This is the moment when Pope Francis fell over during Mass in front of a television audience of millions while visiting Poland’s holiest site.
The 79-year-old Pontiff was walking on stage, about to address the waiting crowd, but suddenly stumbled at the altar and had to be helped to his feet as he celebrated a Mass at the Jasna Gora Monastery in the southern city of Czestochowa.
Pictures show him tumbling to the floor next to steps leading to the altar and being helped to his feet by Vatican Master of Ceremonies, Guido Marini.
Francis suffers from sciatica, a medical condition in which pain sometimes shoots down the leg from the lower back. He was uninjured so he subsequently took his seat and finished the event, which was aired to a television audience of millions.
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Pope Francis is undertaking a five-day visit to Poland and was visiting the country’s holiest shrine in the city of Czestochowa, which is in the south of the country.
The shrine is home the Black Madonna, an ancient Catholic icon believed to have worked miracles sometime between the sixth and ninth centuries. It was brought to Poland around 600 years ago. The icon is painted on wood and covered with silver and jewels.
Outdoors, the Pope, a native of Argentina, said Mass for a congregation numbering in the tens of thousands, thanking Poles for holding on to their faith in difficult times.
He also praised native son St. John Paul II as a ‘meek and powerful’ herald of mercy as well as countless ‘ordinary yet remarkable people’ who held firm to their Catholic faith throughout adversity in the former Communist-ruled nation.
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, where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims were gathered.
Pope Francis hopped in an open-topped pope mobile for a tour through the cheering crowds.