Category: Archive

New interest in Malachy’s end-of-world prophecies

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — Coded prophecies attributed to the Armagh-born St. Malachy about who the popes would be down the ages are attracting increasing interest as speculation mounts about a successor to the ailing Pope John Paul II.

The pontiff is expected to announce the appointment of about 25 new cardinals next month — including another red hat for Ireland. The current number of cardinals is just under 100.

For a conclave to choose a new pope, 120 Cardinals will be required to make the choice, but those over 80 don’t have a vote.

According to the 900-year-old St. Malachy prophecies there were to be 112 popes — from Pope Celestine II in 1143 until the end of the world.

Pope John Paul II is the 110th. The new pope will be the second to last and he is to be succeeded by "Peter of Rome," who would be the end of the line.

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The prophecies said there would then be the final prosecution of the Holy Roman Church and Peter will "feed his flock among many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End."

Though not as widely known as apocalyptic seers like Nostradamus, the predictions of Malachy are receiving wider attention because his prophecy of Armageddon draws nearer.

A number of internet websites attempt to untangle the codes.

The predictions did not emerge until 1597 with tradition stating that they were suppressed, hidden or forgotten in papal archives. Serious doubts remain about whether the saint was the true author at all or if they were forgeries.

They are claimed to result from a vision on a pilgrimage to Rome in 1139. Each pope is assigned a short description in Latin. The mystic names have been linked to things like family names, birthplaces, coats of arms or the jobs popes held before they were chosen.

Followers of the prophecies claim they have been uncannily accurate.

Pastor et nauta (shepherd and navigator) was given for John XXIII. He had been patriarch of Venice, a city of sailors, and led his flock through the ecumenical council.

Flors Florum (flower of flowers) for Paul VI, who had a coat of arms depicting three flees-de-lis.

De Medietate Lun’ (from the half moon)for the short-lived papacy of John Paul I. Halfway through his reign a lunar eclipse occurred.

De Labore Solis (from the toil or labor of the sun) for the current pontiff. It is taken to allude to the fact he was born the son of a laborer on a total eclipse of the sun.

Vatican succession watchers have the clue Gloria Oliv’ (glory of the olive) for the next pope. It is being linked to two French cardinals. The olive branch of peace for the Vatican’s international conciliator, Cardinal Roger Etchebaray, or the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem for Cardinal Jean Lustiger, who converted from Judaism.

The spokesman for the Irish hierarchy, Fr. Martin Clarke, said the church celebrated St. Malachy’s feast day on Nov. 3 and he is the principal patron of the Armagh diocese, ahead of St. Patrick and St. Oliver Plunkett.

He was dismissive of the predictions, pointing out that these kind of prophecies can be interpreted in many different ways.

"He is a key figure in the history of the Armagh diocese, but in church circles those sort of predictions are taken with a grain of salt," clarke said. "We don’t keep looking up his prophecies to see what’s going to happen next, if I can put it that way.

"People always have a fascination with those sort of predictions and obviously there is great interest about who the next pope might be."

Clarke pointed out there is no mention of St. Malachy’s prophecies in the official liturgical calendar published by the Church.

St. Malachy was born in 1094 and was responsible for reform of the church at that time becoming bishop of Connor and later primate of Armagh. He introduced the Cistercians to Ireland, the diocesan priesthood, founded the Abbey of Mellifont in County Louth, and introduced the Roman liturgy.

He died in Clairvaux in France in 1148 in the arms of St. Bernard, who later wrote his biography but did not mention the predictions.

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