A Brazilian priest who is celebrated in the country for his lively sermons was violently pushed from a stage yesterday while delivering mass in Cachoeira Paulista, São Paulo.
The incident occurred shortly before 3 p.m. after a woman was able to rush past security and approach Father Marcelo Rossi during a ceremony at the headquarters of Canção Nova, which is a Brazilian Catholic community known for broadcasting religious material online.
Rossi, a preaching powerhouse who has reportedly sold millions of musical records in Brazil and was once dubbed a "pop-star priest" by the Associated Press, was seen in video footage of the unexpected mass invasion toppling from the stage as onlookers watched on in shock.
The Catholic priest was giving an address during the closing ceremony of a youth camp which had an estimated 50,000 attendees. He was not seriously injured and officials noted he soon returned to the stage to complete his sermon, which was being streamed to the internet.
The woman—who has not been identified—was detained by the local police.
In the footage, which has attracted tens of thousands of views on YouTube, a woman in a white T-shirt and carrying a handbag runs at Rossi from his right hand side. As religious figures watch on from behind, the microphone picks up the sound of his fall. The woman appears to be smiling.
Citing the police, Brazilian news portal G1 reported the culprit is 32-years-old and traveled to the youth event from Rio de Janeiro. She is believed to have mental health problems, police noted. The woman was taken to a local police station, however Rossi declined to press charges.
In a short statement, Canção Nova said it regretted the incident, adding: "The priest is well. He was attended by the medical staff at the event and presided over the celebration to the end." In a short video after the mass, the priest said he just suffered some pain but nothing was broken.
Veja, a Brazilian news magazine based in São Paulo, reported that Rossi referenced the attack after returning the stage. "It hurt, but pay close attention. I was just going to talk about pain but I did not imagine it was going to be like this," the priest said, according to the outlet.
The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, paid his own respects to the fallen priest on his Twitter account, writing: "All our solidarity with Father Marcelo Rossi. God looks [over] Brazil."
As reported by the Diário de Notícias newspaper, Rossi obtained a degree in Physical Education from the University of São Paulo in 1988 and was ordained as a priest back in 1994. As previously reported, he has amassed a loyal cabal of youthful followers and is also a bestselling author, lucratively selling millions of books.