Pope Francis fell Thursday after stumbling on an altar step during a visit to Poland but quickly got back to his feet, without injury. The 79-year-old Argentine pontiff stumbled, then fell down out of view before being helped to his feet by altar servers.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told AFP “the pope is fine” after Francis delivered a homily and said mass at the revered Jasna Gora monastery in Czestochowa, southern Poland. It is home to the Black Madonna, an icon which Catholic faithful believe has miraculous qualities. Security was tight at the hill-top shrine following a series of attacks in Europe, with a highly visible police and army presence on the roads leading into the city.
Francis, 79, hopped ino an open-topped popemobile for a tour through the cheering crowds. “We slept so little, but it’s worth it, what an atmosphere!” said pilgrim Kate Tor, whose young sons were among the thousands of children who had camped out on the sweeping avenue leading to the monastery.
Teenagers still wrapped in sleeping bags, elderly couples perched on folding chairs outside tents and families with Francis-themed balloons were serenaded by the Argentine pope’s favourite tango music before his arrival.