Constable: Will the world end with Pope Francis? Prophecies say ...

  • St. Malachy, who still lends his name to parishes and schools in Geneseo, Rantoul and Chicago, was born near the end of the 11th Century in the Irish town of Armagh. In 1595, 447 years after the death of St. Malachy, a Benedictine monk named Arnold de Wyon claimed to have discovered a document written in Latin by St. Malachy that predicted that the world would end after 112 more popes.

    St. Malachy, who still lends his name to parishes and schools in Geneseo, Rantoul and Chicago, was born near the end of the 11th Century in the Irish town of Armagh. In 1595, 447 years after the death of St. Malachy, a Benedictine monk named Arnold de Wyon claimed to have discovered a document written in Latin by St. Malachy that predicted that the world would end after 112 more popes. Courtesy of St. Malachy Church Geneseo

  • Brian Schmisek

    Brian Schmisek

  • Both key figures in end-of-the-world prophecies, Pope Francis, left, and President Barack Obama clap after listening to a choir during ceremonies celebrating the pope's arrival  Wednesday on the South Lawn of the White House. It's the pontiff's first visit to the United States.

    Both key figures in end-of-the-world prophecies, Pope Francis, left, and President Barack Obama clap after listening to a choir during ceremonies celebrating the pope's arrival Wednesday on the South Lawn of the White House. It's the pontiff's first visit to the United States. Bloomberg News

 
 
Updated 9/24/2015 9:15 AM

Enjoy this papal visit to the United States, because there will be no more. Pope Francis is the last pope. The world will end soon, probably about the time the Cubs are one win away from the World Series.

At least that is how some interpret the "Prophecies of St. Malachy," a 520-year-old manuscript attributed to an Irish saint. Thankfully for hopeful Cubs fans and others who aren't quite ready for Armageddon, St. Malachy's "doomsday" prediction isn't set in stone.

 

"I don't want to be flippant, but for the most part, the church dismisses it," says Brian Schmisek, director of the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University, which is hosting "Pope Watch" events across campuses this morning in clear defiance of apocalyptic predictions.

St. Malachy, who still lends his name to parishes and schools in Geneseo, Rantoul and Chicago, was born near the end of the 11th Century in the Irish town of Armagh. Dedicated to serving the poor, Malachy planted apple trees to feed the hungry and is credited with several miraculous healings.

Ireland's first saint, the Catholic church celebrates his life with St. Malachy's Feast on Nov. 3.

In 1595, 447 years after the death of St. Malachy, a Benedictine monk named Arnold de Wyon claimed to have discovered a document written in Latin by St. Malachy that predicted that the world would end after 112 more popes.

"It has a complicated history because the manuscript was thought to be a forgery and it didn't come to light until the 16th century," Schmisek says.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Even if you believe the "Prophecies of St. Malachy" actually were written by the saint, "it's open to interpretation," says Schmisek, adding that the document even ends in an incomplete sentence. "It's about like reading your daily horoscope. It's so vague. It's just kind of a mish mosh."

But that desire for God to show up for a Last Judgment Day resonates with some folks. Just as people used the Mayan calendar to predict the End Times a few years ago, a St. Malachy article on one Catholic website inspired more than a hundred comments from readers, some of whom are certain the end is nigh.

"I don't run into a lot people anymore who are excited about the end of the world, but they are out there. A lot of people really believe that we are in such a sorry state that God needs to step in," Schmisek says. "The bad people are finally going to get what they deserve, and the good people -- us -- we'll get a reward."

During his time as a founding dean and associate professor in the school of ministry at the University of Dallas, Schmisek remembers one Protestant preacher in Texas predicting the end of the world was near.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"That can draw people to church," Schmisek notes. "When you preach the end to people, it gets their attention."

The biblical book of Revelations has been inspiring End Times fantasies for more than a millennium.

"In the year 1000, everybody thought it was over," Schmisek says, noting the Bible does say the saints will reign for 1,000 years. "How much more explicit can you get?"

The Bible's 666 reference as the number of the beast has been used in everything from the 1976 scary movie, "The Omen," to elaborate math calculations "proving" the devil is Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, President Obama and even game show host Howie Mandell.

Biblical scholars think 666 was just a code name for Nero, the 1st Century Roman emperor who persecuted Christians.

"That was at a time when they thought the end was near. They were burning Christians. How much more proof do you need?" Schmisek says. "And yet, 2,000 years later, here we all are."

Christians still are being burned and persecuted in some parts of the world, which makes their actual "War on Christianity" far more serious than American political skirmishes about store clerks wishing everybody "Happy Holidays."

People still create controversy with claims of finding old religious documents. In 2012, one set of researchers produced documents suggesting that Jesus had a wife, and others immediately labeled those writings fraudulent. Old documents still fuel a similar debate about whether Jesus had a brother (well, half-brother) named James.

Predictions about the end of the world probably will continue until the end of the world.

Apocalyptic literature actually is "meant to convey hope," Schmisek says, adding that Christians believe Jesus Christ offers eternal life. "So no matter what persecution you're facing, there's life after death. There is hope."

So don't worry about the end of the world, or even the Pirates and Cardinals.

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself," Jesus is quoted as saying in the book of Matthew. "Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day."

Go to comments: 0 posted
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.