Heavens open on Pope's speech

Monday 22nd Aug 2011 by theWeather Club

It wasn't quite the 40 days experienced by Noah and his crew, but the almighty combination of torrential rains and lightning which visited Madrid last night was still enough to put Pope Benedict XVI off his key note speech in honour of World Youth Day.

Having spent much of the day roasting in temperatures of 40°C, the million-strong crowd of young people were dismayed to find several makeshift chapels had been damaged by the downpour – forcing many pilgrims to forgo the promised mass. Indeed, according to head of the World Youth Day organising committee Yago de la Cierva, almost none of the young people received the Eucharist.

Speaking encouragingly from the shelter of an umbrella, the 84-year-old commended the crowd for having "faith stronger than rain", and asked them to share the joys of their devotion with others. However, as the intensity of the storm increased the pontiff was forced to cut out the bulk of his missive and turn instead to delivering brief greetings in different languages.

With lightning setting the sky ablaze and gale force winds blowing even the papal skull cap away, the defiantly upbeat scenes in Madrid's air base last night might have seemed to many as bearing out the words in St Matthew chapter 18: " For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them."