Pope Benedict Sleeps in Church during Mass

Pope falls asleep during mass

Pope Benedict XVI briefly nodded off in front of tens of thousands of people during an outdoor mass in Malta’s capital, Valletta.

Pope falls asleep during mass

Bishop Guido Marini gently wakes up Pope Benedict XVI Photo: Reuters

The Pope slumped forward around halfway through the mass, which was held just outside the historic stone walls encircling the city.

He had to be roused by the Vatican’s master of ceremonies, Bishop Guido Marini, who was sitting next to him and gently nudged him.

“It was just for a few seconds,” said an onlooker. “He slumped forward onto his chest.”

Although the pontiff spent only 26 hours in Malta after flying in from Rome on Saturday, he had a busy and tiring schedule of events – meeting dignitaries and Malta’s president, waving to crowds from his “Pope-mobile” and expressing his sorrow to a group of sex abuse victims.

But his apparent exhaustion is also a reflection of his age – he turned 83 on Friday.

The Vatican announced recently that the Pope will not take his usual holiday in northern Italy this summer because officials do not want to over-tax him.

His health is generally good but he takes medication for a cardiovascular condition and last summer slipped and fell in his bedroom.

The Vatican had to allay fears over the his health in December after it was announced that he would celebrate Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve two hours earlier than normal.

The decision was taken in order to “alleviate a little the Pope’s tiredness”, said the Vatican’s official spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi.

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