I have been reading Peter Hebblethwaite’s book, The Year of the Three Popes, which I’ve had for twenty six years! It’s a crumbling paperback that gives fascinating accounts of the 1963 conclave that elected Paul VI and the 1978 conclaves that elected John Paul I & II.
A curious item that apparently created quite a bit of Catholic media buzz at the time were the prophecies of St. Malachy, which at the time of John Paul I’s death, mentioned the next pope would be characterized as “De labore Solis”. In retrospect, this has been described as: “(of the eclipse of the sun, or from the labour of the sun) Hist.:Karol Wojtyla was born on May 18, 1920 during a solar eclipse. He also comes from behind the former Iron Curtain. He might also be seen to be the fruit of the intercession of the Woman Clothed with the Sun labouring in Revelation 12 (because of his devotion to the Virgin Mary).”
The next pope, according to the prophecies, will be described as “Gloria olivae.” Much speculation on what this means. Best site I’ve discovered on this is here: St Malachy’s Prophecy of the Popes | Catholic-Pages.com, with the following introduction:
The prevailing view today is that they are elaborate forgeries, probably perpretrated by a school of Jesuits in the 1600s. This is based on the clear relation of the mottos to the various popes until that period, and the need to find oblique references (such as the motto of the Pope’s home diocese) to make the particular motto fit the particular pope. The inclusion of anti-popes would also appear to militate against the authenticity of the prophecies. Nevetheless, as each new conclave comes and goes, people start to become a bit jittery about them. I think they are a bit of fun, and the semantic exercise of trying to fit the motto to the Pope that goes on in letters to the editor around the world is great reading!
According to the prophecy, the next Pope will be the second last Pope Gloria Olivae (“Glory of the Olives”). Will we see the return of an Italian to Vatican Hill? Or will it be a Frenchman or a Spaniard? Someone from Latin America, perhaps, the Glory of the Spanish New World?
Belonging to the generation permanetly psychologically traumatized by Orson Welle’s voice intoning the prophecies of Nostradamus, one can’t help but be curious about such things. A densly-written, and outdated (note there’s a lot of fuss made about 1999, which has come and gone), but entertaining as it tries to mix and match Malachy with Nostradamus, is here: aaronc – pope – malachy – prophecy
Makes for good reading during idle moments, at least. Curiously, there seems to some Catholic notables who have given (muted) encouragement to the publication of the prophecies, as shown in this review: The Prophecies of St. Malachy & St. Columbkille. Most amusing is this account of Cardinal Spellman renting a boat, and filling it with sheep, in order to fulfill the description of the pope to be elected in a conclave he was to attend: In aaronc – pope – malachy – prophecy, as follows, is the full tale:
Some say that it is easy enough to match up pope and prophetic clue after the fact. The mottos presented by Malachy usually referred to the coat of arms of the pontiff, or to his birth place, or sometimes even his physical actions, and sometimes to major events that occurred during his reign as Pope. When Malachy wrote Bos Albanus in Portu, he was probably referring to Rodrigo Borgia, Alexander VI (1492- 1503), because of “the pope’s armorial bearings and his Cardinal titles of Albano and Porto.” He also behaved like a bull on more than a few occasions so that the prediction “the Alban bull at the port” is not only literally but allegorically accurate. But the wicked Alexander is grossly obvious; it takes a knowledge of the papacy amounting almost to an obsession to realize that Picus Inter Escas (A woodpecker among the food) was going to turn out to be Nicholas IV. (1) Bander states that during the conclave which was to elect John XXIII, a certain Cardinal from the United States, (Cardinal Spellman of New York) evidently having taken Malachy’s forecast that the next pope would be “pastor and mariner” literally, rented a boat, filled it with sheep and sailed up and down the Tiber. Pope John, as bishop of Venice, had the maritime claim nailed down. So there have been attempts by some Princes of the Church to make the motto fit themselves or someone of their choice. This seems to degrade the selection of a new Pope by some placing their own desires above the leading of the Holy Spirit.