Pope Francis Angrily Slaps Woman's Hand As She Grabs and Pulls Him During New Year's Eve Greetings

Pope Francis appeared irked during a walkabout among the faithful in St. Peter's Square when a woman grabbed his hand.

The 83-year-old pontiff was greeting children and pilgrims on New Year's Eve as he made his way to a Nativity scene in Vatican City.

Video shows him shaking hands with the crowds who were chanting "Pope! Pope! and "Happy New Year!"

As he turned to walk away from the crowd, a woman makes the sign of the cross and reaches out to grab his hand.

It is not clear what she said to the Catholic leader as she tried to pull him towards her, to his visible irritation.

Her abrupt move appeared to cause him pain and the pontiff slapped her hand before pulling free from the keen attentions of the woman, apparently admonishing her before walking away, NBC News reported.

The pope appeared to have support on social media. Harvard legal professor Adrian Vermeule tweeted to his 24,000 followers that Francis "is an 83 year old man with bad sciatica," adding, "being jerked around like that may have been quite painful."

Another person tweeted: "He was grabbed and pulled against his own will. It's normal being angry after that."

pull his hand away each time someone made a move toward the ring on his right hand.

On New Year's Eve, the pope led the evening prayer service the Vespers and the singing of the hymn Te Deum to mark the end of the year.

In his sermon he urged the Catholic faithful "to create virtuous ties, to build bridges and not walls," according to the National Catholic Reporter.

Earlier in the day, he had turned up without notice to attend the private funeral of a friend, the theology scholar María Grazia Mara, at the Roman parish of San Giuseppe al Nomentano, NBC noted, citing the newspaper La Republicca.

Renowned for his shunning of the more luxurious trappings of his office, Pope Francis is the subject of the Netflix film The Two Popes in which he is played by the actor Jonathan Pryce.

The film, which has already been nominated for four Golden Globes and is being tipped for an Oscar, is a partly fictionalized account of his rise from a priest in Buenos Aires, to his relationship with his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, played by Anthony Hopkins, who became the first pontiff to renunciate leadership in nearly 700 years.

Francis, also known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, became the 266th pope of the Catholic Church when he was elected by the papal conclave on March 13, 2013.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis (C) waves to faithfuls as he visits the Nativity scene in Saint Peter's Square, following the 'Te Deum' prayer for the year 2019, at the Vatican on December 31, 2019. A video went viral of appearing to turn away angrily after a woman grabbed his hand. Andreas SOLARO/Getty Images