The white line in the map above of Vatican City (the large grey space is St. Peter’s Square, with the great Egyptian obelisk in the middle) is our reconstruction of the “wild ride” seemingly taken by a 40-year-old man in his car yesterday evening, at about 8:30 p.m. Rome time, before being arrested.
The man started from the St. Anne’s Gate, entering Vatican City despite the attempt of the Swiss Guards on duty to stop him.
There is another checkpoint shortly after the Swiss Guards, staffed by the Vatican Gendarmes. He drove past that without stopping, and the Gendarme on duty tried to shoot out his car tires, firing but missing.
The man then continued driving on into the heart of the Vatican, finally arriving in the Cortile San Damaso, where the man got out of his car and was arrested.
The white line traces the route that he seemingly must have taken, because there is no other way to drive into the Cortile San Damaso.
The man is now under psychiatric evaluation.
A lone Swiss Guard stands on guard duty in the Cortile San Damaso, at the very heart of the Vatican (link) Photo|Vatican Media
Letter #95, 2023 Friday, May 19: Wild Ride
Today, three articles about a “wild ride” inside Vatican City yesterday.
Yesterday evening as night fell, a man drove his car through the control of the Swiss Guards at the St. Anne’s Gate (after they turned him back once; he went outside, then turned and drove back in a second time at high speed).
Then, Gendarmes tried to stop him. He ignored them, and they pulled out their pistols and fired, aiming at his tires, to stop him.
He then drove on, managing to reach the very center of the Vatican — the Cortile San Damaso, next to the Apostolic Palace, where the Popes (until the present one, who lives instead at the Domus Santa Marta guesthouse) have had their residence.
This is striking.
To reach the Cortile San Damaso requires traveling through a small arched connection entering into the Piazza del Belvedere, then across that piazza (around a fountain) to a second arched entranceway, onto a narrow covered roadway that lies beneath the Vatican Museums, up to another arched “exitway” into a little piazza below the Sistine Chapel (on the side of St. Peter’s Basilica), and then to turn and pass through two more arched tunnels to finally reach the Cortile San Damaso.
There is no other way to drive into the Cortile San Damaso.
I have made that drive, and recall that the first time I drove that was, it was difficult to find the archway across the Cortile del Belvedere; one has to creep along and be quite careful making that turn, before committing to the drive up the narrow rampway.
If there were video of this “wild ride,” it would be interesting to see whether this man drove hesitantly, as if he were there for the first time, or quickly, as if he already knew the way.
And it seems there may be such videos, because in recent years, according to a number of published reports, video cameras have been placed in dozens of locations inside Vatican City, to keep a record of the movements of all passing through the tiny City State.
If this man drove through that archway without hesitation, it would seem likely that he had either been instructed about the way to take, or, had already taken the route himself on a prior occasion, either in a vehicle or on foot. —RM
Article #1: Man arrested after forcing entry into Vatican City (link)
A 40-year-old man drives a car at high speed into Vatican City State, and is arrested after forcing two checkpoints of the Swiss Guard and the Vatican Gendarmerie.
By Vatican News, May 19, 2023 (today), 09:08 Rome time (this morning)
On Thursday evening, a man driving a car forced entry through one of the main entrances of Vatican City, and managed to reach the Damasus Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, where he was apprehended by the Vatican gendarmes.
The incident happened at the Santa Anna gate after 8:00 pm.
According to the Holy See Press Office, the man was prevented from entering the Vatican by the Swiss Guards, and then, after leaving the entrance, returned at high speed, forcing the two checkpoints of the Swiss Guard and of the Gendarmerie Corps.
“In an attempt to stop the car,” reads a press release, “the inspector of the Gendarmerie, on guard at the gate, fired a shot in the direction of the front tires of the vehicle.”
Despite being hit, the vehicle managed to continue on its way.
The gendarmes subsequently sounded the alarm for an incursion, and blocked the access point to the rear of St. Peter’s Basilica, to the Vatican Gardens and the Santa Marta Square, where the Pope’s residence is located.
In the meantime, the car reached the St. Damasus Courtyard: “The driver got out independently, and was stopped and placed under arrest by the Gendarmerie Corps,” the Vatican said.
The Italian man, aged about 40, was immediately visited by the doctors of the Directorate of Health and Hygiene of the Vatican City State, who found him to be in a “serious state of psychophysical alteration.”
He was held overnight in a prison cell in the new premises of the Gendarmerie barracks, as he awaited arraignment before the Vatican’s judicial authorities.
The Holy See Press Office reported on Friday afternoon that following an interrogation by the magistrate and in the presence of his lawyer, the man arrested was taken to the psychiatric ward of the nearby Santo Spirito in Sassia Hospital for obligatory medical treatment after having determined his condition.
(Story updated at 17:55 Rome time on 19 May 2023)
(Note: Two more articles below. The last one, from the website Silere non possum (the Latin for “I cannot remain silent!”), raises a number of interesting points, and links to an interesting video in Italian. —RM)
Article #2: Man arrested after car breaches Vatican gate, drawing gunfire from police (link)
By Justin McClellan, National Catholic Reporter (link)
Vatican City — May 19, 2023
A man with apparent psychiatric problems forced his way through a Vatican security gate late May 18 by speeding past Swiss Guards and Vatican gendarmes in a vehicle before being apprehended in a Vatican courtyard.
According to a statement by the Vatican press office, a Vatican police officer fired a bullet at the speeding car’s front tires, hitting its fender, yet the driver reached the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace where he exited the vehicle and was arrested.
He did not get near the Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse where Pope Francis lives.
The Apostolic Palace houses various offices of the Holy See, the library where the pope typically meets heads of state and the papal apartments — though Francis has opted to live in the Vatican guesthouse since he became pope in 2013.
According to the Vatican, the car approached the Sant’Anna entrance to Vatican City State shortly after 8 p.m. and was turned away by the Swiss Guard. The vehicle briefly left the gate before returning at high speed and forcing its way past two security check points. The Vatican said that a gate which could have given him access to the road leading to Pope Francis’ residence and St. Peter’s Basilica was quickly closed after an alarm was relayed over radio.
The Vatican said that the man, about 40 years old, was examined by Vatican doctors who said he was in a “serious state of psychophysical alteration.” He was taken to a detention cell at the barracks of the Vatican gendarme corps, the city-state’s police force, where he was to await an appearance before Vatican judicial authorities.
The Italian news agency ANSA identified the man as Simone Baldovino and said he had a history of drug use.
In June 2022, Italian military police shot out the tires of a car near the Vatican that was speeding toward St. Peter’s Square while visitors gathered for the pope’s Sunday Angelus. The Swiss Guard closed entry points to the Vatican as a precaution but ruled out terrorism as a motive for the threat.
[End, Justin McClellan piece]
Shock in the Vatican: Who entered the State without authorization? (link)
What happened in the Vatican? Who is the man who broke through the controls?
By LM and FP (Felipe Perfetti)
Silere non possum (“I cannot remain silent!”)
Yesterday, 18 May 2023, at 10.30 pm, the Press Office of the Holy See issued a statement in which it informed that:
“After 8.00 pm, a car reached the Sant’Anna entrance to the Vatican. Regardless of the indications provided to him by the Pontifical Swiss Guard, which prevented him from entering the State without the relative authorizations, he temporarily left the entrance and, after having maneuvered, returned at high speed, forcing the two checkpoints, of the Swiss Guard and the Corps of the Gendarmerie of the Vatican City State”.
Journalists provided this information only following this press release.
Inside the Vatican, however, concern was already high and it was hoped that the news would not be given to the outside world.
Because the problems that emerge from this episode are many.
Indeed, Silere non possum did not give any news of the event.
The fact that a man can get past the Vatican Gendarmerie blockade with this ease is absolutely worrying.
The Pontifical Swiss Guard performed its task competently. After verifying that the man lacked the needed permissions, he was sent back.
The Vatican Gendarmerie, on the other hand, has shown that it is quite capable of spying on the monsignors, shadowing them and even snatching images from surveillance cameras but, apparently, it seems not very accustomed to targeting the tires of a speeding car.
If any man manages to reach the heart of the government of the Holy See with this ease, the question is worrying and reveals how in recent years a great deal of money has been spent in controlling the private life of the interior: cameras, bugs, microphones and so on.
But they failed to train people to actually defend the state.
In the Vatican City State, no one can any longer freely use the telephone or surf the internet. Everything is under control.
There are also those who check the current accounts of the cardinals.
But if a madman wants to get to the Apostolic Palace, he gets there in about 3-4 minutes.
The situation is really worrying and the communication is also absurd.
Rather than keep silent, which we chose to do immediately, a press release was published which discloses all the flaws in the system.
Matteo Bruni affirms:
“In an attempt to stop the car, the inspector of the Gendarmerie, guarding the gate, fired a pistol shot in the direction of the front tires of the vehicle. Despite having hit the vehicle on the left front fender, the car continued its run. The alarm code having been quickly broadcast by radio, the guardhouse closed the Door of the Mint, which allows access to the rear of St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican gardens and Piazza Santa Marta. In the meantime, the car reached the San Damaso courtyard, and the driver got out independently and was blocked and placed under arrest by the Gendarmerie Corps.”
- The gendarme was unable to hit the tires.
- The man immediately arrived at the San Damaso courtyard.
- The man got out on his own.
You don’t need to know anything else to understand how crazy this communication is.
The comment on the closure of access to Santa Marta, on the other hand, sounds a lot like “Holy Father, don’t worry that we have made it safe anyway.”
We, to date, have never seen a bank that states in a statement, after a robbery, how the robbers managed, very easily, to reach the vault. Of course, we are special here.
For a complete analysis we recommend listening to the video (link).
—LM and FP
Silere non possum