A beard-wearing woman was attacked as she crucified Jesus.

The crime of Passion took place as the woman played a priest during the open air retelling of the Easter story.

Jeanie Civil’s attacker ripped her beard from her face and punched her during a performance of The Passion of Christ in Brighton on Easter Sunday

He yelled “Shame on you!” before Mrs Civil’s fellow cast members, dressed as soldiers, held him back.

He was bundled into a police car.

About 1,000 people were watching Mrs Civil playing Joseph Caiaphas in the grounds of St Peter’s Church when the man jumped up and attacked.

Yesterday Mrs Civil said: “He was hooded. He leapt up and punched me.

“He then pulled my beard from my face. It really hurt and it was very shocking.”

Mrs Civil – a psychologist, psychotherapist and author – said she wondered if the man was an ardent Christian who disliked her character’s actions towards the saviour.

In the New Testament, Caiaphas was the Roman-appointed Jewish high priest who is said to have organised the plot to kill Jesus.

According to the Gospel, Caiaphas was the major antagonist of Jesus and was involved in the trial of Jesus.

Mrs Civil, who is in her 70s and from Ovingdean, said: “I was walking down the side.

“He jumped up and hit me. I had to stop him hitting me again.

“He might be an ardent Christian, or anti-Jewish

“If he has mental health problems then I really hope he gets support.”

She said she carried on acting but had to hold her beard to her face.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “A man was arrested on suspicion of assault at around 4pm on Sunday.

“The assault took place during a performance outside St Peter’s Church in York Place, Brighton, on a female member of the cast.

“A 59-year-old Brighton man was arrested on suspicion of assault by beating and has been bailed until May 1, pending further enquiries.”