Pope Benedict White
Pope Benedict XVI. Reuters

With the surprising and sudden resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, a new pontiff will soon be elected. According to the “Petrus Romanus” prophecy, this pope will be the last and will bring the destruction of Rome as well as the apocalypse.

St. Malachy, a bishop, went to Rome at the request of Pope Innocent II in 1139, according to Catholic-Pages.com. St. Malachy received a vision that outlined a list of 112 popes, starting with Celestine II, who succeeded Innocent, and the last pope, Petrus Romanus, would signal the destruction of Rome as well as the end of the world. The Prophecy of St. Malachy was discovered and published by historian Arnold de Wyon in 1595. Wyon discovered the manuscript in Roman archives.

St. Malachy’s list did not outright spell out the name of each of the 112 popes. Instead, each pope was described in a Latin phrase. These phrases describe a certain feature and are vague, which leads to plenty of interpretation. The last two popes, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, number 110 and 111 in the Prophecy of St. Malachy, are described as “De labore Soli” or “From the labor of the sun” and “Gloria Olivae” or “Glory of the Olive,” notes Catholic-Pages.com.

According to the prophecy, Pope John Paul II fit that description because he was born on May 18, 1920, and a solar eclipse occurred on that day, while his entombment occurred on April 8, 2005, when another solar eclipse occurred.

For Pope Benedict XVI, the description needs some work to make sense. Benedict XVI said he chose the name as a tribute to Pope Benedict XV, who reigned during World War I and tried unsuccessfully to make peace, but the connection is a stretch, at best. Although The Telegraph article discussing the pope’s resignation notes he devoted some of his time to bringing peace and unifying different sects and beliefs within the Church.

With the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the 111th pope according to St. Malachy’s list, the last one is about to be elected. This pope is known only as Petrus Romanus, or Peter the Roman, as his election may bring the destruction of Rome and the apocalypse. According to the verse, Petrus Romanus, “In extreme persecution, the seat of the Holy Roman Church will be occupied by Peter the Roman, who will feed the sheep through many tribulations, at the term of which the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the formidable Judge will judge his people. The End.”

There is some speculation as to the authenticity of the Prophecy of St. Malachy. The blame is not laid at the feet of de Wyon but there are inconsistencies. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Bernard, author of the “Life of St. Malachy,” did not mention the prophecy nor were there other previous scholarly mentions of the Roman Petrus prophecy until de Wyon’s discovery and publication.

Expect plenty more conspiracy theories to float around once candidates get mentioned. Any meteorological anomaly will be scrutinized and Nostradamus may well be brought in to further strengthen the apocalypse prophecy. For those that enjoyed the runup to the Mayan Apocalypse, it looks like 2013 will be another year of interesting theories for how the world will end.