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Pope slaps away hand of woman who grabbed him and wouldn’t let go

Pope Francis

Pope Francis had a shocking interaction with a female crowd member on Tuesday.

The 82-year-old head of the Catholic Church was proceeding through St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, shaking hands with spectators as he walked to a nearby nativity scene display when a woman grabbed him, according to Reuters.

In footage of the moment, the pontiff greets the crowd focusing on the children who had gathered to meet him.

When he makes his way down the line, a woman he is set to be in front of next excitedly does the sign of the cross believing she is about to meet the religious leader.

However, the Pope then turns away from the crowd and the woman starts shouting at Pope Francis to get his attention. It is not clear what the woman was saying.

The woman then reaches for his hand before pulling the head of the Catholic Church towards her.

The Pope appears shocked and then angry as he repetitively slaps her hand to free himself from her grip.

He frees himself before his security then also step in to calm the woman.

That was not the only incident during the chaotic evening.

Also on Tuesday, the Pope was seen helping a young boy who fell over the barriers separating the crowds. After checking to see if the child was okay, he kissed the boy on the head and gave him a rosary.

Earlier in the day, Pope Francis tweeted his message to his followers about heading into the new year by reflecting on the year past.

“Let us give thanks to God for His grace, which has sustained us in this past year, and with joy let us raise a song of praise to Him,” he wrote.

At a New Year’s Eve service in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope spoke about building bridges and not walls, and impressed upon listeners the need for solidarity among all humans.

“God has never ceased changing the history and the face of our city through the population of the least and the poor who live in it,” he said during the service. “He chooses them, inspires them, motivates them to action, makes them united, impels them to create support systems, to create virtuous connections, to build bridges and not walls.”

He concluded his speech by calling on people to “connect with others and listen to what they are living and their cry for help.”