Here’s a strange event from the past that is still interesting today. Popes don’t step down very often. Benedict XVI shocked the world in February 2013 when he became the first pope to resign in almost 600 years. It was the first time a Pope had stepped down since 1415, when Gregory XII resigned and to mark this unusual event, there was an amazing natural occurance: lightning hit the Vatican, twice.
“The spooky moment, believed by some, to be a sign from God, was caught on camera by AFP photographer Filippo Monteforte.”
… lightning touched the roof of St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the holiest Catholic churches, hours after Benedict XVI’s shock announcement
The Vatican stressed that no specific medical condition prompted Benedict’s decision to quit – the first pontiff to do so in 600 years.
The move surprised even his closest aides, even though Benedict, 85, had made clear in the past he would step down if he became too old or infirm.
In recent years, the Pope has slowed down significantly, cutting back his foreign travel and limiting his audiences.
He now goes to and from the altar in St Peter’s Basilica on a moving platform, to spare him the long walk down the aisle. Occasionally he uses a cane.
His 89-year-old brother, Georg Ratzinger, said doctors had recently advised the Pope not to take any more trans-Atlantic trips.
“His age is weighing on him,” Mr Ratzinger said. “At this age my brother wants more rest.”
Benedict announced his resignation in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, calling it “a decision of great importance for the life of the church.”
He emphasised that carrying out the duties of being pope requires “both strength of mind and body.”
He told the cardinals: “I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.” …
via Lightning strikes Vatican on the day the Pope resigns: Bolt hits St. Peter’s Basilica hours after Benedict XVI’s shock news – Mirror Online.
Is it real? USAToday cited a weather expert who thought so:
But could it be fake? One expert, AccuWeather meteorologist and lightning photographer Jesse Ferrell, thinks it’s real. In addition to the account from Monteforte — a trusted and well-known photographer — Ferrell sees telltale signs of a genuine lightning strike. – USAToday
This is almost certainly not related, but interesting, nonetheless:
28 June 2012 – US Army scientists are developing a weapon which can fire a laser-guided lightning bolt at a target.
The Laser-Induced Plasma Channel (LIPC) is designed to hit targets that conduct electricity better than the air or ground that surrounds them.
The weapon went through extensive testing in January.
George Fischer, lead scientist on the project, said: “We never got tired of the lightning bolts zapping our simulated [targets].”
Details of the weapon were released on the US Army’s website. …
For those keeping score, this supposed Army technology to create lightning bolts was described many years after Roy Sullivan was struck seven different times by lightning bolts. He was hit between 1942 and 1977.