An Italian businessman ended a three-day protest on the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, calling on Pope Francis to help victims of Italy’s economic crisis.
Marcello Di Finizio was swiftly arrested by the Vatican gendarmerie and, according to Italian media, received treatment for a leg injury incurred when he climbed up on to the dome on Friday.
“It was really cold and I was dead tired,” he wrote shortly afterwards on his Facebook page.
Di Finizio, who owns a cafe in the northeastern city of Trieste according to reports, had earlier posted a message saying “they have taken everything from me, but they won’t take my dignity as well”.
It was Di Finizio’s fourth protest on a ledge near the top of the 137-metre (449-foot) dome designed by Michelangelo. In a similar protest last year he stayed up overnight with a banner blaming the Europe Union for his country’s ills.
During his latest exploit he unfurled a banner reading: “Help us Pope Francis.”
He called on the Italian government to end austerity measures, with the country suffering from record unemployment.
“Stop in the name of God, you are killing us all. Give us back our lives,” he said in another Facebook message.
Suicides linked to the economic crisis make headlines in Italy, where hundreds of thousands of businesses have been forced to close.
Italy returned to growth in the fourth quarter last year after its longest post-war recession, but its jobless rate rose to a record high of 12.9 percent in January, sparking fears that companies are still struggling or unwilling to hire.
The unemployment rate among 15 to 24-year-olds rose to a record 42.4 percent.
On Friday, Italy’s borrowing costs fell in the latest sign of improved investor confidence in the economy but Italians are still suffering tax hikes and other austerity measures imposed as the eurozone debt crisis gripped the country.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has promised to reboot the economy by reducing taxes, slashing the costs of Italy’s bureaucracy and promoting businesses.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]