A spokesperson for Pope Francis has confirmed that His Holiness is ‘fine’ after a brief visit to Basildon left him with a black eye. 

While on a driveabout in the town centre within his ‘Popemobile,’ the Pontiff allegedly received a punch from a member of the public who accused him of ‘looking at his bird.’

A witness said: ‘He was just passing around the back of Asda, when I heard a man shout ‘Why is he wearing a dress. Is he a woofter or something?’

‘When his girlfriend explained that he was a leading religious figure, he noticed that His Holiness was waving back at her, and he screamed ‘Oi mate, don’t mug me off.’

‘He then launched forward, pushed past the gathered security and landed a right hook right on his eye socket.’

‘Luckily he chose not to press charges after a fellow bishop remarked that he definitely ‘would.’

His Holiness received some medical attention from a nearby doctor, before continuing to his planned engagements in Pitsea where he opened a new branch of Home Bargains before carrying on to Sadlers Farm roundabout and up the A130.

He blessed the new third lanes of the road that are due to open shortly.

Security has now been beefed up significantly with Pope Francis due to continue his South Essex trip today on Southend Seafront.

More than 200 babies will be baptised in the fountains next to Adventure Island, before he finishes his day with a confession on Canvey Island where he is expected to spend the next eight months.