- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 13, 2010

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI met Wednesday with the woman who knocked him over during Christmas Eve Mass and forgave her, the Vatican said.

Susanna Maiolo, a 25-year-old with a history of psychiatric problems, and her family met in a private audience with the pope at the end of his general audience, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said.

Ms. Maiolo told the pontiff she was sorry for what had happened, while Benedict inquired about her health and “wanted to demonstrate his forgiveness,” Father Lombardi said.

Ms. Maiolo, a Swiss-Italian national, jumped a security barricade in St. Peter’s Basilica at the start of Christmas Eve Mass and pulled Benedict down when a security guard tackled her. The pope was unhurt.

Ms. Maiolo tried to reach the pope in the same way during the 2008 Midnight Mass but didn’t manage to get to him. She has been treated at a clinic outside Rome since this year’s incident.

While there, she received a visit from Benedict’s personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, who wanted to show the pontiff’s concern for her well-being, the Vatican said.

The Vatican investigation into the incident continues, Father Lombardi said. A retired Vatican diplomat, French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, fractured his hip in the commotion and had to undergo surgery.

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