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Old 28th May 2022, 08:38 AM   #1
ezeqiuel
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St. Malachy's "Prophecy of the Popes"

Hello everyone,

I have recently been wondering about a prophecy which makes a reappearance in the media regularly i.e. the "Prophecy of the Popes" attributed to the 11th centruy Irish saint Malachy. It consists of several dozen cryptic Latin phrases supposedly describing all the future popes.

One of the last lines of the prophecy "de labore solis" is translated as "of the solar eclipse" and associated with Pope John Paul II because of solar eclipses which took place both on the day of his birth as well as his funeral. I have always found this translation odd as it literally means "of the labour of the Sun" and I have been unable to find a single source unrelated to this specific prophecy which translates the phrase as "of the solar eclipse" (however, I may be wrong on this one as my knowledge of Latin is very rudimentary). Recently however, I ran into a 19th century translation of this prophecy by an Irish priest M. J. O'Brien which interpreted the verse as referring to a solar eclipse citing an earlier scholar. The interpretation was based on a supposed reference to the apocalyptic prophecy in Matthew 24:29.

I must say that I find the coincidence quite remarkable to say the least - the chances of being born and having a funeral on the day of a solar eclipse are extremely slim. What makes the situation even more unusual is the correspondence of these astronomic events to a much older text or at least is 19th century (mis)interpretation.

One possible rationalist explanation for this correspondence is the self-fulfilling character of this prophesy - after all it has been very well-known in the Catholic Church for centuries. So if the cardinals knew that the future Pope John Paul II was born on the day of an eclipse this could have motivated them to choose him. After all, if there are about 100-200 cardinals then the chances that a solar eclipse coincided with an important event in the life of at least one of them (e.g. birth, becoming a priest etc.) are quit considerable. However, this explanation is pure speculation on my part.

What is your opinion on this?
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Old 28th May 2022, 08:41 AM   #2
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I'd like to see some examples of this prophecy appearing in the media. I'd also like to see who's translating the phrase as "of the solar eclipse".
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Old 28th May 2022, 08:49 AM   #3
ezeqiuel
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'd like to see some examples of this prophecy appearing in the media. I'd also like to see who's translating the phrase as "of the solar eclipse".
irishcen tral.com/roots/history/st-malachy-prophecy-pope-francis
nbcnew s.com/science/cosmic-log/why-buzz-over-st-malachys-last-pope-prophecy-outdoes-2012-flna1c8349131
abcnews.go .com/International/benedict-xvi-pope-irish-prophet-malachy/story?id=8499430

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'd also like to see who's translating the phrase as "of the solar eclipse".
This translation was provided by the 19th century priest M. J. O'Brien in his work " An historical and critical account of the so-called Prophecy of St. Malachy, regarding the succession of the popes" citing some earlier French scholer called Abbe Cucherat. The whole work is available here (page 82 & 81) h ttps:/ /play.goo gle.com/books/reader?id=qIZVuIhz06cC&pg=GBS.PA82&hl=pl

Sorry about the broken links but I'm not allowed to post full URLs with my new account.
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Old 28th May 2022, 09:38 AM   #4
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The eclipse on May 18, 1920 was partial - the one on April 8, 2005 was total. But big deal. There were 228 partial, annular or total eclipses in the 20th Century, so it's an interesting coincidence, but hardly extraordinary. And neither was visible from anywhere near the locations of either his birth or requiem mass.
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Old 28th May 2022, 09:47 AM   #5
ezeqiuel
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Originally Posted by Foster Zygote View Post
The eclipse on May 18, 1920 was partial - the one on April 8, 2005 was total. But big deal. There were 228 partial, annular or total eclipses in the 20th Century, so it's an interesting coincidence, but hardly extraordinary. And neither was visible from anywhere near the locations of either his birth or requiem mass.
Yes, that's right but this still means that the chance of being born on the same day as an eclipse is not even 1%. What are the chances of this corresponding to some prophecy (or its 19th century interpretation)?

Last edited by ezeqiuel; 28th May 2022 at 09:52 AM.
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Old 28th May 2022, 10:30 AM   #6
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It's the usual weak sauce.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prophecy_of_the_Popes
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Old 28th May 2022, 10:32 AM   #7
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ezequiel- when you say you were wondering about this supposed prophecy, did you bother even to look at the Wikipedia page on it, or did you just arrive here hoping to dazzle us all with flimsy miracles? How is it that you know so little about its background?
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Old 28th May 2022, 10:48 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ezeqiuel View Post
Yes, that's right but this still means that the chance of being born on the same day as an eclipse is not even 1%.
About 0.6%, which is actually pretty high. If every time someone rode in a car they had a 0.6% chance.of dying, automobiles would be considered insanely dangerous and would be outlawed.

Quote:
What are the chances of this corresponding to some prophecy (or its 19th century interpretation)?
There were an estimated 10,000,000,000 births during the 20th Century. Multiply 100 by 365.25 (leap years) and we get 36,525 days. That's an average of 273,785 births/day in the 20th Century. Multiply that by the number of days there were solar eclipses (228), and you get 62,422,998 births on days of eclipses. That's over 62.4 million people who have a chance of also having a funeral on the day of an eclipse. Given that The chances of having one's funeral on the day of an eclipse is also about 0.6%, that means we should expect nearly 390,000 people born during the 20th Century to both be born, and have funerals, on the day of an eclipse.

Sorry, it's just not that statistically remarkable. It doesn't rise above the level of moderately interesting coincidence.
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Old 28th May 2022, 10:54 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Cosmic Yak View Post
ezequiel- when you say you were wondering about this supposed prophecy, did you bother even to look at the Wikipedia page on it, or did you just arrive here hoping to dazzle us all with flimsy miracles? How is it that you know so little about its background?
Yes, I know it is most likely a 16th century forgery (which explains why the first half of the "prophecies" is accurate and the second half is vague) created with the specific political goal of influencing the upcoming papal election. I've known this for years. However, only recently did I discover that the translation of "de labore solis" as "of the solar eclipse" is not a post factum retrofitting but it was an actual intepretation used at least as early as the 19th century. That's why I found this coincidence unique and deserving further investigation - the "prophecy" predates the event (even if the "prophecy" is only a 19th century interpretation).
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Old 28th May 2022, 11:00 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Foster Zygote View Post
There were an estimated 10,000,000,000 births during the 20th Century. Multiply 100 by 365.25 (leap years) and we get 36,525 days. That's an average of 273,785 births/day in the 20th Century. Multiply that by the number of days there were solar eclipses (228), and you get 62,422,998 births on days of eclipses. That's over 62.4 million people who have a chance of also having a funeral on the day of an eclipse. Given that The chances of having one's funeral on the day of an eclipse is also about 0.6%, that means we should expect nearly 390,000 people born during the 20th Century to both be born, and have funerals, on the day of an eclipse.

Sorry, it's just not that statistically remarkable. It doesn't rise above the level of moderately interesting coincidence.
Actually, I find the fact that his funeral was on the same day as an eclipse much less impressive because the date could have been deliberately selected for that very reason. All it would take would be the Pope dying within a window of approx. 2 weeks before an eclipse and the likelihood of that is not very high but not insanely low either.
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Old 28th May 2022, 11:05 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by ezeqiuel View Post
Yes, I know it is most likely a 16th century forgery (which explains why the first half of the "prophecies" is accurate and the second half is vague) created with the specific political goal of influencing the upcoming papal election. I've known this for years. However, only recently did I discover that the translation of "de labore solis" as "of the solar eclipse" is not a post factum retrofitting but it was an actual intepretation used at least as early as the 19th century. That's why I found this coincidence unique and deserving further investigation - the "prophecy" predates the event (even if the "prophecy" is only a 19th century interpretation).
Can you point to any other 16th Century sources referring to solar eclipses as "the labor of the sun"?
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Old 28th May 2022, 11:16 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Foster Zygote View Post
Can you point to any other 16th Century sources referring to solar eclipses as "the labor of the sun"?
I'm not aware of this translation being used before the 19th century - as I wrote earlier it was suggested by the Irish priest M. J. O'Brien citing an earlier French scholar (the source is in the link I posted above). The provided rationale for this interpretation is the fact that the previous verse mentions the Moon and this is a supposed reference to the apocalyptic prophecy in Matthew 24:29 ("the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light"). I don't understand how the connection between these two fragments was established - the only commonality between them which I can see is that they both mention the Sun and Moon. I looked up the Vulgate version of this verse and it doesn't even use the phrase "labor solis" but a variant of the standard Latin phrase "obscuratio solis". Also, if I understand correctly it doesn't refer to the eclipse in the sense of a recurring astronomical phenomenon but to the darkening of the Sun and Moon as apocalyptic events.
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Old 28th May 2022, 11:32 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by ezeqiuel View Post
<snip>
What is your opinion on this?
It's long debunked drivel. A mediocre, late sixteenth century, fabrication.
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Old 28th May 2022, 11:33 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by ezeqiuel View Post
Yes, I know it is most likely a 16th century forgery (which explains why the first half of the "prophecies" is accurate and the second half is vague) created with the specific political goal of influencing the upcoming papal election. I've known this for years. However, only recently did I discover that the translation of "de labore solis" as "of the solar eclipse" is not a post factum retrofitting but it was an actual intepretation used at least as early as the 19th century. That's why I found this coincidence unique and deserving further investigation - the "prophecy" predates the event (even if the "prophecy" is only a 19th century interpretation).
I think it's a case that our 19th century author came up with something that could possibly mean something significant. In other words, what does "the labor of the sun" mean? The sun doesn't exactly "labor" at anything.

So, something solar, and significant, would be an eclipse. The rest of the time, the sun just sits there. So, it's really the only possible interpretation that has some drama to it. The only other possible meaning I could come up with would be that there was some sort of agricultural activity. i.e. that particular pope would have been somehow associate with agriculture, i.e. the sun's labor, making the plants grow.


Meanwhile, when I first encountered the prophecy, I was still Catholic, and a solar eclipse during John Paul II's birth was cited as the obvious fulfillment. The book I was reading at the time predicted that the next pope, "Olive of the Olives" would be from the order of Saint Benedict. Well that was wrong, but.....Just before his election, I also saw someone saying that based on another prophecy, that pope (who turned out to be Benedict) would be black. Well, that was wrong. Except, Benedict has a black man on his coat of arms.

Which would leave Frances as Peter the Roman. That one doesn't seem to be a good match.

However, as all prophetic interpretation does, I'm sure someone will find a connection. What would be really interesting would be how the prophecy fans will match the next pope, because there aren't supposed to be any more after Peter, where Peter corresponds in the timeline to Frances. Of course, an awful lot of conservatives don't even like Frances. What would happen if the next pope chose the name Peter, I'll guarantee a lot of people would declare that Frances wasn't a real pope anyway, and that Peter is the fulfillment of the prophecy.


After the fact, it's always easy to fulfill prophecies. Psychics make accurate predictions every year, as long as they get to wait until the end of the year to fill in the vague details of what they meant.
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Old 28th May 2022, 11:44 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
I think it's a case that our 19th century author came up with something that could possibly mean something significant. In other words, what does "the labor of the sun" mean? The sun doesn't exactly "labor" at anything.

So, something solar, and significant, would be an eclipse. The rest of the time, the sun just sits there. So, it's really the only possible interpretation that has some drama to it. The only other possible meaning I could come up with would be that there was some sort of agricultural activity. i.e. that particular pope would have been somehow associate with agriculture, i.e. the sun's labor, making the plants grow.
OK, that makes some sense - I've never thought about it in that way.

Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
The book I was reading at the time predicted that the next pope, "Olive of the Olives" would be from the order of Saint Benedict. Well that was wrong, but.....Just before his election, I also saw someone saying that based on another prophecy, that pope (who turned out to be Benedict) would be black. Well, that was wrong. Except, Benedict has a black man on his coat of arms.
Well, he did choose the name Benedict after all . BTW, do you remember how that interpretation was established? As far as I remember, the only element which could possibly connect the Benedictine order with the olive symbol is the Olivetan branch of the order (however it's rather tiny and obviously St. Benedict didn't belong to it as it only appeared several centuries after his death). So this prophecy is much easier to debunk.

Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Which would leave Frances as Peter the Roman. That one doesn't seem to be a good match.

However, as all prophetic interpretation does, I'm sure someone will find a connection. What would be really interesting would be how the prophecy fans will match the next pope, because there aren't supposed to be any more after Peter, where Peter corresponds in the timeline to Frances. Of course, an awful lot of conservatives don't even like Frances. What would happen if the next pope chose the name Peter, I'll guarantee a lot of people would declare that Frances wasn't a real pope anyway, and that Peter is the fulfillment of the prophecy.
A recent reinterpretation of this prophecy says that the Peter the Roman sentence is actually two seperate sentences (if you look at the manuscript then you will see that they are divided by a fullstop anda verse break). As Wikipedia describes it:

Quote:
In the Lignum Vitae, the line In persecutione extrema S.R.E. sedebit. forms a separate sentence and paragraph of its own. While often read as part of the "Peter the Roman" entry, other interpreters view it as a separate, incomplete sentence explicitly referring to one or more popes between "the glory of the olive" and "Peter the Roman".
So this would make Francis the last but one Pope.

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Old 28th May 2022, 11:48 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by ezeqiuel View Post
As far as I remember, the only element which could possibly connect the Benedictine order with the olive symbol is the Olivetan branch of the order
That was the connection the author was predicting.

So, the Benedicting Order has an Olivetan branch, and the pope chose the name Benedict. Prophecy fulfilled!


And I googled since writing my earlier reply.

Saint Francis' name was Francesco Pietro, and the Pope is the Bishop of Rome.

Prophecy fulfilled!
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Old 28th May 2022, 12:06 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
That was the connection the author was predicting.

Saint Francis' name was Francesco Pietro, and the Pope is the Bishop of Rome.

Prophecy fulfilled!
Well, not really - St. Francis' father was called Pietro so his name was Francesco di Pietro which simply means Francis, son of Peter.

BTW, I'm starting to believe in a much simpler explanation for these coincidences - despite the Church's official position the popes and cardinals take this prophecy quite seriously and simply try to fit in with it somehow.
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Old 28th May 2022, 12:47 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by ezeqiuel View Post
Well, not really - St. Francis' father was called Pietro so his name was Francesco di Pietro which simply means Francis, son of Peter.

BTW, I'm starting to believe in a much simpler explanation for these coincidences - despite the Church's official position the popes and cardinals take this prophecy quite seriously and simply try to fit in with it somehow.
I know it happens at least a little bit.
I remember reading about a story, but I haven't confirmed it, about an incident at the conclave that elected John XXIII. The next pope due on the list was "Shepherd and Mariner". One of the cardinals hired a barge operator to parade a barge load of sheep on the Tiber River.

(Now I'm going to ahve to google to see if I can find it, or if it was just a story.)

ETA: Sometimes I impress myself with my google fu.

It was Cardinal Spellman of New York.

https://timotheosprologizes.blogspot...ia-olivae.html

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Old 28th May 2022, 09:03 PM   #19
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Hold it a minute. Benedict was Olive of the Olives? Well, the olive and the egg are anciently associated for their obvious similarity in shape.

As soon as he was elevated, I for one started familiarly calling him -- wait for it

EGGS!

Yes, Eggs Benedict. If that occurred to me, the littlest atheist, just try to calculate how many millions of people around the world thought the same thing at that very instant! if your mind doesn't boggle, you'd better take it in for an oil change.

Yeah, oil. Chrism! Are you starting to understand?
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Old 28th May 2022, 09:08 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by sackett View Post
Hold it a minute. Benedict was Olive of the Olives? Well, the olive and the egg are anciently associated for their obvious similarity in shape.

As soon as he was elevated, I for one started familiarly calling him -- wait for it

EGGS!

Yes, Eggs Benedict. If that occurred to me, the littlest atheist, just try to calculate how many millions of people around the world thought the same thing at that very instant! if your mind doesn't boggle, you'd better take it in for an oil change.

Yeah, oil. Chrism! Are you starting to understand?
It's all so clear now.


Apparently it was "Glory of the Olive", but I think your explanation is still quite clear.
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