Was it a bird? Was it a plane? Or was it the coming to pass of Psalm 40, which proclaims that “those who hope in God will soar on wings like eagles?”
Sadly, the answer was more prosaic, when Italian police spotted a drone flying over the Tiber River and St Peter’s Square on Sunday, and traced its remote control to the hands of one of two vacationing Israelis taking holiday snaps from Umberto Bridge near St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City.
The police were on routine patrol to crack down on illegal vendors around the popular tourist area, according to a report by The Local. The men, both aged 33, were taken for questioning and will likely face charges for airspace violation.
The drone, equipped with high resolution cameras, broke a ban on remote-controlled aircraft over Rome imposed earlier this month, at the start of the Catholic Church’s Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
The jubilee was announced by Pope Francis in April and runs from December 8 until November 20, 2016. It is intended to be a period for the pardoning of sins.
Rome’s airspace is closed for the year out of fear that terrorists could use aircraft to attack the capital.
Drones have been banned at tourist sites worldwide because of security fears and arrests have been made both in Paris and in Yellowstone National Park in the US.
In October last year, an Israeli tourist was nabbed in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral while flying a drone above some of Paris’s main attractions. He was slapped with a 400-euro ($500) fine after spending the night in jail.
One month before that, a Dutch tourist was fined for flying a drone in Yellowstone Park.