Rain brings blessings at Vigil
Catholic Outlook, September 2011
On Saturday 20 August, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims made their way from downtown Madrid to the Cuatro Vientos aerodrome for the overnight Vigil as the temperature climbed to 40°C.
Rachel Mui was with the Viva Spain & Madrid group led by Fr Fernando Montano MG. Rachel described the walk to the sleep-out with backpacks and suitcases as an experience they would never forget.
“Pilgrims from all over the world filled the streets chanting, singing and waving their colourful flags. The locals got involved too! They livened up the spirits of all the heat-exhausted pilgrims by generously throwing water out of their balconies on to the cheering crowd.
“As we neared the entrance the numbers swelled and so did the heat. Firemen armed with hoses came, spraying the crowd from the top of their trucks. It was so cool (literally)!”
Fr Fernando said about half their pilgrims stayed at the Vigil. “We were spilt up as the second part of the group couldn’t reach the area.
“The airfield was already packed when we arrived and we decided to stay in the outside area with the thousands of pilgrims who, like us, wanted to spend the Vigil in prayer with the Holy Father.
“During Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament a strong wind got up, and rain put our faith to the test. We had plastic bags, umbrellas and, most importantly, good spirits to get us through the bad weather.
“A newspaper reported that the Holy Father was asked if he wanted to go because of the bad weather but he replied that if the pilgrims stayed, he would stay with them.
“When the storm passed, he reminded the pilgrims that the hardships they faced that night were a sign of the hardships they are willing to face for Christ and in a moving comment he prayed to God that just like the rain fell on the pilgrims so the graces of God would also be with them.
“Many newspapers reported on the incredible silence during Adoration with some describing it as ‘the silence that speaks’. It was a very moving experience.Our little group spend most of the time enjoying the drums and chants in expectation of the Final Mass with the Holy Father on the Sunday. We managed to get some hot dogs, chips, and plenty of water, which became our dinner, breakfast and lunch. It is definitely an experience that I will remember forever!”
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