Storm Interrupts Papal Address at Vigil: “Your Strength Is Greater Than the Rain”


Storm Interrupts Papal Address at Vigil

Pope to Youth: “Your Strength Is Greater Than the Rain”

By Inma Álvarez

MADRID, Spain, AUG. 20, 2011 ( 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]

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  1. MargaretC says:

    I love this Pope.

  2. anna 6 says:

    What struck me most was the joy of the young people even during the storm, and the peaceful composure the pope kept throughout…even despite the fact that he had to give up what might have been his most important talk of WYD, while enduring truly severe weather. He actually seemed somewhat amused by it all.

    One of the commentators joked that perhaps the Lord brought the storm in order to force the media to acknowledge vastness of the crowd and the joy of the participants in contrast to their constant talk of protests.

    In any case, the Holy Spirit was there.

  3. medievalist says:

    Loved the image of Msgr Marini trying to help brace the umbrella with decorum.

    Quaeritur: When supporting the Papal Umbrella is one still obliged to strike the breast at a ‘Miserere’?

  4. mrsmontoya says:

    I watched it last night rebroadcast on EWTN, it was beautiful. After it had stormed a bit, the pope called for a moment of silence – the chanting and cheering stopped immediately. His Holiness then told the audience he understood that they had needed water because of the long day in the heat; he then said something to the effect of “Let us know pray for a diminishment in the rain.” A few minutes later the umbrellas came down and the ceremony continued.

    I feel such joy watching all this. Thank you God!

  5. Random Friar says:

    One million. The media news story I read said that “thousands of young Catholics…” If by “thousands” he meant “a thousand thousands” then yes! But that was probably not the number he was aiming for…

    Amazing how we pay attention to a couple of bad apples that come to protest. Pray for them.

    And I am proud of how the young faithful are behaving and witnessing to Christ. I feel like a proud spiritual father!

  6. Traductora says:

    I was at the vigil (as one of the many ¨non-youth¨ who showed up!) and it was remarkable. The storm was quite violent and quite sudden, and I think what really kept everyone so calm was the Pope´s behavior. Some of his advisors wanted him to leave, but he simply remained where he was and they surrounded him with umbrellas – but we could see his feet and we knew he was still there and still praying. People kept cheering for him and singing some of the hymns. And then the storm stopped.

    He dropped the major part of his talk and went on to the Adoration, and that was where you saw the incredible sight of 2 million people, the great majority between the ages of 14 and 20 something, kneeling in complete silence.

    Some of the large tents they had set up for all-night Adoration were destroyed, but the majority of the kids spent the night there anyway and prayed. Truly amazing. Like most of the adults, I had only planned to be there for the first part of the event, so I began the trudge back to the Metro after the Pope left.

    This is going to have a long-term effect, not only in the vocations that will come out of it, but in the sense of their own Catholicism that the attendees in general and the Spanish in particular have recovered. You could almost feel the Catholic blood flowing back into the veins of Spain.

  7. Patti Day says:

    The Good Shepherd, faithfully remaining at his post through the storm, protecting his flock. Viva Benedicto! Viva Papa!

  8. wanda says:

    I loved the sight of the ‘sea’ of young pilgrims, kneeling, silent, heads bowed with more than a few tears sprinkled in – all in adoration before our Euchariistic Lord in that gigantic, beautiful monstrance. May God bless them and our Holy Father, Pope Benedict.

    Random Friar, Yes – a thousand thousands!

  9. irishgirl says:

    I also watched this on EWTN yesterday (I don’t have TV at home, but am spending some days away and watching it in the motel I’m staying at).
    I was amazed on how unflappable the Holy Father was, and how valiantly Mgr. Marini and the other papal MC used the umbrellas to shield him from the rain….I wonder if his zucchetto was found after it flew off of his head? (If it wasn’t, there was probably a ‘backup’ somewhere in the papal luggage…. and maybe someone got an unexpected souvenir!)
    The Crown Prince and Princess of Spain were also present, sitting out in the open with the other VIPs-I bet they got soaked! (Did anyone notice the expression on Princess Letizia’s face? She looked as it she wasn’t exactly happy to be there–yet her husband Prince Felipe was!)
    That being said, I love this Pope! God bless him! He was being the Good Shepherd, staying with his young flock through the wind and the rain! I think he got kind of a big kick of it, tell you the truth!
    And his hair was so rumpled, he almost looked Albert Einstein! (He’s got such a lot of hair for a man of his age! ) : )

  10. Captain Peabody says:

    How magical. Reminds me of nothing so much as:
    “An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered.”
    -G.K. Chesterton

    I may seem strange, but for me, there are few things in the world as joyful, adventuresome, and above all “theological” as a good storm. When the wind blows and the rain falls and all our best-laid plans are scattered and tossed about, it seems to me God is offering us a chance to see and contemplate the power and the joy and the wonder of God and his creation, and to join in his great, divine adventure.

    God bless our blessed Papa Benedictus, and grant him many long years. And God bless the pilgrims!

  11. pinoytraddie says:

    The Storm is A Two-Fold Blessing!

    For It’s A Test of Faith and A Refreshment from The Heat!!!

    VIVA IL PAPA!!!!!!!!

  12. New Sister says:

    I, too, so love this Pope. My first thought, upon hearing of this rain, was of the final apparition of Our Lady at Fatima.

  13. anton says:

    As someone who witnessed a similar storm at the WYD in Toronto only to be calmed by the arrival of the Holy Father JP II…….which I thought was miraculous, I felt the same way about this storm in Madrid! Truly an appearance by the Winds of The Holy Spirit!!!!!

  14. pinoytraddie says:

    The Storm in Madrid Almost took Away My Lunch Appetite!

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