Pope Francis missed a step and fell to the ground Thursday as he was coming to an open-air altar to celebrate mass at Poland’s holiest shrine of Jasna Gora.
In a dramatic moment, the 79-year-old Francis, walking deep in thought in his long robe, did not notice a step down and fell to the ground before the altar. Priests around him rushed to help him up and straightened his robe.
The Mass proceeded as planned and the Pope delivered a long sermon before tens of thousands of faithful gathered at the foot of the Jasna Gora monastery in the southern city of Czestochowa.
Asked if Francis had suffered any ill effects from the fall, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said “the Pope is fine.”
Czestochowa Archbishop Waclaw Depo said Francis fell because he had closed his eyes and appeared to miss a step.
“He is in good condition. He did not even complain at all. He never said a word,” Depo said. “Also the homily showed that the Pope has strength and this strength he gets from the people.”
Francis enjoys relatively good health, despite putting in long days of ceremonies, audiences and meetings. In his youth, he had a section of one lung removed, and on occasion he has sounded somewhat winded.
On a couple of occasions in the past, Francis, wearing long robes at public ceremonies, has missed a step or even fallen down on stairs. Each time he has gotten up on his own or thanks to an aide lending a hand.
Every time, as he did Thursday, Francis has carried on without missing a beat for the rest of the long ceremonies.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation CBC