Pope Francis misses step, falls down before Mass in Poland


CZESTOCHOWA, Poland (AP) — Pope Francis missed a step and fell to the ground Thursday as he was coming to an open-air altar to celebrate Mass at Poland’s holiest shrine of Jasna Gora.

In a dramatic moment, the 79-year-old Francis, walking deep in thought in his long robe, did not notice a step down and fell to the ground before the altar. Priests around him rushed to help him up and straightened his robe.

The Mass proceeded as planned and the pope delivered a long sermon before tens of thousands of faithful gathered at the foot of the Jasna Gora monastery in the southern city of Czestochowa.

Asked if Francis had suffered any ill effects from the fall, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said “the pope is fine.”

On a couple of occasions in the past, Francis, wearing long robes at public ceremonies, has missed a step or even fallen down on stairs. Each time he has gotten up on his own or thanks to an aide lending a hand.

Every time, as he did Thursday, Francis has carried on without missing a beat for the rest of the long ceremonies.

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