Thursday, November 02, 2006

Malachy's Prophecies

Malachy O'Morgair, also known as St. Malachy, died on this date in 1148.

In his time, Malachy O'Morgair was known as an able priest and administrator who restored discipline to the lazy monks at Armagh. Afterwards he traveled through Europe, visiting Innocent II in Rome and St. Bernard in Clairvaux, in whose arms he died at the age of 54.

A subsequent tradition about Malachy is that during his visit with Innocent in 1139, he was granted a vision of each of the future popes, which he set down as a list of aphoristic prophecies about each of them, which he gave to Innocent to comfort his mind about his work. In 1590, a Benedictine monk "found" the list in the Vatican archives.

Although the work has been dismissed as a forgery perpetrated by restless Jesuits, there have been some uncanny connections between the aphorisms attributed to Malachy and some actual popes. For example, for the 84th pope after Innocent, the motto is "Sydus Olorum" or "constellation of swans," and (depending on whom you count) the corresponding pope, Clement IX, apparently occupied the chamber of swans at the time of his election. The motto for the 256th pope, "Balneo Etruria," is interesting because the supposed 256th pope, Gregory XVI, was a member of an order founded by St. Romuald at Balneo in Etruria.

The motto corresponding to John XXIII was "Pastor et Nauta" ("pastor and marine"), which is said to refer to John's previous position as patriarch of Venice. John Paul II was born during a solar eclipse, and the motto corresponding to his reign is "De labore Solis," which can be translated as "labor of the Sun" or "eclipse of the Sun." Many assumed that the next pope, corresponding to the motto "Gloria Olivae" or "glory of the olives," would have been a Benedictine monk, since the olive is a prominent symbol for the Benedictines, but Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger did choose the name "Benedict XVI" upon his election.

The prophecies end with one more pope after Benedict XVI, "Petrus Romanus," who will reign in extreme persecution.

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