Benedict XVI - Pope Emeritus?
Wow. No one saw this one coming... I am deeply saddenned by Pope Benedict XVI's announcement today that he is to abdicate the papacy. He has been a truly good and holy Pope, and is one of the world's greatest living theologians. Benedict has always been a reluctant pontiff, and many parallels are going to be drawn with St. Celestine V - another pope who resigned the Petrine Office. Interestingly, as I note in page 42 of Unveiling the Apocalypse, the various prophecies of the Angelic Pope were directly based on the example of Pope Saint Celestine V - a holy old hermit who was reluctantly elected to the papacy, and subsequently abidicated. Also, according to some variants of the prophecies of the Pastor Angelicus, there would in fact be several "angelic popes" towards the end of the world. But the focus of these prophecies has always been on the coming of a pope who would heal the Church of schism and bring about the Second Pentecost. Rather amazingly, the Worthy Shepherd Prophecy, attributed to Blessed Tomasuccio de Foligno, predicted that the Angelic Pope who heals the Church of schism would be elected by "about twelve years shall the millennium have passed":
"One from beyond the mountains shall become the Vicar Of God. Religious and clerics shall take part in this change. Outside the true path, there will be only disreputable men; I shrug my shoulders when the Bark of Peter is in danger and there is no one to lend it help... The schismatic shall fall into the scorn of the Italian faithful... By about twelve years shall the millennium have passed when the resplendent mantle of legitimate power shall emerge from the shadows where it was being kept by the schism. And beyond harm from the one who is blocking the door of salvation, for his deceitful schism shall have come to an end. And the mass of the faithful shall attach itself to the worthy Shepherd, who shall extricate each one from error and restore to the Church its beauty. He shall renew it."
The Worthy Shepherd Prophecy is cited in a book called Miscellanea Francescana 1, edited by M. Faloci Pulignani, dating to 1886. This book in turn appears to base at least some of its information on a facsimile dating to the late 15th century called Legenda de' Beati del Terzo Ordine Sancto Francisco, (ed L. Temperini, Rome: Editrice Franciscanum, 1996), which contains the Legenda of Bl. Tomasuccio de Foligno - as recorded by his companion and disciple Giusto della Rosa.
The first known prophecy of the Angelic Pope, or pastor angelicus, was cited by the English polymath Roger Bacon in the 13th century:
...Forty years ago it was prophesied, and there have been many visions to the same effect, that there will be a pope in these times who will purify Canon Law and the Church of God from the sophistries and deceits of the jurists so that justice will reign over all without the rumbling of lawsuits. Because of the goodness, truth, and justice of this pope the Greeks will return to the obedience of the Roman Church, the greater part of the Tartars will be converted to the faith, and the Saracens will be destroyed. There will be one flock and one shepherd, as the prophet heard (John 10:16)...
(Taken from Roger Bacon's The Third Work. Trans. by B McGinn Visions of the End (New York, Columbia, 1998) p190)
The Angelic Pope of medieval prophecy was foretold to heal the schism with the Eastern Othrodox Church (which echoes the conversion of Russia prophesied at Fatima). Later, the pastor angelicus prophecies would also be connected to the reunfication of the schismatic Protestant churches with Rome, as well as the future conversion of England - such as foretold in the original 1846 Church-approved version of the secrets of La Salette:
The faith will die out in France: three quarters of France will not practice religion anymore, or almost no more, the other part will practice it without really practicing it. Then, after [that], nations will convert, the faith will be rekindled everywhere. A great country, now Protestant, in the north of Europe, will be converted; by the support of this country all the other nations of the world will be converted.
Before all that arrives, great disorders will arrive, in the Church, and everywhere. Then, after [that], our Holy Father the Pope will be persecuted. His successor will be a pontiff that nobody expects.
Then, after [that], a great peace will come, but it will not last a long time. A monster will come to disturb it.
(See here for the full text)
In a post written in Jan 2013 (which can be found here), I attempted to show how the Worthy Shepherd Prophecy may be connected to the 2000th anniversary of the Finding in the Temple, which will be celebrated this Easter - which we now know will be at around the same time as the election of the new pope.
I'll post the relevant material below:
In addition to the above correlations, it is interesting to note that the year 2013 will mark the 2000th anniversary of the finding of Jesus in the Temple (the fifth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary), after the Holy Family had lost the adolescent Christ (the third sorrow of Mary). If Jesus was one on 25th December 1AD, his twelfth birthday would have been celebrated on 25th December 12AD, making the Passover of 2013 the 2000th anniversary of the Finding in the Temple. Although modern scholarship has suggested that the actual year of Jesus' birth may have been some years earlier, Catholics still use the Anno Domini numbering system to celebrate anniversaries and jubilees connected to the life of Jesus. So the Anno Domini system still retains the primary symbolic value for Christians, given that we have no other uncontested means of celebrating anniversaries surrounding the life of Christ.
Many scholars believe that the boy Jesus had been taken to Jerusalem at this point to mark his Bar Mitzvah. A Bar or Bat Miztvah is a Jewish coming of age ceremony which is today celebrated once a child has turned 13 - a point in life where children are considered responsible for their actions, and thus a "son of the commandments" - which is the meaning of the Hebrew/Aramaic word Bar Mitzvah (Bar and Bat means "son" and "daughter" respectively, while Mitzvah means "commandments"). Once they had reached the age of accountability, adolescent children were expected to live by the commandments given to Moses in the Torah. Some commentators suggest that Jesus would have been among the scholars in the Temple during this pilgrimage in order to receive instruction on how to properly live the commandments of Jewish law. But the teachers were amazed at Jesus' understanding of the Scriptures when he began to expound to them their true meaning:
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
Christ among the Doctors of the Law, Paolo Caliari, (16th century)
The Jewish custom of the Bar Mitzvah, is analogous to the sacrament of confirmation in Catholicism (when we receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit), given that both rituals are conferred around adolescence - the age of reason or accountability. So we can only hope and pray that during the Year of Faith in 2013, the Church will receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit promised during the Second Pentecost, which will usher in the beginning of the age in which the fortunes of the Church will be restored; and like Mary and Joseph, the former world of Christendom will find the Christ who has been lost to it. Maybe upon this renewed discovery of Christ, we too will be "amazed at his understanding and his answers", when the hidden meaning of Scripture is revealed to the doctors of the Church.
This would then tie in rather nicely with the "Worthy Shepherd Prophecy" of Bl. Tomasuccio de Foligno, which also places the Second Pentecost to around this time period - by "about twelve years shall the millennium have passed"...
...I originally thought that this prophecy pointed to the year 2012. But someone has highlighted the fact that the words "about twelve years shall the millennium have passed" would single out the year 2013, rather than 2012, as twelve years would have passed (i.e. reached completion) since the millennium, bringing us up to the end of the year 2012 and into 2013...
We can now see in retrospect that the words by "about twelve years shall the millennium have passed" could mean just over twelve years past the millennium, which amazingly will be the precise date of the next papal election, around Easter 2013 - the 2000th anniversary of the Finding in the Temple. What an extraordinary grace it would be if the doctors of the Church are guided by the presense of the Living Christ to elect the "Worthy Shepherd" this Easter, so that the Church may finally "all be one":
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me."