CV NEWS FEED // A Vatican cardinal on Saturday performed a ceremony of reparation for the profanation of the Basilica of St. Peter after a naked man stood on top of the high altar on June 1.
Late in the afternoon on Thursday 1, the date that marks the beginning of “Pride Month” in Italy, a man approached the high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, proceeded to fully undress, and jumped upon the marble altar.
The altar is known as “the altar of the confession” because it stands above the tomb of St. Peter, the first Apostle of Jesus. It is at this altar that the pope presides over the universal Church’s most important public ceremonies.
The naked man, later identified as a middle-aged Polish citizen, had the words “Save children of Ukraina (sic)” written on his back and stood atop one of the most emblematic sacred spaces of Catholicism for several minutes, until the Vatican Gendarmerie arrested him.
A Vatican press office provided scarce and late information regarding the incident – likely because June 2 is a national holiday in Italy – but pictures of the man and descriptions of the events started to circulate on social media immediately, including a post by “Welcome to Favelas,” a satirical Instagram account that publishes bizarre photos of events taking place in Rome.
The Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, presided over what the Vatican Press Office described as a “public supplication” to make reparation for the profanation of the altar.
The ceremony, which took place at noon on Saturday, June 3, had been poorly announced by the Vatican Press Office. Cardinal Gambetti was joined in the ceremony by the canons of the Chapter of the Papal Basilica, but the faithful were not invited to join.
“We are gathered here to once again confess our faith and to invoke mercy and purification,” the Cardinal said. According to the Italian daily Il Messaggero, Cardinal Gambetti “lingered on the structures of sin which also lead to wars in the world.”
“It is precisely this structure of sin that also causes a person who perhaps does not feel heard, who wants to draw attention to the poverty of the world, such as the situations in which the children of Ukraine live, and which pushes him to perhaps become listened and to make an inappropriate gesture, really unpleasant here, at the Altar of Confession, as happened the other day,” the Cardinal said.
The rite included the recitation of the Creed, penitential litanies, the aspersion of the altar with holy water, incense, the recitation of the Our Father, and a final blessing.
According to the Italian press, the Polish man was turned over to the Italian Police, following the protocol of the concordat between the two states.
The man was issued an order to leave Italian territory immediately but was set free.