How Reliable Is the St. Malachy Prophecy?

by jimmyakin

in Apologetics, Benedict XVI, History, Prophecy

St. Malachy allegedly predicted the popes until the end of time. What are we to make of this prophecy?

Pope Benedict’s resignation has stirred up a good bit of discussion of the so-called “Prophecy of the Popes,” attributed to St. Malachy of Ireland (1094-1148).

The prophecy is a list of 112 mottoes that allegedly describe the popes stretching from St. Malachy’s time to the end of time.

Supposedly, Pope Benedict is identified with #111, which means that there’s only one more pope to go, according to one interpretation of the list.

According to supporters of the prophecy, it’s an authentic revelation from God that we can trust.

According to critics of the prophecy, it’s a forgery that was most likely written around 1590 and that cannot be relied upon for knowledge of the future.

Who’s right?

 

What Has the Church Said?

Although the prophecy has been influential in Catholic circles for several centuries, I can find no evidence that the Magisterium of the Church ever endorsing it.

This places the prophecy in the category of a reported but unapproved private revelation.

My own policy when dealing with reported but unapproved private revelations is to keep them at arm’s length. I don’t dismiss them out of hand, but I don’t embrace them, either.

The fact that we’re claimed to be up to #112 on the list, though, is creating a sense of urgency for some to figure out whether the prophecy is trustworthy, though, so I decided to dig a bit deeper.

Here’s what I found . . .

 

Missing History

Although the prophecy is attributed to a 12th century figure, it wasn’t published until the end of the 16th century. We have no references to it in the interim, including from sources who would be expected to mention it (e.g., biographers of St. Malachy).

That’s a mark against its authenticity.

The suggested explanation for why there is no mention of it in the first 450 years after it was allegedly written is that it was hidden in an archive in Rome and not rediscovered until around 1590.

That would explain matters, but it’s still a mark against its credibility.

Further, I don’t know if we even still have the original document or whether it’s been authenticated by any of the various means available to us today. I’m not aware of any supporters of the prophecy claiming this, though if any do claim it, I’d love to see the evidence.

Until such time, though, it’s a mark against the document.

Sensational documents allegedly found in Vatican archives and dealing with the end of the world are, in principle, not to be trusted. It’s too easy and too tempting for people to fake those.

 

Alternative Explanation Credible

The alternative explanation for the origin of the prophecy–that it was forged around 1590–appears credible.

Critics of the prophecy claim that there is a difference in the mottoes attributed to the popes between St. Malachy’s time and 1590 and those who come after 1590.

Specifically, they claim it is much easier to see how the mottoes fit the popes in the first period than how the mottoes fit those in the second.

I had been aware of this claim but had never looked into the matter. With the current discussion, I decided to do so.

What I did was compose a table of the mottoes along with the popes they allegedly describe and the proposed explanations of how they fit together.

I then went through the list and classified the mottoes as being a “hit,” “miss,” or “vague.”

  • “Hit” means that the motto can reasonably be connected with a specific pope in a way that does not appear random.
  • “Miss” means that the motto can’t be so connected. That’s not to say that it can’t be connected with a particular pope, just that the fit is much less clear and requires more “stretching” to connect the two.
  • “Vague” means that it isn’t a clear hit or a clear miss. I also placed into this category items that, because of their general nature, could fit many different popes.

Examples

Here are a few examples of how I classified particular ones:

HITS

  • Ex castro Tiberis (“From a castle on the Tiber”). This is connected with Celestine II (1143-1144), who was born in Citta di Castello (City of the Castle), which is on the banks of the Tiber river.
  • Frigidus abbas (“Cold Abbot”). This is connected with Benedict XII (1334-1342), who had been the abbot of a monastery at Fontfroide (“Cold Spring”).
  • De parvo homine (“From a small man”). This is connected to Pius III (1503), whose family name was Piccolomini, which is derived from piccolo (small) and uomo (man).

MISSES

  • Pia civitas in bello (“Pious city in war”). This is connected with Innocent IV (1591), but there is no good way to link him with this motto. Some have pointed to the fact that he was patriarch of Jerusalem before his election to the papacy, and Jerusalem could be thought of as a “pious city,” but so could Rome and many others. Almost any Christian city would count, and Jerusalem was not a Christian city at this time. Furthermore, Jerusalem was not at war when he was patriarch.
  • Aquila rapax (“Rapacious eagle”). This is connected with Pius VII (1800-1823), but there is no good way to link him with this motto. Some have proposed that his reign overlapped with that of Napoleon and that Napoleon could be described as a rapacious eagle (that is, a hungry commander of armies), but this is very tenuous and makes the motto not a description of the pope but of someone else who was on the world stage during his reign.
  • Religio depopulata (“Religion destroyed”). This is connected with Benedict XV (1914-1922), but there is no good way to link him in particular with this motto. There is no obvious connection to his name, family, place of origin, or coat of arms. He did not destroy religion or religious life. Neither were either destroyed during his reign. He did reign during World War I, but that did not destroy either. He also reigned when Communism came to power in Russia. That didn’t destroy religion in his day or in Italy. And again, we’d be connecting the motto with something other than the pope. If that were allowed then it would be possible to connect every motto with something that happened somewhere in the world during a pope’s day, and the prophecies would have no particular value as they would all be applicable to any pope.

VAGUE

  • Iucunditas crucis (“Delight of the cross”). This is connected with Innocent X (1644-1655). The proposed explanation is that he was raised to the pontificate around the time of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross after a long and difficult conclave. This is a very weak connection (“around the time of”?). More fundamentally, almost any pope at all could be described as “delight of the cross,” either because of the sufferings he endured in his papacy or because of his general love of Jesus. It is too vague.
  • Vir religiosus (“Religious man”). This is connected with Pius VIII (1829-1830). According to one explanation, it is a play on words on his papal name (a pious man is a religious man). But this is not a strong indicator. It could also apply to other papal names–like Innocent. In fact, another motto involving religion (De bona religione, “From good religion”) is allegedly connected with Innocent XIII (1721-1724), with the word “religion” pointing to his papal name. Furthermore, any pope who had been a member of a religious order could fit the description “Religious man,” as could any pope, period. This is too vague and could fit too many circumstances to say that it fits Pius VIII in a non-random way.
  • Pastor angelicus (“Angelic shepherd”). This is connected to Pius XII (1939-1958). The proposed explanation is that Reigning during World War II, he is reported to have covertly helped many Jews escape extermination in the Holocaust. This is a weak indicator. Every pope is, by his office, someone who can be described as a shepherd. Every pope that does anything good can be described as angelic. This can fit too many popes. It is vague and cannot be connected with Pius XII in a way that is clearly non-random.

 

Results

When I went through the papal mottoes in the prophecy, I found that there were, indeed, many more hits in the period before 1590 and many more misses and vagues in the period after 1590.

Here were my results:

BEFORE 1590

  • Hit: 70 (95%)
  • Miss: 0 (0%)
  • Vague: 4 (5%)

AFTER 1590

  • Hit: 3 (8%)
  • Miss: 15 (41%)
  • Vague: 19 (51%)

You can click here to look at the table I produced, along with the rankings as “hit,” “miss,” or “vague.”

I do not claim that my rankings are objective. They are impressionistic, and at times it was difficult to decide which category to put something in (“Is this a hit or a vague?” “Is it a vague or a miss?”).

If I spent more time looking at the mottoes, I am sure I would change many of the rankings and slide them from one category to another.

My goal, however, was to get an overall impression of the basic question: Do the pre-1590 mottoes fit the popes of that period better than the post-1590 period fit theirs?

The answer to that question was a clear yes, and further scrutiny and category switching is unlikely to change that basic impression.

The pre-1590 mottoes really do fit their popes better, and that provides evidence for the idea the list was forged around 1590.

There are also other reasons to view the list skeptically . . .

 

Unmarked Antipopes?

The list contains 10 entries that refer to antipopes, all of them before 1590 (but that’s not surprising since we haven’t had a notable antipope since then).

It identifies two of these as antipopes (Nicholas V = Corvus schismaticus, “Schismatic crow” and Clement VIII = Schisma Barchinoniu, “Schism of the Barcelonas”).

Why doesn’t it identify the other eight as antipopes?

It even identifies some of the antipopes in ways that would make one look favorably on them (e.g., Felix V = Amator Crusis, “Lover of the Cross”; Clement VII, De cruce Apostolica, “From the apostolic cross”).

One explanation might be that the anonymous author, writing around 1590, did not have as precise a knowledge of who the antipopes were as we do today.

This seems a more likely explanation than a divine revelation mentioning antipopes without marking them as such and even speaking of them in positive ways.

 

No Practical Value

There is also another factor weighing against the St. Malachy prophecy: What is it supposed to do? How is it supposed to help us?

God does not give revelations to satisfy our curiosity, but that seems precisely what the prophecy of the popes is designed to do.

There is almost nothing in the prophecy that could provide a plan of action or guidance in how to live the Christian faith in particular periods (the two figures marked as antipopes being an exception; one could reasonably infer “don’t trust these two guys”).

When God gives revelation, it is to help us in some way. At various points in the Bible, God may use symbolism to communicate his message, but there is always an underlying practical message waiting for us when we have wrestled with the puzzle of the symbolism.

The symbolic prophecies in Daniel or Revelation always have this element. They don’t just give us a long list of symbolic names that provide next to no guidance about how to live our faith.

The problem applies to private revelations–such as this purports to be–for their function is to help us live the faith in our own day. The Catechism states:

67 Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.

A big list of symbolic papal mottoes provides endless hours of intellectual puzzle material to occupy human curiosity, but this is not the purpose of authentic prophecies. They don’t just leave us with a big puzzle. There is some underlying practical help for living the faith, and that is what we don’t have here.

Taken at face value, the prophecy of the popes looks like a big, intellectual puzzle designed to engage our curiosity but do little else.

 

The End of the World

Finally, there is the fact that the last pope–the one alleged to come after Benedict XVI–is predicted to reign at the end of the world:

Peter the Roman, who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations; when they are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The end.

This is, itself, another mark against the prophecy, because Jesus himself warned us that we would not be able to calculate when the end of the world will come, yet the St. Malachy prophecy has encouraged people to do exactly that. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

Cornelius a Lapide refers to this prophecy in his commentary ”On the Gospel of St. John” (C. xvi) and “On the Apocalypse” (cc. xvii-xx), and he endeavours to calculate according to it the remaining years of time.

This is precisely the kind of calculation that is most dangerous, that has the worst track record (end of the world predictions having a notorious failure rate), that Jesus warned us against, and that the prophecy of the popes seems to invite us to perform.

Again, this is consistent with the idea it’s designed to appeal to curiosity rather than being an authentic revelation.

 

Another Possibility?

Some have tried to blunt the idea that we could estimate the end of the world based on the prophecy by proposing there may be a gap in the prophecy–a group of unlisted popes that come between Benedict XVI (Gloria olivae, “Glory of the olive”) and the final pope. Thus the Catholic Encyclopedia states:

It has been noticed concerning Petrus Romanus, who according to St. Malachy’s list is to be the last pope, that the prophecy does not say that no popes willintervene between him and his predecessor designated Gloria olivæ. It merely says that he is to be the last, so that we may suppose as many popes as we please before “Peter the Roman”.

Personally, I don’t see any basis for this. The texts of the prophecy that I have seen do not provide any reason to suspect a gap at this point.

The prophecy goes from Gloria olivae to the last pope without any hint of a gap with additional popes in it.

Furthermore, if we admit a gap here, we have to raise the question of whether there could be gaps elsewhere.

But if we can insert gaps with no evidence into the list (after 1590, take note, there being no need to insert them before since the fits are all too good) then identification becomes impossible and the prophecy’s predictive value is in danger of disintegrating.

 

My Own Prediction

My guess is that we are not at the end of the world and the new pope will not be the last one.

I therefore predict that, when his reign ends, when another pope is elected, and when people see that the end of the world has not come, the St. Malachy prophecy will fade in the popular Catholic imagination.

As it should.

But I also predict that there will be people who still support it, either positing the alleged gap between Pope Benedict XVI and the final pope or even claiming that the new pontiffs are all antipopes.

I just hope that there aren’t too many of the latter.

 

Summary

I try to take seriously St. Paul’s exhortation: “do not despise prophesying, but test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:20-21).

I am not unfriendly to prophecies, and I have as much curiosity about the future as anyone.

But in the case of the St. Malachy prophecy of the popes, I am afraid that it does not appear credible, from either a historical or a theological perspective:

  1. It is an unapproved, alleged private revelation.
  2. It cannot be shown to have existed before 1590.
  3. The predictions it makes for the period before 1590 are markedly better than those it makes after 1590.
  4. Contrary to the nature of revelation (both public and private), it has virtually no practical value.
  5. It speaks of antipopes as if they are popes and even speaks positively of some.
  6. It encourages calculations regarding the end of the world.

What do you think?

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{ 39 comments }

fleasharp February 24, 2013 at 11:59 am

@JimmyAkin3000 thanks for posting this Jimmy! I was hoping a trusted source would help clear it up!

jjwrich February 24, 2013 at 6:32 pm

I don’t dismiss it so out of hand, although I am also skeptical about its authenticity.  I sort of wondered what St. Malachy’s original purpose was for going to Rome when he supposedly received the prophecy.  If this papal list came about to reassure the Church that Rome and the Pope would be around for more than a millenium moer, during a time when Muslims were knocking on their european doors, maybe that could have reassured Christians to trust God’s providence — the way Revelation reassured Christians of the 1st century that the victory over persecuting Rome and the Caesars was ultimately Christ’s (and theirs), if they remained faithful.  
 
As to the prophecy being MIA so long after it was supposedly written, it seems like a lot of saintly, true works go through this very thing:  St. Louis de Montford’s Consecration to Mary, Catherine Emmerich’s visions, and the nun in Ecuador (Our Lady of Good Fortune), whose name I can’t remember, remained hidden for decades or centuries–even the Bible experienced this prolonged period of being hidden before it took its current form and was “revealed” by the Church.  I’m sure you could even come up with dozens more.
 
All this isn’t to say that I think this is going to be our last Pope before the parousia.  The “end” could be a different end.  It could also be a complete fabrication that just happened to predict JPII would be associated with the labor of the moon (lunar eclipse).  He was born and died during lunar eclipses. 
 
I just don’t know.

Brother Rolf March 10, 2013 at 12:30 pm

@jjwrich I would like to know how Jimmy classified the last 5 popes?

FMaddalena March 13, 2013 at 10:56 pm

@jjwrich Well why appear then 4 centuries later if it was supposed to ‘reassure Christians’. || “–even the Bible experienced this prolonged period of being hidden before it took its current form and was “revealed” by the Church” for example? || Sure some works remain ‘hidden’ but usually there is still a record of them that traces them back to their author, not something that just ‘pop ups’ out of nothing.

badlongon February 24, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Wow! It’s an excellent investigation to this mind-titillating prophecy, @JimmyAkin3000! Hope it gets right through them (supporters).

patz13 February 25, 2013 at 7:56 am

May God forgive you:  for saying that the Holy Catholic Church canonizes false prophets.

FMaddalena March 13, 2013 at 10:50 pm

@patz13 … He did not say “the Holy Catholic Church canonizes false prophets”. What he said the prophecy was most probably NOT WRITTEN BY ST. MALACHY in the first place!!!!!!! Sheesh! Can you even read people?! There is a gap od 4 centuries between the death of St. Malachy and the first appearence of the prophecy. No biographer of St. Malachy at the time even mentions such prophecy. The point is that St. Malachy most probably never had such prophecy in the first place!

MarcAnthony February 25, 2013 at 8:35 am

Er, patz13, perhaps you didn’t read the article.
 
“The alternative explanation for the origin of the prophecy–that it was forged around 1590–appears credible.”
 
This is what was said in the article. To make things more clear, St. Malachy died in 1148. Jimmy never implied that St. Malachy is a false prophet in any way, shape, or form.
 
Besides that, your comment presents us with *really* bad reasoning. The Church never claimed her Saints to be perfect, nor accurate. They proclaimed them to be human beings who, ultimately, were forgiven by God and reached Heaven-no more, no less. To imply something more than that is to turn canonization into something it’s not.

Neal Ford February 25, 2013 at 9:47 am

Well said Jimmy.  I’ve been caught between frightened Catholics and Protestants who smugly believe that They are about to be proven right about the Catholic church , that she is the w*ore of Babylon, and that Petrus Romanus will be the False Prophet.
My response to either is similar to yours in many ways, a) that it is not an accepted personal revelation by the church. b) I bring up the pre-1590-post 1590 differences, and the fact that no copy ever surfaced before then.  It may or may not be a forgery. It is not to be dismissed out of hand, nor should one build an eschatological theory on it.
Then I tell them that while there seem to be many similarities between the descriptions given and the actual Popes that reigned, there is considerable ambiguity especially with the post 1590 predictions. 
As for Petrus Romanus and the claims that he will be the false prophet, which delights the protestants, ad frightens the Catholics, i point out what the writer actually said about Petrus Romanus, ie that he will feed the flock during persecution, until the great judge comes to judge His people. 
When you read what is actually said, it is reassuring to the frightened Catholics who hear of a Pope who will care for and feed the flock during the difficult times any intellectually honest person can see coming, and that he endures until the end, bolstering the promise from Jesus Himself that the gates of hell shal not prevail against His Church. Catholics then see a hero Pope. It leaves the Protestants without a leg to stand on, since that does not describe the man of evil who is to head up the one world religion according to their eschatology.
Properly understood, this prophecy-if that is indeed what it is- affords us a great opportunity to re-evangelize  Catholics and to witness to Protestants.

James Kabala February 26, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I wonder if the author (assuming it was a forger) had any particular storyline in mind or if he just made things up randomly.  “Religio depopulata” sounds like a prelude to “the extreme persecution,” but instead seven mostly boring mottoes intervene.  The general boringness of the mottoes is a clear strike against them – the few that actually describe the Pope’s character stick out like sore thumbs.  Why would God prophetically reveal hometowns or coats of arms?
 
P. S. Any chance your book will be available as a regular PDF for those who lack e-readers?

Fr Louis February 27, 2013 at 10:04 am

I globally agree with Jimmy’s reasoning, and respect the whole lot of analysis and time consuming study he went through to bring us these informations. But, although I’m really grateful to Jimmy for that, I sincerely hesitate – with jjwrich – in simply dismissing the “popes list”.
First, and about the 450 years gap, like jjwrich says, many other works that eventually made it all the way down to the XXI century could be stated to have had a similar story. I’m really not the “conspiracy plot lover” type guy, but who knows the complicated circumstances, conflicts of interests, or whatever, which could have led to disregard – or even hide, maybe mutilate – the original texts until much later, when those circumstances/interests/fears… were outdated. And then, maybe some new interests might have brought those “prophecies” out of the closet… “providentially”.
Second, I do not agree in putting all prophecies in the same bag. Although I definitely agree with Jimmy in stating that “when God gives revelation, it is to help us in some way”, I think it does not mean necessarily that we will – all of us, and always – know exactly how the prophecy is meant to help. For instance, since God often guides men through others, I believe that in certain circumstances He might want to make Himself clear to those He chooses as guides, and not to others. Right off the top of my head, I can think of Moses, to whom God reveals things about the future that the people of Israel only a long time later came to understand (for sure, after those “prophecies” weren’t about the future any more…), and the famous Secret of Fatima: meant for the Pope only, at least for a long while, so that he could pastor the Flock. Although, once more, I can understand the value of Jimmy’s argument, I’m unsure to state a prophecy as forged just because it’s of no use to us, today. Maybe it was useful at that time… who knows?
Third, I would say the same about filling “invisible gaps” within the list. I definitely *do not* believe we’re at the end of the world, or anything like it, so I *do not* believe that Pope Benedict XVI will be the last Pope, nor – even worse! – that all Popes in the future will be Antipopes. That’s just craziness, because it would prove wrong Christ’s words about Hell not prevailing against the Church (Matthew 16:18). BUT… why wouldn’t the original text include other mottoes which could have been cut off later on (for whichever purposes)? Another clue to this could be interpreting the list as referring only to the Popes in Rome; effectively, several other authors mention that the Holy See could eventually be transferred to another place (it wouldn’t be the first time). But I really have no sufficient studies on this particular, and I’d love to hear/read more about it.
As a summary, I think that, following Jimmy’s reasoning, these “Saint Malachy” prophecies might very well prove themselves useless to us. But I don’t think that makes them necessarily a forge. In the end, I guess we both end up at the same conclusion: believe and follow what the Church states officially; for the rest, keep it as an interesting subject for studying, digging, thinking… but with a lot of caution, most especially when dealing with prophecies, often mostly obscure, if you don’t want to wander erratically off-road…!

jjwrich February 28, 2013 at 5:39 am

Uh, Patz, we think very highly of St. Peter, but that doesn’t mean we accept the Gospel of Peter as authoratative.  And we don’t cast aspersions on the Church for claiming St. Peter, the Rock, was responsible for a forgery, do we? 
 
I don’t think you’re being fair.

Matthew R February 28, 2013 at 10:11 am

If I was the next pope I would take “Peter the Roman” just to see everyone flip out. It would be awesome. (Good thing I can’t be the next pope)

patz13 February 28, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Yes, you do cast aspersions on The Church for housing and maintaining and publishing what you falsely accuse of being a forgery – with NO EVIDENCE.

Bill912 February 28, 2013 at 3:49 pm

@patz13
 ”you do cast aspersions”
 
“what you falsely accuse of being a forgery”
 
“with NO EVIDENCE”
 
And you cited evidence to back up your accusations–where, exactly?

James Kabala February 28, 2013 at 4:58 pm

@patz13 Your comment is hardly worth replying to, but the Church does not “house and maintain and publish” this prophecy.  It is not an approved private revelation and never has been.  As far as I know, it has never been taken seriously by the Church in any way.

Bill912 February 28, 2013 at 6:21 pm

@patz13
 ”with NO EVIDENCE”
 
Except all the evidence that Jimmy cited, which is easily accessible to anyone with atleast minimal reading comprehension skills.

jjwrich March 2, 2013 at 9:18 am

@patz13
 I’m unaware of any official church pronouncement/sanction that puts its imprimatur on St. Malachy’s papal prophecy, like it has for, say, Fatima; therefore, we are perfectly within our rights and obligations, by my understanding, to present arguments for its authenticity and/or forgery.  Our obligation is to the truth, wherever it leads us; whether you agree or not with Jimmy’s conclusion, I think he did so in a very rational, fair fashion:  he gave his conclusion along with his reasons.  Feel free to pick one of his reasons and argue your case.  I tried to do that below.  I lean slightly toward its authenticity, depite the evidence presented; but if I have 3 more Euoropean Popes in my life, I’ll just think I was wrong.  If this is a forgery, then I was snookered along with a lot of other folks, including a quote by Lapide–not shabby company to be in.

Mark30339 February 28, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Jimmy, this article is monumentally pointless, only the Keepers of Odd Knowledge Society could be impressed.  If this is the kind of topic that commands your considerable gifts, why not move on to the Bible Code, the DaVinci Code and the quatrains of Nostradamus?  The impression is that distractions rooted in pope obsession and authority worship trump discourse on the many challenges we face in living out the Gospel.

jjwrich March 2, 2013 at 8:44 am

@Mark30339  Come on!!  They’ve been talking about this famous prophecy (or infamous depending on your outlook) for centuries, and now that we’ve finally arrived at the end of this prophecy, you’re telling us to move along now?  Come on, Mark.  Not all news is important, but this is certainly worth mentioning.  This is our equivalent of the Entertainment pages of the newspaper, section D, page 3.  Some decades ago, we even had a NY bishop rent a boat and carry sheep along with him to show that upcoming conclave that the prophecy referred to him — that or he was playing one of the funniest stunts/jokes in Vatican history.  And you’re asking us to simmer down?  This is a Jimmy Akins website, for crying out loud, not the Pope’s Easter homile or encyclical!  And it’s kind of fun and vaguely interesting, whether you want to poo-poo it or not.  We can get back to those weightier issues — the same ones that have been around for centuries and will be around for centuries more — next week.

FMaddalena March 13, 2013 at 10:44 pm

@Mark30339 I think Jimmy Akin wrote this because many people, even in the secular media, were yapping about ‘St. Malachy’s prophecy’. || “The impression is that distractions rooted in pope obsession and authority worship trump discourse on the many challenges we face in living out the Gospel.” I think your comment is monumentally pointless here, almost offensive as well, I’d say. This had nothing to do with ‘pope obsession’ or ‘authority worship’, but it regarded a “Prophecy ABOUT the Popes”..

Me333 March 15, 2013 at 6:41 am

@Mark30339
 I’m thankful for this article.  I’ve got people coming and debating with me about it, so it’s great to have a credible source to go to for more information.

John February 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm

@Mark30339
 
It is important – there was a protestant today in the workplace who said “There will be a black pope next, and as per the book of revelation, he will help create a one world government, using the name of Pope Peter”
 
So I for one am grateful that Jimmy did this – there are *real* people out there who are horribly misguided – proofs such as these will help evangelise them.

Carol March 2, 2013 at 8:59 am

Do any of you really think the Church is in good shape an d going in the right direction? Even this Pope gave plenty of clues in his homily that we are not.  I think he knows what is coming down the pipe.  Will the next Pope be the Anti-Pope I hope not, but when you have Carnals like prideful Mahoney and all his scandal and others in that conclave with problems choosing the next Pope, it just adds to the idea that this Pope will not be picked by the Holy Spirit.  I suggest Jimmy you read the secret of Fatima I think the true meaning of the secret is now here.   We need to pray for our church that she returns to the way God meant her to be. We need to demand as Catholics that our  Preists, Bishops and Pope  throw out the trash that is in the Vatican AND  refuse communion to Pelosi, Kerry, Caroline Kennedy and others.  Our church is out of control it needs to be strong and not change for the world…..And we need to be strong and say when something is wrong its wrong  and stop being wimps.

The Sarge March 2, 2013 at 10:00 am

And all this has what, exactly, to do with this post about the reliability of this alleged prophecy?

Anthony March 14, 2013 at 4:46 am

Fatima is the key. http://www.fatima.org

Bill912 March 14, 2013 at 5:06 am

A schismatic group is the key?

Brother Rolf March 14, 2013 at 4:32 pm

The Malachi prophesy is blown out of the water. Pope Francis will never be called Peter the Roman.

FMaddalena March 19, 2013 at 5:05 am

“Do any of you really think the Church is in good shape an d going in the right direction?”The Church is always suffering. Since the beginning (not only the early persecutions but also think about the troubles at Corinth).
 

“Will the next Pope be the Anti-Pope I hope not”
An Anti-Pope is a person who calls himself ‘pope’  but he is not recognized as such by the Church,
 

 
“We need to demand as Catholics that our  Preists, Bishops and Pope  throw out the trash that is in the Vatican AND  refuse communion to Pelosi, Kerry, Caroline Kennedy and others. ”Pope Francis already stated that he will deny the Eucharist to those politicians who support abortion and pro-choice causes.
 
—”when you have Carnals like prideful Mahoney and all his scandal and others in that conclave with problems choosing the next Pope, it just adds to the idea that this Pope will not be picked by the Holy Spirit.”
 
So you say that the Holy Spirits is limited by humans? 1- Just because Mahoney is a bad cardinal you ignore that there were actually 115 cardinals at the conclave. Sure maybe a few of them are not good cardinals, but the majority ARE good cardinals2- The Holy Spirit always aids the Church. There have been a few horrible popes in the past and many good and saintly popes as well. Yet, even if a Pope is a really bad Pope, like Alexander VI, still it does not mean the Church is dead or that the Holy Spirit quits the Church.
 
—” I suggest Jimmy you read the secret of Fatima I think the true meaning of the secret is now here.” 
 
You mean the third secret? Maybe you ought to read the Vatican official statements on thaty and not some wacky personal interpretation on the web…
 

 
“Our church is out of control it needs to be strong and not change for the world.”True some people and priests want to ‘secularize the Gospel’… but Pope Francis will not do so, nor would have any of the cardinals, not even Mahoney.Luckily the choice fell on Bergoglio anyway.

Sue Joan March 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Excellent Article!!! thanks!

CharlesShunk March 3, 2013 at 6:54 pm

A little late to the comments party, but I think it’s worth pointing out that a much more thorough attempt at “grading” the (so called) prophecies of (not really) St. Malachy was published in 1890 by an Irish priest named O’Brien, and that this book is now freely available on Google books: http://books.google.com/books?id=qIZVuIhz06cC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=falseThe most significant piece of evidence this book presents, in my opinion, is that O’Brien found a source book for the prophecy: a list of popes (with some heraldry) written by one Onuphrius Panvinius in 1557.  This little historical work contains some errors (in order of popes and in heraldry, to which the “prophetic” phrases often refer), which the prophecies follow precisely (the pre-16th century “hits” increase when these inaccuracies are taken into account).In my opinion, O’Brien’s case against the authenticity of the so-called prophecies is extremely solid.  I think we can say with certainty that they were not written by St. Malachy, and that they are not prophetic.

CJ March 6, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Not Catholic, but a very informative article. I will point out however that “depopulata” can be read as “ravaged” or “devestated”…..which it certainly was during that period. I’d call that a hit. Other than that…good read.

Nancy D March 10, 2013 at 5:35 am

It is not necessary to believe or have heard of the prophecy of St.Malacy to recognize that we are living in a Time of Great Apostasy, when those who deny the personal and relational essence of the human person, created in The Image and Likeness of God, and thus having left Christ’s Church spiritually, have been allowed to remain within His Church physically, causing chaos and confusion, as they have lead many astray. As Pope Benedict has recently stated, those who deny the essence of God, deny the essence of the human person.

FMaddalena March 13, 2013 at 10:38 pm

@Nancy D
Well Luther might have said (maybe in a different way) the same thing over 400 years ago…
The Church is always in tribulation.
Also: ” a Time of Great Apostasy”?
Well true many are losing faith, but Religion is on the rise again as well.
Also one could call the birth of Islam the ‘Great Apostasy’ since many Christian countries (north africa and middlea east) were converted from Christianity to Islam.

Nancy D March 14, 2013 at 2:57 am

Apostasy within Christ’s Church refers to those who remain within Christ’s Church physically, having left His Church spiritually in a desire to transform The Word of God. We cannot transform Christ. the Word of God transforms us.

FMaddalena March 13, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Great work as usual Jimmy. To be fair reading your “You can click here to look at the table I produced, along with the rankings as “hit,” “miss,” or “vague.”” and comparing the ‘Proposed Explanation’ with the papal motto, it often seems a ‘Hit’… although, as you clarify here in the motto for ‘Pia civitas in bello’, the proposed explaination is a half truth at best, often. Also since the mottos are short they could be often be applied to different popes as well, most probably.So if you have time (it’s certainly a long work…), Jimmy, you could also put a short note why the ”Proposed Explanation” fails or is just too vague.

Anthony March 14, 2013 at 4:41 am

Even if it is true, I am not worried in the least.  If the final persecution is coming, the “prophecy,” clearly states that the Pope will continue to feed his flock. Protestants have their own idea of what this could mean, but they are ALL wrong because they don’t have the sacrament of Communion. There are some, “Catholic,” churches today where you can not even find the tabernacle containing the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord. Sounds to me like Peter the Roman is going to correct things, even through tribulation, so it gives me greater Faith, Hope, and Charity.  Those who abstain from Communion and do not confess the Blessed Sacrament to be the Flesh and Blood of our Lord will be left in their blindness.

Dking March 19, 2013 at 1:25 am

Most people do not even know where the prophecy of the last pope being the “black Pope” came from. Most people site that St. Malachi said this but the fact is he did not..but  Nostradamus did…So this is the Nostrodamus quatrain regarding the “black pope” prophecy.
 
Century VI, quatrain 25  ( Source: http://itbegins2012.com/prof_nostradamus.html?chapter=6)
Through the adverse Mars will the Monarchy
Of the great fisherman be in ruinous trouble
The young red black one will seize the hierarchy …( this is the line referring to “black pope”)
The traitors will act on the day of drizzle
 
There are many interruptions on this quatrain on the net but this is the one they are using. I call it a Miss. Jimmy Akins debunks this on Catholic answers live, on Thursday March 14th in the first 1 hour. I provide this so that we have accurate info to debunk this gibberish. 
 
Also the vibe in the secular on Pope Francis being “Peter the Roman”…is being said as a “fulfillment” or “hit”
the site referring to the author of a book about this particular topic is here.. He proclaims it as a Hit too…. http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/pope-francis-historys-final-pontiff/
 
Others are saying that Pope Francis, took name of St.Francis of Assisi whose full name had “Peter” as his middle name because St. Francis’s Father was named “Peter” … thats a stretch but its somewhat true. 
 
And that Pope Francis’s parents are both from Italy…Roman.
 
I don’t find this to be a HIT but this is what is being said and I thought you guys should know in order to prepare yourselves for debunking….

FMaddalena March 19, 2013 at 4:04 am

@Dking ”Others are saying that Pope Francis, took name of St.Francis of Assisi whose full name had “Peter” as his middle name because St. Francis’s Father was named “Peter” … thats a stretch but its somewhat true. “That’s indeed a HUGE stretch.
 
Actually not even a stretch, it’s no connection at all.
 
He’s Pope Francis, not ‘Francis Peter’  or ‘ Francis of Peter’. His name is inspired by St. Francis, but that’s how far it goes.
 
— ”And that Pope Francis’s parents are both from Italy…Roman.”No they are from nearby the city of Asti in Piemonte a northern region of Italy, not from ‘Rome’.They do not count as ‘Roman’ since Italy is not the ‘Roman Empire’. Of course they are ‘Roman Catholics’  but that is true fro like 90% of Catholics in the World (i.e. Catholics from the ‘Latin Rite’ ).
 
If the parents were from Rome itself or from Lazio (the Italian region where Rome is) I could call it a connection, but not in this case.
 
 So there is no connection here as well, since at the time of St. Malachy himself someone from ‘Northern Italy’  did not count as a ‘Roman’  anymore.

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