An activist from feminist group Femen tried to grab a statue of the baby Jesus from the Nativity scene erected in St. Peter's Square on Monday (25 December) but was stopped by police as she grabbed it.

A Reuters photographer captured the moment. The topless woman jumped over guard rails and rushed onto the Nativity scene shouting "God is woman". She had the same slogan painted on her bare back.

A Vatican gendarme intercepted her and she was detained. The incident happened about two hours before Pope Francis delivered his Christmas message to some 50,000 people in the square, Reuters reported.

The group's website identified her as Alisa Vinogradova and called her a "sextremist". It says the goal of the group, which was founded in Ukraine, is "complete victory over patriarchy".

A Femen activist staged a similar protest on Christmas Day 2104, and managed to remove the statue before she was arrested.

Pope Francis Vatican Nativity Scene
A nun looks at Nativity scene in Saint Peter's square before Pope Francis leads the "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message in Vatican December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi