Saint Malachy’s prophetic texts
Popular beliefs, superstitions, whatever you choose to call them. Prophecies exist in all societies. In the Catholic tradition, those of St. Malachy are both infamous and contentious. This is because they are said to indicate the date of the end of the world. It’s also said to be extremely near…
The Popes’ Prophecy
Saint Malachy of Armagh (the Irish city where he was born) is said to have written prophetic scriptures that were discovered five decades after his death in 1595. They are known as the “Prophecy of the Popes.”
The text is made up of 112 compact Latin lines that, according to some interpretations, foretell the future and even forecast the end of time. They discuss what each Pope of the Catholic Church will be like until the last one, at which point the Apocalypse will occur.
‘The Last Pope,’ Peter the Roman
Saint Malachy wrote his 111 sentences and added another one at the end about who would be the last Pope before Armageddon. He refers to him as ‘Peter the Roman’. Some people have wondered if this is Pope Francis.
The name doesn’t match, but…
The names Francis and Peter do not appear to be the same, but prophetic texts are sometimes written in code, and experts have been attempting to understand them through dissimulation.
No Pope wanted to be known as Peter.
Popes have taken Malachy’s prophecy so seriously that not a single pope has chosen the name Peter. They believe it is a means of preventing Malachy’s prophecy from being fulfilled.
Benedict XVI was the last pope on Malachy’s list.
According to the text of Saint Malachy, Benedict XVI would have been the penultimate Pope. As a result, his successor would be the one to bring the cycle to a stop. That’s where the dreadful foreboding comes in.
A prophecy in Latin
“In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people,” Saint Malachy’s sentence 112 says in Latin. “This is the end.”
An apocryphal text appeared in Venice
Many historians, however, believe that St. Malachy’s prophecy was not truly his. The passage was published in Venice about 500 years after the saint’s death by the French Benedictine monk Arnold of Wyon, who claimed to have discovered it while examining his order’s archives.
Prophetic and religious texts tend to be poems that contain spiritual meanings. People perceive them as a forewarning of impending threats, yet these interpretations might be unclear. Indeed, the end of the world has been predicted and postponed numerous times…
What does the Catholic Church say about Malachy’s prophecy?
In general, the Catholic Church has remained unclear about St. Malachy’s biblical prophecy. It accepts forecasts like his and others, but Pope Benedict XVI advised the Commission for the Doctrine of the Faith not to take them literally.
Pope Francis doesn’t believe it
As for Pope Francis, his modern style does not match a taste for ancient prophetic texts.
Yet, Malachy got other things right
Saint Malachy, born in Ireland, reportedly had one of his prophecies fulfilled. According to interpreters of his work, he said that his island would be dominated by the English, causing much suffering. This text, supposedly discovered by a French monk in the 18th century, does make sense in the light of the past centuries of English and Irish history.
The end of time
Yet, people of all faiths yearn to know their future and, in turbulent times like these, of pandemic and war, Saint Malachy’s prophecy is once again trending.
The Apocalypse of Saint John
Perhaps the most frightening and beautiful prophetic text is the Apocalypse by St. John. It supposedly describes the end of time, and many religious Christians look to it for an indication of when this will happen.
And then there are the inexhaustible predictions of Nostradamus, whose interpretations are extremely diverse. Read more about Nostradamus and his visions of war, refugees and besieged cities in 2022