, VATICAN CITY, Feb 14 – The Vatican on Thursday confirmed a report that Pope Benedict XVI hit his head and bled during a trip to Mexico last year but said the incident had no bearing on his decision to step down.
An aide who was on the trip with the 85-year-old pontiff recounted the incident to the Italian daily La Stampa.
“When he woke up, Benedict XVI’s hair was stained with blood. His helpers asked him what had happened. The pope said he did not fall but hit his head on the bathroom sink a few hours earlier.
“He had got up to go to the bathroom and, as sometimes happens when one wakes up during the night in a place that is not familiar, he could not immediately find the light switch and so he had to move around in the dark,” he said.
“Even his pillow was stained with blood and a few drops had stained the carpet. Everything was quickly disposed of and the carpet was cleaned up, but the injury itself was not very deep or worrying,” the aide said.
The Vatican’s official daily, L’Osservatore Romano, this week said the incident during the trip to Mexico and Cuba last March helped the pope make up his mind to step down as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said Thursday: “I do not deny this incident happened, but it had no influence either on the trip or on his decision. We should not look at individual episodes as particularly relevant.”
The Vatican revealed on Tuesday that Benedict had a secret operation to replace the batteries in his pacemaker three months ago.