Pope Benedict XVI was knocked to the floor while walking to the altar of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican to begin the traditional Christmas Eve service.
The 82-year-old Pontiff fell during commotion that started when an unidentified woman, believed to be mentally unstable, jumped over a barrier. He was back to his feet almost immediately with the help of his bodyguards.
87-year-old French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who was near the Pope, was also knocked down. He did not feel well after the incident and was taken to hospital for a medical examination.
Despite the incident, the Midnight Mass began as scheduled, at 22:00 local time [21:00 GMT]. This year the service began two hours earlier than usual to ensure the Pontiff would have enough energy to deliver the traditional Urbi et Orbi speech at noon.
VATICAN, December 25 (RIA Novosti)