I must admit, I was as shocked as anyone when I heard that Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will resign in two weeks. Ironically enough, I first caught wind of it on a New York sports-talk radio show, and initially thought they were joking or I misheard them in the wee morning hours. After quickly switching to CNN to see if there was something to it, I was really quite perplexed. Sick or not, mentally incapable or not, the Pope is supposed to remain Pope until his death. That’s why there is only one of them at a time. Remember John Paul II, seriously ill and frail for years, yet he still hung on? Why? Because that was his duty. To work, serve, and pray until it was his time to go. Perhaps there is something fishy here? Two weeks notice for resigning from the Papacy (the first time in 600 years this has happened; Columbus had not even voyaged across the Atlantic to genocide the natives yet), the most widely recognized office in the world, and one of the most followed? To put that into perspective, I had to give two weeks notice for quitting my summer job when I was 16, and that was only pushing carts at a local farmer’s market. This leads me to believe that Pope Benny the Quitter is either much more sick than he is letting on, and is close to death, and has announced this so the College of Cardinals has a heads-up on the election, or that there is a scandal about to be revealed so groundbreaking, that he wanted to attempt to protect the church by stepping away from it. Odd as it is, let us hope it is neither, and try to have some fun with this. [Insert explosive and destructive prophecy here.]
Anyway, as soon as I heard the news, I immediately thought about a string of prophecies that are famous (or infamous, depending on how you look at them) but have long been overshadowed by the names of prophets such as Nostradamus or Edgar Cayce, the latter of the two being a man I believe was a complete genius and one of the most legitimate psychics in human history. What I am talking about here is called the “Prophecy of Popes”, written by the Catholic Saint Malachy, in 1139. This is a series of prophecies so spot-on it is scary, and what is even more scary, St. Malachy tells us how it will all end.
With the exception of a mere few, St. Malachy predicted every single pope to hold office, from Celestine II in 1143 until our modern age. Though not by exact name, he would give a word or phrase that describes the incumbent Pope, or maybe where they came from. To start with the ones for the most recent Popes, for John Paul II, he called him, “From the Labor of the Sun”. He was both born and buried on days of a solar eclipse. John Paul I was, “From the Midst of the Moon”. His reign as Pope began on the night of a half moon. You can see the full list here, but where it could get frightening is not with Benedict XVI (“Glory of the Olive”; he was named after the man who founded the Benedictine Order, whose crest includes an olive branch), but what happens after he leaves office.
The reason why I like this series is because unlike many others, this actually has an end. St. Malachy prophesied that there would be only one more Pope following Benedict, before the Catholic Church and the City of Rome would be destroyed (while this does not include the entire world, I’m sure the History Channel could spin it that way). This prophecy is also contingent on the Church facing “extreme persecution” before this destruction. While I do not think the Church is facing persecution, one could argue that more people are speaking out against it, and all religions for that matter, now more than ever before. The final prediction, number 112 for the 268th Pope, is labeled with the following:
“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.”
So what do you think? Is there something to this, or is this just another end-of prophecy that will ultimately fall short like most of them do? Keep in mind that most end-of predictions just happen to end, they were not ended by the author. And there is a difference. The Mayans never finished their calendar, and Nostradamus died before he could give us anything concrete on the end of the world. But the “Prophecy of Popes” has a distinct ending. St. Malachy is giving it to us, in the most concise wording possible—no frills, no flair. I am not saying I believe it, but if television networks could devote ten years to discussing a calendar that was etched before we even started using Julian months, and emblazoning it’s programming on air nearly every day, my modest little blog can host this article. Whether it all comes to an end after Benny’s successor, we don’t yet know, but no one can take away the first 111 prophecies. It is all just a matter of what you believe. The end.