Page last updated at 17:22 GMT, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Pope meets and forgives Christmas Eve Mass attack woman

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope 'wanted to demonstrate his forgiveness'

Pope Benedict XVI has had a meeting with the mentally disturbed woman who knocked him over at Mass on Christmas Eve, and has forgiven her.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the woman, Susanna Maiolo, told the Pope she was sorry for what had happened.

Father Lombardi added that the Pope expressed "his interest and best wishes" for her health.

The Vatican is continuing a legal case against Ms Maiolo.

She and her family met Pope Benedict in a private audience at the end of his general audience, Father Lombardi said in a statement.

The Pope inquired about Ms Maiolo's health and "wanted to demonstrate his forgiveness".

The Vatican said no photographs or video would be released of the meeting.

The Roman Catholic world was shocked by the attack, in which Ms Maiolo leapt over a barrier at St Peter's Basilica and brought the 82-year-old Pope to the ground at the beginning of the Mass.

She was quickly overpowered and Pope Benedict, who was not injured, proceeded with the service.

Ms Maiolo was treated at a psychiatric clinic outside Rome after the incident, and was released on Saturday.

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