An envelope containing three bullets and addressed to Pope Francis has been found near Milan.
Authorities are now investigating the source of the envelope and who could be behind it, according to Italian paramilitary police.
It was sent from France and intercepted by postal employees working on sorting the mail overnight in the small sorting facility of Peschiera Borromeo in a Milan suburb, the carabinieri provincial command in Milan said.
It reportedly contained three 9mm-calibre Flobert-type pellets, according to the Milan-based newspaper Affaritaliani.
The envelope was addressed by hand in pen to: “The Pope, Vatican City, St. Peter’s Square, Rome,” and contained a message referring to financial operations at the Vatican, but further details were not disclosed.
Last month, the Vatican indicted ten people, including an Italian cardinal, for several alleged financial crimes, including extortion, corruption, fraud, embezzlement, and abuse of power. The accusations included bleeding the Holy See of tens of millions of dollars in donations through bad investments, deals with shady money managers and apparent favours to friends and family.
An investigation is ongoing by the carabinieri investigative unit after the command office in Milan has been notified about the envelope by the sorting centre manager, according to the Italian newspaper.
There was no immediate comment from the Vatican.
On Sunday, Pope Francis led prayers in Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City, almost 360 miles away from where the envelope has been initially found.
While he still enjoys sweeping popularity among many believers, Pope Francis has held non-traditional views that sometimes attracted strong opposition from conservative believers.
This week, the Pope is expected to fly from Rome to Budapest, where “he will meet with the country’s bishops and meet with representatives of the Ecumenical Council of Churches and Jewish communities”, according to the itinerary of his Hungary and Slovakia visit published by the Vatican News.
The 84-year-old pontiff had colon surgery last month. The Vatican declared after the surgery that the Pope had responded well to the treatment for “symptomatic diverticular stenosis” of the colon. Since then, he returned to his full-time duties.
The Vatican security chiefs have previously voiced concerns over life threats to the Pope, which have mounted after the rise of the Islamic State group in the Middle East in recent years.
Additional reporting by AP
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