VATICAN CITY: December 26, 2009. (AFP) Pope Benedict XVI, bundled to the ground by a woman who surged past guards to assault him during Christmas Eve mass at the Vatican, carried on with his heavy seasonal duties as normal Saturday.
The pope was unhurt in the dramatic attack in St Peter's Basilica, while a prominent French cardinal was among others who fell in the confusion and will receive a hip replacement Sunday morning, a Vatican spokesman said.
The Pope appeared serene as he waved from his balcony above St Peter's Square to pilgrims assembled in the rain for Saturday's Angelus prayer.
The night before Benedict had spoken confidently in his Christmas Day "Urbi et Orbi" blessing to tens of thousands of pilgrims, and in his homily Saturday he again made no mention of the attack.
Benedict appealed for prayer to support the "many believers who, in many parts of the world, endure tests and suffering because of their faith".
The assailant, identified as 25-year-old Susanna Maiolo who has Swiss-Italian nationality, told doctors she "did not want to hurt" the pope, La Repubblica newspaper reported.
The Vatican said the woman tried a similar manoeuvre at the Christmas Eve mass one year ago but was stopped by security.
Maiolo's case will be decided on by the Vatican "in the following days" according to spokesman Federico Lombardi, as they wait for medical reports from the psychiatric hospital where the woman has been placed.
Lombardi said that "the matter is more to cure her" than to judge her.
Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, 87, was receiving visitors Friday at the Gemelli hospital in Rome, Lombardi said, describing him as well "both physically and mentally" and "optimistic about the operation".
He is facing the situation "with his usual courage and optimism", Lombardi said, pointing out that the cardinal had recently returned to his functions after a health problem and "not long ago" came back from a trip to Vietnam.