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What do they call a German guy who wears a five thousand dollar hat? ‘Pope,’ that’s what. And according to an 862 year old prophecy, the more accurate answer would be ‘the next to the last pope’ or the current pope.
Could the Pope’s religious reign over more than a billion happy Catholics be coming to an end? St. Malachy of Ireland apparently thought so.
He lived in the 1100s and was the Archbishop of Amagh, Ireland, and later became the first Irish saint after his death in 1148. He was a very focused and spiritual priest who re-established Christian morals in Ireland after eradicating many years of barbarian bad habits.
While he was visiting Rome, Malachy received a vision. It was a vision of all the popes from his time onward to our time. That’s a hundred and twelve popes altogether. Malachy’s revelation saw each pope along with a corresponding short phrase or “motto” identifying or describing that pontiff.
For instance, Malachy’s motto for Pope Anastasius IV, crowned Pope five years after Malachy died, was “Abbas Suburran. ”That translates into “Suburran abbot.” or Father Suburran. Coincidentally, Pope Anastasius’ family name was, you guessed it, Suburra. But did Malachy know this priest, you might ask, and if he did, how could he possibly know he would be elected pope? Maybe a lucky guess? But for all one hundred and twelve popes?
Malachy’s motto for another Pope, who came to power three hundred and fifty years later, was “Nauta de Ponte Nigro,’ which means “Sailor from a black bridge.” This, of course, is meaningless in itself. But the Pope in question, Gregory XII, was from Venice, a famous maritime and sailing city, and his church was the church of ‘Negroponte.’ Negroponte translates into ‘black bridge.’ You can see where this is going. Malachy’s mottos seemed to fit each and every pope through the centuries right down to the present infallible leader, Pope Benedict XVI. And each of the mottos has somehow been connected to its particular pope even if the linkage was a long stretch of the imagination.
Pope Benedict’s motto from the vision is "Gloria olivae" or "glory of the olive", and it is the last short phrase on Malachy’s long list of popes.
There are plenty of theories as to how Pope Benedict is related to his motto, ‘glory of olives.’ (Haven’t we all been connected to olives at one time or another, like at Thanksgiving dinner?)
One strong association is with the church in which Pope Benedict was a Cardinal earlier in his priestly career. The church’s coat of arms had three olive trees on its shield. Sketchy, but a connection nonetheless.
So, if Pope Benedict is the next to the last bishop of Rome, or pope, then what? Then comes the last. The last pope.
“Petrus Romanus,” or Peter the Roman will be the last pope according to Malachy’s prescient vision of the Roman Catholic Church’s long line of spiritual leaders. This Pope has the last and the longest motto: “In the persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock among many tribulations after which the seven hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people.”
The seven-hilled city, of course, is Rome, and the Pope’s Vatican City lies within Rome’s borders. Many Malachy scholars believe that this last prophecy spells out doom for the Roman Catholic Church and is indeed the end of the line for this, the oldest and largest Christian denomination.
Who knows what will really happen?
The end has been predicted many times before and nothing happened, business as usual. We won’t know anything until it happens – or doesn’t happen.
However, Malachy’s last words when he finished writing the motto about the destruction of Rome was “The End.”