About the Popes from the Twelfth Century to the End of Time


In the fifth century Ireland was converted from paganism to Christianity, but in the ninth century it was infested by barbarians, who, under the name of Normans, ravaged at the same time the maritime distructs of France, England and Scotland. It was in this state of the nation that this Saint was born. St. Malachy's family name was O'Morgair and he was born in Armagh, Ireland, in 1094 and Baptized in Maelmhaedoc [the Latinized name is Malalchy]. To learn more perfectly the art of living wholly for God, Malachy put himself under the tuteluge and discipline of the holy recluse Imhar O'Hagan, who later became the Abbot of Armagh, and who was noted for his austere life in a cell near the great church of Armagh.

This step in one of his young age astonished the entire city and his friends repraoched him. But soon many desired to be his companions and Malachy prevailed upon Imhar to admit the most fervent among these petitioners and they formed a considerable community.

Imhar and St. Celsus [Cellach], Archbishop of Armagh, judged the Saint worthy of holy orders in 1119, when he was twenty-five years of age. He was ordained a priest by St. Celsus, who also made him his vicar to preach the Word of God and to extirpate evil customs. Malachy renewed the use of the Sacraments, especially that of Confession, of Confirmation, and regular Matrimony. He studied under St. Malchus and in 1123 he was elected Abbot of Bangor. The great abbey of Bangor [Benchor] lay at that time in a desolate condition, its revenues possessed by an uncle of the Saint. This uncle resigned it to his nephew and by the care of the Saint it became a flourishing seminary. Later Malachy went to Munster [in Northern Ireland as are Armagh and Bangor] and built a monastery in Ibrac.

Prior to this he was consecrated Bishop of Connor and in 1132 he became Primate of Armagh. However, owing to certain intrigues, he had to wait for two years before he could finally take possession of the See of Armagh; even then he had to purchase the Bachal Isu [the staff of Jesus] from the usurping lay-primate. 

St. Malachy  journeyed to Rome in 1139 to obtain confirmation of many thi gs which he had done. Enroute through France he visited Clairvaux, where he was so edified by the piety which he discovered in St. Bernard and his monks that he desired to join them. Pope Innocent II received him with great honor but would not hear of his petition for spending the reminader of his life at Clairvaux. He made him his legate in Ireland.

St. Malachy was received there with great joy and discharged his duties as legate with a wonderful zeal, holding synods, abolishing abuses, and working many miracles.

Unlike some Saints who lived this along ago, the life of St. Malachy is well documented because St. Bernard acted as his biographer. St. Bernard describes St. Malachy as distinguished for his meekness, humility, obedience, modesty and as truly diligent in his studies. He also tells at length of Malachy foretelling the day and the hour of his death. The Breviary in its office for the Feast of St. Malachy, November 3, mentions that he was enriched with the gift of prophecy. 

He died in 1148 in the arms of St. Bernard after being taken by a fever on the 2nd of November. 

SOURCES USED: Butler's Lives of the Saints and the Book cited above.

Based on the Book of the Same Title by Peter Bander
TAN BOOKS and Publishers

The value of this presentation is twofold: The prophecies of St. Malachy  concerning the Papacy are extremely accurate, and there are but two more to be fulfilled after Pope John Paul II has desparted this world and before the end of time. Mr. Bander has compiled an invaluable tract in the field of prophecy, supplying sufficient historical data to substantiate the entire series.

Background of the Prophecies

The prophecies of St. Malachy have almost come to an end, just two more popes to go, Gloria olivæ [now gloriously reigning as of the Year of our Lord, 2005] and Petrus Romanus will have joined the other 108 predicted pontiffs. In his prophecies, St. Malachy used metaphorical language to describe the pope by name, which name signified a hallmark of that pope's reign. The prophecies were written in the early 12th century. Since St. Malachy left his prophecies concerning the popes of the Catholic Church behind, some 900 years ago, there have been many interpretations and a number of critics. Two objections to the prophecies have this in common: first, the silence of St. Malachy's dear friend, St. Bernard of Clairvaux on the subject, and secondly the methods employed by some of St. Malachy's interpreters in applying the various prophecies to certain popes.

The fact that St. Bernard of Clairvaux does not refer to the prophecies and catalogue them among Malachy's other writings simply confirms that his characher assessment of the Saint which describes Malalchy as humble, meek and modest, was on the mark, just as Pope Benedict XVI is. There is a very special olive, that of the Armagh, [cultivated in Australia: Ireland has not the climate for olive growing], how fitting!


Name (Reign)
Motto [Translation with Explanation of the Prophecy]
Celestine II (1143-1144)
Ex castro Tyberis
[From a castle on the Tiber]


Celestine II was born  Guido de Castello, 
Tuscany, on the shores of the Tiber.

Lucius II (1144-1145)
Inimicus expulsus
[The enemy expelled]


His name was Gerardo Caccianemici, 
which means in Italian, to expel the enemy.

Eugene III (1145-1153)
Ex magnitudine montis
[Of the greatness of the mountain]


Born in the castle of Grammont 
[Latin: mons magnus], his family name was Montemagno.

Anastasius IV (1153-1154)
Abbas Suburranus
[Abbot from Suburra]


He was born near a local named Suburra.

Adrian IV (1154-1159)
De rure albo
[From a white country]


He was born in the town of Albion known for its white rocks and white cliffs. Albion in its turn was near St. Albans' Abbey and he was consecrated Bishop of Albano, where he worked in countries of perpetual snow. The title applies quite aptly.

Alexander III
Ex ansere custode
[From the guardian goose]


Referring to the Pope's family coat of arms: there was a goose in it. Another interpreter reminds the reader that the family of Alexander III descended from one of those who, aroused by geese, when Brennus attempted to sack the capital, repulsed him. Malachy was alluding to the salvation of Rome by Alexander III.

Victor IV (1159-1164
Ex tetro carcere
[From the loathsome prison]


He was a Cardinal of the title of St. Nicholas at the Tullian prison.

Paschal III (1164-1168)
Via Transtiberina
[The road beyond the Tiber]


He was a Cardinal of the title of St. Mary's in 
Transtevere, which refers to Transtibernia.

Callixtus III (1168-1178)
De Pannonia Tusciae
[From the Hungary of Tuscia]


He was from Hungary.

This is the part in pontifical history where another antipope, Innocent III comes in, office from 1179-1180. There is no reference to this antipope in Malachy or in any of interpreters.

Lucius III (1181-1185)
Lux in ostio
[The light at the door; light in Ostium; the light at the gate]


Lucius[light] was born in Lucca [light] and was Bishop of Ostia.

Urban III (1185-1187)
Sus in cribo
[A sow in a sieve]


His family name was Crivelli, which means sieve; 
his Papal arms had two sows on it.

Gregory VIII (1187)
Ensis Laurentii
[The sword of Lawrence]


He was a Cardinal of the title of St. Lawrence 
and his armorial bearing was a drawn sword.

Clement III (1187-1191)
De schola exiet
[He shall go forth from a school]


His family name was Scolari, which means out of or from the school.

Celestine III (1191-1198)
De rure bovensi
[From the country of Bovis, or cattle country]


His family name is a variation of Bovis, Bobone.

Innocent III (1198-1216)
Comes signatus
[Signed Count or Conte-Segni]


A descendant of the noble Signy, later called Segni family, his birth name was Lotario dei Conti di Segni.

Honorius III (1216-1227)
Canonicus de latere
[A Canon from the Lateran or side]


He was a Canon from St. John Lateran; while the fact that he was noted for his canonizations of English and Irish Saints and the approval of the rule of St. Dominic, St. Francis, and the Carmelites, have nothing to do with his title, we include this little history because Catholic Tradition has a presentation on Celtic Saints and plans to have presentations on Saints of the three Orders mentioned above.

Gregory IX (1227-1241)
Avis Ostiensis
[Bird of Ostia]


The arms of Gregory IX show and eagle andprior to his election he was the Cardinal of Ostia.

Celestine IV (1241)
Leo Sabinus
[The Sabinian Lion]


His amorial bearing carries a lion and he was Bishop of Sabina.

Innocent IV (1243-1254)
Comes Laurentius
[Count Laurence]


Cardinal of St. Laurence.

Alexander IV (1254-1261)
Signum Ostiense
[Sign or standard of Ostia]


Signum Ostiense is an egigmatic way of pointing to the former Bishop of Ostia's being of the house of Conti-Segni; as an aside he was the Pontiff who canonized St. Clare and was most favorable to the Franciscans: St. Clare is a Saint Catholic Tradition will be presenting.

Urban IV (1261-1264)
Hierusalem Campaniae
[Jerusalem of Champagne]


Native of Troyes, Champagne, later Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Clement IV (1265-1268)
Draca depressus
[The dragon crushed]


As Pontiff he crushed the practice of nepotism, which was described as a dragon in the Church at that time by noted writers: It is a well documented fact that his first act as Pope was to forbid his relatives to come to the Curia or to attempt to obtain any temporal advantage from his elevation to the papal throne.

Gregory X (1271-1276)
Anguinus vir
[The man of the serpent]


Pope Gregory X was not even a member of the hierarchy when he was elected Pope. he accepted the Papal dignity and took the name of Gregory X. He was born Tebaldo Visconti and had risen to Archdeacon, which is below the rank of priest. From the beginning of his pontificate he sought to promote the interests of the Holy Land. The reference in the title above is to his coat of arms, which shows a serpent.

Innocent V (1276)
Concionatur Gallus
[A French preacher]


Born in 1225 in south eastern france, Petrus Tarantasia became the Archbishop of Lyons and the Cardinal of Ostia; he was the initmate advoser of Gregory X whom he succeeeded to the papal throne. He was the first Dominican Pope, thus a member of the Order of Preachers and from France.

Adrian V (1276)
Bonus Comes
[A good count]


This nephew of Innocent the IV reigned only from the 12th of July to the 21st of August. He had been a count and his name Ottobono Fieschi furnishes the explanation for the prophecy.

John XXI (1276-1277)
Piscator Tuscus
[A Tuscan fisherman]


<>His was born Peitro Juliani; he was appointed Cadinal of Tusculum; Piscator refers to his name Pietro or Petrus; Tuscus is an adjective to refer to Tusculum.

Nicholas III (1277-1280)
Rosa composita
[The modest rose or The rose composite]


His coat of arms bore a rose.

Martin IV (1281-1285)
Ex teloneo liliacei Martini
[From the office of Martin of the lilies 
or From the receipt of custom of Martin of the lilies]


Prior to being Pope he was the Canon and Treasurer at the Church of St. Martin in Tours, France; the fleur-de-lis is a well-known emblem of France.

Honorius IV (1285-1287)
Ex rosa leonina
[From the leonine rose]


The Pope's coat of arm's had two lions holding a rose.

Nicholas IV (1288-1292)
Picus inter escas
[A woodpecker among the food]


Malachy's prophecy here is most obscure. It may that Picus inter escas is an illusion to the fact that Nicholas came from Ascoli in Picenum, which is a bit far-fetched. This particular Pope's recors are very sketchy. The fact that Malachy's description makes little sense does not prove that it was meaningless at the time when it was made or even when Nicholas IV became Pope.

St. Celestine V (1294)
Ex eremo celsus
[Elevated from the desert]


Prior to his electionPietro di Morrone had become a Benedictine at the age of 17 and loved solitude which led him to the wilderness of Montemorrone and later into the wilderness of Mount Majella. He followed the example of St. John the Baptist, wearing hair-cloth roughened with knots. A chain of iron was fastened around him every day except Sundays, and for long stretches of time he lived on bread and water. In July 1294 three Cardinals accompanied by a great multitude of monks ascended the mountain and abbounced that Pietro had been chosen Pope by a unanimous vote of the Sacred College. Two years and three months had elapsed since the death of Nicholas IV. Pietro heard of his elevation with tears, but obeyed the will of God. owing to his inexperience of diplomatic matters the affairs of the Curia fel into disorder and he looked upon affairs of state with distaste. He considered abdication. The question arose for the first time whether a Pope could resign. On the 13th of December he sumoned the Cardinals and announced his resignation.  He was later canonized but as the hermit, Morrone, not Pope Celestine, although he is titled St. Celestine V. [Some accounts pf papal history render his successor, Boniface VIII, as the jailor of Celestine and have him dying in prison. This is untrue. Boniface was worried about the extended enthusiasm of the followers of the resigned Pope and had him watched under guard in the Castle of Fumone, not prison.]

Boniface VIII (1294-1303)
Ex undarum benedictione
[From a blessing of the waves]


The Pope's amorial bearing which shows waves going diagonally down through the middle of the crest is the obvious reference.

Benedict XI (1303-1304)
Concionator Patereus
[A preacher from Patara]


This Pope was a native of Patara and a Dominican, the Order of Preachers.

Clement V (1305-1314)
De fessis Aquitanicis
[From the  Aquitainian fesses]


He was was from Aquitania and the fesses refer to the striated lines on his armorial bearings.

John XXII (1316-1334)
De sutore osseo
[Of the cobbler of Osseo]


He was the son of a shoe-maker named Osse.

Nicholas V (1328-1330)
Corvus schismaticus
[The schismatic crow]


Corvus appears an obvious allusion to the Pope's place of origin, di Corvaro, and the schismaticus to this Pope being one of the antipopes.

Benedict XII (1334-1342)
Frigidus Abbas
[Cold Abbot]


He was a Cistercian monk in the monastery of Fontforid, which means cold and he later was the Abbot there.

Clement VI (1342-1352)
De rosa Attrebatensi
[From the rose of Arras]


He was the Bishop of Arras and his amorial bearings show six roses.

Innocent VI (1352-1362)
De montibus Pammachii
[From the mountains of Pammachius]


Malachy's prophecy refers to the fact that innocent VI had been cardinal of Pammachius and his family crest shows six hills or mountains.

Urban V (1362-1370)
Gallus Vice-comes
[A French viscount]


He was born of anoble French family and this is obviously what St. Malachy is referring to.

Gregory XI (1370-1378)
Novus de Virgine forti
[A new man from a strong virgin or a virgin fort]


De Beaufort, later Cardinal of Santa Maria Nova's name may be referred to in the word Forti or it may mean that he "renovated in spirit through the bold exhortation of St. Catherine of Siena, a Virgin: he was one of the Avignon Popes.

Urban VI (1378-1389)
De Inferno praegnanti
[The Pregnani from Hell]


Malachy's prophecy is easily explained here: Urban VI was a Pregnani[Prignani] and a native of place called Inferno near Naples.

Boniface IX (1389-1404)
Cubus de mixtione
[The square of mixture]


Malachy's prophecy is an allusion to the Pope's coat of arms, which had a bent chegny of squares.

Innocent VII (1404-1406)
De meliore sidere
[From a better star]


Born in 1336 Cosma became a Papal Delegate to England and in 1387 Archbishop of Ravenna. In 1389 Boniface IX created him Cardinal and on the 17th October 1404 he was elected Pope and took the name of Innocent VII. He died on the 6th November 1406. During his reign he did little for the suppression of the Schism.

Malachy's legend is both a play on words referring to the Pope's name and an allusion to his armorial bearings whim show a comet.
Gregory XII (1406-1415)
Nauta de ponte nigro
[A sailor from a black bridge or the mariner of Negropont]


Angelo Correr was born in 1327 in Venice. He became Bishop of Castello and Patriarch of Constantine in 1390. In 1405 he was made Cardinal and after the death of Innocent VII was elected Pope by the Cardinals in Rome on the 30th November 1406. Due to internal strifes Gregory XII resigned in 1415. The Cardinals accepted the resignation and appointed him Bishop of Porto. Two years later, before the election of a new [valid] Pope, Martin V, Gregory XII died.

Nauta appears to refer to Venice. Gregory XII was also Commendatarius of the Church of Nigripontis.

Clement VII
De cruce Apostolica
[from the Apostolic cross]


Cardinal of the title of the twelve Apostles, this Pope's coat of arms shows a cross, quarterly pierced. He is responsible for the Great Schism of the West, a period in the history of the Church which lasted for nearly half a century.

Benedict XIII
luna Cosmedina
[the moon of Cosmedin]


This antipope was the famous Peter De Luna, Cardinal of the title of St. Mary in Cosmedina, who was born in 1328 and created Cardinal in 1375. He returned to Rome with Gregory XI after whose death he took part in the conclave which was attacked by the Romans and which elected Urban VI. His spiritual director and confessor was the great Vincent Ferrer, who believed him to be the real Pope. When Clement VII died he was unanimously chosen to succeed him. He died in Spain in 1423.
Malachy's description refers both to the antipope's name and his coat of arms.

Clement VIII
schisma Barchinonicum
[the schism of Barcelona]


This antipope is only recorded in a footnote to the Vatican list. He was a Canon of Barcelona to which Malachy's description alludes and died in 1447. [In the same footnote appears the name Bernardo Garnier who claimed the title Benedict XIV between 1425 and 1430.]

Alexander V (1409-1410)
Flagellum Solis
[the lash of the Sun]


Pietro, born in 1339, was a homeless begger boy in a Cretan city, knowing neither parents nor relations. He received elementary education from a friar and later entered a Franciscan monastery. Because of his unusual ability he was sent to be educated at Oxford and Paris where he distinguished himself as professor, preacher and writer. Pietro was made Bishop in 1386 and Pope Innocent VII made him a Cardinal in 1405. On the 26th June 1409 he was the unanimous choice of the Cardinals to fill the presumably vacant papal chair. His pontificate was marked by unsuccessful efforts to reach Rome. He died on 3rd May 1410 in Bologna, where he was held prisoner by Cardinal Cossa who succeeded Alexander V as John XXIII, on the 3rd May 1410.

There is no explanation provided for this prophecy, but it may have something to do with his confinement and or is inability to reach Rome.----The Web master.

John XXIII (1410-1415)+
Cervus Sirenae
[the stag of the Syren]


Baldassarre was born in 1370 and was one of the seven Cardinals
who, in 1408, deserted Gregory XII and who had pIaced themselves under the jurisdiction of Benedict XIII. He became Cardinal in 1402 and Papal Legate in the following year. In 1409 Cossa played an important part in the Council of Pisa and when Popes Gregory XII and Benedict XIII were deposed, he conducted the election of Alexander V who remained entirely under his influence. He died on the 22nd November 1419.

Malachy's prophecy is an allusion to the fact that Cossa became Cardinal of the title of St. Eustachius, who has the stag as an emblem. He was born in Naples which has the emblem of the syren.

Martin V (1417-1431)
Corona veli aurei
[The pillar with the golden veil]


Oddone Colonna was born in 1368 and became a Papal Nuncio at various Italian courts under Boniface IX. In 1405 he was made a Cardinal (Velabro). He deserted Pope Gregory XII and participated in the election of the Antipopes Alexander V and John XXIII. The influential family of Colonna had already given twenty-seven Cardinals to the Church, but Martin V was the first to ascend to the Papal throne. The Church was just passing through the most critical period of its history, the great Western Schism. John XXIII had submitted to Pope Martin in 1419 and was given the title of Cardinal Bishop of Frascati. He died in Rome in 1431.

Malachy's prophecy is an allusion to the pope's cardinal title and his family name.

Eugene IV (1431-1447)
Lupa caelestina
[The Cœlestinian she-wolf]


Gabriele was born at Venice in 1383 and was the nephew of Gregory XII. Although he inherited a vast fortune, he gave it away to the poor and entered a monastery. At the age of twenty-four he was appointed by his uncle as Bishop of Siena. In 1408 he was created Cardinal and became Pope in 1431. He died in Rome in 1447.

Malachy refers in his legend to the fact that Eugene IV belonged to the order of the Celestines and also was Bishop of Siena which bears a she-wolf on its arms.

Felix V (1439-1449)
Amator crucis
[A lover of the Cross]


Amadeus was born in 1383. After the schismatic Council of Basle had declared the rightful pope, Eugene IV, deposed, the Cardinals wished to secure additional influence and financial support by turning to the rich and powerful Prince, the Duke Amadeus VIII of Savoy. After the death of his wife Maria of Burgundy, Duke Amadeus led a life of contemplation, in the company of five knights whom he had formed into the Order of St. Maurice. He was consecrated and crowned by Cardinal d'Allamand in 1440. He submitted in 1449 to Nicholas V from whom he received the title of Cardinal of St. Sabina. He died in 1451.

Nicholas V (1447-1455)
De modicitate lunae
[From the littleness of the moon]


Tommaso was born in 1397 and acted as the factotum of the Bishop of Bologna for twenty gears. He accompanied the Bishop on many missions and later became the protege of Eugene IV who also entrusted him with other diplomatic tasks, which he carried out with such success that he received the Cardinal's hat in 1446. After the death of Pope Eugene, Parentucelli was elected Pope. He died in Rome in 1455.

Malachy's prophecy refers to his place of birth in the diocese of Luna and his humble origin.

Callistus III (1455-1458)
Bos pascens
[Grazing ox or a bull browsing]


Alfonso was born in 1378 of a noble family and after finishing his studies espoused the cause of Benedict XIII who created him a Canon. He submitted, however, to Martin V who appointed him Bishop of Valencia in 1429 and Eugene IV made him a Cardinal in 1444. In 1455 Alfonso de Borgia was elected Pope. His reign is remarkable for the revision of the trial of Joan of Arc, which was carried out by his directions and according to which the sentence of the first court was quashed and her innocence proclaimed.

Alphonse Borgia's arms sported a golden grazing ox

Pius II (1458-1464)
De capra et Albergo
[Another version reads Cupra]


his pope was also born of a noble family, in 1405. He received elementary instruction from a priest and entered the University of Siena at the age of eighteen. He became the secretary to Bishop Capranica and later to the antipope Felix V. In 1445 he changed his allegiance and in 1447 became Bishop of Trieste. In 1456 he was created a Cardinal by Calixtus III whom he succeeded as Pope in 1458. He died on the 14th August 1464.

Malachy's description has been interpreted as being an allusion to the fact that Pius II had been secretary to Cardinal Capranica and Cardinal Albergato before he was elected Pope.

Paul II (1464-1471)
De cervo et Leone
[From a stag and a lion]


Pietro Barbo, a nephew of Eugene IV, was born in Venice in 1417 and entered the religious profession at the elevation of his uncle to the papacy. He was first Bishop of Cervia and Cardinal of Venice. He succeeded Pius II as Pope in 1464 and died in 1471.

Malachy refers to his Bishopric Cervia (stag) and his Cardinal title of St. Mark (lion).

Sixtus IV (1471-1484)
Piscator Minorita
[The Minorite Fisherman]


Francesco was born in 1414. As a child he was placed in a Franciscan monastery because of the poverty of his parents. After filling the post of Procurator of his order in Rome, he was in 1467 created Cardinal by Paul II. He was elected Pope in 1471. His reign was overshadowed by political strifes and quarrels in which members of his family played leading parts and his appointing of men such as Pietro and Girolamo Riario to the highest offices in the Church are blots on his high office. He died in 1484.

Francesco was born the son of a fisherman and a member of the Minor Friars. [It is interesting to note that at the time of Malachy this Order did not exist.]

Innocent VIII (1484-1492)
Praecursor Siciliae
[The Precursor of Sicily or the forerunner from Sicily]


Giovanni was born in 1432 and entered the service of the Church after a somewhat licentious youth. In 1467 he became Bishop and in 1484 the successor to Sixtus IV. Great insecurity reigned at Rome during his rule, largely owing to weakness on his part in dealing with transgressors. In 1484 he issued his much abused Bull against witchcraft. Constantly confronted with financial difficulties he resorted to the objectionable habit of creating new offices and granting them to the highest bidders. A great number of Papal Bulls were sold during his reign, many of which are considered to be forgeries: among these latter must be placed the permission granted to the Norwegians to celebrate Mass without wine.

Alexander VI (1492-1503)
Bos Albanus in portu
[The Alban bull at the port]


The young Rodrigo who was born in Spain on the 1st January 1431, had not yet chosen his profession when the elevation of his uncle to the Papacy (1455) opened up new prospects to his ambition. His uncle conferred upon him rich benefices and sent him to study law at the University of Bologna. In 1456 he was made a Cardinal and he held the titles of Cardinal Bishop of Albano and Porto. Towards 1470 began his relations with Venozza Catanei, the mother of this four children: Juan, Caesar, Lucrezia and Jofre.

Borgia, by a two-thirds majority which was secured by his own vote, became Pope in 1492, and took the name of Alexander VI. He is probably the only Pope who has never found an apologist in spite of the most grievous accusations against him by his contemporaries. Perhaps the kindest thing one can do is to use the words of Leo the Great (440-461) who had declared in his "Third Homily for Christmas Day" that "The dignity of Peter suffers no diminution even in an unworthy successor". Alexander VI died in Rome on the 18th August 1503.

Malachy's prophecy refers to the pope's armorial bearings and his Cardinal titles of Albano and Porto.

Pius III (1503)
De parvo homine
[From a little man]


Francesco who was a nephew of Pope Pius II, was born in 1439. He had spent his boyhood in destitute circumstances when his uncle took him into his household, bestowed upon him his family name and arms and took charge of his training and education. His uncle appointed him Archbishop of Siena and in 1460 created him Cardinal. After the death of Alexander VI the Cardinals could not agree on a principal candidate and cast their vote in favour of Piccolomini, who though only 64 years old died after a reign of only 26 days, in 1503.

Malachy refers to his family name Piccolomini (parvus homo), in English: little man.

Julius II (1503-1513)
Fructus jovis juvabit
[The fruit of Jupiter will help]


Giuliano della Rovere was born in 1443. He followed his uncle into the Franciscan Order and, after his uncle's elevation to the Papacy as Sixtus IV in 1471, began his public career. In 1471 he was created a Cardinal and held numerous episcopal sees. After the death of Sixtus IV in 1484 Cardinal Rovere played a disreputable role in the election of Innocent VIII. Seeing that his own chances for the Papacy were unfavourable he secured the election of a Pope likely to be a puppet in his hands. After the death of Alexander VI he was again a strong candidate, but he had to allow the sick Piccolomini to become Pope before he was able to secure the Cardinals' votes for himself by bribery and promises. (It was the shortest conclave in the history of the Papacy). Julius II spent money liberally on the erection of magnificent palaces and fortresses. Before he became Pope he was the father of three daughters, one of whom, Felice, he gave in marriage to Giovanni Orsini in 1506. He died in 1513.

The Latin legend "Fructus Jovis Juvabit" is a reference to the Pope's armorial bearings. On his arms was an oak tree which was the sacred tree to Jupiter.

Leo X (1513-1521)
De craticula Politiana
[From a Politian "gridiron"]


Giovanni de' Medici was born in 1475 son of Lorenzo de' Medici (the Magnificent) and appointed a Cardinal at the age of thirteen. His educator and mentor was the most distinguished humanist and scholar, Angelo Politiano. In 1494 he had to flee his native city in the habit of a Franciscan monk and made several fruitless attempts to restore the supremacy of his family in Florence. The Medicis returned to favour in 1512 and in 1513 Giovanni, then thirty-seven years old, was elected Pope. During his reign he spent nearly five million ducats and left his successor with a debt of nearly half a million ducats. His creditors faced financial ruin and contemporary publications proclaim "Leo X has consumed three pontificates, the treasure of Julius II, the revenues of his own reign and those of his successor". He died at Rome in 1521.

"Craticula", the "gridiron" refers to his father Laurence the Magnificent and "Politiana" to his mentor.

Adrian VI (1522-1523)
Leo Florentius
[the lion of Florence]


He is the only Pope of modern times, except Marcellus II, who retained his Baptismal name. Born of humble parentage in Utrecht in 1459, his education was sponsored by his mother and also Margaret of Burgundy. In 1506 he became the tutor to the grandson of Emperor Maximillian, the future Charles V. Within the next decade he became Bishop, Grand Inquisitor, Cardinal and finally Regent of Spain. In 1522 the Cardinals elected him unanimously to succeed Pope Leo X. Adrian VI died on the 14th September 1523.

Malachy's legend refers to his family name and to the fact that two lions adorn his arms.

Clement VII (1523-1534)
Flos pilaei aegri
[The flower of the ball]


Born in 1478 a few days after the death of his father, Giulio was educated by his uncle Laurence the Magnificent. After his cousin's elevation to the Papacy as Leo X, many honours were bestowed upon him and in 1513 he was made a Cardinal. After Adrian's death Cardinal de' Medici was eventually chosen Pope. He was an Italian Prince, a diplomat first and a spiritual ruler afterwards. He died in 1534.

Flos Pilei Aegri is a reference to the Pope's armorial bearings; on his arms were six torteaux, the top one of which was charged with three fleurs-de-lis. It is during this Pope's reign that the divorce of Katherine of Aragon and Henry VIII's revolt against the Church took place.

Paul III (1534-1549)
Hiacynthus medicorum
[The hyacinth of physicians]


Alessandro was born at Rome in 1468 of an ancient Roman family with a long tradition of service to the Church. His grandfather was commander-in-chief of Papal troops under Eugene IV. Alessandro had an excellent education and with such advantages as birth and talent his advancement in the Church was assured and rapid. In 1493 Alexander VI created him a Cardinal with the title of St. Cosmas and Damian. He was a Cardinal for over forty years and finally became Dean of the Sacred College. In 1534 the conclave proclaimed him successor to Clement VII without the formality of a ballot. During his reign a number of religious orders were founded, of which the Jesuits and Ursulines are the best known. He died in 1549.

Earlier interpreters give the Pope's arms as charged with six hyacinths. He was also Cardinal of the title of St. Cosmas and Damian, who were both doctors. Malachy's legend appears to refer to these two facts.

Julius III (1550-1555)
De corona Montana
[Of the mountain crown]


Giammaria was born on the 10th September 1487 and studied under the Dominicans. In 1512 he succeeded his uncle Antonio del Monte as Archbishop of Siponto. Under Clement VII he was twice appointed Prefect of Rome and after the sack of the City (1527) was one of the hostages given by Clement VII to the Imperialists. Paul III created him a Cardinal in 1536 and he became the successor to that Pope in 1550 after a conclave of ten weeks. His inactivity during the last three years of his pontificate was caused by frequent and severe attacks of gout. The great blemish in his reign was Nepotism: shortly after his accession he created a youth of seventeen, whom he had picked up in the streets of Palma, a Cardinal. He was also extremely lavish in bestowing ecclesiastical honours and benefices upon his relatives. On the 23rd March 1555 he died in Rome.

Malachy's legend refers to the Pope's armorial bearings: his arms showed laurel crowns and mountains.

Marcellus II (1555)
Frumentum floccidum
[Hairy grain or useless corn]


Marcello was born in 1501 and had a spectacular career as Papal secretary, which position offered him great influence in the papal

Curia. Pope Paul III created him a Cardinal in 1539. In 1545 he was appointed one of the three Presidents of the Council of Trent and in 1548 he became Librarian of the Vatican. He was also Bishop of Nicastro and Reggio. After the death of Julius III the thirty-nine Cardinals of the conclave elected Cardinal Cervini to the papacy; however, he died after a reign of only twenty-two days.

Palestrina entitled one of his famous polyphonic Masses "Missa Papa, Marcelli" in his honour. The Pope's arms show ears of wheat, while the other reference obviously alludes to the shortness of his pontificate.

Paul IV (1555-1559)
De fide Petri
[Of the faith of Peter]


The family into which Giovanni was born in 1476 was one of the most illustrious in Naples and he was introduced to the Papal court in 1494 by his famous uncle Cardinal Oliviero Caraffa. Leo X appointed him Ambassador to England and also retained him as Nuncio in Spain. In 1536 he became Cardinal and later Archbishop of Naples. In 1555 he was elected Pope.

During his unfortunate reign occurred the final break between the Church of Rome and England. His pontificate was a great disappointment: he who at the beginning was honoured by a public statue lived to see it thrown down and mutilated by the hostile population of Rome. On the 18th August 1559 he died, and was buried in St. Peters, but his body was later transferred to another church.

Paul IV appears to have been better known by his Christian name Pietro; Caraffa is derived from the Latin "ara fides".

Pius IV (1559-1565)
Aesculapii pharmacum
The medicine of Aesculapius or The Aesculapius of doctors]


This pope was born at Milan in 1499. The Medicis of Milan lived in very humble circumstances and the proud house of Florence of the same name claimed no kindred with them until Cardinal Medici was seated on the Papal throne. After his studies in his twenty eighth year he went to Rome where his talents were appreciated by successive Popes. In the last year of Paul III's reign he was created a Cardinal and Julius III appointed him Commander of the Papal troops. His hostility towards Paul IV worked out to his advantage because the conclave which had assembled to elect that Pope's successor voted for the man who in every respect was Paul's opposite. By acclamation he was pronounced Pope in 1560. He died in 1565.

Malachy's legend appears to be a reference to the Pope's family name, but most interpreters point out that the young Medici had studied medicine and was a qualified doctor.

St. Pius V (1566-1572)
Angelus nemorosus
The Angel of the wood and The Angel of Bosco]


Born of a poor family in 1504 Antonio was educated by the Dominicans and entered that religious order in 1528. Pope Paul IV made him a Bishop in 1556 and a Cardinal in 1557. In the same year he was appointed Inquisitor General for all Christendom. When Pius IV wished to admit a thirteen year old boy into the Sacred College, Cardinal Ghisleri opposed and defeated the Pope and his plans. In 1566 he was elected Pontiff. He died in 1572. During his reign he excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I of England and wrote a letter to Mary Stuart in prison.

The Latin legend refers to the Pope's Christian name Michele (Angelus) and his birthplace (Bosco) Lombardy.

Gregory XIII (1572-1585)
Medium corpus pilarum
[See below]


Ugo was born at Bologna in 1502. He studied law and was appointed Judge of the Capitol by Pope Paul III. Paul IV appointed him a Bishop and Pius IV created him a Cardinal in 1564. After the death of Pius V in 1572 he was elected Pope. His main efforts were concentrated on restoring the Catholic faith in those countries that had become Protestant. Historians have severely criticised Gregory XIII for the massacre of the Huguenots on St. Bartholomew's day in 1572. No other act of Gregory XIII has gained for him a more lasting fame than his reform of the Julian calendar which was introduced in 1578. He died at Rome in 1585.

Malachy's interpreters give as an explanation for "Medium Corpus Pilarum" the fact that on his shield was a dragon naissant, and that Gregory XIII was created a Cardinal by Pius V who had six Torteaux (Pilias) on his Coat of Arms.

Sixtus V (1585-1590)
Axis in medietate signi
An axis in the midst of the sign]


Felice was born the son of a gardener in 1521 and it is said of him that as a boy he worked as a swineherd. When nine years old he joined a convent where he was educated and ordained Priest in 1547. He soon became famous as a preacher and Pope Pius IV appointed him Counsellor to the Inquisition at Venice. In 1566 he was created a Bishop by Pius V and in 1570 Cardinal. In 1585 he was elected Pope after a conclave of four days. After a reign of five years he died in 1590.

Malachy's prophecy is a straightforward allusion to the Pope's coat of arms.

Urban VII (1590)
De rore caeli
[From the dew of Heaven]


Giovanni Battista was born at Rome in 1521 and was a nephew of Cardinal Jacovazzi. He studied civil and canon law and graduated as a doctor of both. In 1553 he was appointed Archbishop of Rossano and Julius III sent him as Governor to Fano in 1555. In 1573 he resigned his See and Gregory XIII sent him as Nuncio to Venice. In 1583 he was made a Cardinal. Three years later he became Inquisitor General of the Holy Office. He was elected Pope in 1590, on the 15th September, and his reign lasted only 13 days. He died on the 27th September 1590.

Urban VII had been Bishop of Rossano in Calabria where manna called "the dew of Heaven" is gathered. (Manna is a sweetish secretion from many trees-as the Manna Ash etc.)

Gregory XIV (1590-1591)
De antiquitate Urbis
[From the old city]


Niccolo was born near Milan in 1553. His father Francisco, a Milanese senator, was, after the death of his wife, created a Cardinal by Pope Paul III in 1544. Niccolo was ordained priest and then appointed Bishop of Cremona in 1560. Gregory XIII created him Cardinal Priest of Santa Cecilia in 1583. In 1590 he succeeded Urban VII as Pope. He died in 1591.

 Milan is an old city having been founded in 400 B.C.

Innocent IX (1591)
Pia civitas in bello
[The pious city at war]


Born in 1519 Giovanni became secretary to a Roman Cardinal and in 1560 Bishop. In 1575 he was appointed Patriarch of Jerusalem and in 1583 created Cardinal of the title of the Four Crowned Martyrs. During the reign of Gregory XIV much of the burden of the Papal administration rested on his shoulders and on the Pontiff's death he was raised to the Papacy. He died in 1591.

Malachy's legend obviously refers to the city of Jerusalem of which the Cardinal was Patriarch before succeeding to the Papacy.

Clement VIII (1592-1605)
Crux Romulea
[The Roman cross]


Ippolito was born in 1536. His career was spectacular and he became Cardinal in 1585. His spiritual mentor had been Phillip Neri who remained his confessor for over thirty years. On his elevation to the Papacy Baronius became the Pope's confessor. He died in 1605. The adjective Romulus, meaning Roman, is also mentioned in one of the hymns of the Breviary. The Pope's coat of arms show an embattled bend which is also referred to as a Roman cross. Abbe Cucherat refers to the "cross of Ireland" Clement VIII had to bear at this time because the impoverished and persecuted country remained faithful to Rome. There has always been a very special regard for this Pope by the Irish. [During this Pope's reign the twenty-six martyrs of Japan were crucified; their canonization was reserved for the Pope to whom Malachy had given the description "Crux de Cruce".]

Leo XI (1605)
Undosus Vir
A billowy man; disappearing like the waves of the sea]


De Medici was born at Florence in 1535. He became ambassador to Pius V, representing the Duke of Tuscany, which position he held for fifteen years. Gregory XIII made him a Bishop in 1573, Archbishop of Florence in 1574 and Cardinal in 1583. After the death of Clement VIII he was elected Pope, but he died twenty-seven days after his election in 1605.

It has been suggested that Malachy referred to the Pope's short reign. Although not borne out by his Papal coat of arms "Undosus Vir" is likely to be an allusion to his heraldic design.

Paul V (1605-1621)
Gens perversa
The wicked race]


Born in 1550 Camillo's career in the Church was not spectacular. In 1596 he was made a Cardinal by Clement VIII and was appointed Cardinal Vicar of Rome. He was elected Pope in 1605. In 1606 Paul V wrote a letter to James I of England, congratulating him on his succession to the throne, expressing his grief about the plot recently made against the monarch's life and begging the King of England not to make the innocent Catholics suffer for the crime of a few. He promised to exhort all the governors of the realm to be submissive and loyal to their sovereign in all things not opposed to the honour of God. Unfortunately the oath of allegiance demanded by James of his subjects contained clauses which had to be solemnly condemned by the Pope in 1607. This condemnation occasioned the bitter dissension between the monarchy and those governors who submitted to the decision of the Pope. Pope Paul V died in 1621.

The most obvious explanation of Malachy's legend is an allusion to the Pope's armorial bearings which show a dragon and an eagle. These were often referred to as the "Gens Perversa." There is another interpretation which refers to the war between the Ghibelines and Guelphs whose crests were the dragon and the eagle.

Gregory XV (1621-1623)
In tribulatione pacis
In the disturbance of peace]


Alessandro was born in 1554, and became a Judge of the Capitol. In 1612 Paul V appointed him Archbishop of Bologna and it was he who, as Nuncio to Savoy, had to mediate between the Duke of Savoy and King Philip of Spain. In 1616 he was created Cardinal and he was elected successor to Pope Paul V in 1621. The relations between England and the Roman See assumed a more friendly character during his pontificate and Gregory XV was respected by the rulers of the continent, not only in religious affairs but also in matters of a purely political nature. He died in 1623.

Malachy's prophecy is an obvious reference to the Pope's activities as Nuncio which were mainly concerned with the restoration of disturbances which might well have lead to wars.

Urban VIII (1623-1644)
Lilium et rosa
[The lily and the rose]


He was born in 1568 and educated under the Jesuits. In 1601 he was appointed Papal Legate to France and in 1604 Archbishop of Nazareth. Later he was sent as Nuncio to Paris and in 1606 he was made a Cardinal by Paul V. He was elected Pope in 1623 and throughout his reign he concerned himself with the affairs of France and England. He died in 1644.

 There is no doubt that his particular interest in the affairs of France (fleur de lis) and England (the rose) seems the most obvious explanation.

Innocent X (1644-1655)
Jucunditas crucis
[The joy of the cross]


Born in 1574 he became Nuncio at Naples and a Cardinal in 1626. He was elected Pope in 1644. He died in 1655. It is interesting to note that Innocent X was raised to the Pontificate after a long and difficult Conclave on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.

Alexander VII (1655-1667)
Montium custos
[The guardian of the hills]


Fabio was born in 1599 of one of the most illustrious and powerful Italian families. He entered upon his ecclesiastical career in 1626 and held many posts and responsibilities. In 1651 he became Secretary of State to Innocent X who made him a Cardinal in 1652. In the Conclave of 1655, which lasted eighty days and which is famous for the clash of nation and faction, Chigi was unanimously elected Pope. He died in 1667.

Malachy's legend is an obvious allusion to the Pope's armorial bearings.

Clement IX (1667-1669)
Sydus Olorum
[Constellation of swans]


Born in 1600 Giulio enjoyed the special favour of Urban VIII who made him Archbishop of Tarsus and sent him as Nuncio to the Spanish Court. In 1657 Alexander VII appointed him Cardinal and ten years later he was elected to the See of St. Peter. In 1668 he declared Rose of Lima to be the first American Saint. He died at Rome in December 1669.

The Pope's family came originally from Lombardy where its ancient history is well recorded. The Pope's family coat of arms has a shield on which was emblazoned a swan with stars overhead. Upon his election, he was apparently the occupant of the Chamber of Swans in the Vatican.

Clement X (1670-1676)
De flumine magno
[From the great river]


Emilio was born in 1590, and had a quite unspectacular career in the Church. Clement IX created him Cardinal when he was in his eighties. Unable to secure the election of any of the prominent candidates the Cardinals, after a Conclave of nearly five months, decided on electing a Cardinal of advanced years. Thus Clement X became pontiff. He died in 1676.

Malachy's prophecy concerning this Pope has two possible interpretations: Clement X was born at Rome and in July 1590 the unusual phenomena of the Tiber overflowing its banks is given in Moreri's interpretations of the prophecies. The other explanation is that Malachy's reference is simply a play on words concerning the Pope's name which was Altieri (Alto Reo-----a deep river.

Innocent XI (1676-1689)
Bellua insatiabilis
An insatiable beast]


Born in 1611. Benedetto was created a Cardinal by Innocent X. He was a strong candidate for the Papacy after the death of Clement IX, but the French Government rejected him. After the death of Clement X, King Louis XIV of France again intended to use his real influence against Cardinal Odescalchi's election, but the King yielded to the pressure of the Conclave and after an interregnum of two months he was unanimously elected in 1676 to the Papacy. He died in 1689.

Malachy's legend may be a reference to the Pope's armorial bearings which show a lion and a bird of prey both of which had the reputation of being insatiable beasts.

Alexander VIII (1689-1691)
Poenitentia gloriosa
[Glorious repentance]


Pietro Ottoboni was born in 1610. He enjoyed all the wealth and social position of a descendant of one of the most noble families of Venice. He was made a Cardinal in 1652 and elected to the Papacy in 1689. He died in 1691.

It is likely that he prophecy refers to the submission and consequent repentance of the Gallican Bishops.

Innocent XII (1691-1700)
Rastrum in porta
[The rake of the door]


Born in 1615 Antonio entered the Roman Curia at the age of twenty. In 1682 he was made a Cardinal and in 1687 Archbishop of Naples. As a compromise the Conclave chose Cardinal Pignatelli to succeed Alexander VIII. He died in 1700.

It is difficult to find a satisfactory explanation for this legend. "Rastrum" means "at hand" or "the next coming on". It could also mean a rake. This word has undergone many changes of meaning in the course of the last five centuries. In 1582 a dictionary description refers to "a very lean person", and a translation of 1653 gives as the meaning "somebody dissolute" or "fond of fashion". Such speculation is by no mean satisfactory and does not supply a straightforward interpretation of Malachy's prophecy------it is simply guess work.

Clement XI (1700-1721)
Flores circumdati
[Surrounded with flowers]


Giovanni was born in 1649 and at the age of twenty-eight was made a Prelate. In 1690 he was created a Cardinal and the Conclave of 1700 chose him, after deliberating for forty-six days, to be the successor to Innocent XII. He died in 1721.

Urbino, the city where the Pope was born, has a garland of flowers on its coat of arms. It is interesting to note that during the reign of Clement XI a coin was struck and on the exergue were the words "Flores Circumdati". There is no doubt that those who had the medal struck must have been mindful of the prophecies of Malachy which had become not only common property since 1595, but were extremely popular at that time.

Innocent XIII (1721-1724)
De bona Religione
From a good religious background]


He was born in 1655, the son of Carlo II, Duke of Poli. He was created a Cardinal in 1706 and held various offices until in 1721 he was elected Pope in a stormy Conclave. He died in 1724.

This Pope belonged to the famous Conti family which has given so many Popes to the Church. Malachy's legend could therefore be translated "Of a good religious family". This explanation is shared by many medieval interpreters.

Benedict XIII (1724-1730)
Miles in bello
[The soldier in battle]


Born in 1649, he entered the Dominican order at the age of sixteen against the will of his parents. They appealed in vain to Clement IX. At the age of twenty-one he was promoted to a professorship and in 1672 elevated to the position of Cardinal. In 1686 a serious illness caused his transfer to Benevento where he remained for thirty eight years until he was elected Pope in 1724. His first concern as Pope was to enforce rigidly ecclesiastical discipline and he was unsparing in his efforts to abolish luxury and worldly pomp among the Cardinals.

Malachy's legend has always been interpreted to refer to the Pope's constant battle against the pomp and worldly interests of the Curia.

Clement XII (1730-1740)
Columna excelsa
[A lofty pillar]


Lorenzo was born in 1652 and the number of members of his family who had risen to high positions in the Church is innumerable. In 1691 he became Archbishop and Nuncio of Vienna. In 1756 he was created a Cardinal and made Papal Treasurer. His elevation to the Papacy in 1730 caused no surprise. In the second year of his Pontificate he became totally blind. He died in his eighty-eighth year in 1740.

< style="font-family: helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">The prophecy as an allusion to a bronze statue erected by the Romans to this Pope's memory. The Pope also built a chapel in St. John Lateran's where he wished to be buried. A reference Columna is usually an allusion to the fact that one of the Colonna family would succeed to the Papacy.

Benedict XIV (1740-1758)
Animal rurale
[Animal of the field]


Prospero was born in 1675 and at the age of nineteen he received the degrees of Doctor of Theology and Doctor of Canon and Civil Law. In 1727 he was made Bishop and in 1728 Cardinal. When Clement XII died the Conclave lasted for six months and the election then seemed no nearer than at the beginning. Cardinal Lambertini, who had been proposed as a compromise, addressed the Conclave saying: "If you wish to elect a Saint, choose Gotti; a statesman, Aldabrandini; an honest man, elect me". Lambertini was chosen and took the name of Benedict XIV. He died in 1758.

There appears to be no reason for interpreting the legend as an allusion to the Pope's armorial bearings. Interpreters stress the fact that the Pope wrote away at his desk like a "plodding ox", which, according to the old writers, was typical of the persevering steady worker. (St. Thomas Aquinas was called the dumb ox by his fellow students because he fed his mind and ruminated silently.)

Clement XIII (1758-1769)
Rosa Umbriae
[The rose of Umbria]


Carlo was born at Venice in 1693 and became Bishop of Padua in 1743. In 1747 he became a Cardinal and in 1758 he was elected Pope. He died in 1769.

Dduring his Pontificate he raised to the dignity of Saints a great number of persons belonging to the Franciscan order, mystically called "Rosa Umbriae."

Clement XIV (1769-1774)
Ursus velox
[The swift bear]


He was born in 1705. He received his education from the Jesuits of Rimini and at the age of nineteen he entered the order of the Franciscans. Clement XIII gave him the Cardinal's hat in 1759 and the Conclave of 1769 chose him to succeed Clement XIII. Under his pontificate the Jesuits were suppressed. He died in 1774.

There is no bear in the arms of the Pope: This is again one of the instances where any interpretation would be purely guess work.

Pius VI (1775-1799)
Peregrinus Apostolicus
[The pilgrim pope]


Giovanni was born in 1717. He became Papal secretary in 1755 and Clement XIV made him a Cardinal in 1755. After this, he retired to the Abbey of Subiaco (of which he was Abbot) until his election in the same year. He died in 1799.

The legend is usually explained by the well known facts of the Pope's life. His extremely long Pontifical reign had led contemporary writers to refer to him as the Apostolic Pilgrim on Earth.

Pius VII (1800-1823)
Aquila rapax
[A rapacious eagle]


This pope was born in 1740 and his elevation to the Papacy was foretold, as Pius VII himself later related, by his mother, who in 1763 had entered the convent of Carmelites. Pius VI created him a Cardinal in 1786 and the Conclave elected him Pope in 1800. He died in 1823.

The Pope's pontificate was overshadowed by Napoleon whose emblem was the eagle.

Leo XII (1823-1829)
Canis et coluber
[A dog and a serpent]


Born in 1760, Annibale became a Priest at the age of only twenty-three. In 1820 he was made Vicar of Rome and after Pius VII's death was elected to the Papacy. He died in 1829.

I think is fair to say that if the order of two successive Popes could be reversed, the allusion to armorial bearings would fit perfectly. What better description for Leo XII than that which was given to Pius VII "Aquila Rapax" and how perfect would Pius VII have been described with the legend "Custus Montium" or "Crux de Cruce", if chance would have had it so.

Contrary to popular belief, the original manuscript of the Prophecies of Malachy has not been found in the Vatican Library. His Excellency Archbishop Cardinale instigated a thorough search for the manuscript at the Vatican. The sad fact is that there is no record of this manuscript being there or having been there. The many publications and additions to Malachy's prophecies since the middle of the sixteenth century do not concur exactly with the order of the Popes, particularly during the reigns of the antipopes. It is also reasonable to assume that the interpreters have relied largely on the works of their predecessors, adopting the same order of succession.

As matters stand Malachy's prophecy concerning Leo XII may be a reference to two of the Pope's most outstanding virtues: vigilance, which one associates with a dog; and prudence, commonly associated with the serpent.

Pius VIII (1829-1830)
Vir religiosus
[A religious man]


Francesco was born in 1761 and attended a Jesuit school. In 1800 Pius VII appointed him Bishop of Moltalto and he held various episcopal sees. As early as the Conclave of 1823 Castiglioni was among the candidates for the Papacy. Cardinal Wiseman relates that this Pope's elevation to the Papacy, as well as the name he was to assume, was predicted by Pius VII for, on a certain occasion, the Pope addressed Cardinal Castiglioni and said, "Your Holiness Pius VIII may one day settle this matter". At the election of 1829 he succeeded Pius VII and he died on the 1st December 1830.

Malchy's legend may refer to the fact (Religiosus) that the Pope had come from a family which was well known for its deep faith and that he was not the first Pope this family had given to the Church. Other interpreters have taken "Religiousus" to mean the same as Pius, thus foreshadowing his name.

Gregory XVI (1831-1846)
De balneis etruriae
[Bath of Etruria]


Prior to his election he was member of an order founded by Saint Romuald, at Balneo, in Etruria, present day Tuscany.

Pius IX (1846-1878)
Crux de cruce
[The cross from a cross]


The loss of his temporal power was only one of many trials that filled the long pontificate of Pius IX. There was scarcely a country where the rights of the Church were not infringed upon. In many countries church property was confiscated, religious orders expelled, and Bishops imprisoned or banished. The height of these disturbances was reached during the Kulturkampf inaugurated in 1873. This Pope is well remembered for ordaining to important ecclesiastical positions only such men.

Leo XIII (1878-1903)
Lumen in caelo
[A light in the sky]


This is the first of Malachy's prophecies for the years after 1590 which appears to be a straightfoward allusion to the Pope's amorial bearings which show a blasing star in the coat of arms. His great encylicals could also be called "a light in the sky".

St. Pius X (1903-1914)
Ignis ardent
[The burning fire]


This refers to the burning zeal and endeavor to guard against the foe of heresy  that characterized his reign, as well as his unquenable desire to promote piety among the faithful.

Benedict XV (1914-1922)
Religio depopulata
[Religion laid waste]


The years of Pope Benedict's papacy were overshadowed by the death of millions of Christians in World War I. 1917 saw the beginning of the Russian Revolution which brought about the end of religious life in thsi formerly most Christian country. Religio Depopulata is one of Malachy's prophecies which have unfortunarely been fulfilled true to the letter of the word.

Pius XI (1922-1939)
Fides intrepida
[Unshaken faith]


Elevated to the Papacy in 1922 he faced the rise of Fascism and Communism in the Western world. Vatican documents reveal the tremendous pressure which was put on this Pope by the dictators of Italy and Germany. Again, one could say that it was the Pontiff's "Fides Intrepida" --- his unshaken faith --- in what he believed to be right which may have prevented even greater hardship than that which befell the Catholic Church during his reign. His courage at which Hitler sneered and raged and before which Mussolini crumbled; his outspoken criticism against Fascism and Communism which upset the ruthless plans of the dictators, and his unshaken faith, all sustained the Church in a period of the most severe trials. Malachy's description appears to be a most fitting one for Pope Pius XI.

Pius XII (1939-1958)
Pastor angelicus
[An angelic shepherd]


Modern publications, particularly that by Pinchas Lapide [The Last Three Popes and the Jews, Souvenir Press, 1967] and the publication of the Vatican document relating to the reign of Ven. Pius XII, have given the world unshakable and irrefutable proof of this Pope's greatness and spirituality. He was in the truest sense of the word an Angelic Pastor to the flock committed to his care, and his flock were all those who suffered. In spite of the defamatory and scurrilous allegations piublished about him in contemporary times,  Pius XII has emerged as one of the great popes of all time. Although the contents of his visions have not yet become public knowledge there is little doubt that his affinity to the spiritual world was a very real and close one. The description Pastor Angelicus is most apt and one of the most descriptive in St. Malachy's prophecies.

John XXIII  (1958-1963)+
Pastor et Nauta
[Pastor and mariner]


 Prior to his election he was Patriarch of Venice, 
a marine city and while Pontiff, called a pastor to the world.

Paul VI (1963-1978)
Flos florum
[Flower of flowers]


History: His arms displayed three lilies,
which forms the shape of the flower of flowers, the fleur de lis.

John Paul I (1978)
De medietate Lunae
[Of the half of the moon]


born in Canale d'Ogardo, diocese of Belluno, [beautiful moon] he was elected Pope on August 26: his reign lasted about a month, from half a moon to the next half. 

John Paul II (1978-2005)
De labore Solis
[Of the eclipse of the sun, or from the labor of the sun]


 Karol Wojtyla was born on May 18, 1920 during a solar eclipse. He also comes from behind the former Iron Curtain; He might also be seen to be associated with intercession of the Woman Clothed with the Sun laboring in Revelation 12 [because of his devotion to the Virgin Mary who labored to have Russia consecrated to her Immaculate Heart.]

Benedict XVI
Gloria olivae
[The glory of the olive]


The Order of St. Benedict has claimed by tradition that this Pope will come from within the Order; St. Benedict himself prophesied that before the end of world comes about, his Order will triumphantly lead the Catholic Church in its fight against evil; The Order of St. Benedict is also known as the OLIVETANS .

St. Malachy did not make this precise claim, as he often used allegory in his prophecies, thus the name of Benedict was also a likely association. The Benedictines have long been instrumental in promoting the Holy Mass. Thus, because the Order of late has been so liberalized in many quarters, some thought that this Pontiff might not be as good as one would hope for. The new Pontif is known to want the Holy Mass to be celebrated more reverently, perhaps this is what will be "the Glory of the Olive". In addition, the Olive [the branch] is symbolic of peace: our new Holy Father is a very sweet and gentle man, given to much patience as well as being most pious and humble, precisely the sort of Pontiff who could be instrumental in bringing some peace to a world at war somewhere every day. Perhaps he will be the Pope to actually make the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady, the only guarantee of true peace.  Moreover, he has always been very devoted to St. Benedict, who reinvigorated the flowering of Christendom through the monastic system and the rule of life. [Text in red by the Web Master.]

In persecutione extrema S.R.E. sedebit Petrus Romanus, qui pascet oues in multis tribulationibus: quibus transactis ciuitas septicollis diruetur, & Iudex tremêdus iudicabit populum suum: Finis.

[In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock among many tribulations;after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed, and the dreadful Judge will judge the people: The end.]