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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Saint Malachy's prophecies St. Malachy (1094-1148) was an Irish Benedictine bishop who is said to have predicted, by means of brief phrases for each one, a characteristic feature of the reign of every Roman Catholic pope, from the beginning of the papacy to the very end. A total of 112 popes were listed in what is believed to be his only publication, a book published by Benedictine friar Arnold Wion in the year 1590.
      Some of the predictions are obviously very general, as illustrated by the listing for Pope John XXIII (reigned 1958-1963): “Shepherd and navigator.” Since all popes are, by definition, figurative shepherds and are charged with directing the church, this fits any and all popes. Another prophecy, this one for Gregory X (reigned 1271-1276) designated him as “Man of the serpent” and his coat of arms featured a serpent. However, though most of the phrases published by Wion that refer to popes who reigned before he published are surprisingly accurate, those that follow are quite generalized.
      The suspicion is that the prophecies of St. Malachy were invented in Wion's time. The authenticity of the book has been doubted since the seventeenth century. Certainly St. Malachy had nothing to do with the prophecies.
      Wion's book calls for pope number 112, “Peter of Rome,” to be the last to reign. After that, it says, Rome “will be destroyed and the awful judge will pass judgement on his people.” John Paul II was pope number 110; Benedictus XVI is number 111.

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