Pope Benedict XVI shocked millions of people when he announced his decision to step down ahead of Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Easter Lent on
the Roman Catholic calendar.
Pope Benedict XVI will step down on February 28 and the future seems uncertain, some say.
According to St. Malachy's famous doomsday prophecy there would only be 112 more popes before the Last Judgment and Benedict XVI is 111.
Malachy, (1094-1148), (his family name was O'Morgair), was known to Catholics as St. Malachy.
Born in Armagh, Ireland, Malachy, an Irish monk and clairvoyant later became the Archbishop of Armagh.
St. Malachy's 12th-century prophecy predicts that the next pope will be the last. Here, a statue of St. Malachy stands in Sterling Heights, Mich.
According to the old records, on his visit to Rome, St. Malachy fell into trance and had a vision of
all the future popes to come. He described each of them in single, sometimes cryptic Latin phrases
which today, if compared with history, have proved to be oddly accurate!
The "Prophecy of Popes" ends with the 112th pope, named "Petrus Romanus" or "Peter the Roman " and a with a cryptic warning of doomsday.
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.
Although most scholars consider the document a 16th-century elaborate hoax there are certain uncanny predictions which turned out to be true.
Malachy prophesied the first pope on his list would be "from a castle on the Tiber." Celestine II, elected in 1143, was born in Toscany on the shores of
the Tiber River.
Malachy predicted another pope would be "elevated from a hermit." Nicholas IV, pope from 1288 to 1292, had been a hermit in the monastery of Pouilles.
The 45th pope in the prophecy is described as coming "from the hell of Pregnani". Indeed, Pope Urban VI (1378-1389) was born Domenico Prignano and came
from a village near Naples called Inferno (hell).
Following Benedict's resignation, theorists began questioning if Malachy might actually be right.
However, although Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana 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 are no Pietros among the living cardinals; two Pierres (as second name): Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir and Jean-Pierre Ricard;
and one Pedro: Rubiano Sáenz," according to librarian Salvador Miranda, creator and producer of the website The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church.
A majority of theologians dismiss St. Malachy's prophecy as nothing but a tale. Father Igor Kovalevsky, Secretary-General of the Conference
of Catholic Bishops of Russia says "all this is but speculation and has nothing to do with reality."
Text from St. Malachy's "Prophecy of Popes."
"There is nothing surprising about the Pope's decision to step down. He has chosen to do this for the good of the church, having considered all pros and
cons and demonstrating utmost courage and humility. As for Saint Malachy's Prophecies, I'm keen on cheap mysticism and wouldn't advise anyone to fall for it.
Whoever is trying to play it up has a weak belief. And when one doesn't believe in God, he will believe in anything," Father Igor Kovalevsky said.
Although the Church does not put any faith in St. Malachy's enigmatic document there are still many ordinary people who think that Pope Benedict steps down
fulfilling the doomsday prophecy. The same people remind us that one of the favorites to succeed Benedict XVI is Ghanaian Cardinal Turkson.
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