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VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI met the woman who toppled him inside St. Peter’s Basilica, accepting her apology and offering his forgiveness for the Christmas Eve incident.
Susanna Maiolo, 25, and members of her family met briefly with the pope following his weekly public audience at the Vatican on Wednesday (Jan. 13).
According to the Rev. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, Maiolo told Benedict that she was sorry for jumping the security barrier in St. Peter’s and pulling him to the floor as he led a procession to the altar at the start of Christmas Eve Mass.
“The pope wished to show her his forgiveness, as well as his cordial concern and best wishes for her health,” Lombardi said.
Benedict, 82, was not injured in the incident, but another member of the procession, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, 87, suffered a broken thighbone after he was knocked over in the commotion.
Maiolo, a dual citizen of Switzerland and Italy, had attempted the same thing at Christmas Eve Mass in 2008 but without success. After last month’s incident, she was arrested and placed under psychiatric observation at a hospital east of Rome, from which she was released on Saturday (Jan. 9).
Lombardi said that Vatican City authorities would continue their legal investigation of the affair.
— Francis X. Rocca
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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