Vatican City: A 51-year-old Italian man set himself on fire on St Pet-er’s Square on Thursday and has been rushed to hospital, a Vatican spokesman said citing the police.
The 51-year-old poured petrol over his body before setting himself alight on Thursday morning, the Vatican said in a statement.
He was taken to hospital with severe burns on his upper body.
The Vatican told journalists the motives for the man’s actions remained unknown. Although, a Guardian report says that the man had a piece of paper with the phone number of his daughter.
Officials said a Jesuit priest walking across the square had tried to smother the flames with his cloak.
He was then joined by two police officers who managed to put out the blaze with a blanket and fire extinguisher.
The officers were taken to hospital and treated for “respiratory problems and burns to the hands,” the Vatican said.
The man has been taken to the Vatican’s Santo Spirito clinic with serious burns to the upper part of his body.
This is not the first case of self-immolation inside Vatican City.
In 1998, Alfredo Ormando died after setting himself on fire in protest at the church’s condemnation of homosexuality. Meanwhile, a leader of the Ukrainian feminist group Femen bared herself near St Pet-er’s Square on Thursday shouting “Christmas is cancelled!” in a protest against the Catholic Ch-urch's stance on abortion.
Inna Shevchenko, 23, went topless and ran towards the square but was stopped by some 20 police officers.
She had “Jesus is aborted” written across her chest. The police quickly formed a barrier around the activist to prevent media from documenting the event.
Covered in a blanket, she was taken away in a police car as tourists and pilgrims looked on.