A sign from God? Lighting strikes the basilica of St.Peter’s dome earlier this evening during a storm that struck Rome on the same day Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation. (Daily Mail)
Pope Benedict XVI shocked the Catholic world today by announcing his retirement after eight years as pontiff.
Yet, this humble pope left several clues that this decision was imminent.
Dr. Scott Hahn, the Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization, Franciscan University of Steubenville:
“Back on April 29, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI did something rather striking, but which went largely unnoticed. He stopped off in Aquila, Italy, and visited the tomb of an obscure medieval Pope named St. Celestine V (1215-1296). After a brief prayer, he left his pallium, the symbol of his own episcopal authority as Bishop of Rome, on top of Celestine’s tomb!
“Fifteen months later, on July 4, 2010, Benedict went out of his way again, this time to visit and pray in the cathedral of Sulmona, near Rome, before the relics of this same saint, Celestine V. At the time, however, few people seemed to notice.
“Only now, we may be gaining a better understanding of what it meant. These actions were probably more than pious acts. More likely, they were profound and symbolic gestures of a very personal nature, which conveyed a message that a Pope can hardly deliver any other way.
“In the year 1294, this man, Father Pietro Angelerio, known by all as a devout and holy priest, was elected Pope, somewhat against his will, shortly before his 80th birthday (Ratzinger was 78 when he was elected Pope in 2005). Just five months later, after issuing a formal decree allowing popes to resign (or abdicate, like other rulers), Pope Celestine V exercised that right. And now Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to follow in the footsteps of this venerable model.”
Saint Pope Celestine V is entombed in L’Aquila. After an earthquake there, Pope Benedict XVI visited Celestine’s shrine and left the woolen pallium he wore during his papal inauguration in April 2005 on his glass casket as a gift. Celestine also retired as pope. He was then imprisoned and died in jail a year later. (Mundus Tranquillare Hic)
Hat Tip Mary