Saint Malachy, best known for his prophecies concerning the lineage of popes and their end in the present time, was a Roman Catholic bishop. He was born in Armagh and ordained to the priesthood in 1119. Five years later he was named bishop of Connor. He became head of the Irish church as archbishop of Armagh in 1132. He had an interesting and historical episcopate, quite apart from his prophecies, though these need not concern us here. Early in 1139 he visited Rome, during which time he asked for special favors for the dioceses of Armagh and Chashel. He again headed for Rome in 1148, but he became ill on the journey and died before reaching his goal.
It was during his first visit to Rome that he reputedly compiled his most famous prophecies concerning the popes. Reportedly, the prophecies came in a vision of the future in which a long list of the pontiffs from the twelfth century to the end of time were presented to him. The list included some 112 individuals, beginning with Celestine II (elected in 1130). Each individual is designated by a short phrase or mystical title that must be interpreted. Those who follow the prophecies explain these titles as referring to trait, historical fact, or other reference to the particular pope so designated. For example, the title assigned to the person who became Urban VIII was Lilium et Rosa ("the lily and the rose"). Some have suggested the title refers to the coat of arms of Florence, which includes a fleur-de-lis, and his escutcheon, which has three bees (insects who gather honey from lilies and roses).
Of particular interest in the twenty-first century, Pope John Paul II would be the pope #110 on Malachy’s list. thus, following him would be one more pope and then the last pope, of whom it is said, "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End."
Reputedly, Malachy gave his manuscript to Innocent II, the pope who reigned at the time of his visit, and that the document containing the prophecies passed to the church’s archives where they were lost for four centuries. they were rediscovered in 1590 and published a few years later by Benedictine monk Arnold de Wyon.
Apart from the prophecies, a number of miracles were reported of Malachy. He was canonized a half-century after his death 1199. But what of his prophecies? Soon after their publication, critics question their authenticity. The basis of the critique has been the 400 years between their supposed origin and the time of their revelation. There is no mention during Malachy’s lifetime that such a document existed. there has been some hint that their publication was an attempt to affect the upcoming election of a new pope. More recent critiques have centered on the often torturous process to find some fact about each pope to make them fit Malachy’s list. That being said, Malachy’s prophecies have retained considerable support both outside and inside the Catholic Church.
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