- Prophecy of the Popes
The Prophecy of the Popes, attributed to Saint Malachy, is a list of 112 short phrases in Latin. They purport to describe each of the Roman Catholic popes (along with a few anti-popes), beginning with Pope Celestine II (elected in 1143) and concluding with the successor of current pope Benedict XVI, a pope described in the prophecy as "Peter the Roman", whose pontificate will end in the destruction of the city of Rome.
The prophecy was first published in 1595 by Arnold de Wyon, a Benedictine historian, as part of his book Lignum Vitæ. Wyon attributed the list to Saint Malachy, the 12th‑century bishop of Armagh in Ireland, (now part of Northern Ireland). According to the traditional account, in 1139, Malachy was summoned to Rome by Pope Innocent II. While in Rome, Malachy purportedly experienced a vision of future popes, which he recorded as a sequence of cryptic phrases. This manuscript was then deposited in the Roman Archive, and thereafter forgotten about until its rediscovery in 1590.
On the other hand, Bernard of Clairvaux's biography of Malachy makes no mention of the prophecy, nor is it mentioned in any record prior to its 1595 publication. Some sources, including the most recent editions of the Catholic Encyclopedia, suggest that the prophecy is a late 16th‑century forgery. Some have suggested that it was created by Nostradamus and was credited to Saint Malachy so the purported seer would not be blamed for the destruction of the papacy. Supporters, such as author John Hogue, who wrote a popular book titled The Last Pope about the claims, generally argue that even if the author of the prophecies is uncertain, the predictions are still valid.
Interpretation of the mottos has generally relied on finding correspondences between the mottos and the popes' birthplaces, their personal arms, and the events of their pontificates. For example, the first motto, Ex castro Tiberis (From a castle on the Tiber), fits Pope Celestine II's birthplace in Città di Castello, on the Tiber.
Pope Clement XIII, referred to in the prophecy as Rosa Umbriae, the rose of Umbria, is stated to have used a rose "as his personal emblem" (his coat of arms does not include one, however, nor was he from Umbria nor had any but the most marginal connection with the region, having been briefly pontifical governor of Rieti, at the time part of Umbria). The technique of word play was evident in instances where interpreters find a phrase fitting more than one explanation.
It is notable that where the interpretation of the prophecy is clear (as is the case for almost all of the Popes prior to 1590), the reference is almost always to some characteristic possessed by the Pope prior to assuming the Papacy—e.g., his birthplace, his arms, his surname, or his cardinal see. However, for more recent Popes, efforts to connect the prophecy with the pope have often focused on the events of his pontificate.
In recent times, some interpreters of prophetic literature have drawn attention to the prophecies, both because of their success in finding connections between the prophecies and recent popes, and because of the prophecies' imminent conclusion. Interpretations made before the elections of recent popes have not generally predicted their papacies accurately.
Popes and corresponding mottos
This list, adapted from The Prophecies of St. Malachy by Peter Bander, begins its numbering two numbers ahead of the Vatican's numbering of popes (Benedict XVI is the 265th, not the 267th). The reason for this is unclear (perhaps because of the two purported "anti-popes").
The list can be divided into two groups; one of the 74 Popes and Antipopes who reigned prior to the appearance of the Prophecy in 1590, for whom the connection between the motto and the Pope is usually clear but can be seen as Postdiction. The other is of the 37 Popes who have reigned since 1590, for whom the connection between the motto and the Pope is often strained or totally opaque and but can be seen as Shoehorning.
Popes and Antipopes 1143–1590
The text on the silver lines below reproduces the original text (including punctuation and orthography) of the 1595 Lignum Vitae, which consisted of three parallel columns for the Popes before 1590. The first column contained the motto, the second the name of the Pope or Antipope to whom it was attached (with occasional errors), and the third an attempted explanation or justification of the name. The original list was unnumbered.
Pre-appearance Popes (1143–1590) Pope No. Motto (Translation) Regnal Name (Reign) Name Historical Reference or Explanation Coat of Arms Ex caſtro Tiberis. Cœleſtinus. ij. Typhernas. 167 1. From a castle of the Tiber Celestine II (1143–1144) Guido de Castello An inhabitant of Tifernum.
Born in Città di Castello, Umbria, on the banks of the Tiber.
Inimicus expulſus. Lucius. ij. De familia Caccianemica. 168 2. Enemy expelled Lucius II (1144–1145) Gherardo Caccianemici del Orso Of the Caccianemici family.
This motto refers to Gherardo Caccianemici’s surname. “Cacciare” means “to hunt”, and “nemici” is the Italian word for “enemies”. As his name foreshadowed, Caccianemici would be driven from Rome by his own subjects.
Ex magnitudine mõtis. Eugenius. iij. Patria Ethruſcus oppido Montis magni. 169 3. Out of the greatness of the mountain Eugene III (1145–1153) Bernardo dei Pagnelli di Montemagno Tuscan by nation, from the town of Montemagno.
The motto refers to Pope Eugene’s last name, “Montemagno.”
Abbas Suburranus. Anaſtaſius. iiij. De familia Suburra. 170 4. Suburran abbot Anastasius IV (1153–1154) Corrado di Suburra From the Suburra family. De rure albo. Adrianus. iiij. Vilis natus in oppido Sancti Albani. 171 5. From the white countryside Adrian IV (1154–1159) Nicholas Breakspear Humbly born in the town of St. Albans.
Educated at the St Albans School in Hertfordshire. Nicholas Breakspear was the bishop of Albano before becoming pope.
Ex tetro carcere. Victor. iiij. Fuit Cardinalis S. Nicolai in carcere Tulliano. 6. Out of a loathsome prison. Victor IV, Antipope (1159–1164) Ottaviano Monticello He was a cardinal of St. Nicholas in the Tullian prison. Via Tranſtiberina. Calliſtus. iij. [sic] Guido Cremenſis Cardinalis S. Mariæ Tranſtiberim. 7. Road across the Tiber. Paschal III, Antipope (1164–1168) Guido di Crema Guido of Crema, Cardinal of St. Mary across the Tiber.
As a cardinal, he had held the title of Santa Maria in Trastevere.
De Pannonia Thuſciæ. Paſchalis. iij. [sic] Antipapa. Hungarus natione, Epiſcopus Card. Tuſculanus. 8. From Tusculan Hungary Callixtus III, Antipope (1168–1178) Giovanni di Strumi Antipope. A Hungarian by birth, Cardinal Bishop of Tusculum.
He was John, Abbot of Struma, originally from Hungary.
Ex anſere cuſtode. Alexander. iij. De familia Paparona. 172 9. Out of the guardian goose Alexander III (1159–1181) Orlando Bandinelli Paparoni Of the Paparoni family.
His family's coat of arms had a goose on it.
Lux in oſtio. Lucius. iij. Lucenſis Card. Oſtienſis. 173 10. A light in the entrance Lucius III (1181–1185) Ubaldo Allucingoli A Luccan Cardinal of Ostia.
In 1159, he became Cardinal Bishop of Ostia. Lux may also be a wordplay on Lucius.
Sus in cribro. Vrbanus. iij. Mediolanenſis, familia cribella, quæ Suem pro armis gerit. 174 11. Pig in a sieve Urban III (1185–1187) Umberto Crivelli A Milanese, of the Cribella (Crivelli) family, which bears a pig for arms.
His family name Crivelli means "a sieve" in Italian.
Enſis Laurentii. Gregorius. viij. Card. S. Laurentii in Lucina, cuius inſignia enſes falcati. 175 12. The sword of St. Lawrence Gregory VIII (1187) Alberto De Morra Cardinal of St. Lawrence in Lucina, of whom the arms were curved swords.
He had been the Cardinal of St. Lawrence and his armorial bearing was a drawn sword.
De Schola exiet. Clemens. iij. Romanus, domo Scholari. 176 13 He will come from school Clement III (1187–1191) Paolo Scolari A Roman, of the house of Scolari.
His family name was Scolari.
De rure bouenſi. Cœleſtinus. iij. Familia Bouenſi. 177 14. From cattle country Celestine III (1191–1198) Giacinto Bobone Bovensis (Bobone) family.
He was from the Bobone family; a wordplay on cattle (boves).
Comes Signatus. Innocentius. iij. Familia Comitum Signiæ. 178 15. Designated count Innocent III (1198–1216) Lotario dei Conti di Segni Family of the Counts of Signia (Segni)
Descendant of the Segni family.
Canonicus de latere. Honorius. iij. Familia Sabella, Canonicus S. Ioannis Lateranensis. 179 16. Canon from the side Honorius III (1216–1227) Cencio Savelli Savelli family, canon of St. John Lateran
He was a canon for the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, and had served as papal chamberlain in 1188.
Auis Oſtienſis. Gregorius. ix. Familia Comitum Signiæ Epiſcopus Card. Oſtienſis. 180 17. Bird of Ostia Gregory IX (1227–1241) Ugolino dei Conti di Segni Family of the Counts of Segni, Cardinal Bishop of Ostia.
Before his election to the papacy, Ugolino dei Conti was the Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, and the family coat of arms bear a bird on a gules background.
Leo Sabinus. Cœleſtinus iiij. Mediolanenſis, cuius inſignia Leo, Epiſcopus Card. Sabinus. 181 18. Sabine Lion Celestine IV (1241) Goffredo Castiglioni A Milanese, whose arms were a lion, Cardinal Bishop of Sabina.
He was Cardinal Bishop of Sabina and his armorial bearing had a lion in it. Also a play on words, referring to the pope's last name, Castiglioni.
Comes Laurentius. Innocentius iiij. domo flisca, Comes Lauaniæ, Cardinalis S. Laurentii in Lucina. 182 19. Count Lawrence Innocent IV (1243–1254) Sinibaldo Fieschi Of the house of Flisca (Fieschi), Count of Lavagna, Cardinal of St. Lawrence in Lucina.
He was the Cardinal-Priest of San Lorenzo in Lucca, and his father was the Count of Lavagna.
Signum Oſtienſe. Alexander iiij. De comitibus Signiæ, Epiſcopus Card. Oſtienſis. 183 20. Sign of Ostia Alexander IV (1254–1261) Renaldo dei Signori di Ienne Of the counts of Segni, Cardinal Bishop of Ostia.
He was Cardinal Bishop of Ostia and member of the Conti-Segni family.
Hieruſalem Campanię. Vrbanus iiii. Gallus, Trecenſis in Campania, Patriarcha Hieruſalem. 184 21. Jerusalem of Champagne Urban IV (1261–1264) Jacques Pantaleon A Frenchman, of Trecae (Troyes) in Champagne, Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Native of Troyes, Champagne, later patriarch of Jerusalem.
Draco depreſſus. Clemens iiii. cuius inſignia Aquila vnguibus Draconem tenens. 185 22. Dragon pressed down Clement IV (1265–1268) Guido Fulcodi Whose badge is an eagle holding a dragon in his talons.
His coat of arms had an eagle crushing a dragon.
Anguinus uir. Gregorius. x. Mediolanenſis, Familia vicecomitum, quæ anguẽ pro inſigni gerit. 186 23. Snaky man Gregory X (1271–1276) Tebaldo Visconti A Milanese, of the family of Viscounts (Visconti), which bears a snake for arms.
The Visconti coat of arms had a large serpent devouring a male child feet first.
Concionator Gallus. Innocentius. v. Gallus, ordinis Prædicatorum. 187 24. French Preacher Innocent V (1276) Pierre de Tarentaise A Frenchman, of the Order of Preachers. He was born in south-eastern France and was a member of the order of Preachers. Bonus Comes. Adrianus. v. Ottobonus familia Fliſca ex comitibus Lauaniæ. 188 25. Good Count/companion Adrian V (1276) Ottobono Fieschi Ottobono, of the Fieschi family, from the counts of Lavagna.
He was a count and a wordplay on "good" can be made with his name, Ottobono.
Piſcator Thuſcus. Ioannes. xxi. antea Ioannes Petrus Epiſcopus Card. Tuſculanus. 189 26. Tuscan Fisherman John XXI (1276–1277) Pedro Julião Formerly John Peter, Cardinal Bishop of Tusculum.
John XXI had been the Cardinal Bishop of Tusculum.
Roſa compoſita. Nicolaus. iii. Familia Vrſina, quæ roſam in inſigni gerit, dictus compoſitus. 190 27. Composite Rose Nicholas III (1277–1280) Giovanni Gaetano Orsini Of the Ursina (Orsini) family, which bears a rose on its arms, called 'composite'.
He bore a rose in his coat of arms.
Ex teloneo liliacei Martini. Martinus. iiii. cuius inſignia lilia, canonicus, & theſaurarius S. Martini Turonen[sis]. 191 28. From the tollhouse of lilied Martin Martin IV (1281–1285) Simone de Brion Whose arms were lilies, canon and treasurer of St. Martin of Tours.
He was Canon and Treasurer at the Church of St. Martin in Tours, France.
Ex roſa leonina. Honorius. iiii. Familia Sabella inſignia roſa à leonibus geſtata. 192 29. Out of the leonine rose Honorius IV (1285–1287) Giacomo Savelli Of the Sabella (Savelli) family, arms were a rose carried by lions.
His coat of arms were emblazoned with two lions supporting a rose.
Picus inter eſcas. Nicolaus. iiii. Picenus patria Eſculanus. 193 30. Woodpecker between food Nicholas IV (1288–1292) Girolamo Masci A Picene by nation, of Asculum (Ascoli).
He was from Ascoli, now called Ascoli Piceno, in Picene country.
Ex eremo celſus. Cœleſtinus. v. Vocatus Petrus de morrone Eremita. 194 31. Raised out of the desert St. Celestine V (1294) Pietro Di Murrone Called Peter de Morrone, a hermit.
Prior to his election he was a hermit (eremita, literally a dweller in the eremus, or desert). Also a play on words (celsus/Coelestinus), referring to the pope's chosen name Celestine.
Ex undarũ bn̑dictione. Bonifacius. viii. Vocatus prius Benedictus, Caetanus, cuius inſignia undæ. 195 32. From the blessing of the waves Boniface VIII (1294–1303) Benedetto Caetani Previously called Benedict, of Gaeta, whose arms were waves.
His coat of arms had a wave through it. Also a play on words, referring to the pope's Christian name, "Benedetto."
Concionator patereus. [sic] Benedictus. xi. qui uocabatur Frater Nicolaus, ordinis Prædicatorum. 196 33. Preacher From Patara Benedict XI (1303–1304) Nicholas Boccasini Who was called Brother Nicholas, of the order of Preachers.
This Pope belonged to the Order of Preachers. Patara was the hometown of Saint Nicholas, a namesake of this Pope (born Nicholas Boccasini).
De feſſis aquitanicis. Clemens V. natione aquitanus, cuius inſignia feſſæ erant. 197 34. From the misfortunes/fesses of Aquitaine Clement V (1305–1314) Bertrand de Got An Aquitanian by birth, whose arms were fesses.
He was a native of St. Bertrand de Comminges in Aquitaine, and eventually became Archbishop of Bordeaux, also in Aquitaine. His coat of arms displays three horizontal bars, known in heraldry as fesses.
De ſutore oſſeo. Ioannes XXII. Gallus, familia Oſſa, Sutoris filius. 198 35. From a bony cobbler John XXII (1316–1334) Jacques Duese A Frenchman, of the Ossa family, son of a cobbler.
His family name was Duèze, D'Euze, D'Euzes, or Euse, the last of which might be back-translated into Latin as Ossa "bones". The popular legend that his father was a cobbler is probably untrue.
Coruus ſchiſmaticus. Nicolaus V. qui uocabatur F. Petrus de corbario, contra Ioannem XXII. Antipapa Minorita. 36. Schismatic crow Nicholas V, Antipope (1328–1330) Pietro Rainalducci di Corvaro Who was called Brother Peter of Corbarium (Corvaro), the Minorite antipope opposing John XXII.
The motto is a play on words, referring to Pietro di Corvaro's last name.
Frigidus Abbas. Benedictus XII. Abbas Monaſterii fontis frigidi. 199 37. Cold abbot Benedict XII (1334–1342) Jacques Fournier Abbot of the monastery of the cold spring.
He was an abbot in the monastery of Fontfroide ("cold spring").
De roſa Attrebatenſi. Clemens VI. Epiſcopus Attrebatenſis, cuius inſignia Roſæ. 200 38. From the rose of Arras Clement VI (1342–1352) Pierre Roger Bishop of Arras, whose arms were roses.
He was Bishop of Arras, (Latin: Episcopus Atrebatensis), and his armorial bearings were emblazoned with six roses.
De mõtibus Pãmachii. Innocentius VI. Cardinalis SS. Ioannis & Pauli. T. Panmachii, cuius inſignia ſex montes erant. 201 39. From the mountains of Pammachius Innocent VI (1352–1362) Etienne Aubert Cardinal of Saints John and Paul, Titulus of Pammachius, whose arms were six mountains.
Pope Innocent was born at Mont in the diocese of Limoges, France, and he rose to prominence as the Bishop of Clermont. He had been a cardinal priest with the title of St. Pammachius (i.e., the church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo in Rome)
Gallus Vicecomes. Vrbanus V. nuncius Apoſtolicus ad Vicecomites Mediolanenſes. 202 40. French viscount Urban V (1362–1370) Guglielmo De Grimoard Apostolic nuncio to the Viscounts of Milan.
He was born of a noble French family.
Nouus de uirgine forti. Gregorius XI. qui uocabatur Petrus Belfortis, Cardinalis S. Mariæ nouæ. 203 41. New man from the strong virgin Gregory XI (1370–1378) Pierre Roger de Beaufort Who was called Peter Belfortis (Beaufort), Cardinal of New St. Mary's.
From the Beaufort family and Cardinal of Santa Maria Nuova
Decruce Apoſtolica. [sic] Clemens VII. qui fuit Preſbyter Cardinalis SS. XII. Apoſtolorũ cuius inſignia Crux. 42. From the apostolic cross Clement VII, Antipope (1378–1394) Robert, Count of Geneva Who was Cardinal Priest of the Twelve Holy Apostles, whose arms were a cross.
His coat of arms showed a cross, quarterly pierced.
Luna Coſmedina. Benedictus XIII. antea Petrus de Luna, Diaconus Cardinalis S. Mariæ in Coſmedin. 43. Cosmedine moon. Benedict XIII, Antipope (1394–1423) Peter de Luna Formerly Peter de Luna, Cardinal Deacon of St. Mary in Cosmedin.
He was the famous Peter de Luna, Cardinal of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.
Schiſma Barchinoniũ. Clemens VIII. Antipapa, qui fuit Canonicus Barchinonenſis. 44. Schism of the Barcelonas Clement VIII, Antipope (1423–1429) Gil Sanchez Muñoz Antipope, who was a canon of Barcelona.
De inferno prægnãti. Vrbanus VI. Neapolitanus Pregnanus, natus in loco quæ dicitur Infernus. 204 45. From a pregnant hell. Urban VI (1378–1389) Bartolomeo Prignano The Neapolitan Prignano, born in a place which is called Inferno.
His family name was Prignano or Prignani, and he was native to a place called Inferno near Naples.
Cubus de mixtione. Bonifacius. IX. familia tomacella à Genua Liguriæ orta, cuius inſignia Cubi. 205 46. Cube from a mixture Boniface IX (1389–1404) Pietro Tomacelli Of the Tomacelli family, born in Genoa in Liguria, whose arms were cubes.
His coat of arms includes a bend checky — a wide stripe with a checkerboard pattern.
De meliore ſydere. Innocentius. VII. uocatus Coſmatus de melioratis Sulmonenſis, cuius inſignia ſydus. 206 47. From a better star Innocent VII (1404–1406) Cosmo Migliorati Called Cosmato dei Migliorati of Sulmo, whose arms were a star.
The prophecy is a play on words, "better" (melior) referring to the pope's last name, Migliorati (Meliorati). There is a shooting star on his coat of arms.
Nauta de Ponte nigro. Gregorius XII. Venetus, commendatarius eccleſiæ Nigropontis. 207 48. Sailor from a black bridge Gregory XII (1406–1415) Angelo Correr A Venetian, commendatary of the church of Negroponte. Flagellum ſolis. Alexander. V. Græcus Archiepiſcopus Mediolanenſis, inſignia Sol. 49. Whip of the sun Alexander V, Antipope (1409–1410) Petros Philarges A Greek, Archbishop of Milan, whose arms were a sun.
His coat of arms had a large sun on it. Also, a play on words, referring to the pope's last name, "Philarges."
Ceruus Sirenæ. Ioannes XXIII. Diaconus Cardinalis S. Euſtachii, qui cum ceruo depingitur, Bononiæ legatus, Neapolitanus. 50. Stag of the siren John XXIII, Antipope (1410–1415) Baldassarre Cossa Cardinal Deacon of St. Eustace, who is depicted with a stag; legate of Bologna, a Neapolitan.
Baldassarre Cossa was a cardinal with the title of St. Eustachius. St. Eustachius converted to Christianity after he saw a stag with a cross between its horns. Baldassarre's family was originally from Naples, which has the emblem of the siren.
Corona ueli aurei. Martinus V. familia colonna, Diaconus Cardinalis S. Georgii ad velum aureum. 208 51. Crown of the golden curtain Martin V (1417–1431) Oddone Colonna Of the Colonna family, Cardinal Deacon of St. George at the golden curtain.
Oddone Colonna was the Cardinal Deacon of San Giorgio in Velabro. The word "Velabrum" is here interpreted as derived from "velum aureum", or golden veil. His coat of arms had a golden crown resting atop a column.
Lupa Cœleſtina, Eugenius. IIII. Venetus, canonicus antea regularis Cœleſtinus, & Epiſcopus Senẽſis. 209 52. Heavenly she-wolf Eugene IV (1431–1447) Gabriele Condulmaro A Venetian, formerly a regular Celestine canon, and Bishop of Siena.
He belonged to the order of the Celestines and was the Bishop of Siena which bears a she-wolf on its arms.
Amator Crucis. Felix. V. qui uocabatur Amadæus Dux Sabaudiæ, inſignia Crux. 53. Lover of the cross Felix V, Antipope (1439–1449) Amadeus Duke of Savoy Who was called Amadeus, Duke of Savoy, arms were a cross.
He was previously the count of Savoy and therefore his coat of arms contained the cross of Savoy. Also, the prophecy is a play on words, referring to the antipope's Christian name, "Amadeus."
De modicitate Lunæ. Nicolaus V. Lunenſis de Sarzana, humilibus parentibus natus. 210 54. From the meanness of Luna Nicholas V (1447–1455) Tommaso Parentucelli A Lunese of Sarzana, born to humble parents.
He was born in Sarzana in the diocese of Luni, the ancient name of which was Luna.
Bos paſcens. Calliſtus. III. Hiſpanus, cuius inſignia Bos paſcens. 211 55. Pasturing ox Callixtus III (1455–1458) Alfonso Borja A Spaniard, whose arms were a pasturing ox.
Alonso Borgia's coat of arms had a grazing ox.
De Capra & Albergo. Pius. II. Senenſis, qui fuit à Secretis Cardinalibus Capranico & Albergato. 212 56. From a nanny-goat and an inn Pius II (1458–1464) Enea Silvio de Piccolomini A Sienese, who was secretary to Cardinals Capranicus and Albergatus.
He had been secretary to Cardinal Domenico Capranica and Cardinal Albergatti before he was elected Pope.
De Ceruo & Leone. Paulus. II. Venetus, qui fuit Commendatarius eccleſiæ Ceruienſis, & Cardinalis tituli S. Marci. 213 57. From a stag and lion Paul II (1464–1471) Pietro Barbo A Venetian, who was Commendatary of the church of Cervia, and Cardinal of the title of St. Mark.
Possibly refers to his Bishopric of Cervia (punning on cervus, "a stag") and his Cardinal title of St. Mark (symbolized by a winged lion).
Piſcator minorita. Sixtus. IIII. Piſcatoris filius, Franciſcanus. 214 58. Minorite fisherman Sixtus IV (1471–1484) Francesco Della Rovere Son of a fisherman, Franciscan.
He was born the son of a fisherman and a member of the Franciscans, also known as "Minorites".
Præcurſor Siciliæ. Innocentius VIII. qui uocabatur Ioãnes Baptiſta, & uixit in curia Alfonſi regis Siciliæ. 215 59. Forerunner of Sicily Innocent VIII (1484–1492) Giovanni Battista Cibò Who was called John Baptist, and lived in the court of Alfonso, king of Sicily.
Giovanni Battista Cibò was named after John the Baptist, the precursor of Christ. In his early years, Giovanni served as the Bishop of Molfetta in Sicily.
Bos Albanus in portu. Alexander VI. Epiſcopus Cardinalis Albanus & Portuenſis, cuius inſignia Bos. 216 60. Bull of Alba in the harbor Alexander VI (1492–1503) Rodrigo de Borgia Cardinal Bishop of Albano and Porto, whose arms were a bull.
In 1456, he was made a Cardinal and he held the titles of Cardinal Bishop of Albano and Porto.  Also, Pope Alexander had a red bull on his coat of arms
De paruo homine. Pius. III. Senenſis, familia piccolominea. 217 61. From a small man Pius III (1503) Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini A Sienese, of the Piccolomini family.
His family name was Piccolomini, from piccolo "small" and uomo "man".
Fructus Iouis iuuabit. Iulius. II. Ligur, eius inſignia Quercus, Iouis arbor. 218 62. The fruit of Jupiter will help Julius II (1503–1513) Giuliano Della Rovere A Genoese, his arms were an oak, Jupiter's tree.
On his arms was an oak tree, which was sacred to Jupiter. Pope Julius' family name, "Della Rovere," literally means "of the oak."
De craticula Politiana. Leo. X. filius Laurentii medicei, & ſcholaris Angeli Politiani. 219 63. From a Politian gridiron Leo X (1513–1521) Giovanni de Medici Son of Lorenzo de' Medici, and student of Angelo Poliziano.
His educator and mentor was the distinguished humanist and scholar, Angelo Poliziano. The “Gridiron” is the motto evidently refers to St. Lawrence, who was martyred on a gridiron. This is a rather elliptical allusion to Lorenzo the Magnificent, who was Giovanni’s father.
Leo Florentius. Adrian. VI. Florẽtii filius, eius inſignia Leo. 220 64. Florentian lion Adrian VI (1522–1523) Adriaen Florenszoon Boeyens Son of Florentius, his arms were a lion.
His coat of arms had two lions on it, and his name is sometimes given as Adriaan Florens, or other variants, from his father's first name Florens (Florentius).
Flos pilei ægri. Clemens. VII. Florentinus de domo medicea, eius inſignia pila, & lilia. 221 65. Flower of the sick man's pill Clement VII (1523–1534) Giulio de Medici A Florentine of the Medicean house, his arms were pill-balls and lilies.
The Medici coat of arms were emblazoned with six medical balls. One of these balls, the largest of the six, was emblazoned with the Florentine lily.
Hiacinthus medicorũ. Paulus. III. Farneſius, qui lilia pro inſignibus geſtat, & Card. fuit SS. Coſme, & Damiani. 222 66. Hyacinth of the physicians Paul III (1534–1549) Alessandro Farnese Farnese, who bore lilies for arms, and was Cardinal of Saints Cosmas and Damian.
Pope Paul's coat of arms were charged with six hyacinths.
De corona montana. Iulius. III. antea uocatus Ioannes Maria de monte. 223 67. From the mountainous crown Julius III (1550–1555) Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte Formerly called Giovanni Maria of the Mountain (de Monte)
His coat of arms showed mountains and palm branches laid out in a pattern much like a crown.
Frumentum flocidum. [sic] Marcellus. II. cuius inſignia ceruus & frumẽtum, ideo floccidum, quod pauco tempore uixit in papatu. 224 68. Trifling grain Marcellus II (1555) Marcello Cervini Whose arms were a stag and grain; 'trifling', because he lived only a short time as pope.
His coat of arms showed a stag and ears of wheat.
De fide Petri. Paulus. IIII. antea uocatus Ioannes Petrus Caraffa. 225 69. From Peter's faith Paul IV (1555–1559) Giovanni Pietro Caraffa Formerly called John Peter Caraffa.
He is said to have used his second Christian name Pietro.
Eſculapii pharmacum. Pius. IIII. antea dictus Io. Angelus Medices. 226 70. Aesculapius' medicine Pius IV (1559–1565) Giovanni Angelo de Medici Formerly called Giovanni Angelo Medici.
His family name was Medici.
Angelus nemoroſus. Pius. V. Michael uocatus, natus in oppido Boſchi. 227 71. Angel of the grove St. Pius V (1566–1572) Antonio Michele Ghisleri Called Michael, born in the town of Bosco.
He was born in Bosco, (Lombardy); the placename means grove. His name was 'Antonio Michele Ghisleri', and Michele relates to the archangel.
Medium corpus pilarũ. Gregorius. XIII. cuius inſignia medius Draco, Cardinalis creatus à Pio. IIII. qui pila in armis geſtabat. 228 72. Half body of the balls Gregory XIII (1572–1585) Ugo Boncompagni Whose arms were a half-dragon; a Cardinal created by Pius IV who bore balls in his arms.
The "balls" in the motto refer to Pope Pius IV, who had made Gregory a cardinal. Pope Gregory had a dragon on his coat of arms with half a body.
Axis in medietate ſigni. Sixtus. V. qui axem in medio Leonis in armis geſtat. 229 73. Axle in the midst of a sign. Sixtus V (1585–1590) Felice Peretti Who bears in his arms an axle in the middle of a lion.
This is a rather straightforward description of the pope's coat of arms.
De rore cœli. Vrbanus. VII. qui fuit Archiepiſcopus Roſſanenſis in Calabria, ubi mãna colligitur. 230 74. From the dew of the sky Urban VII (1590) Giovanni Battista Castagna Who was Archbishop of Rossano in Calabria, where manna is collected.
He had been Archbishop of Rossano in Calabria where sap called "the dew of heaven" is gathered from trees.
Popes 1590 to present
For this group of Popes, the published text only provides names for the first three (i.e., those who were Popes between the appearance of the text in 1590, and its publication in 1595) and attempts no explanations.
Post-appearance Popes (1590–present) Pope No. Motto (Translation) Regnal Name (Reign) Name Historical Reference or Explanation Coat of Arms Ex antiquitate Vrbis. Gregorius. XIIII. 231 75 Of the antiquity of the city Gregory XIV (1590–1591) Niccolo Sfondrati His father was a senator of the ancient city of Milan. The word "senator" is derived from the Latin word "senex", meaning old man. Pia ciuitas in bello. Innocentius. IX. 232 76 Pious city in war Innocent IX (1591) Giovanni Antonio Facchinetti He was the Patriarch of Jerusalem before succeeding to the Papacy. Crux Romulea. Clemens. VIII. 233 77 Cross of Romulus Clement VIII (1592–1605) Ippolito Aldobrandini He had been a cardinal with the title of Saint Pancratius. Saint Pancratius was a Roman martyr. Vndoſus uir. 234 78 Wavy man Leo XI (1605) Alessandro Ottaviano De Medici He had been the Bishop of Palestrina. The ancient Romans attributed the origins of Palestrina to the seafaring hero Ulysses. Also, he had only reigned for 27 days. Gens peruerſa. 235 79 Corrupted nation Paul V (1605–1621) Camillo Borghese Pope Paul scandalized the Church when he appointed his nephew to the College of Cardinals. The word "nepotism" may have originated during the reign of this pope. In tribulatione pacis. 236 80 In the trouble of peace Gregory XV (1621–1623) Alessandro Ludovisi His reign corresponded with the outbreak of the Thirty Years War. Lilium et roſa. 237 81 Lily and rose Urban VIII (1623–1644) Maffeo Barberini He was a native of Florence. Florence, in Italy, has a red lily on its coat of arms. Iucunditas crucis. 238 82 Delight of the cross Innocent X (1644–1655) Giovanni Battista Pamphili He was raised to the pontificate after a long and difficult Conclave on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (off by a day). Montium cuſtos. 239 83 Guard of the mountains Alexander VII (1655–1667) Fabio Chigi His family arms include six hills with a star above them. Sydus olorum. 240 84 Star of the swans Clement IX (1667–1669) Giulio Rospigliosi The "star" in the legend refers Pope Alexander VII, who had made Clement his personal secretary. The Italian word for swan, "Cigni," rhymes with Pope Alexander's last name, "Chigi." De flumine magno. 241 85 From a great river Clement X (1670–1676) Emilio Altieri Pope Clement was a native of Rome. Bellua inſatiabilis. 242 86 Insatiable beast Innocent XI (1676–1689) Benedetto Odescalchi Pope Innocent had a lion on his coat of arms. Pœnitentia glorioſa. 243 87 Glorious penitence Alexander VIII (1689–1691) Pietro Ottoboni His first name was "Pietro". The apostle Peter repented after he had denied his master three times. Raſtrum in porta. 244 88 Rake in the door Innocent XII (1691–1700) Antonio Pignatelli del Rastrello His full name was Antonio Pignatelli del Rastrello. "Rastrello" in Italian means "rake." Flores circundati. 245 89 Surrounded flowers Clement XI (1700–1721) Giovanni Francesco Albani He had been a cardinal with the title of San Maria in Aquiro. De bona religione. 246 90 From good religion Innocent XIII (1721–1724) Michelangelo dei Conti A play on words, referring to the pope's chosen name, "Innocent." He was from the famous Conti family which had produced several Popes. Miles in bello. 247 91 Soldier in War Benedict XIII (1724–1730) Pietro Francesco Orsini Columna excelſa. 248 92 Lofty column Clement XII (1730–1740) Lorenzo Corsini When still a cardinal, he had held the title of St. Peter in Chains. The name "Peter" is derived from the Greek word "petros," meaning "rock." Clement was a frustrated architect who ordered, and sometimes interfered with, the building of many churches. He managed to salvage two columns of the Parthenon for his chapel at Mantua. Animal rurale. 249 93 Country animal Benedict XIV (1740–1758) Marcello Lambertini Roſa Vmbriæ. 250 94 Rose of Umbria Clement XIII (1758–1769) Carlo Rezzonico He had been a cardinal with the title of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. In mystical circles, the Virgin Mary is represented by a rose. Vrſus uelox. 251 95 Swift bear (later misprinted as Cursus velox Swift Course or Visus velox Swift Glance) Clement XIV (1769–1774) Lorenzo Giovanni Vincenzo Antonio Ganganelli The Ganganelli family crest bore a running bear. Peregrin9 apoſtolic9. 252 96 Apostolic pilgrim Pius VI (1775–1799) Giovanni Angelico Braschi Spent the last two years of his life in exile, a prisoner of the French Revolution. Aquila rapax. 253 97 Rapacious eagle Pius VII (1800–1823) Barnaba Chiaramonti The Pope's pontificate was overshadowed by Napoleon, whose emblem was the eagle. Canis & coluber. 254 98 Dog and adder Leo XII (1823–1829) Annibale Sermattei della Genga "Dog" and "snake" are common insults, and Leo was widely hated. The legend could be an allusion to the pope's last name, Sermattei. "Serpente" is the Italian word for snake. Vir religioſus. 255 99 Religious man Pius VIII (1829–1830) Francesco Saverio Castiglioni Another play on words, referring to the pope's chosen name, "Pius". De balneis Ethruriæ. 256 100 From the baths of Tuscany Gregory XVI (1831–1846) Mauro, or Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari Pope Gregory XVI belonged to the Camaldolese order of monks. The Camaldolese order is said to have begun with two monastic houses. The first of these houses was Campus Maldoli, and the second was Fonte Buono. "Fonte Buono" is Italian for "good fountain." Crux de cruce. 257 101 Cross from cross Bl. Pius IX (1846–1878) Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti During the pontificate of Pius IX, the House of Savoy, whose coat of arms is a white cross on a red background, reunited Italy and stripped the pope of his territorial possessions. Pope Pius XII, commenting on the beatification process of Pius IX, used the words per crucem ad lucem (through the cross to light). Pius IX was finally beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000. Lumen in cœlo. 258 102 Light in the sky Leo XIII (1878–1903) Gioacchino Pecci His coat of arms had a shooting star. Ignis ardens. 259 103 Burning fire St. Pius X (1903–1914) Giuseppe Sarto Pius advocated the codification of Canon law, daily communion and the use of Gregorian chant in the Catholic liturgy, and was an opponent of Modernism. He was the first pope to be declared a saint in over 400 years, the previous one being Pope Pius V. Religio depopulata. 260 104 Religion destroyed Benedict XV (1914–1922) Giacomo Della Chiesa Worldwide spread of atheistic Communism. Fides intrepida. 261 105 Intrepid faith Pius XI (1922–1939) Achille Ratti Established Vatican City as a country and the papacy as a head of state. Paſtor angelicus. 262 106 Angelic shepherd Ven. Pius XII (1939–1958) Eugenio Pacelli Said to have received visions, some of which have yet to be revealed. Paſtor & nauta. 263 107 Shepherd and sailor Bl. John XXIII (1958–1963) Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli From Venice, a maritime city. Flos florum. 264 108 Flower of flowers Paul VI (1963–1978) Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini His coat of arms features three flowers. De medietate lunæ. 265 109 From the midst of the moon John Paul I (1978) Albino Luciani His month-long reign began with the moon half-full. De labore ſolis. 266 110 From the labor of the sun Bl. John Paul II (1978–2005) Karol Wojtyła Born on the day of a solar eclipse. Gloria oliuæ. 267 111 Glory of the olive. Benedict XVI (2005–present) Joseph Ratzinger In ꝑsecutione extrema S.R.E. ſedebit. He will reign during the ultimate persecution of the Holy Roman Church. Petrus Romanus, qui paſcet oues in multis tribulationibus: quibus tranſactis ciuitas ſepticollis diruetur, & Iudex tremẽdus iudicabit populum ſuum. Finis. 268 112 Peter the Roman, who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations; when they are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The end. Unknown Unknown
The longest and final motto reads in the original Latin:
In ꝑſecutione extre-
- ma S.R.E. ſedebit.
- paſcet oues in mul-
- tis tribulationibus:
- quibus tranſactis ci-
- uitas ſepticollis di-
- ruetur, & Iudex tre
- mẽdus iudicabit po
- pulum ſuum. Finis.
- This is usually translated into English as:
"In the last persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit [i.e., as bishop].
Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations:
and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed,
and the terrible judge will judge his people.
However, in the 1595 Lignum Vitae, the line In persecutione extrema S.R.E. sedebit. forms a separate sentence and paragraph of its own, and it is unclear whether it is grammatically related to Gloria Olivae which precedes it, or to Petrus Romanus, which follows it.
There is, also, a claim that the original list written by St. Malachy, does not contain a reference to Petrus Romanus and that the last lines were added to the printed text in Wyon's Lignum Vitæ. This, however, cannot be proved, as the original manuscript (if any) probably no longer exists.
Authenticity and skepticism
Spanish writer father Benito Jerónimo Feijóo wrote in his Teatro Crítico Universal (1724–1739), in an entry called Purported prophecies, that the ones by Saint Malachy's were a shameful forgery, claiming that they were created ad hoc during the 16th century. As a proof, he offers an accurate fact: that the first time the prophecy is mentioned is on a handwritten account by patriarch Alfonso Chacón (a.k.a Alphonsus Ciacconus, 1540–1599) in 1590 (this account would be later published, in 1595, by the abovementioned historian Arnold de Wyon). In this account, Chacón only comments about the prophecies until the papacy of Urban VII (whose papacy only lasted September 1590, and was the current pope at the time Chacón wrote the comment).
According to Feijóo, Chacón, who held a great intellectual prestige at the time, was lured into commenting the prophecies by someone who wanted to help cardinal Girolamo Simoncelli (1522–1605) reach the papacy. By showing them to be accurate till Urban VII, it was expected people would believe the following ones. That way, Girolamo Simoncelli's election as pope would be easier, since the prophecy after Urban VII's one tells about a pope Ex antiquitate urbis (from the antiquity of the city), a fact that seems to fit him, who was cardinal of Orvieto (literally "old city", urbs vetus), or at least better than Gregory XIV, who was elected pope after Urban VII.
Thus, the forgery would have been unsuccessful, since Simoncelli was not elected pope. Jesuit father Claude-François Menestrier also claimed that the prophecies were forged in order to help the papal candidacy of Girolamo Simoncelli, offering similar reasons to those of Feijóo. Spanish historian José Luis Calvo points out that the prophecies seem to be very accurate till Urban VII, fitting perfectly even the antipopes, but that afterwards great efforts have to be made in order to make the prophecies fit their pope. Feijóo's explanation is usually regarded as being the strongest evidence of the forgery.
A number of claims have been made about the original text of the Prophecies. Many of these claims attempt to allay anxiety arising from the apparently imminent appearance of the "last Pope" and the subsequent Last Judgment. These claims include the following:
- Claim: The last entry describing Petrus Romanus was first recorded sometime after 1820 and so is not part of the original prophecy. Alternatively, the 112th pope was added in 1559 by the Olivetan monks.
- Response: The entry is definitely attested earlier than 1820. There is no 1559 text of the prophecies. The 1595 printing of Lignum Vitæ is the earliest extant copy of the prophecies, and it contains the full text referring to Petrus Romanus.
- Claim: There is no 112 number preceding the Petrus Romanus prophecy, therefore either Gloria olivæ and Petrus Romanus are the same, or there may be many unprophesied Popes between Gloria olivæ and Petrus Romanus.
- Response: There is indeed no "112" preceding the entry for Petrus Romanus; there are also no numbers given for any of the other Papal mottos, yet it is plain that it is intended to be a sequential list. There is no potential in the first printed publication list for confusion between Gloria olivæ and Petrus Romanus, which follows below it.
- Claim: The original text reads psecutione which is an abbreviation either for persecutione or for prosecutione. In the very first publication of the prophecies (1595) Arnold de Wion had this word as "psecutione", an abbreviation either for "persecutione" (persecution) or for "prosecutione" (continuation in time), while Messinghan's 1624 had it as "persecutione". If it were indeed "psecutione" it could be interpreted as "continuation" and the opening line of prophecy 112 could read as – "In the extreme passage of time the seat of the Holy Roman Church will be occupied by Peter the Roman" – thus suggesting that there may be a Pope or Popes in between Gloria olivae and Petrus Romanus.
- Response: The first printed publication reads not psecutione but ꝑsecutione, with a line through the descender of the p letter. This is a common and unambiguous scribal abbreviation for the sequence per, and cannot be confused with the scribal abbreviation for pro. All subsequent variants of the text read persecutione, unambiguously, and the word fits the context well.
- List of popes
- Legends surrounding the papacy
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- Vaticinia de Summis Pontificibus
- Saint Malachy
- Michel Nostradamus
- Bartholomew Holzhauser
- Three Secrets of Fátima
- Bible code
- The Prophesying Nun of Dresden
- ^ Lawlor, H. J. (1920). St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh. London, New York: The Macmillan Company. p. 267. online
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Città di Castello.
- ^ Wiktionary "hunt"
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Lucius II
- ^ The Columbia Encyclopedia, Eugene III
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia Pope Adrian IV
- ^ Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Titles S. Leone I --- S. Matteo in Merulana
- ^ Regnal Chronologies, Roman Catholicism
- ^ House of Arms,Paparo Coat of Arms
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Lucius III
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Gregory VIII
- ^ Héraldique européenne, Papes
- ^ A non-standard verb form, replacing classical exibit.
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Honorius III
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Gregory IX
- ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Celestine
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Innocent IV
- ^ Christ's Faithful People, Pope Innocent IV
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Alexander IV
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Urban IV
- ^ Web.genealogie, Dynastie de Visconti
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Bl. Innocent V
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope John XXI(XX)
- ^ a b c Héraldique européenne, Papes
- ^ Properly Asculanus, but that ruins the pun.
- ^ Saint Nicholas Center Patara
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Benedict XII
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Clement VI
- ^ a b c Héraldique européenne, Papes
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Innocent VI
- ^ Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Titles
- ^ Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Deaconries
- ^ Araldicavaticana.com, Clemente VII (antipapa)
- ^ Araldicavaticana.com, Benedetto XIII (antipapa)
- ^ Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Consistories for the creation of Cardinals
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Urban VI
- ^ Araldicavaticana.com, Alessandro V (antipapa)
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, John XXIII
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Martin V
- ^ Fruit of Contemplation March 2006 Archive
- ^ a b Héraldique européenne, Papes
- ^ Araldicavaticana.com, Felice V (antipapa)
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia,Pope Pius II
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Paul II
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Innocent VIII
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Alexander VI
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Héraldique européenne, Papes
- ^ Baroque Rome in the etchings of Giuseppe Vasi, The Triumph of Life
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Leo X
- ^ Pileus here cannot be the Latin word for "cap", but must be derived from pila "ball" or Late Latin pilula "little ball, pill". The Medici displayed pills on their arms as an allusion to their supposed family origins as physicians (medici).
- ^ Bonanical.com, Ash, Manna
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Clement VIII
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, Domitilla and Pancratius
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Leo XI
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Palestrina
- ^ Lastminute.com, Galleria Borghese
- ^ International Civic Heraldry, Florence
- ^ a b c Héraldique européenne, Papes
- ^ Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Antonio Pignatelli del Rastrello
- ^ Catholic Heraldry, S. Maria in Aquiro
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Clement XII
- ^ Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Rezzonico, Carlo
- ^ The symbol like a raised 9 is a scribal abbreviation for the Latin suffix us.
- ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Camaldolese
- ^ Prefixed to the following text in most printings, in the original printing of Lignum Vitae this line appears as a separate paragraph immediately below Gloria oliuæ.
- ^ In several later printings of the prophecies, the word ſuum ("his own") was dropped.
- ^ Ryter, Jon. "Petrus Romanus added by Olivetan monks?". http://www.newswithviews.com/Ryter/jon85.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
- ^ Lignum Vitae, p. 311
- ^ Balkinization, Blog. "no 112 number preceding Peter Romanus prophecy". http://balkin.blogspot.com/2005/04/st-malachys-prophecy-and-pope-benedict.html. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
- Van der Moere, J. (1872). La fausseté des soi-disantes proophéties d'Orval, de St.-Malachie, et de Blois. Ghent.
- Hogue, John (2000). The Last Pope. Element. ISBN 1-86204-732-4.
- Bander, Peter (1969). The Prophecies of St. Malachy. TAN Books and Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-8189-0189-6.
- Original 1595 text of the Prophecies (Arnold de Wion, Lignum Vitae, Lib. ii, pp. 307–311)
- List of Popes and their corresponding mottos
- General Audience: Pope tells why he chose the name of Benedict
- ma S.R.E. ſedebit.
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