Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Petrus Romanus: Will the Next Pope Be the Last?

According to the supposed Prophecy of St Malachy
the next and last Pope will, like St Peter, "feed his sheep."
source: 16th century icon of Peter from Mt. Athos
As of late there has been a lot of interest in a prophecy that supposedly predicts the next Pope will be, in either name or deed, Petrus Romanus, Peter the Roman, the last Pope of Rome before the end of the world. As this sort of thing has dynamic potential for the wanton speculation and fear, I will simply post here my response to an inquiry sent by e-mail.

The inquirer asks:
On a slight tangent, my [someone I know] is now convinced the world is going to end or some mumbo jumble like it, since the resignation of a pope is written in some prophecy by some guy (clearly I've not been paying attention). All I heard was Petrus Romanus (which means Peter the Roman?) and something something something...
My response:
12th century Irish bishop, St Malachy
source: wikipedia
You're thinking of the "Prophecy of Popes," by St Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh. These prophecies were actually published in the 16th century, although the saint lived in the 12th, making their historicity somewhat dubious, but not impossible. According to this supposed prophecy Benedict XVI is the penultimate Pope of Rome before the end of the world as we know it. The supposed prophecy gives names or titles which are supposed to correspond to attributes of the then-Pope. For instance the charismatic, intelligent, brilliant, and mystic Pope Pius XII would correspond to "Pastor Angelicus" ("Angel-like Pastor"), John XXIII—who was patriarch of Venice before becoming Pope—would be "Pastor et nauta" ("Pastor and sailor") etc. Benedict XVI's place corresponds to "Gloria Olivae", Glory of the Olive, a reference to the Olivetan Order (Benedict XVI took his name after the monk St Benedict, an Olivetan, and his Papal motto). The next Pope would be Petrus Romanus (Peter the Roman), meaning he would be a fiercely Roman Pope in fighting and uprooting anti-Catholic evils, but eventually meet the last great persecution of the Roman Church, through which he would guide the Church:

" In persecutione extrema Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae sedebit.  Petrus Romanus, qui pascet oves in multis tribulationibus: quibus transactis civitas septicollis dirvetur, & Iudex tremedus iudicabit populum suum. Finis"

"He will sit [meaning "reign"] during the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church. Peter the Roman, who will feed his sheep through many tribulation, and when these thing are finished the Seven hills [in the City of Rome] will be destroyed and the Tremendous Judge will judge His people. The end."

Wikipedia actually has an accurate page on this topic. It's been getting a lot of traction lately.

Sounds like great stuff. I would not worry about this sort of this too much, though. Our Lord Jesus said "But of that day and hour no one knoweth, not the angels of heaven, but the Father alone." Similarly, all we can really do is make sure we are growing in holiness and in good standing with God. Natural death is a greater possibility than the Apocalypse.

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