This morning comes the news that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning at the end of the month. This unexpected event brings to mind the controversial Prophecy of Malachy, who is purported to have detailed the line of Popes until the end. With Benedict’s resignation, if Malachy’s prophecy is to be believed, his successor is to be… the last Pope.
Saint Malachy’s prophecy includes a list of 112 statements regarding the traits of each of the Pope until the end of the world.
Malachy wrote them around 1139, but his statements remained unknown until 1590. Many skeptics have used this 400+ years of silence from fellow Churchmen to evidence that the list is a forgery. Those who believe suggest that the list was hidden all those years, likely due to the nature of the revelations.
From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
“These short prophetical announcements, in number 112, indicate some noticeable trait of all future popes from Celestine II, who was elected in the year 1130, until the end of the world. They are enunciated under mystical titles. Those who have undertaken to interpret and explain these symbolical prophecies have succeeded in discovering some trait, allusion, point, or similitude in their application to the individual popes, either as to their country, their name, their coat of arms or insignia, their birth-place, their talent or learning, the title of their cardinalate, the dignities which they held etc
For example, the prophecy concerning Urban VIII is Lilium et Rosa (the lily and the rose); he was a native of Florence and on the arms of Florence figured a fleur-de-lis. For John Paul II, “From the labour of the sun”, he was born on the day of a solar eclipse and entombed on the day of a solar eclipse.
There is a discrepancy in the numbering (Benedict XVI is the 265th, not the 267th) — but this has been explained by the fact that there have been two “anti-Popes”.
The thing that makes Benedict’s resignation so interesting is that the second-to-last Pope has been interpreted as having a short reign. With Benedict stepping down after the long Pontificate of John Paul II, it makes some people sit up and take notice.
The description of the final Pope reads (translated):
“In the extreme 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 will be destroyed, and the terrible judge will judge his people.
The full list of phrases and their relevance to each Pope is here: