Vatican City – In a shocking incident on Thursday evening, a man breached Vatican security by driving a car at high speed through a gate of the city-state, ultimately reaching a central courtyard of the Apostolic Palace before being apprehended by Vatican authorities.
The Vatican has since issued a statement confirming the incident and providing initial details.
According to the Vatican’s statement, the breach occurred at approximately 8 p.m. when the unidentified man forcefully drove through Saint Ann’s gate, one of the several entrances separating the 108-acre sovereign city-state from Rome.
Despite the high speed and dramatic entry, the man did not manage to reach the guest house on the other side of Vatican City, where Pope Francis resides.
The Vatican’s security personnel promptly responded to the breach, with a Vatican policeman firing a gun and successfully hitting the vehicle. The statement did not provide specific information regarding the reasons behind the man’s actions or his potential motives, but he was described as being around 40 years old and in an unstable state of mind. Vatican authorities assert that there was no imminent danger posed to Pope Francis or anyone else within the Vatican.
Eyewitnesses reported scenes of chaos and confusion as the car raced through the gate and into the San Damaso Courtyard. The Vatican City is renowned for its robust security measures, including armed guards and surveillance systems, making this incident all the more surprising. Despite initially being denied entry by the vigilant Swiss Guard at the Vatican gate, the determined man skillfully maneuvered his vehicle, accelerating swiftly as he breached both the gate and a subsequent checkpoint nestled at the rear of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Amidst the chaos, a shot fired by a vigilant policeman found its mark on the car’s front fender. Undeterred, the resolute driver continued his high-speed pursuit, pressing onward until he reached the illustrious San Damaso Courtyard. This revered space, nestled within the Apostolic Palace, has long served as the residence of past pontiffs and remains a site where Pope Francis conducts official meetings.
The prompt and decisive response from the Vatican’s security forces prevented any further escalation or harm.
Following the breach, the Vatican Police swiftly apprehended the suspect and took him into custody. It is unclear at this stage whether any charges have been filed against the man or if he will undergo a psychological evaluation to assess his mental state. Vatican authorities are expected to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the circumstances leading up to the incident and whether there were any lapses in the security protocols.
The Pope is known for his accessibility and closeness to the people, often choosing to reside in the guest house rather than the more opulent Apostolic Palace. However, the incident serves as a reminder of the constant need for heightened security around the Holy See.