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‘Prophecy’ states next pope signals end of days

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A little known prophecy says the next pope after Benedict XVI will be the last. A little known prophecy says the next pope after Benedict XVI will be the last.
The prophecy, as written in Arnold Wion's 'Lignum Vitae.' (Source: Wikipedia) The prophecy, as written in Arnold Wion's 'Lignum Vitae.' (Source: Wikipedia)
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(RNN) – A writing published more than 400 years ago claimed a saint predicted the number of Catholic popes before the apocalypse. According to the list, the successor to Pope Benedict XVI will be the last.

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 [Rome] will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The end.

According to legend, the prophecy of the popes came from Saint Malachy, a 12th-century archbishop. The short, cryptic descriptions of the next 112 popes, beginning with Celestine II (1143-1144), allegedly came to him in a vision.

No recorded mention of the prophecy was made until 1595, when Benedictine monk Arnold Wion published them in Lignum Vitae. Wion wrote it "has not been, as far as I know, ever printed, though many have been anxious to see it."

Father M. J. O'Brien's 1880 writing An Historical and Critical Account of the So-called Prophecy of St. Malachy Regarding the Succession of Popes pokes some holes into the theory of Malachy.

O'Brien noted the list compares closely with a brief history of popes by Panvinius, a 16th-century writer, including the duplication of errors.

"Any person who opens [Panvinius's] work and compares the account of the popes in it from Celestine II to Paul IV, with the corresponding part of the ‘Prophecy of St. Malachy' will come to the conclusion that the writer of the latter … must have been someone who followed Panvinius's account rather too closely," O'Brien wrote.

He and others also noted the incredible accuracy of the popes until Wion's era, and the hit-or-miss predictions since then.

Based on those points, they believe the article was a forgery created shortly before the time it was released.

Furthermore, O'Brien presents another theory: The "prophecies" were created to make someone pope.

Following Urban VII (1590), Cardinal Girolamo Simoncelli was among the favorites to be named leader of the Catholic Church. The next description, translated to "From the Old City," fit Simoncelli, as he was from Orvieto – its Latin name Urbevetanum meant "old city."

Yet in spite of this evidence, Nicholas Sfondrati instead became the pope, with the title of Gregory XIV.

There have been several popes with little or no connection to their corresponding spot on the list since then, but prophecy believers point to others that have hit the mark. "Glory of the Olives" was the phrase attached to Benedict XVI, and a branch of an order founded by St. Benedict was named the Olivetans.

His predecessor had a more literal connection. Pope John Paul II, listed as "Of the Eclipse of the Sun," was born May 18, 1920 – the same day as a solar eclipse – and his funeral was held April 8, 2005, when another solar eclipse happened.

Finally, believers have another thread to pull on as the cardinals prepare to name a new pontiff. One of the early favorites is named Peter, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana.

Even if the next pope comes and goes while the world keeps on spinning, there is a loophole. O'Brien and others pointed out that while "Peter the Roman" is the last, there is nothing in the prophecy that states there won't be popes between him and "Glory of the Olives."

"So then any person may suppose as many popes as he pleases before ‘Peter the Roman,'" O'Brien stated.

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