- (Photo: AP Images / Gregorio Borgia)
As Pope Benedict XVI was naming three new saints for the Catholic Church during Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square, a man decided to pull a prank by climbing onto an upper colonnade and burning a copy of the Bible in front of thousands of onlookers, including the pope himself.
As the man set fire to the holy book, Vatican employees urged him to stop and step away from the edge. However, the man ignored their pleas and set the Bible alight as he shouted: "Pope! Where is Christ?" before throwing the flaming book into the crowd, The Associated Press reported.
The man was not suicidal, as he calmly stepped back over the edge and into the waiting arms of Vatican guards. The crowd cheered as he disappeared into the Vatican halls amongst the guards.
The AP reported that the crowd was "unfazed" by the events and Pope Benedict is seen in a video of the event (shown below) as carrying on like normal, slowly waving to people in the crowd from inside his open-top motor vehicle.
The pope was conducting a service to canonize three religious figures form the 1800s: Italian bishop and missionary Monsignor Guido Maria Conforti, Spanish nun Sister Bonifacia Rodriguez de Castro and an Italian priest who worked with the poor, the Rev. Luigi Guanella.
William Gisson, Jr., a 21 year-old man from Philadelphia who was a recipient of the miracle needed to canonize Guanella, was on hand for the events. Gisson had suffered a severe head injury and went into a coma. After two brain surgeries, doctors told Gisson's family that there was not much hope.
However, the young man's family prayed to relics of Guanella and nine days later, Gison awoke from his coma. He now works in the family construction business, according to the AP.