The Celestine Prophecy is a New Age spirituality title that has nothing to do with Pope Celestine V. Instead of the New Age novel I’m interested in Pope Celestine.
Why is Pope Celestine V–who only reigned for six months–so important to modern popes? My article at Aleteia explains why Celestine V is important and why his papacy is a kind of prophecy about the modern papacy.
The article contrasts the saintly hermit Celestine with his successor the vile Boniface VIII.
Dante placed Boniface in hell for his crimes and it was Boniface VIII who pushed papal claims to worldly power to their most extreme point. A corrupt and ambitious man, Boniface demanded that all people be subject to the Roman Pontiff and insisted that kings and princes bow to his power. After power struggles with King Philip IV of France, Boniface was imprisoned and it was rumored that he took his own life — by gnawing off his own arms and bashing his head against a wall. Boniface was accused of many horrible crimes by his enemies, and even if innocent of the worst offenses, he was still a completely worldly man world who stands as the stunning contrast to Celestine’s simplicity and godliness.
By proclaiming a jubilee year in honor of Celestine Pope Francis is making a clear call for all Catholics to turn away from the worldly values of power, pride and corruption and walk in the way of Christ.
Why the fascination with Celestine? Pope Paul VI visited his tomb, Benedict XVI visited twice, declared a Celestine Year and then followed his example and resigned and Francis has now visited his tomb and declared a Celestine Year. What I did not include in the article was a speculation that modern popes’ fascination with Celestine might be a kind of prophecy of the future. Not only has the way been opened up for popes to resign and retire to a life of prayer, but will the example of Celestine be re-lived in some more ominous way?
Might a corrupt man of power like Boniface VIII sweep in and force a good pope into exile? Might the papacy suffer some humiliation and a pope in the future live in obscurity–on the run from the powers that would destroy the church? Might a wicked man be elected pope, who like Boniface, is only interested in worldly power?
I’m thinking of Michael O’Brien’s vision of the future. It wouldn’t be the first time that the secular powers have captured, imprisoned and persecuted the Vicar of Christ.
If you’re reading this don’t take it as anything more than speculation. Just thinkin’ out loud. That’s all.
Here’s my article from Aleteia