When Pope Benedict XVI tried to release a dove as a symbolic appeal for peace on Holocaust Day, it led to quite a flap.
A resident seagull swooped in and attacked the bird of peace as soon as the Pope released the dove from a balcony at the Vatican.
Watched by thousands of pilgrims below the fearsome gull, leading with its beak, chased and harried the terrified dove as it tried to escape among the ancient pillars and porticos.
Some 2,000 youngsters from Rome had marched to St Peter’s Square for the annual Caravan of Peace which takes place on the last Sunday of January and finishes with the release of two white doves by the Pope shortly after the Angelus prayer.
It is not the first time the Pope’s prayers have not protected his birds of peace. Last year the two doves he released turned tail and flew straight back in through the open window.
“They want to stay in the Pope’s home,” Pope Benedict had said.
What he had to say about yesterday’s kerfuffle was not known. But someone must have said a quick little prayer, as the dove eventually made good its escape.