Pope Francis misses step, falls down before Mass in Poland

CZESTOCHOWA, Poland (AP) – When the pope falls, millions gasp.

Pope Francis missed a step and fell to the ground Thursday as he approached an open-air altar to celebrate Mass at Poland’s holiest shrine.

The 79-year-old Francis, walking deep in thought in his long robe, did not notice a step down and fell to the ground in front of the altar. Priests around him rushed to help him up and straightened his robe.

The Mass proceeded as planned and the pope delivered a long sermon before tens of thousands of faithful gathered at the foot of the Jasna Gora monastery in the southern city of Czestochowa. Poland’s president and other political leaders were among those attending the Mass.