And on the fringe…

And on the fringe… February 11, 2013

the prophecy and private revelation chasers will have their hour to speculate about Doom. Look for lots of talk about Petrus Romanus and the alleged prophecy of St. Malachy. Particularly since the announcement comes on the Feast our Our Lady of Lourdes. When none of this comes true, look for fascinating mental gymnastics to account for this, followed by a swift return to other alleged private revelations.

A not-inconsiderable portion of Catholics navigate their faith, not so much by listening to the Magisterium as by dipping a ladle into a large stew of swirling rumor and private revelation both approved and alleged and trying to divine the future by means of it. It’s kind of survival of the Roman augurs into the present day. Some people simply cannot rest with what God has already revealed and are always trying to get the inside track on predicting the future. It’s a natural human impulse in times of uncertainty and the Church accomodates it as it accomodates all us fragile people. But it’s definitely an impulse that requires us to ride the brakes a lot since it’s easy for people to fly off on all sorts of false “prophetic” tangents. Treat with extreme caution.

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  • Debra

    Is this not, though, precisely the reason why astrology, tarot cards, and other forms of divination are forbidden by the catechism? I find it so ironic that I am surrounded by people who hang on every word publicly he’d to Spirit Daily.

    • Chris

      Was Malachy ever condemned by the Church for such “divination”? What about Pope Leo XIII and the giving over of the 20th century to Satan? Or John Bosco and the pope navigating the bark of Peter through terrible times?

      This is not Nostradamus looking into a magic mirror. Private revelation is not necessary for salvation, but ruling it out as hogwash diminishes the fact that Christ has spoken (and reserves the option of occasionally speaking to His Bride) through mystics.

      Yeah all the loose nuts will be out in force, I agree. But don’t equate private revelation with “astrology, tarot cards, and other forms of divination.”

      • freddy

        Mark is likely referring to the fact the the prophecies attributed to St. Malachy are highly dubious. They were apparently “discovered” 200 years after his death. No mention of them is made by any of the saint’s contemporaries or early biographers. And it is telling that although the descriptions of popes from St. Malachy’s death until the prophecies were “found” are highly accurate, they become increasingly less accurate and more general.

        • Ipsitilla

          A bit like a cross between newspaper horoscopes and the Mayan calendar.

        • Rosemarie


          >>>They were apparently “discovered” 200 years after his death. No mention of them is made by any of the saint’s contemporaries or early biographers.

          Yeah, that’s why I don’t give any credence to the alleged “prophecies” of St. Malachy.

          • frenchcookingmama

            The story I heard is that he “wrote his prophecy down” in 1139, and Pope Innocent II put it deep in the Vatican archives. A monk supposedly rediscovered it in 1590.

            That’s a heckuva lotta time for some joker to forge something. Just saying.

    • The True Will

      Astrology and geomancy are one thing, but I would NEVER he to the Spirit Daily!

      • Chris

        Agreed on Spirit Daily. The Catholic Enquirer.

  • Beccolina

    I’m so out of the loop, I’ve never heard of this. However, my grandmother once told me about a pope who had a vision (totally auditory) where he heard Satan and St. Micheal discussing how the 20th century would be the Devil’s 100 years referred to in Revelations. Same sort thing, I think.

    • The True Will

      That was the “smoke of Satan” vision, where Pope Leo heard that the devil was given 75 years to do his worst. This is supposedly why he appended to “Leonine Prayers” to the mass.

    • Glenn

      That would be Pope Leo XIII in 1884, and it was the Lord Jesus, Himself, Who was conversing with Satan. He, Pope Leo XIII, wrote the Saint Michael prayer afterwards. Google it — there are lots of solid sites that tell what happened.

      • Beccolina

        That makes it easier. I could only remember the basics of the story, and when I asked Grandma, she couldn’t remember which pope. Terribly hard to search for it without knowing the pope. I’m familiar with the St. Micheal prayer, but hadn’t connected it with this.

  • frenchcookingmama

    Thanks for this, Mark – “Some people” are already fretting about “something coming”.

    Like last week: Nemo = omen, etc., ad nauseaum. (The blizzard missed my part of NJ, but we already got slammed a couple of years ago. We didn’t need that while still recovering from Sandy and the unnamed November nor’easter. Why are they naming these things after cute Disney fishes and the little all-eyes-no-mouth guy from the old He-Man cartoon?)

    My way of dealing? Getting on with the everyday business of life and letting tomorrow take care of itself. Worrying accomplishes nothing (except torpedoing one’s immune system).

  • Paul

    I have to disagree. They are an inconsiderable portion. At least outside the internet.

  • Mark, it’s nice to know that on a day when something that hasn’t happened for six centuries – by my reading of Ye Olde Almanackes that’s about eight swings round from Halley’s Comet and goodness knows how many total solar eclipses – actually comes to pass, some folks are getting their heads straight and anticipating the end of civilisation as we know it.
    No matter what millenium you’re in, millenarianism never seem to go out of fashion.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    Why does Spirit Daily look exactly like the Drudge Report? I’m curious.

    • Nick R

      I’d say because they wanted to imitate someone famous and give themselves credence that way.
      It’s also easy to code, and seems to have alot of appeal to news junkies and reactionary people.

      However, I’m open to conspiracy theories, because my reasons sound very boring.

  • Suburbanbanshee

    The “prophecies” of “St. Malachy” aren’t prophecies or the result of private revelation. They were a political pamphlet written in the form of allegedly prophetic verse, which was a very common format for political pamphlets back in the day.

    (Because you couldn’t get arrested or censored all that easily, back in Renaissance days, for saying Merlin predicted that “a guy named Lastin who has lead feet but says he is made of steel will have bloody hands.” Whereas in modern times, making up a fake prophecy about Stalin would get your butt arrested and executed, no matter how allusive it was.)

    Pretending it came from St. Malachy was because Irish saints didn’t have much pull back in the day in Rome (even St. Patrick wasn’t on the Roman calendar back then), but St. Malachy the Italians had heard of, because of St. Bernard of Clairvaux being part of his story. It’s apparently some kind of jokey papabile calendar after it hit contemporary times, as if counting which cardinals were most likely to get elected by how far down the list they were. (The part cataloguing earlier popes by giving them mottoes was the part providing cover and showing the cleverness and historical knowledge of the writer/s.)

  • frenchcookingmama

    Mammon watch: They’re hawking a book on St. Malachy’s prophecies, not even a day after B16’s announcement.

    Just another example of why I can’t take them and WND seriously. This is their version of the WND Superstore. You read the news – now buy our book!