In a country where speeding is a national sport, Italian traffic police are used to hearing the most colourful of excuses from drivers.
But the patrol that pulled over a Ford Fiesta on Friday doing 112mph was surprised to find at the wheel a 56-year-old nun who claimed she needed to be at the pope’s side after the pontiff lost his balance in the bathroom and broke his wrist.
In the back were two fellow Salesian nuns, aged 65 and 78, who had jumped in the car in Turin when news broke of Pope Benedict’s fall near Aosta, where he is spending his summer holiday.
“The police were shocked to find three nuns of a certain age in the Fiesta,” confessed the nun, named only as AM. “But we were afraid of getting there late. I know you shouldn’t go so fast, but the news of his Holiness’s injury had made us truly anxious.”
The pope underwent surgery on Friday and was able to hold a blessing on Sunday with his right wrist in plaster.
The police chose not to forgive the nun, pointing out that she was 30mph over the limit. They suspended her licence for a month and issued a €375 fine.
But AM is a “determined sort”, said her lawyer, Anna Orecchioni. “She is planning to appeal and we think we can invoke the ‘state of necessity’ in the law that allows speeding.”
Religious types have an elaborate history of developing rationales and excuses for most anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if they got away with this one.