Sunday is my day to catch up on my reading on topics religious, especially the parlous state of Holy Mother Church. First on my list today was "Curia Stories: The Comeback of the Cardinal Secretary of State", by noted Vaticanista Sandro Magister, in his blog, Settimo Cielo, 14/1/18. [Kudos to Matthew Sherry, who does the English translation, for coming up with the excellent pun in the headline! Ed.]
The article is about Pietro Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, or, in political language, the No. 2 man in Rome, after Pope Francis. Of Cardinal Parolin, Sig. Magister writes, "He flies high. So high as to be now the only candidate for succeeding Francis with a serious chance of being elected pope."
If Pope Francis was validly elected -- a matter of considerable debate for many reasons -- he is the 111th pope to have headed the Roman Catholic Church. If he dies or purports to resign, and Cardinal Parolin is chosen to succeed him, he (Parolin) would be No. 112. "Pietro" is Italian for "Peter". And Cardinal Parolin is a Roman. Is he, then, "Peter the Roman"?
"Peter the Roman" is the last pope mentioned in the Prophecy of Saint Malachy (1094-1148), renowned as a great prophet. In 1139, while on his way to the Vatican to assume the post of papal legate for Ireland, he fell into a trance and saw a line of papal reigns stretching from the successor to Innocent II and extending through the centuries to the last of the line, identified as "Peter of Rome" or "Peter the Roman".
When he committed his vision to paper, Saint Malachy assigned short Latin descriptions to each pope. These mottoes usually refer to a family name, birthplace, coat-of-arms, or office held before election to the papacy. Some of the phrases are multiple prophecies, written with ingenious word play. According to his prophecy, John Paul II was No. 110. Benedict XVI is No. 111. The motto given for him is "Glory of the olive". To explain this, those who believe in the Prophecy draw a connection between Benedict and the Olivetan order. Benedict chose his papal name after Saint Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictine Order, of which the Olivetans are one branch.
The next line in the Prophecy is "In persecutione extrema S.R.E. sedebit." which means "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit." forms a separate sentence and paragraph of its own. While often read as part of the "Peter the Roman" prophecy, some interpreters view it as a separate, incomplete sentence explicitly referring to additional popes between "glory of the olive" and "Peter the Roman". Whether it refers to Benedict or Francis or Peter the Roman, there can be no doubt that Holy Mother Church is today being persecuted as never before. Every year of this century has seen hundreds, even thousands of Catholic Christians imprisoned, tortured and martyred for the Faith.
We come now to the last lines of the Prophecy of Saint Malachy. "Petrus Romanus, qui pascet oues in multis tribulationibus: quibus transactis ciuitas septicollis diruetur, & Iudex tremẽdus iudicabit populum suum. Finis."
Peter the Roman, [who] will pasture his sheep in many tribulations, and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills [Rome] will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The End.
The final pope, Peter the Roman, will likely be the Antichrist whom students of prophecy have long foretold. Satan, taking the form of a man named Peter, will gain worldwide allegiance and adoration. Even the very elect -- the leaders of the Church and all but a small remnant of the faithful -- will be deceived. And then will come the destruction of Rome, something like the vision attributed to Sister Lucia in what the Vatican alleges is the Third Secret of Fatima. And then will come "the dreadful Judge" who will judge the people. Let us not say we were not warned.