An Italian man has given up his protest atop the St. Peter's Basilica after more than 24 hours perched on the 426-foot high dome to demonstrate against government reforms.

Two firefighters helped pull Marcello De Finizio inside the basilica on Wednesday evening, a full day after he eluded Vatican security to scale the dome.

In a surreal contrast, Pope Benedict XVI's regular papal audience -- which draws tens of thousands of pilgrims on Wednesdays -- went on as scheduled despite the protest taking place on the dome above.

De Finizio put up a banner saying "Help! Enough Monti!" -- referring to President Mario Monti, the architect of Italy's economic reforms.