The Prophecy of the Popes

Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation today.

As soon as I heard this, I knew exactly what would follow.

You see, there’s something called the Prophecy of the Popes. Some attribute it to Revelations, others to Nostradamus (who indeed had his own prophecies regarding the popes). But the origin of this particular prophecy lies with Saint Malachy.

Published in 1595, the Prophecy of the Popes is a prophesied outline of the history of the popes, from Pope Celestine II to the final pope, Petrus Romanos, or Peter the Roman.

Saint Malachy allegedly saw this procession in 1139, during a vision of the future. He documented it and sealed it away in the Roman Archive. But, as it happens, this document was found in 1590 and later published.

Of course, as with all strange claims, its origin is muddled. Some argue it’s a forgery, or that it’s actually a prophecy of Nostradamus, credited under Saint Malachy.

Others, however, wonder: does it matter who wrote it if the prophecy is true?

The Prophecies of St. Malachy

The Vatican's Time Machine
Image: Flickr/Kevin Gessner via CC by 2.0

You can see the full breadth of the prophecy here or here, but let’s take a look at some of the more relevant pieces. Each pope is described with a “motto,” or a cryptic phrase that alludes to his identity.

John Paul II

“De labore Solis”

Pope John Paul II’s motto, according to the prophecy, is “From the labour of the sun” or “Of the eclipse of the Sun.”

Pope John Paul II was born Karol Wojtyla on May 18, 1920, during a solar eclipse. He died on April 8, 2005, during a partial solar eclipse.

Solar eclipse of May 18, 1920 |NASA link

Solar eclipse of April 8, 2005 | NASA link

Pope Benedict XVI

“Gloria olivae”

Pope Benedict XVI’s motto is “Glory of the Olive.” Which is peculiar, because he chose his name after St. Benedict of Nursia, who founded the Benedictine Order. In that order’s crest, you can see an olive branch (left):

The Propechy of the Popes - Benedictine Order

Peter the Roman

“In persecutione extrema S.R.E. sedebit Petrus Romanus, qui pascet oves in multis tribulationibus: quibus transactis civitas septicollis diruetur, & Judex tremêdus judicabit populum suum. Finis.”

“In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit
Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations:
and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the terrible judge will judge his people.
The End.”

According to Malachy’s prophecy, Peter the Roman, or Petrus Romanus, will be the last of the popes. He will act as a false prophet, and usher in a period of destruction. A World War will follow, and all peoples will be judged.

The end of the world.

Another Day, Another Doomsday

Pope Benedict XVI will officially resign on February 28, 2013. This is the first resignation of a pope since 1415, with the resignation of Pope Gregory XII.

What do we make of these strange prophecies? Are they authentic? Should we be worried? We shall see. (And here I thought we’d be done for a while after that whole Mayan thing.)

Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.