Archive | October, 2011

Prophecy of Malachy

23 Oct
In persecutione extrema Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae sedebit Petrus Romanus qui pascet ovis in multis tribulationibus,quibus transactis septicolis diruentur et judex tremendus judicabit populuum suum. Amen.
In the last persecution of the Holy Roman Church, Peter the Roman will sit (i.e. on the papal throne),
who will graze the sheep amid many tribulations.When these are past, the seven hills (i.e. of Rome)
will be destroyed and the terrible judge will judge his people. Amen.
The above text is the Prophecy of Malachy. A Cistercian monk and Bishop of Armagh who lived between 1094 and 1148 Malachy is the alleged author of De Summus Pontificibus, essentially the
recording of a vision he had in 1139 of all future popes. Starting with Celestine II (1143-44) and
ending with the pope after Benedict XVI, there were to be 112 in all, and De Summus takes the form of 112 brief and cryptic mottoes, one for each pope. For instance, the 107th pope was designated as pastor et nauta,shepherd and sailor (or navigator): an urban legend  has it that Cardinal Francis Spellman, hoping to fulfill the prophecy and become pope in the conclave of 1958, rented a flock of sheep and a boat, put the former on the latter, and sailed it up and down the Tiber. Cardinal Angelo Roncalli was elected instead, and took the name of John XXIII.


Unfortunately, the reality is less colourful. We have no reports of the Prophecy before 1590, when a Benedictine historian included it in a work of his and attributed it to Malachy. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, an almost contemporary biographer of Malachy’s, does not mention it. An other strike against it is that, while the mottoes referring to popes before 1590 are sometimes uncannily accurate, the ones after that date are not- which suggests it was written around 1590.