Vatican Gate Breached by Speeding Car, Prompting Security to Open Fire


On Thursday night, a person thought to have mental health issues rammed a car through a Vatican gate, sped past Swiss Guards, and into the Apostolic Palace courtyard before being caught by police. After the car rushed the gate, Vatican gendarmes shot at the car’s front tires, but it was still able to move forward.

The incident took place after 8 o’clock at one of the main gateways to Vatican City in Rome, the Santa Anna gate. The driver, a 40-year-old guy who was in a “serious state of psychophysical alteration,” was detained at a Vatican barracks after being apprehended by gendarmes in the Apostolic Palace’s San Damaso Courtyard.

Car Crashes Through Vatican Gate in Rare Security Breach

According to the article in ABC 13, it was unclear right away if Pope Francis was close to the incident. The Pope would typically have dinner and get ready for bed at the Santa Marta hotel, where he resides, around that hour. The main gate barring entrance to the square in front of the Pope’s hotel was quickly closed when the gendarmes raised the alarm.

Swiss Guards and gendarmes on duty at several checkpoints defend the Apostolic Palace, which includes the papal apartments, reception areas, the Vatican archives, and offices, around the clock. The Vatican City State, which is often off-limits to the general public, especially at night, was only sometimes violated by this incident.

An individual with evident psychiatric concerns has made a commotion at the Vatican before. Pope Benedict XVI remained unhurt, although a cardinal in the procession suffered a broken hip as a result of the commotion after a lady scaled the St. Peter’s Basilica fence and attempted to assault the pontiff during the 2009 Christmas Eve Mass.

Simone Baldovino, a guy with a history of drug use, has been named as the individual who violated security at the Vatican on Thursday evening by the Italian news agency ANSA. According to the article shared in Catholic Register, before being caught by Vatican police, Baldovino was able to outrun Swiss Guards and enter the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace.

This security lapse is not a one-off occurrence. While people were gathered for the Pope’s Sunday Angelus in June 2022, Italian military police had to shoot out the tires of a car that was rushing toward St. Peter’s Square. The Swiss Guard at the time shuttered the Vatican’s entrances as a precaution, although they ruled out terrorism as the cause.

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Security Measures at the Vatican City State

According to another source, The Guardian shared that Simone Baldovino’s Thursday security breach at the Vatican was an extraordinary event because much of the Vatican City State, an independent city-state located inside Rome, is off-limits to the general public, especially after dark.

During regular business hours, visitors are welcome to visit St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. Additionally, visitors to the Vatican pharmacy must have a valid prescription from a physician. However, a specific permit is needed to enter certain structures within the enclave. 

One such structure is the Apostolic Palace, which includes a number of offices, the Vatican archives, important reception rooms, and papal apartments. The Swiss Guards and Vatican gendarmes, who are posted at several checkpoints across the property, are always watching over this palace. The event with Baldovino is an exceptional breach of the Vatican’s generally protected setting because of the rigorous security

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