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Lightning strikes St. Peter's Basilica, hours after Pope's resignation


Agence France-Presse (AFP) tweeted the photo taken by agency photographer Filippo Monteforte (Photo courtesy: Filippo Monteforte)
Agence France-Presse (AFP) tweeted the photo taken by agency photographer Filippo Monteforte (Photo courtesy: Filippo Monteforte)

Staff writers

February 13, 2013 — Lightning struck the St. Peter's Basilica Monday, just hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation.

On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will resign as the leader of the world's more than one billion Roman Catholics. Hours later, lightning struck the St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. 

"Lightning striking the Vatican is nothing out of the ordinary," says Brian Dillon, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. "The building is fitted with lightning rods, and that's where this particular bolt struck." 

A lightning strike on the day the Pope announces his resignation however, seemed to spark a lot more conversation. 

Italian professional photographer Filippo Monteforte managed to snap a photo of the lightning strike, which was then quickly circulated on the web and social media. At first, there was a lot of suspicion, especially since images can quickly be doctored or re-purposed for social media. 

The skepticism however, began to subside when it became clear that multiple photos and videos were circulating. 

"I see lightning strikes all the time and this definitely looks like a typical lightning strike," says Weather Network Storm Hunter and meteorologist Mark Robinson. "When you capture lightning strikes on video, you can see the main stroke, which blinds the camera, and then several flickers after as the energy transfers down the main channel." 

Robinson adds that the St. Peter's Basilica is a very tall building, which will likely get struck numerous times when thunderstorms hit.

What do YOU think about lightning striking St. Peter's Basilica after the Pope announced his resignation? Leave your comments below! 

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