A Jesuit priest standing nearby attempted to smother the flames with a jacket, before police officers stepped in with fire extinguishers. The two police officers were successful in extinguishing the flames, but they suffered smoke inhalation and burns to their hands and are now hospitalized for treatment.
The 51-year-old man was treated at a nearby hospital, then transported to a larger one. He is reported to be suffering from serious burns to his upper body.
In his pocket was a note with his daughter’s contact information; but there has been no explanation for why he set himself afire.
This is not the first time an individual has self-immolated in St. Peter’s Square. On January 13, 1998, an Italian writer by the name of Alfredo Ormando set himself on fire in the Square to protest the Catholic Church’s opposition to the homosexual lifestyle. He was rushed to Sant’Eugenio hospital in critical condition, but died eleven days later.
UPDATE: A sad ending: The man has since died. You can read that story here.