Page last updated at 17:38 GMT, Sunday, 27 December 2009

Pope visits soup kitchen in first trip since attack

Pope Benedict XVI arrives at a lunch in a soup kitchen in Rome
The Pope said no group should be marginalised

Pope Benedict XVI has had lunch with 150 needy and homeless people at a soup kitchen in Rome.

It was his first journey outside the Vatican since he was attacked during Christmas Eve Mass inside St Peter's Basilica.

A Vatican judge will decide within the next few weeks whether the 25-year-old Swiss woman who assaulted the Pope will face criminal charges.

She is under observation in a psychiatric facility near Rome.

There was exceptionally heavy security by Italian police as the Pope made the short drive from the Vatican to a soup kitchen in Trastevere run by a Roman Catholic lay community.

No marginalisation

The Pope stopped to greet people who had gathered outside the soup kitchen under the keen surveillance of Vatican and Italian security agents.

Then he had lunch at a table seated next to a man from Afghanistan and a young family from Romania.

In a short speech the Pope urged that no-one should be marginalised, abandoned or left alone in Italy today.

Before leaving he distributed sweets and gifts to all the children present.


The moment the Pope was knocked down

The 25-year-old Swiss woman, Susanna Maiolo, who leaped over a security barrier and brought the Pope to the ground at the beginning of Christmas Eve Mass in St Peter's Basilica, is still under detention and psychiatric observation at a hospital near Rome.

A Vatican judge is to decide within the coming weeks whether to bring any criminal charges against her, or whether she is fit to stand trial if charged.

She had already tried last year to approach the Pope during Christmas Mass, but on that occasion was restrained by security guards.

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