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Pope Benedict XVI knocked down

An apparently deranged woman knocked Pope Benedict XVI to the ground after vaulting over security barricades in a dramatic start to Christmas Eve mass at St Peter’s Basilica.

Video footage showed the woman in a red sweatshirt leaping over the barricade and grabbing the 82-year-old pope as he began the traditional procession to the altar yesterday.

The pontiff emerged unharmed and later delivered his homily undaunted, speaking out against selfishness as Christians across the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

“Conflict and lack of reconciliation in the world stem from the fact that we are locked into our own interests and opinions, into our own little private world,” said the spiritual leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics.

The woman, described as “apparently unbalanced” by the Vatican spokesman, was arrested by Vatican police, the ANSA news agency reported.