This is the moment 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 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 open air altar and being helped to his feet by Vatican Master of Ceremonies, Guido Marini. He was uninjured and finished the event, which was aired to a television audience of millions.
Francis, walking in his long robe with an incense holder in his hand, did not notice a step down from the platform and fell to the ground before the altar. He braced his fall with his left hand and priests around him rushed to help.
Asked if Francis had suffered any ill effects from the fall, a Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke, said ‘the pope is fine.’
Czestochowa Archbishop Waclaw Depo said Francis fell because he had closed his eyes and appeared to miss a step.
‘He is in good condition. He did not even complain at all. He never said a word,’ Depo said. ‘Also the homily showed that the pope has strength and this strength he gets from the people.’
Francis enjoys relatively good health, despite putting in long days of ceremonies, audiences and meetings. In his youth, he had a section of one lung removed.
A few times in the past, Francis has missed a step or even fallen on stairs. Each time he has got up on his own or thanks to an aide lending a hand, then carried on without missing a beat for the rest of the long ceremonies.
The Pope was at the monastery, home to an ancient Catholic icon believed to work miracles, ahead of a trip by tram to meet young pilgrims from around the world.
Outdoors, the Argentine 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.
The Pontiff, in Krakow to headline an international Catholic youth extravaganza, travelled to the southern city to pray before the legendary Black Madonna.
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.
Francis hopped in an open-topped pope mobile for a tour through the cheering crowds.
‘We slept so little, but it’s worth it, what an atmosphere!’ said pilgrim Kate Tor, whose young sons were among the thousands of children who had camped out on the sweeping avenue leading to the monastery.
Teenagers still wrapped in sleeping bags, elderly couples perched on folding chairs outside tents and families with Francis-themed balloons were serenaded by the Argentine pope’s favourite tango music before his arrival.
Ambulances and fire-engines were on standby with Polish officials taking no chances with security following the jihadist murder of a priest in a French church on the eve of the five-day trip to celebrate the 2016 World Youth Day