Man who set self on fire in St Peter's Square dies in hospital

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - A 51-year-old man who set himself alight in St Peter's Square in Vatican City earlier this week died of his injuries in hospital on Sunday, local media said.

The man was rushed to Rome's Sant'Eugenio hospital with third-degree burns over his upper body on Thursday after he poured petrol over himself and set fire to his clothes with a lighter, in shocking footage caught on closed-circuit television.

A Jesuit priest at the scene threw his coat over the man before two public security officers were able to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher.

Police said the man left a note on the ground nearby with his daughter's phone number.

The married father worked as a cleaner in a nearby Vatican-run hospital and was understood to have had family problems and health issues.

The last self-immolation in St Peter's Square was in 1998 when a 40-year-old Italian gay man set himself on fire in a protest against the Catholic Church's stance on homosexuality.

He died of his wounds a few days later.