When a massive lightning strike lit up the top of Saint Peter's dome on the evening of Feb. 11, 2013, many observers chose to interpret this as a divine reaction to the historical announcement of Pope Benedict's resignation, made that very morning. As his personal secretary, Archbishop Gänswein, reminisced about how both he and Benedict only found out about the lightning strike after the event. "The impression was one of a sign from above, a reaction," he told Badde. When he showed Benedict images of the spectacular incident a few days later, the pope asked whether this was some kind of digital montage, Gänswein said, adding: "however, nature had spoken."
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Archbishop Gänswein spoke about the painful emotional impact of Benedict's farewell from the papal office and household. "Indeed, I found myself compelled to openly cry," he said. However, with three years having passed since, "there has been a lot of reflection, personal reflection included."
He affirmed that "Pope Benedict was – and to this day all the more is – very much at peace with his decision to resign, and that it was the right step to take. That helped me personally to overcome my initial resistance and accept what Pope Benedict truly realized after much struggle and prayer, what he found to be the right thing and then decided on."
Benedict's greatest joys since retiring, Gänswein said, are "to have time for prayer, for reflection and reading – but also for personal encounters," despite also living "the life of a monk" in the monastery he now resides in.
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