Pat Shingleton: "The Intentions for a Glacier..."
In 1678, the towns of Fieschertal and Fiesch, located in the Swiss Alps, were flooded because of the Aletsch glacier. 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 shrunk, at a moderate rate, and reduced the threat of flooding. Scientists determined that the glacier decreased 3.5 kilometers over three centuries. Recently, those same prayerful intentions for a reduction led to a decrease of fresh water. The lack of water encouraged the residents to reverse their prayer intentions and have returned to praying for the glacier’s growth. Years ago, Pope Benedict XVI intervened with a special intention which is similar to the original vow initiated by Pope Innocent XI.