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Prophecy of the Popes


As on 5 October 2013


Taken from: Wikipedia - Prophecy of the Popes

Note: This is not the complete text as it was on Wikipedia.



Introduction


The Prophecy of the Popes (Latin: Prophetia Sancti Malachiae Archiepiscopi, de Summis Pontificibus) is a series of 112 short, cryptic phrases in Latin which purport to predict the Roman Catholic popes (along with a few antipopes), beginning with Pope Celestine II. The alleged prophecies were first published by Benedictine monk Arnold Wion in 1595. Wion attributes the prophecies to Saint Malachy, a 12th‑century Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland.

Given the very accurate description of popes up to 1590 and lack of accuracy after that year, historians generally conclude that the alleged prophecies are a fabrication written shortly before they were published. The Roman Catholic Church also dismisses them as forgery.[1][2] The prophecies may have been created in an attempt to suggest that Cardinal Girolamo Simoncelli's bid for the papacy in the second conclave of 1590 was divinely ordained.

Many proponents of the prophecies claim that Pope Francis corresponds to "Peter the Roman" the pope described in the final prophecy, whose pontificate will allegedly bring the destruction of the city of Rome and usher in the beginning of the Apocalypse.



History


The alleged prophecies were first published in 1595 by a Benedictine named Arnold Wion in his Lignum Vitæ, a history of the Benedictine order. Wion attributed the prophecies to Saint Malachy, the 12th‑century Archbishop of Armagh. He explained that the prophecies had not, to his knowledge, ever been printed before, but that many were eager to see them. Wion includes both the alleged original prophecies, consisting of short, cryptic Latin phrases, as well as an interpretation applying the statements to historical popes up to Urban VII (pope for thirteen days in 1590), which Wion attributes to Alphonsus Ciacconius,[3] an attribution which was refuted by Claude-François Menestrier in 1694.[4]

According to an account put forward in 1871 by Abbé Cucherat, Malachy was summoned to Rome in 1139 by Pope Innocent II to receive two wool palliums for the metropolitan sees of Armagh and Cashel. While in Rome, Malachy purportedly experienced a vision of future popes, which he recorded as a sequence of cryptic phrases. This manuscript was then deposited in the Vatican Secret Archives, and forgotten about until its rediscovery in 1590, supposedly just in time for a papal conclave ongoing at the time.[5]

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, a contemporary biographer of Malachy who recorded the saint's alleged miracles, makes no mention of the prophecies, nor are they mentioned in any record prior to their 1595 publication.[5]

Several historians have concluded that the prophecies are a late 16th‑century forgery.[5][6][7] Spanish monk and scholar Benito Jerónimo Feijóo y Montenegro wrote in his Teatro Crítico Universal (1724–1739), in an entry called Purported prophecies, that the high level of accuracy of the alleged prophecies up until the date they were published, compared with their high level of inaccuracy after that date, is evidence that they were created around the time of publication.[8] The prophecies and explanations given in Wion correspond very closely to a 1557 history of the popes by Onofrio Panvinio (including replication of errors made by Panvinio), which may indicate that the prophecies were written based on that source.[9]

One theory to explain the creation of the prophecies, put forward by 17th-century French priest and encyclopaedist Louis Moréri, among others, is that they were spread by supporters of Cardinal Girolamo Simoncelli in support of his bid to become pope during the 1590 conclave to replace Urban VII. In the prophecies, the pope following Urban VII is given the description "Ex antiquitate Urbis" ("from the old city"), and Simoncelli was from Orvieto, which in Latin is Urbevetanum, old city. The prophecies may, therefore, have been created in an attempt to demonstrate that Simoncelli was destined to be pope.[10] Simoncelli was not elected pope; Urban VII was succeeded by Pope Gregory XIV, born Niccolò Sfondrati.



Interpretation


The interpretation of the prophecies for pre-publication popes provided by Wion involves close correspondences between the mottos and the popes' birthplaces, family names, personal arms, and pre-papal titles. For example, the first motto, Ex castro Tiberis (from a castle on the Tiber), fits Pope Celestine II's birthplace in Città di Castello, on the Tiber.

Efforts to connect the prophecies to historical popes who were elected after its publication have been more strained.[5][6][11] For example, Pope Clement XIII is referred to in a prophecy as Rosa Umbriae (the rose of Umbria), but was not from Umbria nor had any but the most marginal connection with the region, having been briefly pontifical governor of Rieti, at the time part of Umbria.

One writer notes that among the post-publication (post-1595) predictions there remain "some surprisingly appropriate phrases," while adding that "it is of course easy to exaggerate the list's accuracy by simply citing its successes," and that "other tags do not fit so neatly."[12] Among the reported 'successes' are 'Religion depopulated' for Benedict XV (1914–22) whose papacy included World War One and the atheistic communist Russian Revolution; 'Light in the sky' for Leo XIII (1878-1903), with a comet in his coat of arms; and 'Flower of flowers' for Paul VI (1963–78), with fleur-de-lys in his coat of arms.[12]

Peter Bander, then Head of Religious Education at a Cambridge college, wrote in 1969:

If we were to place the works of those who have repudiated the Prophecies of Malachy on scales and balance them against those who have accepted them, we would probably reach a fair equilibrium; however, the most important factor, namely the popularity of the prophecies, particularly among the ordinary people (as distinct from scholars), makes them as relevant to the second half of the twentieth century as they have ever been.

— Bander 1969, p. 10.


M.J. O'Brien, a Catholic priest who authored an 1880 monograph on the prophecies, provided a more critical assessment:

These prophecies have served no purpose. They are absolutely meaningless. The Latin is bad. It is impossible to attribute such absurd triflings... to any holy source. Those who have written in defence of the prophecy... have brought forward scarcely an argument in their favour. Their attempts at explaining the prophecies after 1590 are, I say with all respect, the sorriest trifling.

— O'Brien 1880, p. 110.



Petrus Romanus

In recent times, some interpreters of prophetic literature have drawn attention to the prophecies due to their imminent conclusion; if the list of descriptions is matched on a one-to-one basis to the list of historic popes since the prophecies' publication, Benedict XVI (2005-2013) would correspond to the second to last of the papal descriptions, Gloria olivae (the glory of the olive).[12]

The longest and final prophecy predicts the Apocalypse:[13]

In persecutione extrema S.R.E. sedebit.
Petrus Romanus, qui pascet oves in multis tribulationibus, quibus transactis civitas septicollis diruetur, & judex tremedus judicabit populum suum. Finis.


This may be translated into English as:

In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit [i.e., as bishop].
Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations, and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills [i.e. Rome] will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The End.[14]


Several historians and interpreters of the prophecies note that they leave open the possibility of unlisted popes between "the glory of the olive" and the final pope, "Peter the Roman".[5][15] In the Lignum Vitae, the line In persecutione extrema S.R.E. sedebit. forms a separate sentence and paragraph of its own. While often read as part of the "Peter the Roman" prophecy, other interpreters view it as a separate, incomplete sentence explicitly referring to additional popes between "the glory of the olive" and "Peter the Roman".[1]



Popes and corresponding mottos


The list can be divided into two groups; one of the 74 popes and antipopes who reigned prior to the appearance of the prophecies c. 1590, for whom the connection between the motto and the pope is consistently clear. The other is of the 38 mottos attributed to popes who have reigned since 1590, for whom the connection between the motto and the pope is often strained or totally absent and could be viewed as shoehorning or postdiction.

René Thibaut divides the table at a different point, between the 71st and 72nd motto, asserting that there is a change in style at this point. He uses this distinction to put forward the view that the first 71 mottos are post-dated forgeries, while the remainder are genuine.[16] Hildebrand Troll echoes this view, noting that mottos 72-112 use a symbolic language related to the character of the pope and his papacy, in contrast to the more literal mottos for earlier popes.[17]



References


1. a b c d e Sieczkowski 2013.
2. a b c Boyle 2013.
3. O'Brien 1880, pp. 16 & 25.
4. Menestrier 1694, pp. 343-344.
5. a b c d e f Catholic Encyclopedia 1913, "Prophecy".
6. a b O'Brien 1880, p. 110.
7. de Vallemont 1708, p. 87.
8. Feijóo y Montenegro 1724-1739, p. 129.
9. O'Brien 1880, p. 14.
10. O'Brien 1880, p. 85.
11. Feijóo y Montenegro 1724-1739, p. 134.
12. a b c d Allan 2009, pp. 58-9.
13. a b "Petrus Romanus Prophecy; Will The Next Pope Lead To The Apocalypse?", from International Business Times
14. a b See, e.g. Bander 1969, p. 96.
15. a b c O'Brien 1880, p. 82.
16. René Thibaut S.J.: La mystérieuse prophétie des Papes. Namur-Paris, 1951, p. 10.
17. Hildebrand Troll: Die Papstweissagung des heiligen Malachias. Ein Beitrag zur Lösung ihres Geheimnisses. EOS-Verlag, St. Ottilien 2002, ISBN 3-8306-7099-0.