Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Nerd History: The Prophecy of the Popes
With the announcement yesterday of the pending retirement of the current Pope of the Catholic Church, Benedict XVI, it reminds me of one of my all time favorite prophecies, the Prophecy of the Popes. A prophecy first published in 1595 and dating back to the 1100s, it's incredibly relevant now because, well...the next pope? He's the last one.
The idea behind the prophecy was to describe each pope as they came about with a simple phrase in Latin. Attributed to Saint Malachy, it never saw the light of day until 1595, making some wonder as to whether he forged it or if someone like Nostradamus had used a pen name. Regardless, it includes many anti-popes (thus the odd numbering), describes previous popes, and describes future popes.
What I find interesting about this specific prophecy is how accurate the future renderings used to be. For example, Gregory XV was the pope during the Thirty Years War, and the prophecy described him as "in the trouble of peace." Pius XII, "angelic shepherd," was the pope during World War II and helped Italian Jews escape the Axis powers. The links are a little more tenuous as we get closer to modern times, obviously, but when John Paul II is described as "from the labour of the sun" when he was both born and buried on days where there was a solar eclipse, and current Pope Benedict, "glory of the olive," has an olive branch in his order's coat of arms? Yeah, it's interesting.
So this last pope? So the prophecy says, "in the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Peter the Roman, who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations; when they are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The end." Given the situation in the Church right now regarding the child abuse scandals, the Church is is certainly "in many tribulations," so who knows...
Oh, by the way: a leading candidate to take Benedict's place? Peter Turkson, who serves the Vatican in the Roman Curia. Just saying...