The archbishop of the Tuscan capital Florence has escaped an attack by a 70-year-old gunman in which his secretary was injured, Italian police said Saturday.
The aggressor, thought to be homeless and mentally unstable, approached Archbishop Giuseppe Betori's car Friday and fired on his secretary, who was at the wheel, police said.
The secretary, Father Paolo Brogi, was injured in the stomach.
The two had just returned to the archbishop's offices by the famous Duomo of Florence in the centre of the Renaissance city.
Witnesses described the aggressor as Italian, unshaven and wearing a wool cap.
He reportedly asked to speak with Betori but the secretary rebuffed him. In response, the assailant pulled out a 7.65 calibre pistol and fired on the priest, injuring him in the abdomen, before threatening the archbishop with the weapon.
He said something starting with the words "you shouldn't say," but Betori could not make out the end of the sentence, police said.
The gunman tried to fire on Betori but either his gun jammed or he thought better of it, investigators say.
Father Brogi underwent emergency surgery overnight to repair his small intestine but is out of danger.
Florence police have launched a manhunt for the assailant, picking up six homeless men for questioning.
They have stepped up protection for Betori, who said he was "full of pity" for his aggressor.