ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis has explained why he took a tumble last week during a public Mass outdoors in public while on a pilgrimage.

Reporters aboard the papal plane flying him back to Rome after the five-day trip to Poland asked him Sunday night why he fell while sprinkling incense around the outdoor altar at the Jasna Gora monastery, in Czestochowa, before a huge crowd at Poland’s most popular Catholic shrine.

Francis says the July 28 tumble happened this way: “I was watching (an image of) the Madonna, and I forgot the step.”

He credited his reflect action with having him escape any injury.

“I let myself fall, and this saved me. Because if I tried to resist it, I would have gotten hurt.”

Vatican officials said Francis, 79, was uninjured, and the fall did not prevent Francis from performing any of his roles in the remaining events during his five-day trip to Poland to lead World Youth Day, a massive youth festival instituted by St. Pope John Paul II in 1987.