Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Second Coming (Part II) Rapture?

The Prostestant dispensationalist movement forwards the most popular Western view of the Second Coming of Christ. Dispensationalism, which was founded by John Nelson-Darby in the 19th century, often presents a premillennist view which involves a "Rapture" of Christians from earth, followed by a seven-year tribulation. After this tribulation period the Antichrist will be destroyed by Jesus, who proceeds to establish a millennial reign of peace on earth, which will eventually be interupted by Satan, who will be unleashed at the end of the thousand years to attack the kingdom presided over by Christ. This view of the Second Coming is especially prevalent in North America, and has been greatly popularised in recent times by books such as Hal Lindsey's The Late, Great Planet Earth, and Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkin's fictional Left Behind series. There are some variances in premillennism, such as whether the Rapture will occur before, during or after the tribulation period, but that should not concern us too much here.
Whilst some forms of premillennial thought (chiliasm) can be found amongst some of the Church Fathers, it was eventually condemned as heresy in the 4th century and the words "whose kingdom will have no end" was included in the Nicene creed to counter chiliastic beliefs. The idea of a Rapture is unique to dispensationalists however and is only a recent development in Protestant theology based largely on a misunderstanding of 1Thes 4:16-17:

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

The majority of dispensationalists believe that the Rapture will occur before the tribulation period (pre-tribulationalism) to spare believing Christians from the reign of the Antichrist, who will then return with Christ after the tribulation and leave in peace for a period of a thousand years.
Yet the above passage in 1Thes clearly concerns the resurrection of the dead (or General Resurrection) which takes place at the Last Judgement after the world is destroyed by fire, and should therefore be distinguished from the Second Coming. The Paraousia of Christ on earth is separate from the "Four Last Things" of death, judgement and heaven and hell. The Second Coming will be a visible event seen by all, accompanied by the largest earthquake known to human civilisation - not some sort of invisible and silent Rapture that will secret believers away into Paradise, leaving only sinners to face the wrath of God.
The idea of a Rapture is greatly at odds with Catholic belief, which holds that the Church must undergo the final trial to emulate the crucifixion of Jesus:

The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.(Catechism of the Catholic Church 677)

It is only through this suffering and death that the Church will find its true victory over evil, and just as Christ rose from the dead on the third day, so too will the Church be resurrected after this final trial ultimately results in the destruction of humanity. But through an act of infinite mercy, the Second Coming of Christ is suspended until the Church is purified, and those who have fallen away return through the gift of the Second Pentecost.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Our Lady appears again in Egypt, Alexandria

After the recent persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt on the 9th October 2011, there have been reports of new appearances of the Virgin Mary in Alexandria on Friday 21st October, to the early hours of Saturday morning (see here). I argue in Unveiling the Apocalypse that these events are inextricably bound with the prophecy of the Woman adorned with the Sun described in Rev 12 - which is an apocalyptic retelling of the story of the nativity (see the earlier post Our Lady of Egypt, where I note how the apparitions at Zeitoun first occurred in the exact month that seen a new "slaughter of the innocents" in the spread of the legalisation of abortion):

 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. (Rev 12:1-6)

Below is a map detailing the journey of the Holy Family during their flight into the wildness according to ancient Coptic tradition (click on the image below and then click again in the link for a close-up view). The map is officially endorsed by the Coptic patriarch Pope Shenouda III. As can be seen on the map, Zeitoun (the place of the first apparitions in Egypt in 1968) is one of the areas which the Holy Family found sojourn in during their escape into Egypt, and Assiut (the location of the apparitions in 2000) is the most southernly point before the return journey. According to Coptic tradition, the Holy Family remained in Egypt for three and a half years before returning to Nazareth after the death of King Herod. So these modern apparitions are re-enacting the path taken by the Holy Family during their escape into the wilderness.

Some rather shakey footage of these apparitions has appeared on youtube:

Could the recent persecution of Christians in Egypt relate to the other part of the prophecy, when Satan goes on to make war against the rest of her offspring after he realises he has been cast to earth?:

Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea. (Rev 12:17)

I'll update this post as and when more news comes through.

See also the related posts:

Our Lady of Egypt
Our Lady of Assiut
The Woman Adorned with the Sun
The Fall of Satan
The Year of the Dragon
Signs in the Sky

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

John Paul II - The Third Secret and a Prophecy of a Mega-tsunami?

Prior to the release of the Third Secret (or perhaps that should be "partial release"?) in the year 2000, many commentators looked to some words attributed to Pope John Paul II on Fatima in an attempt to gain some insight into its content.  The German magazine Stimme des Glaubens reported that the pope had commented on the Third Secret during a conference in Fulda, Germany in 1980. The most striking component of this report was the words: "it should be sufficient for all Christians to know this: if there is a message in which it is written that the oceans will flood whole areas of the earth, and that from one moment to the next millions of people will perish, truly the publication of such a message is no longer something to be so much desired." The language used here, which tells a sudden and abrupt flooding of "whole areas of the earth" by the ocean - an event which will kill "millions", can only describe the aftermath of a mega-tsunami.
The deadiest such event in recorded history was that of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which claimed the lives of around 230,000 people after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. In order to claim "millions" of lives, this event would have to be on a vastly larger scale, and concentrated on densely populated areas. The Indian Ocean tsunami is possibly the greatest in size that can be generated by an earthquake - anything larger can only be caused by massive landslides, such as that of Lituya Bay, Alaska in 1958, which reached a height of 524 metres (but given the confined geography of the lake the effects of this mega-tsunami was limited to a small area). It is these landslide-generated events, known as mega-tsunamis, that produce waves of such devastating heights. And mega-tsunamis with the capacity to cross oceans can only be generated by large-scale volcanic collapses.

The relevant text of the Fulda conference reported in Stimme des Glaubens can be found below:

The Holy Father was asked, "What about the Third Secret of Fatima? Should it not have already been published by 1960?"
Pope John Paul II replied: "Given the seriousness of the contents, my predecessors in the Petrine office diplomatically preferred to postpone publication so as not to encourage the world power of Communism to make certain moves.
"On the other hand, it should be sufficient for all Christians to know this: if there is a message in which it is written that the oceans will flood whole areas of the earth, and that from one moment to the next millions of people will perish, truly the publication of such a message is no longer something to be so much desired."
The Pope continued: "Many wish to know simply from curiosity and a taste for the sensational, but they forget that knowledge also implies responsibility. They only seek the satisfaction of their curiosity, and that is dangerous if at the same time they are not disposed to do something, and if they are convinced that it is impossible to do anything against evil."
At this point the Pope grasped a Rosary and said: "Here is the remedy against this evil. Pray, pray, and ask for nothing more. Leave everything else to the Mother of God."
The Holy Father was then asked: "What is going to happen to the Church?"
He answered: "We must prepare ourselves to suffer great trials before long, such as will demand of us a disposition to give up even life, and a total dedication to Christ and for Christ … With your and my prayer it is possible to mitigate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it, because only thus can the Church be effectively renewed. How many times has the renewal of the Church sprung from blood! This time, too, it will not be otherwise. We must be strong and prepared, and trust in Christ and His Mother, and be very, very assiduous in praying the Rosary."

It must be noted however that there is some dispute as to the legimacy of the Stimme des Glaubens report. Antonio Socci, the author of The Fourth Secret of Fatima, stated in issue 86 of The Fatima Crusader that the Vatican Press Office and Cardinal Ratzinger denied that this meeting took place (see here). However rather curiously, the most recent publication from sources inside the Vatican acknowledges that it did in fact take place. In his book The Last Secret of Fatima, Cardinal Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State admits that John Paul II did in fact say these words (p48). The Fatima Network website is similarly assured that the Fulda conference did in fact take place, stating:

This report was originally published in German in the October 1981 issue of Stimme des Glaubens. It is given as a verbatim report of the meeting between His Holiness John Paul II and a select group of German Catholics at Fulda during his visit to Germany the previous November. The preface to the article states, "We know the name of the reporter and also that the document is authentic." This translation was made by Rev. M. Crowdy for Approaches Magazine, edited by Mr. Hamish Fraser of Scotland. It was translated from the Italian magazine published in Rome by Father Francis Putti. Both magazines are worthy of our trust. (See the full text here).

So there seems to be some ongoing confusion as to the reality behind these events. Whatever the truth is behind the above words attributed to John Paul II at Fulda, they tie in remarkably well with the various other predictions of a volcano-generated mega-tsunami. We must also question why, given that Cardinal Bertone would undoubtedly know the contents of any "hidden text" of the Third Secret, he did not refute that the Fulda conference took place altogether. If the "hidden text" of the Third Secret did not contain any references to the oceans flooding vast sections of the earth, then it would be immediately obvious to the Cardinal that the Fulda conference was a complete fabrication made by the German press. It would be easier to dismiss that it ever took place rather than attempt to explain the discrepancies between these words and the published text of the Third Secret. Does this implicitly suggest that there is some truth behind the Third Secret containing reference to a future mega-tsunami style event?
We also need to take into account the fact that Pope Benedict XVI wrote the forward to Cardinal Bertone's book, so would undoubtedly have been aware that it included reference to the Fulda conference. It would be highly unlikely that he would fail to correct Cardinal Bertone on this matter if he thought it did not take place. So either the pope glanced over this section (again highly unlikely), or he came across some information which changed his opinion as to whether John Paul II did indeed make these comments at Fulda.

See also the relevant articles:

The Fourth Secret of Fatima

Sunday, 16 October 2011

St. Hildegard and the Flooding of the "Great Nation"

A prophecy attributed to St. Hildegard of Bingen is perhaps the most famous prophecy of a nation being destroyed by tidal waves in private revelation:

Before the comet comes, many nations, the good excepted, will be scourged by want and famine. The great nation in the ocean that is inhabited by people of different tribes and descent will be devastated by earthquake, storm, and tidal wave. It will be divided and, in great part submerged. That nation will also have many misfortunes at sea and lose its colonies. [After the] great comet, the great nation will be devastated by earthquakes, storms and great waves of water, causing much want and plagues. All coastal cities will live in fear, and many of them will be destroyed by tidal waves, and most living creatures will be killed, and even those who escape will die from horrible diseases. For in none of those cities does a person live according to the laws of God.

We should note however that this prediction is most likely of far later origin than St. Hildegard. This prophecy is widely circulated on the internet due to its inclusion by popular books on Catholic prophecy (such as those by Yves Dupont), but there are no solid references in any of these works to the original source of this prophecy amongst St. Hildegard’s vast collection of writings. St. Hildegard was a prolific writer, and her works (which include 9 books and over one hundred letters, as well as 70 poems and 72 songs) have been studied extensively by modern historians. The fact that none of these works are referenced amongst the various websites and books which quote the above prophecy should send alarm bells ringing.

There were many prophecies falsely attributed to St. Hildegard during the later Middle Ages, such as those issued by the anti-mendicant movement. Given the lack of reference to the original source and the inclusion of some anachronistic language, it is likely that the above prophecy is one of these later pseudonymous writings.

This leads us to question whether a pseudonymous prophecy can still offer genuine insight into the future. The Catholic Church teaches that anyone can be recipients of genuine prophecy, regardless of their background - either through interior spiritual vision, or through contact with angelic or demonic forces. Pope Benedict XIV summed up this position in his work Heroic Virtue: On the Beatification and Canonization of the Servants of God:

“The recipients of prophecy may be angels, devils, men, women, children, heathens, or gentiles; nor is it necessary that a man should be gifted with any particular disposition in order to receive the light of prophecy provided his intellect and senses be adapted for making manifest the things which God reveals to him. Though moral goodness is most profitable to a prophet, yet it is not necessary in order to obtain the gift of prophecy.”

We must also take into consideration the fact that the use of pseudonyms to link prophecies to illustrious figures from the past was commonplace in apocalyptic literature from its very inception. The Ethopic and Slavonic Books of Enoch are perhaps the best example of this convention, since we can be certain that these writings did not originate with the antediluvian prophet of Gen 5:24. The tradition of naming prophetic texts after heroic figures of the past can also be found in various other apocalyptic and extra-biblical writings - a collection of works known as the pseudepigraphia. In fact the Book of Revelation is noted for being one of the only instances in apocalyptic literature which does not follow this custom. The author instead gives his own name - John.

The use of a pseudonym to attribute mystical writings to noted authorities from the past was employed to gain immediate recognition for the work at hand, rather than relying on the (perhaps non-existent) reputation of the seers themselves. It was also a way of retaining anonymity and dedicating the work to figures of particular inspiration to the writer. So although the above prophecy drops a considerable amount of prestige regarding its provenance, whether or not it is a genuine oracle of St. Hildegard should not detract from the inherent prophetic ability it may still possess.

Friday, 14 October 2011

St. Patrick and the End-Time Flood of Ireland

A well-known prophecy of a nation being destroyed by tidal waves at the end-time can be found in one of the earliest biographies of St. Patrick:

These are the three prayers of Patrick, as they were delivered to us by the Hibernians, entreating that all should be received on the day of judgment, if we should repent even in the last days of our life.
That he should not be shut up in hell. That barbarian nations should never have the rule over us. That no one shall conquer us, that is the Scots, before seven years previous to the day of judgment, because seven years before the judgment we shall be destroyed in the sea, this is the third.

This prophecy can be traced back to original documents dating from the 7th century (Tirechan's untitled memoirs of St. Patrick), which are based on the The Book of Ultan - an earlier now lost source written by a disciple of Patrick himself (the full text of Tierchan's work can be found online here). A reader has noted that the prayer that "no barbarian nations" should ever have rule over Ireland, has so far proved true in the fact that it has only ever been conquered by Christian nations. We should also note that the word "Scots" here refers to the Irish people rather than the present sense of the term. The Irish were referred to as Scoti in Latin, and Irish rule over Northern Britain during the Dark Ages gradually saw the term being transferred to that country.
This prediction of the end-time flood of Ireland is often associated with another prophecy attributed to St. Colmcille (who is also known by his Latin name St. Columba).

I concede a favour to them without exception,
and St Patrick also did concede the same;
that seven years before the last day,
the sea shall submerge Eirin by one inundation

The above prophecy is believed to be taken from a 9th century document titled Colum Cille cecinit, but so far the earliest source it can be traced back to is O'Kearney, N. The Prophecies of Ss. Columbkille, Maeltamlacht, Ultan, Seadhna, Coireall, Bearcan, Malachy, &tc (Dublin: John O’Daly, 1856) – a book which is known to contain many spurious prophecies formulated as rhetoric for the 1798 Irish rebellion. It is possible that this quatrain is based on an earlier source or tradition, such as the Leabhar Breac, but currently its origins remains untraceable. It is unlikely that the original prophecy was made by St. Colmcille, but instead may have developed from the earlier, almost certainly authentic literature concerning the life of St. Patrick.
The prophecy of Ireland being destroyed by end-time floods is intimately related to the other material in Public and private revelation which tells of an eschatological inundation, and seems to be inextricably linked to the threat posed by the collapse of the volcano Cumbre Vieja into the Atlantic ocean (see the earlier post Mega-tsunami, where I show how this event is connected with the "great mounatin, burning with fire" being thrown into the sea in Rev 8:8, as well as several other biblical passages).
As we can see from the diagram below, Ireland is one of the countries that would be most affected be a mega-tsunami generated by the collapse of the volcano Cumbre Vieja in the Canary Islands.

This would lead us to ask why Ireland seems to be the sole focus of the prophecy of St. Patrick? Why would when there are so many other countries in even greater risk from this catastrophe. One explanation may be found in the fact that this prediction was made almost one thousand years before the discovery of America by the Europeans. The other countries which will be affected by this disaster would simply have been unknown to the saint.

According to Christian prophetic tradition, the tribulation period at the end-time (which includes the reign of the Antichrist) will last for a total of seven years. The fact that the prophecy of St. Patrick foretells that Ireland would be destroyed by the sea seven years before the last day in order to spare the Irish from the reign of the Antichrist therefore suggests that the rule of this end-time tyrant will only take place after the catastrophic flooding caused by the collapse of the volcano Cumbre Vieja into the sea.

See also the related posts:

The Fall of Babylon
The Casting Down of Mountains
Mega-tsunami Update: Recent seismic activity in the Canary Islands - Cause for Alarm?
The Fall of Rome - A Template of End-Time Events?
The Eschatological Earthquake

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Casting Down of Mountains

Amidst the various apocalyptic sections of the Bible, we find the recurring theme of a mountain being cast into the sea. These portions of the Bible are usually thought to be hyperbolic language used to emphasise the omnipotence of God, since taken literally, mountains cannot be lifted up and thrown into the sea. According to this straightforward interpretation, mountains symbolise strength, immovability and timelessness, and the fact that they are thrown down in the face of the Divine presence highlights God's complete mastery over nature.
Yet this imagery of mountains being cast into the sea may not be as unthinkable as a cursory reading of this material would initially suggest.  Scientists have recently shown how mountains can quite literally be cast into the sea by large-scale lateral volcanic collapses - events which can generate one of the most extreme natural occurrences known to science - so-called mega-tsunamis. A mega-tsunami event can produce a tidal wave capable of achieving enormous heights of between 100-300m, with the potential to completely obliterate entire cities. While these types of  events are extremely rare, they have happened many times in pre-history, as has been shown by countless geophysical surveys around the world. As I discuss in the previous article Mega-tsunami, some prominent geophysicists believe that the next such large-scale volcanic collapse will occur at Cumbre Vieja on La Palma in the Canary Islands, which will produce a mega-tsunami that will devastate the east coast of the Americas, as well as parts of Africa and Western Europe.
As I argue in my book Unveiling the Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation foretells that such an event will bring about the downfall of "Babylon" - the ruling empire at the end-time, and will pave the way for the rise to power of the Antichrist.
There are many passages in the Bible which describe mountains being thrown down, and these verses are variously associated with the Second Coming of Christ, the eschatological earthquake, volcanic eruptions and visions of massive coastal flooding.  I will list each of these biblical passages below to allow the reader to read all the relevant biblical passages side-by-side; and for ease of navigation, will link each passage to the associated pages on this site which give a more in-depth commentary:

The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. (Rev 8:8)

Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ― So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more… (Rev 18:21)

For further commentary on these verses, see the article Mega-tsunami.

“Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, declares the Lord, which destroys the whole earth; I will stretch out my hand against you, and roll you down from the crags, and make you a burnt mountain. No stone shall be taken from you for a corner and no stone for a foundation, but you shall be a perpetual waste, declares the Lord." (Jer 51:25-26)

"How Babylon is taken, the praise of the whole earth seized! How Babylon has become a horror among the nations! The sea has come up on Babylon; she is covered with its tumultuous waves." (Jer 51:41-42)

"When you finish reading this book, tie a stone to it and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates, and say, ‘Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more, because of the disaster that I am bringing upon her..." (Jer 51:63-64)

For further commentary on these verses, see the article
The Fall of Babylon.

The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. (Nahum 1:5-6)

For further commentary on this passage, see the article
A Mega-tsunami Prophecy in the Book of Nahum?

God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His splendor covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. His brightness was like the light; rays flashed from his hand; and there he veiled his power. Before him went pestilence, and plague followed at his heels.

He stood and measured the earth; he looked and shook the nations; then the eternal mountains were scattered; the everlasting hills sank low. His were the everlasting ways. I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction; the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. Was your wrath against the rivers, O LORD?
Was your anger against the rivers, or your indignation against the sea, when you rode on your horses, on your chariot of salvation? You stripped the sheath from your bow, calling for many arrows. Selah
You split the earth with rivers. The mountains saw you and writhed; the raging waters swept on; the deep gave forth its voice; it lifted its hands on high...
...You trampled the sea with your horses, the surging of mighty waters.

(Hab 3:3-10; 15)

For further commentary on this passage, see the article
Parousia, Eschatological Earthquake and Mega-tsunami Connections in Habakkuk?
As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth... (Dan 2:34-35)

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.” (Dan 2:44-45)

For further commentary on the above passages, see the article Nebuchadnezzar's dream.

“For the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. “In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I called. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry came to his ears. Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations of the heavens trembled and quaked, because he was angry. Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him. He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. He rode on a cherub and flew; he was seen on the wings of the wind. He made darkness around him his canopy, thick clouds, a gathering of water. Out of the brightness before him coals of fire flamed forth. The LORD thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered his voice. And he sent out arrows and scattered them; lightning, and routed them. Then the channels of the sea were seen; the foundations of the world were laid bare, at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils. "He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters." (2 Sam 22:5-17)

For further commentary on this passage, see the article King David's Vision of the End-time?

And they will raise a lamentation over you and say to you, “‘How you have perished, you who were inhabited from the seas, O city renowned, who was mighty on the sea; she and her inhabitants imposed their terror on all her inhabitants! Now the coastlands tremble on the day of your fall, and the coastlands that are on the sea are dismayed at your passing. “For thus says the Lord GOD: When I make you a city laid waste, like the cities that are not inhabited, when I bring up the deep over you, and the great waters cover you, then I will make you go down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of old, and I will make you to dwell in the world below, among ruins from of old, with those who go down to the pit, so that you will not be inhabited; but I will set beauty in the land of the living. I will bring you to a dreadful end, and you shall be no more. Though you be sought for, you will never be found again, declares the Lord GOD.” (Ezek 26:17-21)

For further commentary on this passage, see the article Mega-tsunami Prophecies in the Book of Ezekiel?

I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar - the LORD of hosts is his name.
And I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.’

Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering.
(Isa 51:15-17)

For further commentary on this passage, see the article The Two Towers and the Sixth Seal.

The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe. (Rev 16:17-21)

For further commentary on this passage, see the article The Eschatological Earthquake.

Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. (Psalm 97:3-5)

Then Job answered and said: “Truly I know that it is so: But how can a man be in the right before God? If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand times. He is wise in heart and mighty in strength —who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?—he who removes mountains, and they know it not, when he overturns them in his anger, who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble; who commands the sun, and it does not rise; who seals up the stars; who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea; who made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the chambers of the south; (Job 9:1-9)

Ah, the thunder of many peoples; they thunder like the thundering of the sea! Ah, the roar of nations; they roar like the roaring of mighty waters! The nations roar like the roaring of many waters, but he will rebuke them, and they will flee far away, chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind and whirling dust before the storm. (Isaiah 17:12-13)

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Psalm 46:2-3)

Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
(Mark 11:23)

“But the mountain falls and crumbles away, and the rock is removed from its place; the waters wear away the stones; the torrents wash away the soil of the earth; so you destroy the hope of man. (Job 14:18-19)

For behold, the LORD is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place. (Mic 1:3-4)

The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:14-17)

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
(Luke 23:26-31)

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves..." (Luke 21:25)

The Lord GOD of hosts, he who touches the earth and it melts, and all who dwell in it mourn, and all of it rises like the Nile, and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt; who builds his upper chambers in the heavens and founds his vault upon the earth; who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth — the LORD is his name. (Amos 9:5-6)

But on that day, the day that Gog shall come against the land of Israel, declares the Lord GOD, my wrath will be roused in my anger. For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground. I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Lord GOD. Every man's sword will be against his brother.  With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur. So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.
(Ezek 38:18-23)

For further commentary on this passage, see the article Mega-tsunami Prophecies in the Book of Ezekiel?

The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe. (Rev 16:17-21)

For further commentary on this passage, see the article The Fall of Babylon.

 And the angel who talked with me came again and woke me, like a man who is awakened out of his sleep. And he said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it. And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.” And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.” Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”
 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
 “These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range through the whole earth.” Then I said to him, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?” And a second time I answered and said to him, “What are these two branches of the olive trees, which are beside the two golden pipes from which the golden oil is poured out?” He said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.” Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”

(Zech 4)

Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke! Flash forth the lightning and scatter them; send out your arrows and rout them! Stretch out your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me from the many waters, from the hand of foreigners, whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
(Psalm 144:5-8)

For a fire is kindled by my anger,
and it burns to the depths of Sheol,
devours the earth and its increase,
and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.
And I will heap disasters upon them...
(Deut 32:22-23)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

The Fall of Babylon

Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!" (Rev 18:2)

“Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, declares the Lord, which destroys the whole earth; I will stretch out my hand against you, and roll you down from the crags, and make you a burnt mountain. No stone shall be taken from you for a corner and no stone for a foundation, but you shall be a perpetual waste, declares the Lord." (Jer 51:25-26)

"How Babylon is taken, the praise of the whole earth seized! How Babylon has become a horror among the nations! The sea has come up on Babylon; she is covered with its tumultuous waves." (Jer 51:41-42)

The description of the fall of Babylon is perhaps the most detailed single narrative thread of the Book of Revelation. Spread over three chapters, we are told of the rise and fall of this eschatological world empire, and the horror and disbelief of the surrounding nations as they watch its destruction unfold "in a single hour" (Rev 18:10). Above all, it is the earth's merchants that lament its loss, as the abundant riches it poured into their bloated coffers are no more, and the rest of the world is sent spiralling into economic chaos.
As we noted in an earlier post (see here), a common theme in the descriptions of the downfall of Babylon in the Bible is the throwing down of mountains. An angel casts a large mill stone into the sea to demonstrate how Babylon would be thrown down, which intentionally reflects the "huge mountain, burning with fire" being thrown into the sea in Rev 8:9. The falling of mountains is a stock motif in apocalyptic imagery. We can find it for example in the famous verse in Isa 40:4, which describes every mountain being laid low. Jesus brings up this theme during his enacted parable of cursing the fig tree (which represents the withering of Israel, before it is allowed to put forth its leaf once again at the end-time to indicate that "summer is near" cf. Mark 13:28):

Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
(Mark 11:23)

But we find that has a particular significance in the downfall of Babylon.  For example when we are told that God remembers to punish Babylon for its transgressions after the eschatological earthquake in Rev 16:19, we are immediately given a variation of this theme, where islands flee away, and no mountains are to be found:

The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. (Rev 16:19-20)

In the original Greek of the above text, the word translated as "every" here is actually the Greek word pasa, which means "all", "entire", or "whole" (the Greek word for "every" is kathe), and the word for "island" is used in the singular nesos, rather than plural nesoi. So the above verse is better translated as "And the whole island fled away, and the mountains were not to be found". Translated in this manner, the verse conjures imagery of a lateral collapse such as that which is expected to occur at Cumbre Vieja.
The Apocalypse borrows imagery from various OT sources in its depiction of the fall of Babylon, and is particularly reliant upon chapter 51 of the Book of Jeremiah in this instance. As we can see above, Jer 51:42 curiously describes the landlocked ancient city of Babylon as being destroyed by the sea. The author of the Book of Revelation seems to perceive that these words of Jeremiah transcend their immediate context, and foreshadow events to come at the end of the age. A destroying mountain which "destroys the whole earth" becomes a burning mountain which is rolled down from the crags (the original Hebrew word "serepah" used here also allows the present participle "burning", and it is translated as such in the Recovery Version of the Bible: "Indeed, I am against you, O mountain of destruction, Declares Jehovah, Which destroys the whole earth; And I will stretch out My hand upon you And roll you down from the rocks And make you a burning mountain.").
Shortly after in the same chapter, we are told that Babylon is covered by the sea, in Jer 51:42 (quoted above), and again in Jer 51:54-56:

“A voice! A cry from Babylon! The noise of great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans!
For the LORD is laying Babylon waste and stilling her mighty voice. Their waves roar like many waters; the noise of their voice is raised, for a destroyer has come upon her, upon Babylon..."

Then again shortly thereafter, Jeremiah instructs his messenger Seraiah to physically enact a prophecy on his approach to Babylon which is highly reminiscent of the angel casting the millstone into the sea in Rev 18:21:

"When you finish reading this book, tie a stone to it and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates, and say, ‘Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more, because of the disaster that I am bringing upon her..." (Jer 51:63-64)

These various biblical images of mountains being cast into the sea strongly resemble the computer models developed in consultation with the geophysicists behind the Canary Island mega-tsunami hypothesis, such as we can see in the video below:

It is interesting to note that in a later article issued to defend their findings in the face of some objections to the extent of the predicted collapse of Cumbre Vieja, Ward and Day together with supporting geophyicists Bill McGuire and Christopher Kilburn stated that if anything, their original estimates were conservative (McGuire, B; Day, S; Kilburn, C; Ward, S.N. “Volcano collapse-generated megatsunamis: Fact or Fiction?”. See the full article here). So the projected devastating effects of this unparalleled disaster could be even worse than that presented in the above documentary.

It is also interesting to note that the "funeral dirge" of Babylon described in Rev 18 is based on the destruction of the Phoenician city of Tyre by the sea foretold in Ezek 27:

“Your rowers have brought you out into the high seas. The east wind has wrecked you in the heart of the seas. Your riches, your wares, your merchandise, your mariners and your pilots, your caulkers, your dealers in merchandise, and all your men of war who are in you, with all your crew that is in your midst, sink into the heart of the seas on the day of your fall. At the sound of the cry of your pilots the countryside shakes, and down from their ships come all who handle the oar. The mariners and all the pilots of the sea stand on the land and shout aloud over you and cry out bitterly. They cast dust on their heads and wallow in ashes; they make themselves bald for you and put sackcloth on their waist, and they weep over you in bitterness of soul, with bitter mourning. In their wailing they raise a lamentation for you and lament over you: ‘Who is like Tyre, like one destroyed in the midst of the sea? When your wares came from the seas, you satisfied many peoples; with your abundant wealth and merchandise you enriched the kings of the earth. Now you are wrecked by the seas, in the depths of the waters; your merchandise and all your crew in your midst have sunk with you. All the inhabitants of the coastlands are appalled at you, and the hair of their kings bristles with horror; their faces are convulsed. The merchants among the peoples hiss at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.’” (Ezek 27:26-36)

The fact that this passage is alluded to in the Apocalypse again suggests that it transcends its immediate context and gives us a glimpse of events unfolding at the end-time. Compare the above passage with Rev 18:

They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.”And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls. “The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!” The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, “Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.” And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, “What city was like the great city?” And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out, “Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in a single hour she has been laid waste. (Rev 18:10-19)

The fact that the author of the Apocalypse based the lamentation over the fall of the eschatological "Babylon" on this account in Ezekiel suggests that we should look to this text to find supplementary material to compliment the account given in Rev 18. When we do so, we find that the means of the downfall of Tyre - that it would be destroyed by the sea, is the most notable complimentary addition we can make. Taken together with the description of the angel casting the millstone into the sea in Rev 18:21 saying: “So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more” (Rev 18:21), therefore strongly suggests that "destruction by sea" is the most significant theme to be gleaned from both texts.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Eschatological Earthquake

Throughout the Bible earthquakes are specifically associated with theophany, but none more so than the last seismic event to trouble humankind. We find an early reference to this event in the Book of Ezekiel, which connects this event to the battle of "Gog and Magog", which is referred to as Armageddon in the Apocalypse:

On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground. I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Lord GOD. Every man’s sword will be against his brother
(Ezek 38)

The Book of Zechariah explicitly associates this event with the coming of the Messiah:

Behold, a day is coming for the LORD, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.
(Zech 14:1-5)

And the same theme can be found in other Old Testament passages such as the Book of Haggai:

For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts.
(Hagg 2:6-7)

The Book of Joel also associates this event with the Second Coming of Christ and the battle of Armageddon, which takes place at the Valley of Jehoshaphat - which in Hebrew means "the Valley of God's judgment":

“For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel...

Proclaim this among the nations:
Consecrate for war; stir up the mighty men. Let all the men of war draw near; let them come up.
Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, “I am a warrior.” Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations, and gather yourselves there. Bring down your warriors, O LORD. Let the nations stir themselves up and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.
Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the winepress is full. The vats overflow, for their evil is great. Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near
in the valley of decision.
The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. The LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But the LORD is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel.

(Joel 3:1-2, 9-16)

However the most important of the descriptions of the eschatological earthquake appears in the Book of the Apocalypse:

The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.
(Rev 16:17-20)

In Unveiling the Apocalypse, I argue that the geophysical instability caused by this eschatological earthquake is directly linked with the collapse of Cumbre Vieja. If we look at the above verses, a pattern begins to emerge. In Ezek 38 above, the eschatological earthquake causes mountains and cliffs to be thrown down (the "great mountain, burning with fire" of Rev 6?) and precipitates a world war (every man's sword will be against his brother). In Joel, God himself enters into judgment, with his voice causing a huge earthquake, and the nations gather in "the Valley of Decision" for the eschatological battle. And in Rev 16, the eschatological earthquake causes the "cities of the nations" to fall, and God remembers to punish "Babylon the great".
Geophysicists now recognize that earthquakes can boast magmatism in areas of volcanic activity, and use seismic events as indicators of potential volcanic eruptions (see here). So it is theoretically possible that this, the greatest earthquake known to human civilisation (which is centred on the area around Jerusalem), will greatly increase magmatism over a vast area. Volcanic eruptions could soon follow this event, and if it was to trigger an eruption in the Canary Islands, the ensuing mega-tsunami would devastate the east coast of the Americas, thus creating the geo-political conditions necessary for the rise of the Antichrist and battle of Armageddon.

This post is continued at The Eschatological Earthquake Part II

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Prophecy of Pope Leo XIII

The St. Michael Prayer, which was said after Low Mass until the liturgical changes in 1965, was
instituted by Pope Leo XIII after he received a prophetic vision. The most widely known element of this vision is that the Holy Father overheard a debate between Our Lord and Satan, during which the Devil was granted more power and authority for a period of 75 to 100 years. According to the most widespread accounts, the events behind the prophecy of Pope Leo XIII run as following: 

On October 13, 1884, after Pope Leo XIII had finished celebrating Mass in the Vatican Chapel, attended by a few Cardinals and members of the Vatican staff, he suddenly stopped at the foot of the altar. He stood there for about 10 minutes, as if in a trance, his face ashen white. Then, going immediately from the Chapel to his office, he composed the prayer to St. Michael, with instructions it be said after all Low Masses everywhere. When asked what had happened, he explained that, as he was about to leave the foot of the altar, he suddenly heard voices - two voices, one kind and gentle, the other guttural and harsh. They seemed to come from near the tabernacle. As he listened, he heard the following conversation:

The guttural voice, the voice of Satan in his pride, boasting to Our Lord: "I can destroy your Church"

The gentle voice of Our Lord: "You can? Then go ahead and do so."

Satan: "To do so, I need more time and more power."

Our Lord: "How much time? How much power?

Satan: "75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service."

Our Lord: "You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will." 

Current research suggests that the earliest version of this story to appear in print was in 1933, in a German Sunday newspaper. The way in which this prophecy first surfaced suggests that it originally circulated in oral form amongst the Vatican staff and hierarchy who were with the pope during this encounter. As such, it is impossible to trace back to an original documented source. After its initial publication in 1933, a German writer, Fr. Bers, attempted to find the origins of this prophecy for a 1934 article titled "Die Gebete nach der hl. Messe" (Theol-Prakt. Quartalschrift 87, 162-163). During his investigation, Fr. Bers failed to find any concrete source, leaving him to conclude that the prophecy was a later invention that was "spreading like a virus". However, 13 years after Fr. Bers had initially failed to find the original source of this prophecy, an eyewitness to the events behind the institution of the St. Michael Prayer eventually came forward. Writing in 1947, Fr. Domenico Pechenino, a priest who worked at the Vatican during the time of Leo XIII, provides a first-hand account of these events:

I do not remember the exact year. One morning the great Pope Leo XIII had celebrated a Mass and, as usual, was attending a Mass of thanksgiving. Suddenly, we saw him raise his head and stare at something above the celebrant’s head. He was staring motionlessly, without batting an eye. His expression was one of horror and awe; the colour and look on his face changing rapidly. Something unusual and grave was happening in him.

“Finally, as though coming to his senses, he lightly but firmly tapped his hand and rose to his feet. He headed for his private office. His retinue followed anxiously and solicitously, whispering: ‘Holy Father, are you not feeling well? Do you need anything?’ He answered: ‘Nothing, nothing.’ About half an hour later, he called for the Secretary of the Congregation of Rites and, handing him a sheet of paper, requested that it be printed and sent to all the ordinaries around the world. What was that paper? It was the prayer that we recite with the people at the end of every Mass. It is the plea to Mary and the passionate request to the Prince of the heavenly host, (St. Michael: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle) beseeching God to send Satan back to hell."
(Fr. Domenico Pechenino, quoted in the 1955 Roman journal Ephemerides Liturgicae V. LXIX, pp 54–60)

Although he leaves out any mention of Pope Leo hearing a conversation between God and the Devil, and the prophecy of the 100 years of Satan's greater power, the fact that it was written 14 years after the original version of this prophecy first appeared in print would suggest that Fr Pechenino presumes that readers are already aware of the contents of the prophecy, and is merely writing to confirm what he saw that day. Fr. Bers had noted in 1934 that this prophecy was already in wide circulation, and was "spreading like a virus", so it was certainly well-known by the time Fr. Pechenino was providing his eyewitness testimony, and we can be sure that he was aware of it. It seems that the real reason Fr. Pechenino leaves out any mention of the 100 years element of this vision is due to the simple fact that he did not actually hear or see the vision himself, but was rather relating how he witnessed Pope Leo experiencing this event. Given that Fr. Pechenino is recalling these events solely as an observer, he could not have possibly known the content of the vision at this time, since by his own admission, the Holy Father did not reveal to him exactly what he saw or heard. He only knew that the Pope had composed the St. Michael Prayer immediately after this episode, which runs as following:

The St. Michael Prayer

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

The fact that Fr. Pechenino's account confirms the later 1933 version, can be used to establish that the prophecy of the 100 years of Satan's greater power is in fact genuine. If we compare both texts above, we can see that Fr Pechenino's testimony concurs almost exactly with the original version of the story behind the prophecy. The only difference is that Fr. Pechenino was not told exactly what Pope Leo experienced during this vision, which suggests that the Holy Father confided what he saw to someone else - the retinue who Fr. Pechenino saw following the pope afterwards and was questioning him. Being a member of his personal entourage, the retinue would have been a close confidant of the pope, and the details of the vision were probably given to him. This would make the retinue the most likely source of this prophecy, and how it was circulated in the Vatican.

But when should this 100 year period be calculated from? Most interpreters think that the hundred years referred to the 20th century, and some later versions of this prophecy explicitly state this view. While the original version doesn't mention a specific starting point, there are only two real options - either the year the vision was first received, which according to the first account was 1884, or the turn of the century. It seems the latter position is the most likely, since in what he himself described as the "greatest act of my pontificate", Pope Leo XIII consecrated the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 11th 1899, as requested by Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart (see here). Since this was obviously a date of utmost importance to the pontiff, and it commenced at a symbolically significant turning point (the end of the century), it would be logical to assume that the dawn of the 20th century was the beginning of the 100 years allotted to Satan.
Rather interestingly, in the post The Seven Wandering Stars and the Heads of the Dragon, we note how the 20th century was framed by two extremely rare planetary alignments - in the year 1899 and the year 2000. And if we look closely at the Book of Revelation, it suggests that the opening of the abyss (during which Satan is released "for a little while" to gather the nations for war) is marked by just such an event. Rev 1 depicts Jesus holding seven stars in his right hand, and upon experiencing this vision, St. John is told that Christ has the keys to the abyss:

In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
(Rev 1:16-18)

The fact that Christ is holding an arrangement of stars in his hand, and then immediately afterwards informs us "I have the keys of Death and Hades", suggests that the keys to the abyss are to be directly identified with these seven stars. It also suggests that this arrangement of stars is in some way a remarkable and unique event involving the wandering planets, rather than being a fixed constellation comprised of seven stars. If the seven stars held in the hand of Jesus are interpreted as an alignment of the seven classical planets, then it would follow that the opening and closing of the abyss would be marked by the appearance of such phenomena:

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.
(Rev 20:1-3) 

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.
(Rev 20:7-8)

The amillennial approach towards the interpretation of the millennium, first forwarded by St. Augustine of Hippo in the 5th century, has been almost universally accepted by Catholic theologians as the standard for interpreting this prophecy for over 1600 years. In chapter XX of his monumental work City of God, St. Augustine equated the "millennium" with the age of the Church. For St. Augustine, the beginning of the "millennium" or age of the Church is thus traced back to ministry of Christ, when Jesus bound the power of Satan through his sacrifice on the Cross. As St. Augustine points out, this is alluded to by Christ Himself in the Gospels:

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself says, No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man — meaning by the strong man the devil, because he had power to take captive the human race; and meaning by his goods which he was to take, those who had been held by the devil in various sins and iniquities, but were to become believers in Himself. It was then for the binding of this strong one that the apostle saw in the Apocalypse an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss, and a chain in his hand. And he laid hold, he says, on the dragon, that old serpent, which is called the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,— that is, bridled and restrained his power so that he could not seduce and gain possession of those who were to be freed. (St. Augustine of Hippo, City of God, XX:7) 

For the past 1,600 years, Roman Catholic teaching on the millennium has developed around St. Augustine's amillennial view of the Apocalypse - a long history of interpretation which would eventually shape magisterial teaching on eschatology and the development of the Catechism. According to the amillennialist position, the millennium is not a literal thousand year period, but rather it represents a very long period of time during which the power of Satan is restricted, in order to allow the spread of the Gospel. The strong man is Satan, whilst the phrase the "strong man's house" refers to the Devil as the lord of this world:

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
(2 Cor 4:3-4)

In Matt 12:29, Christ tells us that in order for Him to plunder the worldly realm of Satan and open the eyes of unbelievers to the Gospel, He would first have to "bind the strong man". Although evil still exists during this period, and Satan can still interfere with human affairs, his power would be limited in order to facilitate the growth of the Gospel. As the Catechism teaches, even though Satan was definitively defeated by Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross, the reign of Christ's kingdom on earth in the Church will always be subject to the attacks of evil powers until the creation of the new heaven and the new earth after the Last Judgement:

Though already present in his Church, Christ's reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled "with power and great glory" by the King's return to earth. This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ's Passover. Until everything is subject to him, "until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God."
(CCC 671)

The Book of Revelation tells us that this "millennium" or age of the Church will come to a close towards the end of the world, when Satan would once again be set loose for "a little while" to deceive the inhabitants of the earth, and gather the nations together for war. During this age of apostasy, Satan would once again have the power to blind the minds of unbelievers from the light of the Gospel, and would be able to inhibit its growth. And given that this is exactly the situation we are faced with today in the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Great Apostasy, we can only be left to conclude that the "millennium", or age of the Church has already came to end, and that the forces of Satan have already been unbound. The Apocalypse tells us that once the forces of hell have been unleashed at the end of the "thousand years", they will gather the nations together for war, and surround the Heavenly Jerusalem, which represents the Church:

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city...
(Rev 20:7-9)

As St. Augustine elaborates:

The words, And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and encompassed the camp of the saints and the beloved city, do not mean that they have come, or shall come, to one place, as if the camp of the saints and the beloved city should be in some one place; for this camp is nothing else than the Church of Christ extending over the whole world. And consequently wherever the Church shall be—and it shall be in all nations, as is signified by the breadth of the earth,— there also shall be the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and there it shall be encompassed by the savage persecution of all its enemies...
(City of God, XX:11)

The end of the "thousand years" in Rev 20 is the age spoken of by Christ in his eschatological discourse on Mount Olivet, when wars would increase in intensity and there would be a mass departure from the Faith - the age of the Great Apostasy, when the light of the Gospel would once again be veiled to the minds of unbelievers:

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
(Matt 24:6-12)

During this "little while" at the end of the "thousand years", Satan would be granted a period of greater power, much like in the Book of Job.  Indeed the prophetic vision of Pope Leo XIII directly bases itself on the story of Job in the Old Testament. Here, Satan is granted greater power over Job, God's faithful servant, in order to test his level of faith. While Satan believes that he will be able to make Job turn his back on God by heaping atrocities upon him, the Heavenly Father is certain that Job will remain faithful in patient suffering. Job then has to endure a series of trials inflicted upon him at the hand of Satan, in order to prove his faithfulness to God. But in the vision of Leo XIII, the Church itself takes the place of Job.

During this new "trial of Job", Satan uses the increase in lawlessness (in the horrors of war and genocide) in an attempt to destroy peoples' faith in God, making the love of many grow cold. And in the light of the general apostasy which followed the horrors of the two World Wars and the genocides of the 20th century, it seems that this tactic has paid off spectacularly. Which isn't at all surprising, given the fact that the exposition of the philosophical problem of evil is one of the primary weapons of modern atheism. Once the "thousand years" were over, the forces of evil really did surround the City of God, and the Church is still being besieged by the modern secular values espoused in the principles of Freemasonry. 

 So if the "millennium" or age of the Church really did end at the turn of the 20th century, as is suggested by the prophecy of Pope Leo XIII, and indeed the actual unfolding of world events, we are left with the inescapable conclusion that the unbinding of Satan described in the Apocalypse is directly related to the two world wars. Turning back to the Book of Revelation, we find an earlier parallel reference to Satan being unbound from his prison in Rev 20, which is to be directly equated with the opening of the abyss in Rev 9. These two passages undoubtedly refer to the exact same event, only this time we are given the additional detail that the opening of the abyss at the end of the millennium or "age of the Church", would be marked not only by the "keys of the abyss" (which we have already established as an alignment of the seven classical planets) but also by a star falling to earth and the appearance of locust-like "demons":

And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth.
(Rev 9:1-3)

In my book, I show how this prophecy of the appearance of demonic flying armour-clad locusts actually concerns the invention of military aircraft at the turn of the 20th century - right at the beginning of the 100 years of Satan's greater power. And that this was timed to exactly coincide with a "star" falling to earth - the Tunguska event of 1908 - when a large meteorite or asteroid exploded above the wilderness of Siberia (see the post Tunguska, Pope Leo XIII and the Opening of the Abyss, for further details on this subject). So just as the "little while" given to Satan mentioned in Rev 9 and 20 is marked by the appearance of the apocalyptic locusts and a star falling to earth, the beginning of the 100 years of Satan's greater power foretold by Pope Leo XIII coincided with the invention of military aircraft and the Tunguska event. In order to find out more information on what happens during the "little while" given to Satan, we must turn back to Rev 20, where we are told that after the Devil is released from his prison, he "will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea" (vv7-8). Once again, this corresponds almost exactly with the reality of the situation at the beginning of the 20th century - at the start of Satan's 100 years of greater power. The nations at the four corners of the earth truly were gathered together for battle, in the two greatest wars the world has ever known.
The theme of Satan gathering the nations together for war is also emphasised in a parallel passage in chapter 16:

The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.
(Rev 16:12-16)

In the book, I argue that the three "woes" described in chapters 9-11 of the Book of Revelation correspond to three world wars, and that each of these "woes" are also represented by the three unclean spirits like frogs that issue from the mouths of the Dragon, False Prophet and the Beast. The first two woes refer to the two world wars, while the third woe represents the last great war - the battle of Armageddon. We are told above in Rev 16 that a noteworthy event precedes the coming of the unclean spirits of the Dragon, Beast and False Prophet to gather the nations for war - the drying up of the river Euphrates in Mesopotamia. It is interesting then to note that construction on the Hindiya Barrage on the river Euphrates lasted between the years 1911-1913 - just immediately before the outbreak of WWI in 1914. The Hindiya Barrage was the first modern dam erected on the Euphrates. During its construction, a new river bed was excavated and then inundated after its completion, while the old river bed was blocked with dams. So the Euphrates was indeed "dried up" just before the three demonic spirits began to assemble the armies of the whole world for battle. Which helps us to further establish that this parallel passage concerning the gathering of the nations for war is exactly the same event described as occurring at the end of the "thousand years": "And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea." (Rev 20:7-8).

Also if we are to take the "75 years" element of this prophecy as an indication of a different date other than the end of the century, as an alternative span for determining the dates connected to Satan's "little while", then it is noteworthy that calculating 75 years from 1914 brings us to the year 1989 - the year of the fall of Communism. The fruits of the "spark from Poland" which St. Faustina predicted would pave the way for the Second Coming of Christ. In the earlier post The Three Days of Darkness and the Angelic Pope, we have already noted that this year was highly significant to the Third Secret of Fatima, especially given the connection with the dates which can be calculated from the 153 fish of the Second Pentecost (153 times 13 - the number of Jesus and the 12 apostles - gives 1989).

We can find even more evidence that the prophecy of Pope Leo XIII is directly concerned with the unbinding of Satan at the end of the "millennium", in that the vision was actually composed of two separate parts - one auditory, and one visionary. While the auditory element of this vision is legendary (Pope Leo hearing the conversation between God and the Devil), what is not so well known is that according to first-hand reports, the Holy Father simulateanously experienced a visionary element in this prophecy - where he seen a huge number of demonic spirits converging upon Rome. A vision which matches the events described at the end of the millennium in the Apocalypse perfectly:

"And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city"
(Rev 20:9)

Although it is virtually unheard of, the visionary element of this prophecy was recorded for posterity by Cardinal Giovanni Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano. The aforementioned article in Ephemerides Liturgicae V. LXIX (which contained the testimony of Fr. Pechenino), also notes that Card. Corneliano gave an explanation for the exact wording of the St. Michael Prayer in his Pastoral Letters for Lent - stating that:

 "the sentence 'The evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls' has a historical explanation that was many times repeated by his private secretary, Monsignor Rinaldo Angeli. Leo XIII truly saw, in a vision, demonic spirits who were congregating on the Eternal City (Rome). The prayer that he asked all the Church to recite was the fruit of that experience. He would recite that prayer with strong, powerful voice: we heard it many a time in the Vatican Basilica. Leo XIII also personally wrote an exorcism that is included in the Roman Ritual. He recommended that bishops and priests read these exorcisms often in their dioceses and parishes. He himself would recite them often throughout the day."

This would suggest that the original source of the prophecy of the 100 years of greater power was actually the Pope's private secretary - Mgr. Rinaldo Angeli, and that this is the same retinue mentioned by Fr. Pechenino - the one who followed the pope immediately after he received his vision. Given that Mgr. Angeli had been the Holy Father's private secretary since shortly after his election in 1878, this would make him the most likely candidate for the source of this prophecy.

On 18 May 1890, a different, much longer prayer to St. Michael was approved for use by Pope Leo XIII, which may help to shed some further light on the thoughts of the Holy Father after years of reflection on this vision. This is the same exorcism prayer in the Roman Ritual mentioned by Card. Corneliano:

O glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, defend us in battle, and in the struggle which is ours against the principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against spirits of evil in high places (Eph 6:12). Come to the aid of men, whom God created immortal, made in his own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil (Wis 2:23-24, 1 Cor 6:20).
Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven. But that cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with all his angels (Rev 12:7-9).
Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of man has taken courage, Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of his Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.
These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions (Lam 3:15).
In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.
Arise then, O invincible prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and bring them the victory.
The Church venerates thee as protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of this world and of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude.
Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations.
(Rituale Romanum, 6th ed. post typicam, (Ratisbon: Pustet 1898), 163ff).

 Note that towards the end of the prayer, we find the rather telling statement: "do thou again make him captive in the abyss", which can only suggest that the prayer of Pope Leo XIII concerns the unleashing of Satan after he had already been captive in the abyss - i.e. after the "thousand years" were over. The era which Rev 20 tells us that a hoarde of demons would be unleashed from hell to encircle the Heavenly Jerusalem, the Holy City of Rome - a scenario which corresponds exactly with the vision experienced by Pope Leo XIII. In this respect, it is noteworthy then that Pope Leo XIII issued Humanum Genus (his encyclical against Freemasonry) in the exact year he was reported to have first received his famous vision - in April 1884. And the primary theme of this encyclical is based on St. Augustine's City of God:

The race of man, after its miserable fall from God, the Creator and the Giver of heavenly gifts, "through the envy of the devil," separated into two diverse and opposite parts, of which the one steadfastly contends for truth and virtue, the other of those things which are contrary to virtue and to truth. The one is the kingdom of God on earth, namely, the true Church of Jesus Christ; and those who desire from their heart to be united with it, so as to gain salvation, must of necessity serve God and His only-begotten Son with their whole mind and with an entire will. The other is the kingdom of Satan, in whose possession and control are all whosoever follow the fatal example of their leader and of our first parents, those who refuse to obey the divine and eternal law, and who have many aims of their own in contempt of God, and many aims also against God.

2. This twofold kingdom St. Augustine keenly discerned and described after the manner of two cities, contrary in their laws because striving for contrary objects; and with a subtle brevity he expressed the efficient cause of each in these words: "Two loves formed two cities: the love of self, reaching even to contempt of God, an earthly city; and the love of God, reaching to contempt of self, a heavenly one."(1) At every period of time each has been in conflict with the other, with a variety and multiplicity of weapons and of warfare, although not always with equal ardour and assault. At this period, however, the partisans of evil seems to be combining together, and to be struggling with united vehemence, led on or assisted by that strongly organized and widespread association called the Freemasons. No longer making any secret of their purposes, they are now boldly rising up against God Himself. They are planning the destruction of holy Church publicly and openly, and this with the set purpose of utterly despoiling the nations of Christendom, if it were possible, of the blessings obtained for us through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

(Pope Leo XIII, Humanum Genus, 1884. See here for the full text)