The Pope's butler has been charged with illegal possession of secret documents, as an investigation is launched into Vatican leaks.
Paolo Gabriele, 46, lives inside the Vatican City and could often be seen at Pope Benedict XVI's side in public, riding in the front seat of his open-air jeep during Wednesday general audiences or shielding the pontiff from the rain.
The "Vatileaks" scandal has been an embarrassment for the Vatican at a time when it is trying to show the world's financial community that it has turned a page and shed its reputation as a tax haven.
Vatican documents leaked to the press in recent months have undermined that effort, alleging corruption in Vatican finance as well as internal bickering over the Holy See's efforts to show more transparency in its financial operations.
Vatican spokesman Reverend Federico Lombardi said in a statement that Gabriele was arrested on Wednesday with secret documents in his possession.
He added that Gabriele, who became the Pope's butler in 2006, was still in custody and had two lawyers representing him.
"Everyone in the Vatican knows him, there is a feeling of surprise and grief, as well as great sympathy for his family, who are well liked," Rev Lombardi told journalists.
Gabriele faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in jail if convicted.
The Vatileaks scandal took on even greater weight earlier this month with the publication of "His Holiness", a book which reproduced confidential letters and memos to and from Benedict and his personal secretary.
The Vatican called the book "criminal" and vowed to take legal action against the author, publisher, and whoever leaked the information.
The documents shed light on many Vatican secrets, including the Church's tax problems, the funding of Catholic bodies, sex scandals and negotiations with hard-line traditionalist rebels.
The leaks have also centred on the activities of Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and of the Vatican bank, whose head, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was sacked on Thursday.