A sign for the pope? St. Peter's Basilica lightning called message from God

(CBS News) A sign from the sky?

Just 24 hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will resign on Feb. 28, lightning struck St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the Catholic Church's center in Rome.

Special section: Change at the Vatican

Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, director of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, said from Vatican City that he witnessed the phenomenon and considers it a sign from God. He said on "CBS This Morning," "I think that God Himself was saying to us, 'These are going to be exciting times for the Church. I am with you, I am present with you, and do not be afraid to go forward and make the right and the best decision for the Church, and indeed, for the world.'"

Asked if that is what he indeed thought when he saw the lightning, Figueiredo said, "Yeah. I was somewhat afraid I must say. But it's quite spectacular. The views here in Rome are spectacular. It brought back images of the veil of the temple being torn in two because something important is about to happen. We shouldn't be afraid of that because when God is present, really, we can be full of hope and full of confidence that something important, great is going to happen for the church and for the world. So let's go ahead. Let's move forward. And that's what Benedict wanted and he got a sign from God himself."

For more with Figueiredo from Rome, including what he thinks about a Latin American pontiff candidate's chances at selection, watch the video above.