Imposter tries to infiltrate cardinals’ meeting

A man dressed as a Catholic bishop attempted to gate-crash a private meeting of cardinals at the Vatican's Paul VI Hall on Monday 4 March, ahead of the forthcoming conclave to elect a new pope.

Ralph Napierski, thought to be of German origin, identified himself to assembled reporters as “Basilius” and said he was a member of the bogus “Italian Orthodox Church”.

The imposter shook hands with senior church leaders and even posed for a photograph with Italy’s Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, before being rumbled by Swiss Guards who had become suspicious of his attire.

His cassock was much shorter than usual, while his purple sash was actually a pashmina scarf.

Napierski was escorted from the Vatican by Swiss Guards.