Malachy’s prophecies: Is the next pope, the last pope?

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Last pope

Is the Vatican about to welcome its last pope? (Shutterstock photo)

Two black cardinals are among the favorites to succeed Pope Benedict XVI after the pontiff surprised the world on Monday by announcing his resignation effective February 28.

Now, the discussion revolves around who the next pope will be. Two possible Pope candidates—Francis Arinze from Nigeria and Peter Turkson from Ghana. If the College of Cardinals elects one of them by Easter, it would be the first time in history that a black priest will sit on the Cathedra Romana, the Pope’s throne located at the Basilica of Sr. John Lateran.

But whoever is elected, they might also be the last pope in the history of the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, if we’re to believe Malachy’s prophecies.

Malachy’s Papal Prophecies 

The last pope

Will the next pope dare to adopt Peter’s name? (Shutterstock)

Even though some consider his prophecies a 16th century forgery, and the Catholic Church does not accept them as authentic, St. Malachy’s Papal Prophecies have still a good number of believers.

St. Malachy was born in 1094 at Armagh, Ireland. He died as he himself predicted, on November 2, 1148 at Clairvaux, France, and was canonized the first Irish Saint in the Catholic Church by Pope Clement III in 1190.

We are told that while traveling to Rome to meet with Pope Innocent II, Malachy experienced a revealing vision regarding the next 112 popes.

However, in the book The Prophecies of St. Malachy by Thomas A. Nelson, the author assures that Malachy’s original paper listed only 111 popes and that the 112th pope was added after the 1820 publication of the prophecies.

Interpretation of Malachy’s prophecies

The list of popes to which the prophecies refer starts with Pope Celestine II, elected in 1130. According to this list, Benedict XVI would be pope number 111.

Apparently, Malachy’s vision was recorded in the form of cryptic phrases in Latin, one for each of the popes in the vision.

The interpretation of each of the phrases has been based on correspondence between the aphorism in the prophecy and each popes’ birthplaces, choice of personal arms and events occurring during their pontificates.

For example, interpreters see a connection between the current Pope Benedict XVI, which in the prophecy appears as “The Glory of the Olive,” his name chosen after St. Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictine Order. The order’s coat of arms includes an olive twig and one of the congregations that branched from the order is known as the Olivetans (after the Mount of the Olives in the New Testament).

But of course interpreters can find any phrase fitting more than one explanation.

The manuscript containing Malachy’s prophecies is said to have been lost or deposited in the Roman Archive and rediscovered in 1590 when it was published.

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