During a special Mass honoring the three newest members of the Catholic sainthood in Vatican City on Sunday, a protester climbed on top of the colonnade in St. Peter's Square and called out to Pope Benedict XVI, creating a brief disruption while the pope addressed the crowd.
A video of the incident shown on The Telegraph's website shows how the middle-aged man walked on top of the colonnade carrying a Bible with a green cover. He lit the pages of the book on fire and holds it in plain view for the crowd to see, while it smoked and its pages turned black from burning. Vatican security officials spoke to him from a railing above and behind where he stood, though he didn't budge from his post until after he made his statement.
“Hey pope!” he cried out in English over the crowd. “Where is Christ?”
A bishop joined security officials and could be seen signaling the man to climb up to them. The protester eventually complied and was escorted away, but not before tossing the smoldering Bible down into the square. A report from AFP says he was on top of the colonnade for approximately half an hour, and security personnel on the ground had cleared all people from the area beneath where he stood.
Catholic News Agency reports that among those who talked the man “out of further actions” was the pope's chief bodyguard, Domenico Giani. The pope seemed either unconcerned or unaware of the protester’s actions, which resulted in only a minor disruption to the Mass.
The Vatican later said the man was Romanian and was being questioned by police, according to AFP.
All three of the new Catholic saints, two Italians and one Spaniard, founded religious organizations and lived in the 1800s through the turn of the century.
Sister Bonifacia Rodriguez Castro of Spain was the co-founder of an organization that offered work to poor, unemployed women. Archbishop Guido Maria Conforti founded his own missionary order, and Fr. Luigi Guanella founded two organizations and cared for those living in poverty.
While speaking about these saints on Sunday, Catholic News Agency reports, the pope told the crowd that “in different situations and with different charisms, they loved the Lord with all their heart and their neighbor as themselves so as to become a model for all believers.”