Storm Interrupts Papal Address at Vigil
Pope to Youth: “Your Strength Is Greater Than the Rain”
By Inma Álvarez
MADRID, Spain, AUG. 20, 2011 (Zenit.org).- After the intense heat that has marked these days in Madrid, a sudden and powerful rainstorm prevented Benedict XVI from giving the discourse he had prepared for this evening’s World Youth Day prayer vigil.
The Pope arrived to Cuatro Vientos around 8:30 p.m., as an estimated 1 million youth, who had endured the heat all day, awaited him at the park. The vigil began as planned, with an opening procession in which the WYD cross, given youth by Blessed John Paul II, was carried to the papal stage. The program then called for five youth, one from each region of the world, to address the Pope, sharing their experiences and questions with the Bishop of Rome. But immediately afterward, as the Holy Father began his discourse, the skies opened and the winds rose, and he was unable to continue.
Benedict XVI didn’t leave his post and continued to smile, as hundreds of thousands began chanting, “These are the youth of the Pope.” Despite attempts to cover the Holy Father with umbrellas, his clothes and the text of his speech were drenched.
After a few minutes in which everything was interrupted but the cheers of the young people, the Holy Father told them, “Young people, thank you for your joy!” as they responded with more cheers.
“Thank you for your resistance! Your strength is greater than the rain!” he added. “The Lord, with the rain, sends us many blessings. Also in this, you are an example.”
Omitting the rest of his discourse, the Pontiff gave the final greetings that he had prepared in several languages, joking as he greeted the Italians that this vigil “with all of our adventures,” will be an “unforgettable experience” in your lives.
“Guard the flame which God has lit in your hearts tonight. Never let it go out, renew it each day, share it with your contemporaries who live in darkness and who are seeking a light for their way,” he added.
The vigil continued with the main portion of the program: a Eucharistic procession and adoration, and benediction.
At the end, the Pope said good night in Spanish to the young people, wishing them well through the night as they await Sunday’s closing Mass. “Dear young people, together we have experienced an adventure. Firm in the faith in Christ, you have resisted the rain.
“Before leaving I want to tell all of you good night. Rest well. Thank you for the sacrifice you are making. And which I don’t doubt you will offer generously to the Lord. We’ll see each other tomorrow, God willing. I await you all. I thank you all for the marvelous example that you’ve given. Just like tonight, with Christ you will always be able to take on the tests of life. Don’t forget that. Thank you to all!”
[Reporting by Jesús Colina]