Pat Shingleton: "Less Ice or More Water?"
In 1678, the towns of Fieschertal and Fiesch, located in the Swiss Alps, were flooded because of the Aletsch glacier. As noted in a previous column, the flooding empowered residents to take a formal vow, praying that the Aletsch glacier would stop growing. In addition to the prayer intentions, an annual procession was initiated to reduce the ice mass. For more than 300 years, the glacier has shrunk at a moderate rate; reducing the threat of flooding. Scientists determined that the glacier decreased 3.5 kilometers over three centuries. Experiencing a lack of fresh water, residents reversed their prayer intentions - praying for the glacier's growth and an intervention from Pope Benedict XVI... similar to the original vow to Pope Innocent XI.