The story of Benedict XVI ’s pontificate


When I was asked to summarize, with an episode, the story of Benedict XVI ’s pontificate, I recalled the Prayer Vigil during World Youth Day in Madrid, in 2011, on the large esplanade of the Cuatro Vientos Airport, attended by about a million young people. It was in the evening, the darkness growing thicker as the Pope began his speech. At one point, a veritable hurricane of rain and wind blew in. The lighting and sound systems stopped working and many of the tents on the edge of the esplanade collapsed. The situation was truly dramatic. The Pope was urged by his staff to move away and take shelter, but he would not. He patiently and courageously remained seated in his place on the open stage, protected by a simple umbrella flapping in the wind. The whole immense assembly followed his example, with confidence and patience. After some time, the storm quieted down, the rain stopped, and a great and wholly unexpected calm took over. The facilities resumed operation. The Pope finished his speech and the wonderful monstrance from Toledo Cathedral was brought to the center of the stage for Eucharistic adoration. The Pope knelt in silence before the Blessed Sacrament and behind him, in the darkness, the immense assembly joined in prayer at length in absolute calm.