Man sets himself on fire in St. Peter's Square, motive unknown

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 19, 2013 9:41 AM

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A 52-year-old Italian man set himself on fire in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican on Thursday and suffered serious burns, officials said.

The man entered the square with a bottle of petrol early in the morning, doused himself, and lit a flame.

A Jesuit priest passing by tried to put out the flames with his cape before police arrived with a fire extinguisher. Two policemen suffered slight burns to the hands and smoke inhalation.

The man, who was taken to hospital with serious burns on his torso, was carrying a note with his daughter's phone number on it. His reasons for setting himself alight were not known and the contents of the note were not disclosed.

Pope Francis was in his residence in another part of the Vatican at the time.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Mike Collett-White)