Pope pauses speech for heavenly blessing of rain
A freak thunderstorm brings relief to 1.5 million sweltering pilgrims.
Pope Benedict XVI cut short a speech to pilgrims at World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain, as prayers for rain were answered on Saturday. Especially hot and humid temperatures had created difficult conditions for the estimated 1.5 million pilgrims who gathered to see the Pope during his visit to Madrid. "With this rain, the Lord sends us many blessings," Pope Benedict said to the crowd.
Festive pilgrims are showered with water to help relieve the 104 degree heat in Madrid.
As darkness fell Pope Benedict XVI began a planned speech to the crowd, when a thunderstorm passed through the area. For several minutes, lightning and rain filled the air, punctuating the dark and showering pilgrims with rain. The Pope paused his remarks and allowed the crowd to enjoy the respite offered by the thunderstorm. Officials praised the showers as sent by God to answer the many prayers for relief. Pilgrims were reported waving flags and dancing in the rain.
After the rain subsided, the Pope continued his remarks.
It is no surprise that pilgrims, and the 84-year-old Pontiff should endure heat and rain to gather. This is Pope Benedict XVI's third World Youth Day, a worldwide gathering of youth that occurs in a different location every three years. The event was started by Pope John Paul II, in an effort to energize and connect with the youth of the Catholic church, whose overall membership exceeds one billion people.
Pilgrims save money and sacrifice to attend the festival which is part pilgrimage, part church, and in a large part, rock concert--with the Pope as star. World Youth Day events have consistently drawn over one million attendees making them one of the world's largest religious gatherings.
Still pilgrims face many challenges. The sheer number of people, summer heat, food, water, and lodging as well as sanitation must be had. And the sudden arrival of so many people typically causes host cities to virtually shut down for the duration. However, the economic benefit of such visits is enormous, creating revenue and thousands of temporary jobs for the host city, and for Madrid, alleviating at least temporarily, the economic doldrums the city is in.
The Pope will remain in Madrid until Sunday when he is scheduled to celebrate Mass with the pilgrims before departing.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Madrid, World Youth Day, Pope, Benedict XVI, thunderstorm, lightning, rain, miracle, blessing
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