By the prophecies of Irish St. Malachy the next pope will be last, will be known as Peter of Rome and a great Armageddon will happen during his papacy.
With the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the first pontiff to step down in almost 600 years, Malachy’s prophecy has garnered renewed attention — not least because, on Malachy’s list, Benedict was number 111.
The Prophecy of the Popes (Latin: Prophetia Sancte Malachiae Archiepiscopi, de Summis Pontificibus) is a series of 112 short, cryptic phrases in Latin which purport to predict the Roman Catholic popes (along with a few antipopes), beginning with Pope Celestine II. The alleged prophecies were first published by Benedictine monk Arnold de Wyon in 1595. Wyon attributes the prophecies to Saint Malachy, a 12th‑century Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland.
Malachy used a short phrase in Latin to describe each Pope, beginning with Celestine II and “From a castle on the Tiber.” That Pope’s birth name was Guido di Castello.
More recently, he described Pope John Paul I. with the phrase: “From the midst of the moon.” His reign, which began in 1978, began with the moon half full and lasted only one month – or one moon.
He was followed by Pope John Paul II. by the Latin expression “Laboris Solis” – or translated “From the labor of the sun” – an expression meaning a solar eclipse.
As it turned out, John Paul II was the only known pope to be born on the day of a solar eclipse – and he was buried on the day of a solar eclipse.
For the next Pope, Benedict XVI, St. Malachy wrote: “Glory of the olive.” Before the Pope was selected, some suggested a Benedictine would be elected because the order is sometimes referred to as the Olivetans, whose name ultimately derives from the Mount of Olives in the New Testament.
A Benedictine was not selected. However, upon his election as pontiff, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger chose the name Benedict after St. Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictine Order.
St. Malachy described only one more Pope after Benedict, “Petrus Romanus” or “Peter the Roman.”
The Irish prophet wrote: “In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit … Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations: and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the terrible judge will judge his people. The End.”
However, although Cardinals Peter Turkson of Ghana and Peter Erdo from Hungary might bear the same name as the person mentioned in the prophecy, there are no Roman-born Cardinals in the running to be Benedict’s successor.
There is no question that the next pope, whoever he is, will confront a sea of troubles that have also bedeviled the current incumbent. The next pope will have a very difficult task. It is easy to see why Benedict, at 85 and in failing health, felt he could not go on. He is to be admired for taking that drastic step and stepping aside for a younger man. It is not a job for the faint-hearted or the old in spirit, and he recognized that.