Lightning strikes dome of St Peter’s Basilica on Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

From Aleteia:

Another “bolt out of the blue” hits St. Peter’s on a Catholic feast celebrating a humble prayer and an historic battle!


Rome shook this morning as a massive lightning bolt hit the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. The strike came on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, a celebration with origins not only in a humble prayer, but also in an historic battle.

The bolt hit the dome of St. Peter’s at approximately 9:20 am, as a strong rainstorm passed through Rome. Vatican police confirmed the strike. No damage was reported.

Those close to the Vatican, from Swiss guards to local shop owners, felt the shock.

“I was in the shower and heard what sounded like a loud thunder clap which lasted a few seconds and seemed to shake everything. I knew it was storming but it sounded more like an earthquake than a thunderstorm,” a resident close to St. Peter’s told Aleteia.

A local Italian coffee-bar owner added: “Everything shook. I could feel it in my lungs. It was as though the air was suspended for a moment.”

This morning’s strike recalls the “bolt out of the blue” that hit St. Peter’s on February 11, 2013 — the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes — just hours after Pope Benedict XVI shocked the Vatican with his announcement to resign the papal office.

Lightning strikes St Peter's dome at the Vatican on February 11, 2013. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE
Lightning strikes St Peter’s dome at the Vatican on February 11, 2013. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE

Today’s strike also comes on a Marian feast: Our Lady of the Rosary.

Our Lady of the Rosary
Our Lady of the Rosary

Originally called Our Lady of Victory, the feast was instituted by Pope St. Pius V to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Christian victory over the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto.

The Battle of Lepanto
The Battle of Lepanto

Fr. Steve Grunow, of Bishop Robert Barron’s “Word on Fire,” describes the origins of the feast in this way:

On October 7th, 1571 a fleet of ships assembled by the combined forces of Naples, Sardinia, Venice, the Papacy, Genoa, Savoy and the Knights Hospitallers fought an intense battle with the fleet of the Ottoman Empire. The battle took place in the Gulf of Patras located in western Greece.  Though outnumbered by the Ottoman forces, the so-called “Holy League” possessed of superior firepower would win the day. This victory would severely curtail attempts by the Ottoman Empire to control the Mediterranean, causing a seismic shift in international relations from East to West. In some respects, and I do not want this claim to be overstated, the world that we know came into being with this victory. This event is known to history as the “Battle of Lepanto.”

Pope Pius V, whose treasury bankrolled part of this military endeavor, ordered the churches of Rome opened for prayer day and night, encouraging the faithful to petition the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the recitation of the Rosary. When word reached the Pope Pius of the victory of the Holy League, he added a new feast day to the Roman Liturgical Calendar. October 7th would henceforth be the feast of Our Lady of Victory. Pope Pius’ successor, Gregory XIII would change the name of this day to the feast of the Holy Rosary.

Biographers also report that as the Battle of Lepanto ended, Pope St. Pius V rose and went to a window, where he stood gazing toward the East. Then, turning around, he exclaimed “The Christian fleet is victorious!” and shed tears of thanksgiving.

Fresco of the Dominican Pope, St Pius V, praying the Rosary during the Battle of Lepanto
Fresco of the Dominican Pope, St Pius V, praying the Rosary during the Battle of Lepanto

May today’s “bolt from out of the blue” encourage the Church’s children, in this month dedicated to Mary, to take up the humble yet powerful weapon of the Rosary, as the Barque of Peter continues to battle on the waves of history.

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23 Responses to Lightning strikes dome of St Peter’s Basilica on Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

  1. Toad says:

    “Lightning strikes dome of St Peter’s Basilica on Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary”
    Oo-err. That proves it all, dunnit?

    Lucky the Christians had guns and gunpowder – and the Turks didn’t.

  2. GC says:

    Toad, check your history as well as nearly everything else.

  3. Toad says:

    Then why don’t you put me, and everyone, right, GC? Did the Turks have guns – as well as bows and arrows? maybe.

    Or ae you suggesting God, via His lightning, striking the Vatican is not “true”?
    Heresy, surely? Robot will know.

  4. GC says:

    As I and others have often said in the charitable merciful interest of your own personal betterment: do your own homework.

  5. Toad says:

    Well, you are right, and I did. The Turks had an estimated 750 guns and little ammunition, the Good Guys had 1.815, and cannon, and skilled Spanish marksmen. And the rosary, of course.

  6. johnhenrycn says:

    Ha, Ha! A good match. What you pugilists call a split decision. Or a draw.

  7. GC says:

    Toad, I thought you said the Turks had no guns? That seems to have gone by the wayside.

    And make your point. We’re not going to make it for you, you do realise? Perhaps you don’t.

  8. johnhenrycn says:

    “…the Turks had no guns? That seems to have gone by the wayside.”

    Like Toad, I also forgot he said that. Okay, GC, in my professional opinion, you’ve won that bout on a technicality.

  9. Lightning strikes the dome of St Peter’s Basilica on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary? Maybe she’s trying to tell us something. Or maybe she’s just trying to tell “Pope” Francis something.

  10. Roger says:

    Its in the Morning.
    It was on the Feast of Our Lady Of The Rosary
    It was on The Lord’s Day

    La Salette ‘At the first stroke of His lightning sword, the mountains and the whole of nature will tremble with terror, because the disorders and the crimes of men pierce the vault of the heavens.’

  11. Roger says:

    Oh and not forgetting
    9th October 1958 The Death of Pius XII ‘Pastor Angelicus’

    Look to La Salette
    “..I address a pressing appeal to the earth: I call upon the true disciples of the God living and reigning in the heavens; I call upon the true imitators of Christ made man, the one true Savior of men; I call upon my children, my true devotees, those who have given themselves to me so that I may lead them to my Divine Son, those whom I bear as it were in my arms, those who have lived in my spirit; finally, I call upon the Apostles of the Latter Times, the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who have lived in contempt of the world and of themselves, in poverty and humility, in contempt and silence, in prayer and mortification, in chastity and in union with God, in suffering, and unknown to the world. It is time for them to emerge and come enlighten the earth. Go, show yourselves to be my dear children; I am with you and in you, provided your faith is the light enlightening you in these evil times. May your zeal make your famished for the glory and honor of Jesus Christ. Do battle, children of light, you, the few who see thereby; for the time of times, the end of ends, is at hand.

  12. “This morning’s strike recalls the “bolt out of the blue” that hit St. Peter’s on February 11, 2013 — the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes — just hours after Pope Benedict XVI shocked the Vatican with his announcement to resign the papal office.”

    What utter nonsense. St Peter’s is struck by lightning on many occasions each year. And sometimes on more than one occasion on the one day, especially on days affected by winter storms. That is why it has a lightning rod securely fixed in place atop its dome! Indeed, the local professional photographer, Filippo Monteforte (of AFP), who pictured the perfectly natural event of that day of Pope Benediict’s intimation of his intention to resign to which mistakenly has been ascribed some mystical importance, was well aware of this. That is why, after hearing of Pope Benedict’s resignation speech, he stood and patiently waited for more than two hours at St Peter’s in terrible weather, camera armed with a 50mm lens. And it did happen. Twice. The first was the most spectacular, but he missed it!

    Interviewed about his famous photograph, he said: “I took the picture from St. Peter’s Square while sheltered by the columns. It was icy cold and raining sheets. When the storm started, I thought that lightning might strike the rod, so I decided it was worth seeing whether – if it DID strike – I could get the shot at exactly the right moment. The first bolt was huge and lit up the sky, but unfortunately I missed it. I had better luck the second time, and was able to snap a couple of images of the dome illuminated by the bolt.”

  13. johnhenrycn says:

    Well done Hugh McL; but the fact (so you say) that the basilica is hit by lightning somewhat frequently doesn’t alter the symbolic significance of that event when it does so on special occasions.

    On another point – and please keep this in mind for future reference – Adrian Fortesque and I are on all fours in bitterly resenting possessive apostrophes when referring to the names of Catholic church buildings. You should never say St Peter‘s or St Mary‘s. St Peter Basilica or St Mary Church will do, just as it always has done for the name of the building where I was welcomed into the Church. Fr Adrian Henry Timothy Knottesford Fortescue, the Orientalist of Letchworth (a speaker of more languages than even our own JabbaPapa dares boast) always grew angry when people called his parish in Herts. “St Hugh’s” instead of St Hugh. Think about why he was so distressed when they did so.

    He wrote an excellent book: The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, Burns & Oates Ltd. 28 Orchard Street, London. W. MCMXVIII, of which I own the first edition naturally.

  14. johnhenrycn says:

    Toad fails for the umpteenth time to get it. You don’t need to believe that a lightning strike is a miracle to be impressed by the symbolic effect of coincidence. As for cataclysmic events, you may recall they are prophesied in the Bible. Whether you believe in biblical prophesies or in anything biblical for that matter is up to you. Your “religious convictions” would indeed seem to be “shaky” enough to require “signs from God”. You constantly beg for them.

  15. GC says:

    JH, powerful stuff! © now who was that again?

  16. Roger says:

    St Peter’s and Lightning strikes are infrequently.

    Why this reaction to St Peter’s being struck by Lightning? Well like it or not you already have the numerous and consistent mention and references to the Apocalpyse and Fatima. The imagery of the Apocalypse sic Sun, Moon, lightning, etc..

    Father Kramer ‘Book Of Destiny’
    “..The Apocalypse not only revealed the triumphs of Christ but of necessity also the sufferings of His Church, His mystical body. The growth and activities of the forces that caused these sufferings had to be revealed too. Thus the Apocalypse re-iterated the statements of Christ in the gospels, that His Church will suffer hatred and persecution but through this persecution will be purified and will win the victory over sin, over the world and over Satan. ..”

    Consider carefully the following extrcat from Father Kramer’s book:
    “..The lightnings are the charismata, the power of miracles and the powers of the ministerial office, which is a de condigno right of the Church, because she is in the supernatural order and needs supernatural means to fulfill her mission. ..”

    St Peter’s , the ministerial office ; the supernatural order; and her mission.

    As for the express sources of Lightning?

    Apocalypse 4
    5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, and voices, and thunders; and there were seven lamps burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God.

    Apocalypse 8
    5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with the fire of the altar, and cast it on the earth, and there were thunders and voices and lightnings, and a great earthquake.

    Apocalypse 11
    19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the ark of his testament was seen in his temple, and there were lightnings, and voices, and an earthquake, and great hail.

    Apocalypse 16
    18 And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and there was a great earthquake, such an one as never had been since men were upon the earth, such an earthquake, so great

  17. kathleen says:

    Hugh McLoughlin @ 00:03 yesterday

    What utter nonsense. St Peter’s is struck by lightning on many occasions each year.

    Actually, with a little bit of a Google search you will discover that lightning striking St Peter Basilica is an extremely rare occurrence! There are other tall buildings, like the Empire State building, where there are occasional lightning strikes, but not St Peter.

    The Eponymous Flower blog also has a translated Italian report about the strange phenomenon occurring on the day Pope Benedict XVI abdicated, and on the Feast of the Holy Rosary!

    A significant heavenly message, or not? Time will tell.

  18. Kathleen, I am sorry about the delay in responding but I have only just become aware that there had been further comments on this. Lightning striking the dome is so “rare” that Filippo Monteforte, a Roman and the professional photographer who took the famous picture on that day, anticipated that it would happen, and stated that he had anticipated that it would happen, because he was aware of it having happened regularly in that sort of weather in the past. That it is a non-rarity is also indicated by the fact that the two lightning strikes that day — or, rather, the two that are known of — neither caused damage to the structure nor injury to any person. This indicates that the building is well protected against lightning strikes, and not just with the lightning conductor. Why would this be so? Well not just because of the theoretical possibilities, which are high — a risk level of 1 in 100,000 in any year is regarded as “tolerable”, the leading UK specialists in this field calculated that the risk level for St Peter’s is 1 in 112! This protection has been in place for a long time which would suggest that lightning strikes having happened frequently in the past, lessons have been learned by the staff of the Office of the Fabric of St Peter (currently headed by Angelo Cardinal Comastri). I have no way of knowing what you read in the course of your “little bit of a Google search” but whatever it was, it ws ither wrong or you did not understand what you were reading. Sorry, but there you are.

  19. Roger says:
    August 2013 The Local
    Summer came to an electric end in Italy on Tuesday as 40,000 lightning strikes rained down on the country, an expert told
    The stormy weather also brought deafening thunder and heavy rain, causing power cuts and the closure of part of Rome’s metro.
    “Yesterday there were around 40,000 lightning strikes and 950,000 so far this year,” Marina Bernardi, spokeswoman for the organization which charts lightning strikes in Italy (SIRF), told The Local.
    With four months of the year still to go, Italy is already well ahead of the average 1.5 million strikes it experiences annually.
    Although yesterday’s bad weather kept many Italians indoors, it is still a far cry from the 100,000 bolts which shot down on September 16th 2004 – the heaviest lightning shower since 1995.
    The treacherous weather has already proved deadly this summer. In July, a 12-year-old boy died after being struck by lightning while playing football on the beach.

    An ominous sign was also recorded in February, when a lightning bolt struck St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican just hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation.
    Filippo Monteforte, a photographer with Agence France Press, told England’s Daily Mirror that “I took the picture from St. Peter’s Square while sheltered by the columns. It was icy cold and raining sheets. When the storm started, I thought that lightning might strike the rod, so I decided it was worth seeing whether – if it DID strike – I could get the shot at exactly the right moment. Monteforte waited for more than two hours and was rewarded for his patience with not one but two bolts, the Mirror reported

    What’s a bit spooky, Ferrell says, is “that it doesn’t appear from a Google Image Search that a similar image has ever been captured before.

    Lightning has a long, symbolic history in the Italian capital, even predating the Catholic Church: “In Rome, from before 300 B.C. to as late as the fourth century, A.D., the College of Augurs, composed of distinguished Roman citizens, was charged with the responsibility of determining the wishes of Jupiter relative to state affairs,” writes engineer and lightning expert Martin A. Uman in his book Lightning Discharge. “This was accomplished,” Uman writes, “by making observations of three classes of objects in the sky: birds, meteors, and lightning. In the case of the latter, the observation was always made while looking south, and the location of the lightning relative to the direction of observation was taken as a sign of Jupiter’s approval — or disapproval.

    Francis Revolution continues

  20. Toad says:

    …the location of the lightning relative to the direction of observation was taken as a sign of Jupiter’s approval — or disapproval.
    See, Toad? It’s not just superstitious nonsense. It’s religious.
    Because, when lightning strikes, it means either God approves – or He doesn’t. Depending.
    Straightforward enough, surely?.

  21. Roger says:

    Toad I refer you back to Fatima


    Our Lady appears
    They began to amuse themselves by building a little house with odd-sized stones they picked from the field. Francisco was the architect and principal mechanic in this venture, his sister and cousin supplying the rough materials. Their party had just begun to go well, when they were startled by a vivid flash of light. They dropped the stones from their hands and looked about. They hadn’t expected lightning on a day so fair, but lightning, whether logical or not, meant to them a thunderstorm. Yet the trees were still. There was no wind. The sky was blue as it had ever been.
    “But it could mean a storm,” Lucia said; “I think we’d better get ready to go home.”
    They began to gather their things and look to the sheep, when suddenly another flash of light, strange and unexplained, held them in speechless wonder. Without volition of their own, they walked a few steps forward, and then, as though compelled, they turned their heads to the right.
    They saw a Lady, ..”

    It was about four o’clock when Lucia first noticed the strange atmospheric changes in the air that had preceded the earlier apparitions in the Cova da Iria. There was a sudden freshening of the air. The hard glare of the sunlight died. There was, unscheduled, and contrary to the fair afternoon, a dramatic flash of lightning Our Lady, Lucia thought; who else could it be? The freshened air whipped anxious hope alive.
    “..The rain continues, and by the official government time it is well past one o’clock. But by sun time it is precisely noon when Lucia looks to the east. “Jacinta,” she says softly, “kneel down.” Then more strongly she calls, “Our Lady is coming; I have seen the lightning.
    “..Lucia interrupted suddenly, explaining there would not be time to continue. She stood up now and called out to Jacinta, “Don’t you see the lightning? Our Lady must be coming! ” ..”

    “..Everyone began talking at once; there was great anger, and I don’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t heard the clap of thunder.
    It was much the same as the last time. Some said the thunder came from the direction of the road and others said it came from the tree. To me it seemed to come from a long way off. But wherever it came from, the thunder was a shock to the people. Some of them began to shout that we would be killed. We all began to spread out, away from the tree, but, of course, no one was hurt in any way. Just after the clap of thunder came a flash of lightning, and then we began to see a little cloud, very delicate, very white, which stopped for a few moments over the tree, and then rose in the air until it disappeared. As we looked around, we began to notice some strange things we had observed before and would see again in the months to follow. Our faces were reflecting all the colours of the rainbow—pink and red and blue and I don’t know what. The trees suddenly seemed to be made not of leaves, but of flowers. The ground reflected these many colours, and so did the clothes we wore. The lanterns that someone had fixed to the arch above us looked as though they had turned to gold. Certainly our Lady had come, I knew, even though the children were not there.
    Then when all these signs had disappeared, the people started for Fatima. They were shouting out against the mayor and against Father Ferreira, too. They were against anyone connected with the imprisonment of the children.

  22. Toad says:

    Roger. I envy you – in a way.
    It must be nice.
    In China? In India? in Australia? In England? – Or in anywhere they’ve never heard of Out Lady?
    Personally, I associate it with thunder, myself.
    But what do I know?

  23. Roger says:

    My prayers for you and yours.

    This is the Dome of St Peters on the Feast of Our Lady Of The Rosary in the month of October.
    The never to be forgotten Promise of the Triumph Of The Immaculate. The promise that one day with the Rosary and the Scapular she will save the world.

    The children of Fatima had Faith in Our Lady while the wise and prudent (world weary) thought it was a pure fantasy. You see a storm, thunder and lightning BUT they instead understand that it heralds Our Lady.

    Have you ever wondered why Our Lord said the following
    Matthew 13
    15 For the heart of this people is grown gross, and with their ears they have been dull of hearing, and their eyes they have shut: lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

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