head of state walking on a path,just feet from the crowds, when the time and place is well known beforehand? It just don’t happen. The Holy Father has some tough decisions before him. Increased security and less public access or inceased danger to himself and those with him?

  16. irishgirl says:

    I’m with you, Thomas S-she should either be in a hospital or in a jail!

    Why was she given a second chance?

    I think some heads are going to roll in the papal security detail.

  17. genxrevert says:

    I am not a security professional, but someone dressed in a red hooded sweatjacket and jeans at Christmas Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s would have screamed out for close watching.

  18. Kimberly says:

    I thought women were not allowed in unless dressed properly, meaning no pants.

  19. Mitchell NY says:

    As Roman Catholics we should all support the Sedia’s return if it will make the Pope that much “safer”, we can not guarantee nor look for 100% untouchable. The Holy Father should not be walking up to the Altar to Pray the Liturgy with thoughts of ambush in his head. Indeed more Guards and the Sedia does seem to make sense now. Even more than before.

  20. ssoldie says:

    Oh! yes and I will bet she has some disorder, mentally or physically that can be blamed on some one else, mother, father, sister, brother,uncle, aunt,a nun, a priest, etc,etc, so that she cannot be blamed for her actions.

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