According to many, it was a clear sign from heaven, maybe a message from God himself, showing his pleasure at the election of the first Latin American Pope.
So the questions have been raised, is it real? Is it an angel?
Let me begin by saying, if you believe and are a person of faith, then there is your answer.
Here are my observations:
- We need to take into account the authenticity of the picture. We all know what can be done with photo-shop type programs.
- This appears to be a high level cloud from the Cirrus family.
Delicate fiber-like clouds consisting of ice crystals, at high altitude (typically between 4 - 8 miles high). Cirrus can take many forms, e.g. spissatus (opaque patch of cirrus, usually remnant of an old cumulonimbus anvil); vertebratus (a herringbone structure) and uncinus (comma-shaped whisps of cloud).
We have all seen shapes in clouds. When I was young one of my favorite pass times was to stare at the clouds and imagine rockets and flying saucers traveling through the sky. (I was a space age child).
Anything is possible if the lighting is correct, if the wind is just right, and you are in the correct spot to see a shape in a cloud.
Having said all that, it appears the cirrus is too close to the ground, less than the 4 - 8 mile altitude it usually resides in.
So back to the initial questions... I default to my initial statement, "if you believe and are a person of faith, then there is your answer."