Monday, 30 January 2012

Prophecies of the Martyr-Pope

The Crucifixion of St Peter, by Caravaggio

One of the most universal themes of modern private revelations is that of the suffering of the martyr-pope - a pontiff who leads the Catholic Church at a time of great trial, before being cruelly put to death by a group of assailants. An early prophetic tradition of the assassination of a pope at the end-time can be traced back to the Joachite movement of the early 13th century, in a text known as the Commentary on Jeremiah, found in the In Hieremiam:

The future migration will indeed be worse than the former one because it will be arrogant, although not harder. Therefore Peter will be crucified, the pope will be killed, and according to the doctors, the conventual sheep and their subjects will be scattered at the death of the pastor...
The Christian people and even the pope will either actually be killed or will be afflicted in spirit.
(Translated by Bernard McGinn, Visions of the End, pp189-190)

The most famous prophecy of a martyr-pope is of course that found in the Third Secret:

...we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.

Sr. Lucia gave some additional material on the suffering of the martyr-pope in the Third Secret, which was seen in a vision by Blessed Jacinta. Lucia describes Jacinta's vision in her Third Memoir:

After a little while, Jacinta called out to me: “Didn’t you see the Holy Father?” “No.” “I don’t know how it happened, but I saw the Holy Father in a very big house, kneeling by a table, with his head buried in his hands, and he was weeping. Outside the house, there were many people. Some of them were throwing stones, others were cursing him and using bad language. Poor Holy Father, we must pray very much for him.” day, two priests recommended us to pray for the Holy Father, and explained to us who the Pope was. Afterwards, Jacinta asked me: “Is he the one I saw weeping, the one Our Lady told us about in the Secret?” “Yes, he is.” “The Lady must surely have shown him also to those priests. You see, I wasn’t mistaken. We need to pray a lot for him."Another time, we went to the cave called Lapa do Cabeço. As soon as we got there, we prostrated on the ground, saying the prayers the Angel had taught us.
After some time, Jacinta stood up and called to me: “Can’t you see all those highways and roads and fields full of people, who are crying with hunger and have nothing to eat? And the Holy Father in a church praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And so many people praying with him?”
Some days later, she asked me: “Can I say that I saw the Holy Father and all those people?” "No. Don’t you see that that’s part of the Secret? If you do, they’ll find out right away.” “All right! Then I’ll say nothing at all."
(Fatima in Lucia's Own Words, Third Memoir, pp122-113)

Our Lady of La Salette also foretold a fate of suffering for a future pope in the original version of the secrets which were first written down in 1851:
Then, after [that], our Holy Father the Pope will be persecuted. His successor will be a pontiff that nobody expects.
(Our Lady to Maximin Giraud - see the earlier post Our Lady of La Salette for more details).

St. John Bosco goes into this subject in some more depth:

“Meanwhile, the guns of the assailants are blown up, the rifles and other arms and prows are broken; many ships are shattered and sink into the sea. Then, the frenzied enemies strive to fight hand to hand, with fists, with blows, with blasphemy and with curses.
“Suddenly the Pope falls gravely wounded. Immediately, those who are with him run to help him and they lift him up. A second time the Pope is struck, he falls again and dies. A shout of victory and joy rings out amongst the enemies; from their ships an unspeakable mockery arises.
“But hardly is the Pontiff dead than another takes his place. The pilots, having met together, have elected the Pope so promptly that the news of the death of the Pope coincides with the news of the election of the successor. The adversaries begin to lose courage.
(See the earlier post St. John Bosco's Dream of the Two Pillars for a discussion on how the pillars of the dream may represent the Two Witnesses of Rev 11)

There are some other prophecies which foretell this event which for now cannot be traced back to a single reliable source - but they do accord with the scenarios depicted above. Two of these prophecies are attributed to the popes Pius IX and St. Pius X, but rather frustratingly no reference is made the original source of publication of these predictions. The other is said to have been made by the elusive St. John of the Cleft Rock in the 14th century, who I have tried in vain to identify. I contacted Prof. Bernard McGinn (the world's foremost scholarly authority on medieval prophecies) in an attempt to identify this figure, but even he was at a loss to explain where the prophecy originated. Each of these prophecies were cited in Yves Dupont's book Catholic Prophecy, but there is no mention of the original source. To my knowledge, the only prominent prophetic figure named John around this time period was John de Roquetaillade (aka Jean de Rupescissa)- who was known for making many false prophecies. John of Parma (1209-1257) is another possible candidate, but it is more likely that it is a pseudonymous work originating in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.

Pope Pius IX (1846-78): “There will come a great wonder, which will fill the world with astonishment. This wonder will be preceded by the triumph of revolution. The church will suffer exceedingly. Her servants and her chieftain will be mocked, scourged, and martyred.”
Pope St. Pius X (1903-14): “Will I be the one, or will it be a successor? What is certain is that the Pope will leave Rome and, in leaving the Vatican, he will have to pass over the dead bodies of his priests!”(Before his death) “I have seen one of my successors, of the same name, who was fleeing over the bodies of his brethren. He will take refuge in some hiding place; but after a brief respite, he will die a cruel death. Respect for God has disappeared from human hearts. They wish to efface even Gods memory. This perversity is nothing less than the beginning of the last days of the world.”

St. John of the Cleft Rock: Towards the end of the world, tyrants and hostile mobs will rob the Church and the clergy of all their possessions and will afflict and martyr them. Those who heap the most abuse upon them will be held in high esteem.
At that time, the Pope with his cardinals will have to flee Rome in tragic circumstances to a place where they will be unknown. The Pope will die a cruel death in his exile. The sufferings of the Church will be much greater than at any previous time in her history. But God will raise a holy Pope, and the Angels will rejoice. Enlightened by God, this man will rebuild almost the whole world through his holiness. He will lead everyone to the true Faith.

In my book Unveiling the Apocalypse, I argue that the prophecy of the martyr-pope is connected to the prophecy of the Two Witnesses of Rev 11, which in turn is also inextricably related to the tradition of the Angelic Pope and Great Monarch in medieval prophecy, who are foretold to restore the Church at the end-time, during the Second Pentecost.
The nature of the relationship between the martyr-pope and the Angelic Pope, and their connection to the Two Witnesses is more complex. The election of the Angelic Pope who inaugurates the Second Pentecost usually directly follows the death of the martyr-pope. So it is unclear whether it is the Angelic Pope or the martyr-pope who is one of the Two Witnesses - who both meet a fate of martyrdom in the Book of Revelation. Some prophecies seem to suggest that the Second Pentecost which occurs during the reign of the Angelic Pope is related to the death of the martyr-pope. If this is the case, then it would be directly linked to the fulfilment of the prophecies of Fatima, making the martyrdom of the pope a causation of the conversion of Russia/Second Pentecost. It would seem logical that devotion to Our Lady of Fatima would be greatly increased when the prophecies actually unfold. So the Second Pentecost could theoretically be inspired as much by the death of the martyr-pope as events which transpire during the pontificate of the Angelic Pope.
In the earlier post The Two Witnesses, I show how the two angels described in the Third Secret, who collect the blood of the martyrs and sprinkle the souls making their way toward God, is a deliberate allusion to the two cherubim on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant, where the blood of the sacrificial victim was sprinkled in accordance with Lev 16:14-16. In the book, I suggest that the two cherubim of the Ark of the Covenant symbolises the Two Witnesses themselves - who are martyred in the place their Lord was crucified (which parallels the steep mountain with a large Cross at the top in the Third Secret, which the pope ascends in imitation of Christ's Via Dolorosa on Calvary):
And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.
(Rev 11:7-8)
This connection is further reinforced by how the Third Secret closes with a reference to the two cherubim of the Mercy Seat gathering the blood of the martyrs, while the cycle concerning the Two Witnesses in Rev 11 closes with a vision of the Ark of the Covenant:
Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail...
(Rev 11:19)

I have recently came across a medieval prophecy made by Blessed John of Parma which also appears to make a connection between the cherubim of the Ark of the Covenant and the Two Witnesses of Rev 11. In The Joint Encyclical of 1255, John of Parma compares the two orders of the Franciscans and the Dominicans with other symbolic pairings in the Bible:

These orders are - so to speak to God's glory and not our own - two great luminaries which by celestial light shine upon and minister to those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death. These are the two trumpets of the true Moses, of Christ our God, by whose ministry a multitude of peoples has already been called to the source (Num. 10:2). These are the two Cherubim full of knowledge, gazing at each other while they behold the same object, spreading out their wings to the people while they protect them by word and example, and flying about on obedient wing over the whole people to spread saving knowledge (Exod. 25:18). These are the two breasts of the spouse from which Christ's little ones suck the milk by which they are nourished and receive saving increase (Song of Sol. 4:5). These are the two olives of the Son of Splendor that stand near the ruler of the universe ready for his command wherever his will might lead them to fulfill his mission (Zech. 4:14). These are the two witnesses of Christ who, clad in sackcloth, are already preaching and bearing testimony to the truth (Rev. 11:13). These are the two shining stars that according to the Sibylline prophecy have the appearance of the four animals and in the last days will cry out in the name of the Lord in the way of humility and voluntary poverty...
(Translated by Bernard McGinn, Visions of the End, pp164-165)

So it seems that the two angels of the Third Secret is a device intended to parallel the events of Rev 11, thus connecting the martyr-pope with the Two Witnesses - the two olive trees who stand before the Lord of all the earth, and the two pillars of St. John Bosco. And in the earlier post St. Malachy's Glory of the Olives, I note how the phrase attributed to Benedict XVI - Gloria Olivae, may be an intentional reference to the two olive trees of Rev 11 and Zech 4, thus potentially connecting the reign of the present pope with the Two Witnesses of the Book of Revelation. With the abdication of the Holy Father on 28th Feb, 2013, it seems that if the motto "Glory of the Olive" is indeed related to the Two Witnesses, then we could perhaps interpret it as meaning that Pope Benedict is the one who opens the door to reveal the "glory of the olive". This would then tie in with the door being opened in the Temple in Heaven to reveal the Ark of the Covenant, and the two cherubim on the Mercy Seat which represent the Two Witnesses. And as we now know, there was indeed "flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail" when Pope Benedict XVI opened the doors of St. Peter's Basilica to make way for the next pope. Just hours after the Holy Father announced his abdication, lightning struck St. Peter's Basilica twice. This was followed just days later by the Chelyabinsk meteorite strike, on the 15th Feb, 2013, which sounds incredibly similar to the "heavy hail" described in the Book of Exodus:

There was hail and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very heavy hail, such as had never been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.
(Exod 9:24)

Then a day later, a 4.8 magnitude earthquake which struck just south of Rome, on 16th Feb, 2013.
In The Fourth Secret of Fatima, Antonio Socci noted the words of Pope Benedict XVI at his inaugural address in 2005:
"Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves."
(See the full text here).
In retrospect, we can now see that these words closely echoed the prophecies of Bl. Elizabeth Canori-Mora. During a vision, Bl. Elizabeth saw the pope:

"surrounded by wolves who plotted to betray him… I saw the Sanhedrin of wolves which surrounded the Pope, and two angels weeping… when I asked them why they were sad and lamenting, looking upon Rome with eyes full of compassion they responded, ‘Wretched city, ungrateful people, the justice of God will chastise you.’”

Bl. Elizabeth continued to receive private revelations concerning the plight of the pope, and on 16th Jan 1815, she stated that angels showed her:

“many ecclesiastics who persecute Jesus Crucified and His holy Gospel under the guise of doing good… Like furious wolves they scheme to pull the Church leader down from his throne.” Then she was allowed to see the terrible indignation these wolves aroused in God. “In terror I saw the blazing lightening bolts of Divine Justice fall about me. I saw buildings collapsing in ruins. Cities, regions and the whole world fell into chaos. One heard nothing but countless weak voices calling out for mercy. Countless people will be killed. [I saw that God was] extremely angry with those who persecute Him. His omnipotent hands were holding bolts of lightening, His face was resplendent with indignation and His gaze alone was enough to incinerate the whole world.”

It now seems that the Chelyabinsk meteorite strike was annoucing the form of chastisement that would take place for the persecution of the Holy Father, which was seen by Bl. Elizabeth:

And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed.
(Rev 11:5)

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.
The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.
(Rev 8:1-7)

We also need to consider the fact that Pope Benedict himself also somewhat controversially reversed Cardinal Sodano's conclusions in the Message of Fatima document published in June 2000 - that the prophecy of the pope of the Third Secret was completely fulfilled in the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. On May 11th, 2010, while on his journey to Fatima for the anniversary of the apparitions, Pope Benedict made clear that he thought that the prophecies of the Third Secret were yet to be fulfilled:

...beyond this great vision of the suffering of the Pope, which we can in the first place refer to Pope John Paul II, an indication is given of realities involving the future of the Church, which are gradually taking shape and becoming evident. So it is true that, in addition to moment indicated in the vision, there is mention of, there is seen, the need for a passion of the Church, which naturally is reflected in the person of the Pope, yet the Pope stands for the Church and thus it is sufferings of the Church that are announced. The Lord told us that the Church would constantly be suffering, in different ways, until the end of the world. (See here for the full text).

The Pope continued his reflections on the future significance of the prophecies of Fatima in his speech on the anniversary of the apparitions:
We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete. Here there takes on new life the plan of God which asks humanity from the beginning: “Where is your brother Abel […] Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!” (Gen 4:9). Mankind has succeeded in unleashing a cycle of death and terror, but failed in bringing it to an end… In sacred Scripture we often find that God seeks righteous men and women in order to save the city of man and he does the same here, in Fatima, when Our Lady asks: “Do you want to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings which he will send you, in an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?” (Memoirs of Sister Lúcia, I, 162).

At a time when the human family was ready to sacrifice all that was most sacred on the altar of the petty and selfish interests of nations, races, ideologies, groups and individuals, our Blessed Mother came from heaven, offering to implant in the hearts of all those who trust in her the Love of God burning in her own heart. At that time it was only to three children, yet the example of their lives spread and multiplied, especially as a result of the travels of the Pilgrim Virgin, in countless groups throughout the world dedicated to the cause of fraternal solidarity. May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfilment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity. (See here for the full text).

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Wormwood, Chernobyl, and the Hrushiv Apparitions

 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch... (Rev 8:10)

Another topic I cover in the book concerns the Chernobyl disaster and its etymological link with the Ukrainian word for "wormwood" -which many commentators have previously suggested is connected with a passage in Rev 8:

The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.
(Rev 8:10-11)

The link between Chernobyl and the Ukrainian word for "wormwood" was first noted by S. Schmemann in a New York Times article dated to 25th July 1986, titled "Chernobyl Fallout: Apocalyptic Tale". Schmemann pointed out that the name of the site of the infamous nuclear reactor disaster is derived from the Ukrainian word chornobyl - which is the name of the plant Armetisia vulgaris, known as "common wormwood" - a close relative of the type of plant mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
Another strong correlation between the Chernobyl incident and the above passage in the Apocalypse has been overlooked by other commentators however. During the same month the reactor went into meltdown on 26th April 1986, Halley's Comet completed its 76 year journey back to earth's orbit and was visible to the naked eye at this exact time period. It is of some significance then that the vast majority of scholarly commentaries on the Book of Revelation believe that the great star "blazing like a torch" referred to in this passage is a description of a comet - which were considered as harbingers of doom in many ancient cultures.
It is important to recognise here that the trumpet blasts of Rev 8-11 are arranged thematically, rather than chronologically. The first trumpet describes the destruction of the earth by fire - which is one of the last events in the chronology of the end-time given elsewhere in the Apocalypse. This event is to be equated with the plague of hail related to the battle of Armageddon in Rev 16:21 (in Rev 8:7 this hail is mixed with fire, just as the plagues of Exod 9:23); and also with fire coming down from heaven to destroy the armies of Gog and Magog in Rev 20:9. So the first trumpet heralds one of the very last events to occur at the end-time - the battle of Armageddon. Given this cue, we know that the trumpets should not be considered to unfold chronologically in the exact sequence of events depicted in this portion of the Book of Revelation - they are rather a pastiche of apocalyptic events arranged by theme, and thus have to be rearranged to determine their order in real-time. So the fact that the above events relating to the wormwood star takes place after the mountain is cast into the sea at the sounding of the second trumpet should not impact this interpretation.
It is also of some interest that just a year after the Chernobyl disaster, there were reports of apparitions of the Virgin Mary, seen by a crowds of thousands people at Hrushiv in the Ukraine, in 1987.  A young Ukrainian girl named Kizyn Maria was the first to witness these apparitions, and claimed to have been given messages by Our Lady. Josyp Terelya, who was reputed to have experienced apparitions of the Virgin Mary while a imprisoned in the Soviet Gulags in the 1970's because he refused to renounce his Catholic faith, was another witness to these apparitions, and claimed to have received messages himself at Hrushiv. Although these apparitions have yet to be approved by the Church, they are interesting in their timing and location.
Terelya has recounted his experiences in his book Witness (which he co-authored with Michael H Brown of Spirit Daily) and recorded his testimony on video, which can be seen on Youtube (see below):

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

The village of Hrushiv was also the location of a reported Marian apparition 73 years previously to 22 people, on 12th May, 1914 - just two weeks before the outbreak of the First World War. During these apparitions the Virgin Mary was said to have foretold the future history of Russia. As we noted in the earlier post The Four Horsemen and the Four Beasts, as well as being home to Chernobyl and the Hrushiv apparitions, the Ukraine was also the centre of the worst plight during the Soviet Famine of 1932-1933, which claimed the lives of around 6 million people. It is still debated whether this famine was deliberately manufactured by the Stalinist regime to repress the people of the Ukraine, thus rendering this great tragedy as premeditated genocide.

See also the related posts:

Tunguska, Pope Leo XIII and the Opening of the Abyss
Signs in the Sky
The Two Towers and the Sixth Seal

Friday, 20 January 2012

Mobile Banking and the Mark of the Beast

Just thought I would post up a few interesting snippets concerning mobile banking on Wikipedia which I think highlight the true extent of the current and future application of this technology, and its relation to the mark of the Beast prophesied in Rev 13:

Mobile banking (also known as M-Banking, mbanking, SMS Banking) is a term used for performing balance checks, account transactions, payments, credit applications and other banking transactions through a mobile device such as a mobile phone or Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). The earliest mobile banking services were offered over SMS. With the introduction of the first primitive smart phones with WAP support enabling the use of the mobile web in 1999, the first European banks started to offer mobile banking on this platform to their customers.
Mobile banking has until recently (2010) most often been performed via SMS or the Mobile Web. Apple's initial success with iPhone and the rapid growth of phones based on Google's Android (operating system) have led to increasing use of special client programs, called apps, downloaded to the mobile device...

The advent of the Internet has enabled new ways to conduct banking business, resulting in the creation of new institutions, such as online banks, online brokers and wealth managers. Such institutions still account for a tiny percentage of the industry.
Over the last few years, the mobile and wireless market has been one of the fastest growing markets in the world and it is still growing at a rapid pace. According to the GSM Association and Ovum, the number of mobile subscribers exceeded 2 billion in September 2005, and now (2009) exceeds 2.5 billion (of which more than 2 billion are GSM)...

Mobile banking will eventually allow users to make payments at the physical point of sale. "Mobile contactless payments” will make up 10% of the contactless market by 2010. Another study from 2010 by Berg Insight forecasts that the number of mobile banking users in the US will grow from 12 million in 2009 to 86 million in 2015. The same study also predicts that the European market will grow from 7 million mobile banking users in 2009 to 115 million users in 2015.
Many believe that mobile users have just started to fully utilize the data capabilities in their mobile phones. In Asian countries like India, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Philippines, where mobile infrastructure is comparatively better than the fixed-line infrastructure, and in European countries, where mobile phone penetration is very high (at least 80% of consumers use a mobile phone), mobile banking is likely to appeal even more...

Mobile banking is used in many parts of the world with little or no infrastructure, especially remote and rural areas. This aspect of mobile commerce is also popular in countries where most of their population is unbanked. In most of these places, banks can only be found in big cities, and customers have to travel hundreds of miles to the nearest bank.
In Iran, banks such as Parsian, Tejarat, Mellat, Saderat, Sepah, Edbi, and Bankmelli offer the service. Banco Industrial provides the service in Guatemala. Citizens of Mexico can access mobile banking with Omnilife, Bancomer and MPower Venture. Kenya's Safaricom (part of the Vodafone Group) has the M-Pesa Service, which is mainly used to transfer limited amounts of money, but increasingly used to pay utility bills as well. In 2009, Zain launched their own mobile money transfer business, known as ZAP, in Kenya and other African countries. In Somalia, the many telecom companies provide mobile banking, the most prominent being Hormuud Telecom and its ZAAD service.
Telenor Pakistan has also launched a mobile banking solution, in coordination with Taameer Bank, under the label Easy Paisa, which was begun in Q4 2009. Eko India Financial Services, the business correspondent of State Bank of India (SBI) and ICICI Bank, provides bank accounts, deposit, withdrawal and remittance services, micro-insurance, and micro-finance facilities to its customers (nearly 80% of whom are migrants or the unbanked section of the population) through mobile banking.
In a year of 2010, mobile banking users soared over 100 percent in Kenya, China, Brazil and USA with 200 percent, 150 percent, 110 percent and 100 percent respectively.
Dutch Bangla Bank launched the very first mobile banking service in Bangladesh on 31 March, 2011. This service is launched with ‘Agent’ and ‘Network’ support from mobile operators, Banglalink and Citycell. Sybase 365, a subsidiary of Sybase, Inc. has provided software solution with their local partner Neurosoft Technologies Ltd. There are around 160 million people in Bangladesh, of which, only 13 per cent have bank accounts. With this solution, Dutch-Bangla Bank can now reach out to the rural and unbanked population, of which, 45 per cent are mobile phone users...
(See the full article here)

The current expectations of futurist interpretations of the Book of Revelation concerning the mark of the Beast and RFID technology completely overlooks the origin of the imagery behind this passage. St. John quite obviously would  have understood the material in his Apocalypse concerning the mark of the Beast to be a diabolic inversion of the Jewish practice of wearing phylacteries - which are box shaped objects worn externally on the person, and even then they are only used temporarily. A practice which has many parallels with the modern use of cell phones (see the earlier post The Mark of the Beast?). Implanting humans with RFID implants for commercial and identification purposes is not only logistically unfeasible, but also completely unnecessary. There is no need to insert a RFID microchip underneath a person's skin when it can be simply included in a device that is already carried around by the majority of the world's population. The current high penetration rate of mobile phone users in the Third World provides a ready-made infrastructure for banking.
India's ambitious census project to biometrically map each of its 1.2 billion inhabitants helps us gain an insight into another possible future use of such technologies (see here).  As some commentators have suggested, biometrics presents the solution to the difficulties faced by NFC technology as the future of commerce (see here). People may soon be able to buy and sell produce through iris or fingerprint scans, combined with voice recognition technology as a means to address the security problems that are presented with using NFC technology alone. With the sole use of NFC technology, thieves could potentially have access to a person's entire banking system simply by stealing their cell phone. But biometric technology would completely bypass such concerns. The human iris and fingerprint cannot be replicated, and combined with voice recognition, this technology will completely replace the need for chip and pin numbers.
Of course this technology would only be able to be operated through devices such as cell phones, which have the potential to capture iris and finger imprints through in-built cameras, or voice recognition capabilities, such as that of the current I-phone. Given that all of this form of commerce will be conducted exclusively over the worldwide web, combined with the fact that the Hebrew letter waw is used as the numeral six, and is transliterated into the modern Latin alphabet as the letter w, this means that the acronym www is the numerical equivalent of six-six-six (see the earlier post Hebrew 666), means that in the future, no one will be able to "buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name." (Rev 13:17)

See also the related articles:

NFC Technology and the Mark of the Beast
Fr Gobbi on the Mark of the Beast
Gematria and the Number of the Beast
The Prophecy of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
The Year of the Dragon

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Jewish Holocaust in Biblical Prophecy

The Altar of Burnt Offering, shown beside the Golden Altar of Incense (left) which was placed before the Tabernacle in the Jerusalem Temple

In a previous post I argued that The False Prophet spoken of in the Book of Revelation is to be equated with the Little Horn of the Book of Daniel - a figure which is modelled after the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who subjected to the Jews to fierce bout of persecution before Jewish independence was won by the Maccabean revolt. I go on to suggest that this prophecy of the forerunner to the Antichrist was fulfilled in the person of Adolf Hitler, who subjected the Jews to the worst case of religious persecution in history, before the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948.
If this interpretation is correct, then it would follow that the "war against the saints" described in the Book of Daniel was a prophecy of the Jewish Holocaust:

 "Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, and about the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions. As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom."
(Dan 7:19-22)

We are told that the Little Horn makes war against the saints (who would have been identified with the Jewish people in its original context) and prevails over them; before the Little Horn is defeated and the kingdom is restored to them. The Book of Daniel states that the "saints of the Most High" will be given over to the Little Horn for "a time, times, and half a time" - or three and a half years:

He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

(Dan 7:25)

This closely corresponds with the duration of the "Final Solution", when the Nazis began to exterminate the Jews in the concentration camps in January 1942, until the liberation of the last of the death camps in May 1945 - a period of roughly three and a half years.
While Dan 7 undoubtedly contains a reference to the restoration of Jewish independence after the persecution by Antiochus Epiphanes, it is clear that this situation parallels events that are to take place towards the end-time. And there is no greater parallel to this persecution of Jews before the restoration of their land in the 1st century BC than the events brought about by the Second World War. In Dan 10:14 the prophet is specifically told that his visions concern the fate of the Jewish people in the "latter times", towards the end of the world:

 ..."[I] came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come."
(Dan 10:14)

In Unveiling the Apocalypse, I forward the hypothesis that the Four Beasts of Daniel represent the major players in the Second World War, and that they are the same entities represented by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (see the earlier post The Four Beasts and the Four Horsemen for a fuller outline of this interpretation). In the book, I argue that these symbolic figures are also to be identified with the four "angels" referred to elsewhere in the Book of Revelation, who are released to kill a third of "mankind":

Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions' heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.
(Rev 9:13-19)

The term "angel" in the Bible is used in the sense of "messenger", and can refer to demonic as well as heavenly creatures. It is most likely that it is used in the former sense of the word in Rev 9, given that this portion of the Apocalypse tells us that these particular beings are agents of destruction. So it is no great leap of the imagination to connect these four "angels" with the Four Horsemen mentioned earlier in the Book of Revelation. And as I mention in the book, if we carefully study the original Greek, we find that it explicitly states that the armies of these four angels belong to the Horsemen (of the Apocalypse), rather than being an army composed of horsemen - "the army of the horsemen" rather than "the army of horsemen".
The fact that this passage tells us that the four angels were released to kill "a third of mankind" at first seems somewhat problematic in accepting this interpretation. But when we look to the original Greek version of this text, we find that a more literal translation of the phrase tou anthropou (translated in this English version as "of mankind") is "of the people". So the angels are released to kill a third of the people. And the use of the definite article suggests that it is a particular "people" or "race" being referred to in this passage. If it is a particular people being singled out here, then it would of course have to refer to the Jewish people - the native race of the author of the Apocalypse, and indeed of Christ himself.
As I point out in my book, the Jewish Holocaust claimed the lives of around 5.7 million people - about one third of the then 16,600,000 strong total Jewish population of the world. You can find the actual figures of the world's Jewish population as given in the 1946-47 American Jewish Yearbook here (scroll down to the first page), which states that one-third of the world's Jews had been annihilated in the Nazi extermination camps.
The chimera-like creatures depicted in the "second woe" are similar to the locusts of the "first woe", which I argue in the earlier post The Apocalyptic Locusts accurately describes the appearance of military aircraft, which were first introduced during the First World War. So they could represent the use of tanks during the Second World War - the Panzer being a key component of the Nazi war machine. The use of Panzers were central to the Nazi's blitzkrieg tactics, allowing the rapid invasion of countries such as Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the Soviet Union. The Nazi occupation of Europe (and subsequent round up of the Jewish population) would have been impossible without the use of these machines.
John's description of the armoured "horses" in his vision, with lion-like heads and "tails" with mouths which spew out fire could quite easily be a description of a tank, as seen from a 1st century AD perspective. The "tails" with fire-spouting mouths could refer to the serpent-like gun turrets, which would have looked extremely bizarre if one was given a glimpse of the future from the distant past. If John was indeed given actual visions of real-time future events, and he did see modern inventions such as the tank, it surely would have been a quite perplexing sight - armour-clad creatures being controlled by people as they would a horse, with "tails" that seemed to protrude from where their mouth should be located on their heads. If so, then this would be as accurate a description as we could hope for.
The third of "mankind" or perhaps more accurately "the people" were then killed by the plagues that issued from these creatures mouths - fire, smoke and sulphirc gases. And of course gas in the form of Zyklon B was the method of choice for the industralised slaughter of the Jews housed in the various extermination camps of Nazi-controlled Europe, with the bodies being disposed in the cremetoria and fire-pits.
It is perhaps then of some profound significance that the voice which commands for release of the four angels which will destroy a third of the people come from between the four horns on the Golden Altar before the Throne of God in heaven. The horns of the Golden Altar of Incense were sprinkled with blood from the sacrificial victim as a means of the forgiveness of sins. And the coals of the Golden Altar which were used to burn the incense were taken from the Altar of Burnt Offering situated outside the Temple in the Court of Priests, where the remains of the sacrifical victim was reduced down amongst the embers. So the coals of the Golden Altar of Incense were mixed with the sacrifical victim itself, whose sarcifice would be carried up towards heaven along with the suffion of aromas from the burning of the incense.  This is the reason that the souls of the martyrs are seen under the Golden Altar earlier in the Book of Revelation, as it is from here that the remains of their sacrifice are carried toward heaven along with the smoke of the incense and the prayers of the saints:

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.
(Rev 6:9)

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.
(Rev 8:1-4)

It is of profound significance then that the term "holocaust" is derived from the Greek word meaning "whole burnt sacrifice".

We first find reference to the four "angels" with the powers of destruction called forth by the voice emanating from between the four horns on the Golden Altar in an earlier passage in the Apocalypse which is specifically connected to the sealing of the 144,000:

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
 12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,
 12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,
 12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
 12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
 12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,
 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,
 12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
 12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
 12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,
 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,
 12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.
(Rev 7:1-8)

The 144,000 are strangely differentiated from the rest of the marytrs mentioned later in Rev 7, who form an innumerable multitude. They are also composed of the twelve tribes of Israel, and are thus inextricably linked with the Jewish race and the people of Israel. Could the 144,000 therefore in some way represent the Jews killed during the Shoah?
The identity of the 144,000 is intimately bound to the earlier passage concerning the souls seen by John under the Golden Altar at the opening of the fifth seal:

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
(Rev 6:9-11)

These are the souls offered as a burnt sacrifice (holocaust) to God, under the same altar from which the command was issued to release the four angels bound at the Euphrates - which we have already equated with the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Most scholars would concur that the souls under the altar here are those slain during the devastation unleashed by the opening of the first four seals and the arrival of the Horsemen.
The number 144,000 is highly symbolic. Twelve is the number of govermental perfection, and it is here multplied itself, and timed a thousand - a number which represents vastness and abundance. Hence we have the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles. And we find these same numbers repeated in the properties of the Heavenly Jerusalem.
It seems then of profound import that if we multiply 144,000 by another figure of deep symbolic importance in the Bible - the number 40, we get 5,760,000 - which corresponds almost exactly to the closest estimates given for the number of Jews during the Holocaust. The eminent British historian Sir Martin Gilbert estimated that around 5,750,000 Jews were murdered by the Nazi regime, and while other estimations vary up and down from this number, the overall figure is generally accepted as being just short of six million.
A fourfold multiplication of the number 144,000 is implied in the dimensions of the Heavenly Jerusalem given later in the Book of Revelation. In Rev 21, each of the four walls of the Heavenly Jerusalem are 144 cubits high - which is 144,000 reduced to its most basic form. And the length and breath is 12,000, which multiplied gives the total area of 144,000.  So height of the walls multiplied by their number - 4 x 144 gives 576 - the above number corresponding to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust reduced to its nearest significant figure. 

And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel's measurement.
(Rev 21:15-17)

A forty-fold multiplication of this number is then the four-fold multiplication of 144,000 taken to the next decimal place.
But the symbolism of the number 40 is the most significant part of this interpretation. It seems particularly apt then that we can acheive the exact number of deaths in the Jewish Holocaust by multiplying 144,000 by 40. Forty is the number of trial, purification, and renewal in the Bible. The earth was covered by the flood for 40 days to cleanse the earth of evil, after which time the world was born anew. The Israelites were made to wander in the desert for 40 years to make amends for rebelling against God by fashioning the Golden Calf. After the 40 years were over, the Israelites were permitted to enter the Promised Land and establish their home there. Elijah fasted for 40 days before his journey to Horeb, when he was given his mission to restore Israel from apostasy. Jesus went through his trial of fasting and temptation in the desert for 40 days before he commenced his public ministry. And Christ also spent 40 days on earth after his resurrection until he ascended into heaven. So the number 40 in this instance would symbolise this period of the trial and renewal of the Jewish people in the events brought by the Second World War.

See also the related posts:

Our Lady of Fatima and the Jewish Holocaust
The Prophetic Symbolism of Our Lady of Knock

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Four Beasts and the Four Horsemen

The "Big Three" during the Tehran Conference in 1943
 And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’(Daniel 7:5)

As I argued in the previous post The False Prophet, it appears that Hitler was not only the precursor to the Antichrist mentioned in the secrets of La Salette, but also the Little Horn of the Book of Daniel, who was foretold to subject the "saints of the Most High" to a bout of persecution before the Holy Land would be restored to them (which was indeed the case with the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948). If the beast with ten horns represents the ten nations of the Axis Powers during the Second World War, and the Little Horn/False Prophet represents Hitler, then it would follow that the other three beasts in the Book of Daniel must represent the Allied nations. These are the three "kings" or nations which the Book of Daniel states are "put down" by the Little Horn. The beast like a bear would of course symbolize Russia, and the three ribs in its mouth encouraging it to "devour much flesh" would thus represent the "Big Three" of Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, who met only twice of the course over the course of WWII to plan and synchronize the direction of the war effort. Both meetings took place in territories then under Soviet control (at the Tehran Conference in Iran, 1943, and the Yalta Conference, in the Crimea, 1945).

Daniel declared, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had eagles' wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it. And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’ After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things. (Dan 7:2-8)

The command from the three ribs to "Arise, devour much flesh..." would then refer to the sheer numbers killed through Russia's involvement in the war. There was around 23 million Russian civilian and military war dead as a result of WWII - which far eclipsed that of the casualties of any other nation. And in return the Soviet Union inflicted the most losses to the Axis Powers - between 500,000-850,000 being lost in the Battle of Stalingrad alone. We must also take into account the causalities of the "Great Purge", and development of the Gulag system, which was to result in countless deaths. Estimates of the total death toll as a result of Stalin's regime vary widely - 3 million being the lowest ascertainable through official records, and the number of unrecorded deaths is almost impossible to establish. Some would also include the Soviet Famine of 1932-1933 (known as the Holodomor in the Ukraine) in this death toll, when agricultural reforms introduced by the regime would result in the deaths of around 6 million people. 
We can thus gain an insight as to why Our Lady appeared at Fatima to coincide with the rise of the Soviet Union. The Miracle of the Sun occurred just weeks before the October Revolution of 1917, which saw the Bolsheviks consolidate power in Russia.
We are told that "dominion" was given to the beast like a leopard with four heads, and a little later in Dan 7:12 we are informed that this dominion would be taken away. A little further on again, we find that this dominion is then given to "the saints of the most high".

“I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time...
(Dan 7:11-12)

‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’
(Dan 7:17-18)

And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’ (Dan 7:27)

With this information we can establish that the "dominion" that the beast like a leopard possesses is that over the Holy Land. This would then help to identify this beast as representing Britain, which controlled Palestine after defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War, through the British Mandate commissioned by the League of Nations in 1922. The four heads of the beast like a leopard would thus represent the four nations which comprise the United Kingdom. The British Mandate over Palestine then ended with the creation of the modern State of Israel in 1948 - which was exactly 1,260 years after construction first began on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem over the site of Solomon's Temple, thus fulfilling the prophecy of the "42 months" or "1,260 days" of Rev 11:

Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. (Rev 11:1-2)

(See the earlier post The Abomination of Desolation for a more detailed commentary on this subject)

This would leave the beast like a lion with eagle's wings to represent the other major power during the Second World War - the United States. The symbolism of this beast is more difficult to ascertain, but it shouldn't need to detain us here for too long (I attempt an explanation in the book, but it isn't of any pertinence here, other than that the eagle is the national symbol of America).

The above passage in Dan 7:11-12 which describes the outcome of the conflict between the four beasts also closely follows the aftermath of the Second World War. The beast with ten horns from which the Little Horn appears is completely defeated, and the other three beasts survive, but the dominion (that over the Holy Land) is taken away from them, and given over to the "saints of the Most High". (See the earlier post Daniel and the Jewish Restoration)

In Unveiling the Apocalypse, I argue that the four beasts described in Dan 7 are to be identified with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Rev 6. Both of these sets of otherworldly beings have similar attributes:

Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.
When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.
When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”
When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. (Rev 6:1-8)

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, by Victor Vasnetsov, 1887

The fourth, and most terrifying horseman - whom Hades follows, corresponds to Daniel's fourth beast - which we have identified as the Axis Powers. The first horseman who is given a crown parallels the beast like a leopard with four heads, to which dominion is given, and thus would refer to the British Empire. The two remaining horsemen are rather more difficult to identify. The second rider who is given a great sword may represent the United States' development of the Atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan project. This recalls the angel with the flaming sword described in the Third Secret of Fatima, about which Cardinal Ratzinger stated:

The angel with the flaming sword on the left of the Mother of God recalls similar images in the Book of Revelation. This represents the threat of judgement which looms over the world. Today the prospect that the world might be reduced to ashes by a sea of fire no longer seems pure fantasy: man himself, with his inventions, has forged the flaming sword... (The Message of Fatima)

And the third horseman, which personifies famine, would then reference the aforementioned Soviet Famine, which claimed the lives of 6 million people.
In the next post, we will discuss how the cycle concerning the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Rev 6 is recapitulated again in Rev 9, and if we study this portion of the Book of Revelation carefully, we can see that it too may have prophesied the Holocaust - which claimed one third of the world's Jewish population.

See also the related posts:

The False Prophet
Daniel and the Jewish Restoration
The Jewish Holocaust in Biblical Prophecy
The Abomination of Desolation
The Apocalyptic Locusts