An activist from the feminist group Femen who snatched the baby Jesus figurine from St Peter’s Square’s nativity scene on Christmas Day remains in custody in the Vatican.
Iana Aleksandrovna Azhdanova, from Ukraine, was held in a Vatican cell on Friday, awaiting possible trial for “disturbing the peace, obscene acts in a public place, and theft”.
Azhdanova was naked from the waist up as she stormed the nativity scene and had the message “God Is Woman” daubed on her torso while thousands of pilgrims looked on.
Azhdanova was swiftly arrested by Vatican police after rushing into the square and plucking the baby Jesus from his place while shouting what were described as anti-religious slogans.
A papal spokesman, Federico Lombardi, said the Vatican was deciding whether to try Azhdanova, adding that the religiously hostile nature of her protest “must be regarded as extremely serious due to the setting and circumstances that intentionally offend the religious sentiments of a very large number of people”.
The Vatican – which can either try transgressors on its territory or expel them to Italian courts – is also holding Italian businessman Marcello di Finizio, who was arrested on Friday for scaling the facade of St Peter’s basilica to protest an EU directive.
Di Finizio says a measure forcing Italy to open up bidding for state concessions on operating beach-side businesses threatens the survival of the resort he runs in Trieste.