Pope Francis Sunday evening paid a private visit to an elderly cardinal who is in hospital after having fallen and broken his leg in St. Peter's Basilica that morning.
Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, 93, lost his balance and fell while the Pope was greeting prelates following Mass for the closing of the Synod, according to an Oct. 25 statement by the Vatican Press office.
The Holy Father visited the French prelate at 7:30 p.m. for about a quarter of an hour at Rome's Gemelli hospital, and bestowed his blessing. The cardinal also wanted to thank Pope Francis for the Synod which officially concluded with Sunday's Mass.
The Vatican statement said the prelate fractured his left femur in the fall. It added that while he is in generally good condition, he will require surgery to repair the fracture.
This is not the first time Cardinal Etchegaray has been injured during a papal celebration in St. Peter's Basilica. In 2009, a mentally unstable woman jumped the barriers and attempted to tackle Pope Benedict during the procession for Christmas Eve Mass, knocking both the pontiff and the cardinal to the ground. Although the Pope was uninjured, the cardinal sustained a broken leg and hip in the incident.
Raised to the cardinalate in 1979, the retired Cardinal Etchegaray in the past has served as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.
This year's Synod on the Family, which ran from Oct. 4-25, was the second and larger of two such gatherings to take place in the course of a year. Like its 2014 precursor, the focus of the 2015 Synod of Bishops was the family, this time with the theme: “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the modern world.”