Man who forcibly entered Vatican sent to psychiatric ward

A Swiss Guard and Vatican gendarmes stand at the Sant'Anna entrance to Vatican City State May 19, 2023. A man forcibly drove past security check points to enter the Vatican May 18 before he was arrested and placed in a Vatican detention cell. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The man who drove past two security checkpoints to enter a Vatican courtyard May 18 was taken to the psychiatric ward of a hospital for “obligatory” treatment after he was questioned by Vatican judicial authorities, the Vatican said in a statement May 19.

An approximately 40-year-old man, identified as Simone Baldovino by the Italian news agency ANSA, forced his way past Swiss Guards and Vatican gendarmes at the Sant’Anna entrance to Vatican City State in a vehicle shortly after 8 p.m. May 18.

A Vatican police officer shot at the speeding car’s front tires, hitting its fender, yet the man was able to reach the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace where he exited the vehicle and was arrested.

He did not get near Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse where Pope Francis lives.

Spanish-language newspapers La Nación and ABC reported that after his arrest the man claimed to have forced his way into the Vatican because he’d had visions of the devil and wanted to tell Pope Francis about them.

After his arrest the man was taken to a detention cell in the barracks of the Vatican gendarmes, the city-state’s police force. The following day he was questioned by Vatican judicial authorities and committed to the psychiatric ward of the Santo Spirito Hospital near the Vatican.

In its initial statement the Vatican said the man was in a “serious state of psychophysical alteration” when apprehended. Although he entered the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, the Vatican said that the gates that could have given him access to Pope Francis’ residence and St. Peter’s Square were closed after an alarm was relayed over radio quickly after the breach.

The Italian news agency ANSA reported that the man had a history of drug use.

Scroll to Top