A topless activist from the feminist group Femen tried to snatch the statue of the baby Jesus from the Nativity scene at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican on Christmas Day on Monday but was stopped by police as she grabbed it.
The woman can be seen rushing to the manger in the center of the square and attempting to grab the Jesus figurine, Reuters photos show. However, a guard blocked the activist, who was quickly covered with a black coat.
A Reuters photographer said the woman jumped over guard rails and rushed onto the larger-than-life Nativity scene shouting “God is woman”. She had the same slogan painted on her bare back.
A Vatican gendarme stopped her from taking the statue and she was detained.Although the incident occurred well after Pope Francis delivered his Christmas message from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, thousands of pilgrims were still in the famous square.
The group’s website identified her as Alisa Vinogradova and called her a “sextremist”. It says the goal of the group, which was founded in Ukraine, is “complete victory over patriarchy”.
In a Facebook post, the group stated it had joined the international #MeToo campaign. “We must continue to denounce all forms of violence against women committed everywhere, from the Film Industry to The Vatican,” the group said, adding that the protest was also aimed at illegal abortion, homophobia and pedophilia.
This is not the first time that FEMEN has targeted Vatican City. In 2014 a topless FEMEN activist managed to grab baby Jesus and raise it above her head while shouting slogans against the Catholic Church.
The movement that began in Ukraine to protest the former pro-Kremlin regime also opposes the Catholic Church’s positions against abortion and gay marriage, often staging protests in places of worship.