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Pope falls down but unharmed in incident at mass

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A woman jumped over a barricade in St Peter’s Basilica at the start of Pope Benedict’s Christmas Eve mass on Thursday and the pope slipped and fell, but got up and then began the service, a Vatican spokesman said.

Father Federico Lombardi said the woman appeared to be “unstable.” She was taken away by Vatican security.

As security aides tried to stop her both the pope and an elderly cardinal fell to the marble floor of the basilica in the confusion.

The pope, 82, was helped back to his feet and, apparently unharmed, walked up the main aisle of the basilica and continued the service. He later read his homily and appeared not to be affected by the incident.

The woman was being detained for questioning by Vatican security police.

editing by Matthew Jones