ROME – On Wednesday a man described as “unstable” was reportedly arrested by Vatican police after tossing a candelabra off the main altar in St Peter’s Basilica.

According to Italian news agency ANSA, on Wednesday morning a man climbed onto the main altar at the center of St. Peter’s basilica, which sits beneath the famed leafy canopy sculpted by Italian Baroque artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and threw a candelabra to the floor.

Currently being questioned by the police as to his motives, the man was reportedly stopped outside of the basilica earlier this week after showing signs of being “unbalanced.”

Some versions of the event recount that it was the crucifix sitting on the main altar that was tossed off and broken, however, the details have not yet been confirmed.

In order to get into St. Peter’s Basilica, it is necessary to go through a security check involving metal detectors and an x-ray of one’s personal belongings.

This is not the first time someone has been apprehended for misdeeds on St. Peter’s hallowed ground.

In March 2016, a drunken German tourist was arrested for climbing a pine tree and then attempting to scale the Vatican’s external walls. He reportedly succeeded in getting onto the wall, but was unable to get inside before the Vatican Gendarme turned up.

A year later, in December 2017, a topless feminist activist was arrested in St. Peter’s Square after attempting to snatch the infant Jesus from the basilica’s large nativity scene. She was stopped by Vatican police just two hours before Pope Francis was set to deliver a Christmas message to some 50,000 people gathered in the square to receive his blessing.

Follow Elise Harris on Twitter: @eharris_it

Crux is dedicated to smart, wired and independent reporting on the Vatican and worldwide Catholic Church. That kind of reporting doesn’t come cheap, and we need your support. You can help Crux by giving a small amount monthly, or with a onetime gift. Please remember, Crux is a for-profit organization, so contributions are not tax-deductible.