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MavTis apwrros ocrrts eiKafci /caXto? 






HIS little book, dealing with the pro- 
phecies current during or recalled to 
memory by the present war, has 
been suggested at least in part by 
Dollinger's well-known essay, Der 
Weissagungsglaube und das Prophetenthum in 
der christlichen Zeit, of which an excellent trans- 
lation was published forty years ago by Mr. 
Alfred Plummer. Dr. Dollinger's survey dealt 
almost exclusively with the predictions of the 
Middle Ages; the present work concerns itself 
with those prognostics which have attracted atten- 
tion in recent times, and are expected to find 
their fulfilment in our own generation. Even 
Dollinger, in spite of his strongly antipapal 
standpoint, did not think of questioning the 
possibility of a genuine gift of prophecy, whether 
natural or infused. He believed, for example, 
that Savonarola possessed it, although by no 
means all Savonarola's predictions were justified 
by the sequel. Naturally it is not the aim of the 
following pages to show that credibility is to be 
denied on principle to every attempt to foretell 
future events. St. Paul writes, as we all know : 



" Despise not prophecies, but prove all things, 
hold fast that which is good " (i Thess. v. 20-21) ; 
and although, as Lightfoot well notes, the mean- 
ing of 7rpo<r?Teia in the New Testament is " forth- 
telling rather than foretelling," inspiration, in 
other words, rather than prediction, still the 
latter sense is also implicitly included. That 
there have been, and are, many persons to whom a 
knowledge of the future is imparted in ways that 
transcend our comprehension, I fully believe. 
But that this knowledge ever extends to the 
foreseeing of political events of general interest 
is very difficult to establish by evidence. It does 
not seem to be part of the divine dispensation 
that assurance regarding the decrees of Provi- 
dence should be given to any considerable body 
of mankind. Certainly a careful scrutiny of such 
pretended oracles as are discussed in the present 
volume must lead to an attitude of extreme 
suspicion in regard to all literature of this type. 
Of the many hundred predictions recorded in the 
various collections which I have examined almost 
all have been long ago refuted by the actual 
course of events. I have, in fact, come across 
but one, and that a prophecy to which attention 
has not hitherto been directed, which seems to 
me to retain the least semblance of intrinsic 
probability (see pp. 80-84 below). Moreover, even 
here the extrinsic evidence is quite unsatisfactory, 
and should the terrible catastrophe foreshadowed 
unhappily come anywhere near realization, one 

Preface vii 

could feel no confidence that we were in the 
presence of anything more than a rather 
exceptional coincidence. 

Although the longest chapter in this volume, 
that concerned with the pretended " prophecy of 
St. Malachy," may seem at first sight to have 
little to do with the present war, the observant 
reader will soon discover that these papal mottoes 
are closely interwoven with the fabric of nearly 
all the recent religious predictions concerning 
present calamities and the end of the world. It 
therefore seemed desirable to discuss the ques- 
tion of the fraudulent origin of the list in some 
detail, the more so that much that is written on 
the subject is curiously ill-informed. The sub- 
stance of the chapter dealing with St. Malachy is 
taken from two articles which I contributed to 
The Month as far back as June and July, 1899, 
where the intimate dependence of the mottoes 
on Panvinio was, I think, made clear for 
the first time. The fact that even in such 
a work as The Catholic Encyclopedia the 
" prophecy " should be treated as a document of 
serious value seemed to render it needful to deal 
with the subject somewhat more fully and 
exhaustively than the matter in itself deserved. 

March 3ist, 1915. 




PROPHECY IN 1870-1 i 

CREDULITY at seasons of popular excitement 
The war of 1870 Vogue of the Voix Pro- 
phetiques and of other similar collections 
Blessed Catherine of Racconigi Anna Maria Taigi 
and the three days of d'arkness Madeleine Poisat 
and Maximin of La Salette The famous prophecy 
of Orval Henry V, the " Offspring of the Cap " 
A suggested alliance for Queen Victoria The Orval 
prophecy an avowed forgery The failure of Mary 
Lataste The prophecy of Blois King George's "isle 
of captivity." 


PROTESTS of Father de Buck and Mgr. Du- 
panloup The fifth Council of Lateran 
Mgr. Douais The Question of Imprimaturs 
The Saint of Toulouse Supposed Prophecy of the 
Cure" D'Ars ; its real meaning Unsatisfactoriness of 
the evidence The " Feast of our Lady " an inter- 
polation The Dom Bosco fabrication. 


TEXT of the Prophecy The Antichrist The 
Battle of the Beasts Incredible profusion of 
detail Sar P61adan and his extravagances 
A free-and-easy editor Madame Faust and M. P61a- 
dan's recitation The strange omissions of Brother 
Johannes Prediction attributed to St. Thomas of 
Canterbury Other Beast prophecies. 

x Contents 




THE Battle of the Birch Tree Jaspers The 
bogus Prophecy of Mayence Hermann of 
Lehnin The Polish vision of Blessed Andrew 
Bobola The predictions of a modern Carmelite nun 
" Till only the fourth part of men remain " 
Flaws in the evidence A letter to an English priest. 


AN arithmetical prognostic of the year of the 
Kaiser's downfall Such cabbalistic divina- 
tions no novelty Louis Napoleon's fatal 
year An illustration from the eighteenth century 
The numerical significance of Pius papa nonus 
The methods of Zadkiel and Old Moore " Men 
marke when they hit and never marke when they 
misse " Some modern horoscopes The commercial 
value of a gift of reading the stars Madame de 
Thebes Nostradamus A Mother Shipton fabrica- 
cation The death of a sovereign correctly foretold. 



VOGUE of St. Malachy's papal mottoes- 
How first published Triviality and purpose- 
less character of the interpretations Funda- 
mental difference between the mottoes which pre- 
cede and those which follow the date of publica- 
tion Vagueness and ready adaptability of the later 
oracles The Pope book of Panvinio This book 
unquestionably used for the fabrication of the 
mottoes Overwhelming evidence which proves this 
assertion Panvinio's blunders of 1557 incorporated 
in St. Malachy's supposed prophecy of 1142 
Origin of the forgery Theories of Weingarten and 
Harnack Grounds for rejecting them The Popes 
still to come and the inferences drawn from their 

Contents xi 




ANTICHRIST ... ... 142 

NATI ON AL prophecies Nostradamus predicts 
300 years of maritime empire for England 
An English revolution also foretold 
Mile. Couedon Bartholomew Holzhauser and 
England's reconversion to the Faith Prophecy 
of St. Edward the Confessor Antichrist accord- 
ing to the Ascension of Isaiah Adso's great 
Emperor of Prankish race Roger Bacon's Papa 
Angelicas The two ideas combined in the later 
mediasval legends St. Vincent Ferrer on the near 
approach of the end of the world Antichrist already 
born St. Francis of Paolo's supposed prophecy 
Holzhauser and many other mystics predict for the 
Church a period of peace and triumph which is to 
precede Antichrist Conflicting views regarding the 
date and order of the events which herald the second 
coming of Christ. 



PROPHECY IN 1870 1871 

E r ERY schoolboy is familiar with the 
portents which in the pages of Livy 
are noted as occurring in profusion 
at seasons of special danger and 
calamity in the history of the republic. 
But even Livy, respecter of traditions as he was, 
did not disguise his misgivings regarding the 
authenticity of many of the preternatural occur- 
rences which he thought it incumbent upon him to 
record. Thus it is that at a breathing space in 
his chronicle of the second Punic war he re- 
marks : " At Rome or in the neighbourhood 
many portents occurred that winter, or, as often 
happens when once men's minds are affected by 
religious fears, many were reported and thought- 
lessly believed." 1 There can in any case be no 

1 Livy, Lib. xxi, cap. 62. " Romae aut circa urbem multa ea 
hieme prodigia facta, aut, quod evenire solet motis semel in 
religionem animis, multa nuntiata et temere credita sunt." 
Cf. xxii i and 36 ; xxiii 32 ; xxiv 10 and 44, etc. 

2 Prophecy in 1 870-7 1 

doubt that an atmosphere of excitement and' 
unrest is singularly favourable for the propaga- 
tion of credulities of all kinds. 1 We need not 
exactly call it nerves, that is, if nerves be sup- 
posed to be synonymous with a condition of 
abject terror. There is often no terror; terror 
in fact is the effect rather than the cause. But 
there is a loss of mental balance, a disposition 
to clutch at straws, an inability to observe any 
outward object without magnifying it tenfold, 
and we must believe that this attitude of mind 
is distinctly unhealthy. It may at times be a 
stimulus, but a stimulus which is followed by a 
regrettable reaction. The more we can maintain 
an attitude of robust common sense the better 
for ourselves and for our neighbours. Our 
British phlegm, which is not perhaps nowadays 
quite so distinctively British a characteristic as it 
used to be, is a valuable asset at times such as 

I am led to make these reflections by the 
indications which meet us on so many sides just 
now of a general disposition to credulity, not 
only with regard to statements of fact and 
horrors committed in the war, but also with 
regard to predictions concerning the future. At 
the time of the great Franco-Prussian contest of 
1870 1871 there was a positive epidemic of pro- 

1 Dollinger, Prophecies and the Prophetic Spirit, Eng. trans., 
pp. 89-90, points out how rife prophecies were upon the dis- 
turbed soil of Italy, and also how they multiplied during the time 
of the Great Schism ; ib., p. 152. 

"Voix Prophetiques " 3 

phecies, especially on the French side. A certain 
Abbe Curicque, a member of various learned 
societies, compiled a work, which in its fifth 
edition, published in 1872, filled more than 
thirteen hundred pages with vaticinations sup- 
posed to refer to our present age. 1 Though a 
large proportion of these utterances profess to 
have emanated from canonized saints or from 
persons in repute of holiness, it would be im- 
possible to find a single item which could have 
given a clue to any event known to have hap- 
pened since the book was published, or which 
was even likely to be helpful, except in the most 
general way, to readers in search of moral 
edification. For the most part the predictions 
are obscure and hopelessly elusive. Notwith- 
standing their Christian origin they are not one 
whit more easy of interpretation than the oracles 
of pagan Delphi. If ever they seem to offer a 
definite indication of something capable of in- 
vestigation, they either prove to have been 

1 Voix Prophdtiques, ou Signes, Apparitions et Predictions 
Modernes touchant les grands 6"vnements de la Chretientd au 
XI Xe siecle et vers I'approche de la Fin des Temps, par 1'Abbe" 
J. M. Curicque, Membre de la Socie'te' d'Arche'ologie et d'Histoire 
de la Moselle, etc., 5th ed., 2 vols., Paris: Palm6, 1872. A 
vast number of similar books appeared about the same time, 
e.g., Pere Marie Antoine, Le Grand Pape et le Grand Roi, 7th 
ed., Toulouse, 1872 ; V. de Stenay, Le Prophete David 
Lazzeretti, Paris, 1872 ; F. Roux, Examen de la Prophetic de 
Blois, Paris, 1871 ; Colin de Plancy, La Fin des Temps, Paris, 
1871 ; V. de Stenay, L'A-venir devoiU, Paris, 1870, 1871 ; A. Le 
Pelletier, La Clef des Temps ; G. N'aquet, Europe Delivree, 
Paris, 1871 ; etc., but it would be useless to attempt a 

4 Prophecy in 1870-71 

falsified by subsequent events, or when com- 
pared with one another, they lead us to contra- 
dictory conclusions. A more unprofitable task 
than that of the editor who with great labour 
gathered up these Voix Prophetiques, it would 
be impossible to imagine. 

Without attempting to furnish any account of 
the heavenly portents with which the book is 
filled the apparitions of saints, the moving 
statues, the testimony of possessed persons, the 
armies, crosses and serpents seen in the air, the 
menacing aspect of the aurora borealis, the 
shocks of earthquake, the dried-up fountains that 
began to flow, etc., etc. 1 all of which are repre- 
sented as full of prophetic significance, one or 
two brief illustrations may be given of utterances 
in which the prophet, or more probably the 
prophet's interpreters, have been sufficiently ill- 
advised to venture upon definite statements and 
dates. For the most part the works of canonized 
saints, for example, St. Bridget, St. Gertrude, 
St. Theresa, St. Leonard of Port Maurice, etc., 
which are laid under contribution, furnish no 

1 As a mere matter of curiosity it may be interesting to trans- 
late the headings of the chapters of Book V, they correspond to 
pp. 401-53 of vol. i (in the 4th ed.) and bear the general 
title " Prophetic Signs in the Elements." The chapters run as 
follows : i, The Torrent of the Carceri of St. Francis of Assisi ; 
2, The overflow of the Tiber ; 3, The intermittent spring of 
Darbres ; 4, The Aurora Borealis of Oct. 24th and 25th, 1870 ; 
5, The cross of light around the moon on the night of December 
8th ; 6, The monster serpent seen in the air at Jarny, near 
Metz ; 7, The battle in the sky at the village of Golaze in 
Poland ; 8, Three military scenes witnessed in the heavens by 
observers in the Rhineland ; 9, The e'arthquake in Tibet. 

Anna Maria Taigi 5 

more than general premonitions of calamity for 
the Church, which might belong to any age or 
any combination of circumstances. But some of 
the utterances of persons in repute of sanctity 
are represented as being more explicit. Thus we 
learn that Blessed Catherine of Racconigi 
announced, before 1544, that after three centuries 
had elapsed, a descendant of Francis I, King 
of France, should rule over the world like a 
second Charlemagne. 1 There is a little difficulty 
here, since the male line of Francis I came to an 
end with Henry III, but the editor thinks it 
obvious that the royal house of Bourbon in 
general must be meant, and the partisans of the 
Comte de Chambord were consequently left free 
to derive all encouragement from this prediction 
of a universal Christian monarchy. Unfor- 
tunately we have come to the end of almost four 
centuries since Blessed Catherine prophesied, 
and the advent of the second Charlemagne seems 
as far off as ever. The Venerable Anna Maria 
Taigi, according to the Voix Prophetiques, was 
much more precise. She announced that the 
pontificate of Pius IX would last twenty-seven 
years. 2 He was in fact Pope for nearly thirty- 
two years. Moreover, she very definitely asserted 
that he would live to see the triumph of the 
Church in spite of all the calamities that would 
previously come upon the world. Indeed we 

1 Voix Prophetiques, vol. ii, p. 100, 
1 Voix, ii, 167. 

6 Prophecy in 1870-71 

have quite a minute description of all the occur- 
rences which would then take place : 

All the enemies of the Church, hidden or open, will 
perish during the days of darkness with the exception 
of some few whom God will convert immediately 

The air will then be infected by the demons who 
will appear under all kinds of hideous shapes. The 
possession of a blessed candle will secure its owner 
from death, so also will the saying of prayers 
addressed to our Blessed Lady and the holy angels. 

After the days of darkness, Saints Peter and Paul 
having come down from heaven, will preach through- 
out the world and will designate the new Pope, 
Lumen in Coelo, 1 who is to succeed Pius IX. A 
great light will flash from their bodies and will settle 
upon the cardinal, the future pontiff. 

Saint Michael the Archangel, appearing then upon 
earth in human form, will hold the devil enchained 
until the period of the preaching of Antichrist. 

In these days, Religion shall extend its empire 
throughout the world. There shall be " one 
Shepherd." The Russians will be converted, as well 
as England and China, and all the faithful will be 
filled with joy in beholding this overwhelming 
triumph of the Church. 

After the days of darkness, the Holy House of 
Loreto will be carried by the angels to Rome and 
will be deposited in the basilica of Saint Mary Major." 

1 This, of course, is a reference to the so-called prophecy of 
St. Malachy, which is discussed later on in chapter vi. 

2 Voix Prophttiques (5th ed., 1872), vol. ii, pp. 170-1. (3rd 
ed., 1871) pp. 342-3. 

Madeleine Poisat 7 

I am far from asserting, or even believing, 
that the Venerable Anna Maria Taigi was her- 
self the author of this rubbish. But when the 
cause of her Beatification was being pressed 
forward at Rome, these things were attributed 
to her, and they do not seem to have been 
repudiated by those who were officially associated 
with the inquiry. Certain it is, in any case, that 
what I have just quoted appears in the third, 
fourth, and fifth editions of the Voix, and that 
this last was not only recommended by letters 
from Bishops, but published with the express 
approbation of ecclesiastical authority. It must, 
of course, be remembered that all this saw the 
light while the humiliation of France and the 
loss of the temporal power were yet recent, and 
when Pius IX had still six or seven years of life 
before him. The same reflection explains the 
tone of a document which the editor of Les Voix 
declares to have been submitted to the Fathers of 
the Vatican Council 1 as a revelation vouchsafed 
to a holy mystic named Madeleine Poisat. Here 
are a few sentences : 

Peter have confidence. The ark outrides the storm 
and there follows a great calm. Pius IX is the last 
Pope of the Church oppressed, " Cross of the 
Cross " (Crux de Cruce).* Pain for him but also 
joy. After him comes deliverance. Lumen in coelo 
(Light in the heaven). It is the eye of Mary. 

1 Voix, ii, 476. 

3 Another reference to the Malachy prophecy. 

8 Prophecy in 1870-71 

Within the Church itself they will think that all is 
lost. Mary appears and lo ! there is confusion, 
confusion even among priests. 

And the seer goes on to explain that with the 
coming of Mary all will be converted, even the 
Jews and the Pharisees. 

Of similar import is the so-called " secret " of 
Maximin Giraud, the shepherd boy, who, with 
M&anie, was the witness of the apparitions of 
La Salette. The Editor of Les Voix professes 
to print from a copy made by the Venerable 
Pierre Eymard, the holy founder of the Society 
of the Blessed Sacrament, whose name is intro- 
duced as if he thus made himself guarantee for 
the authenticity of Maximin 's pretended secret. 
Without quoting the whole we may note these 
events which will follow upon the loss of faith by 
three-quarters of the population of France : 

A Protestant nation of the north will be converted 
to the faith, and by means of this nation the other 
nations will return to the faith. 

The Pope who shall come after the present Pope, 
Pius IX, will not be Roman (ne sera pas romain, 
which might either mean that he would not be of 
Roman birth, or that he would have to establish his 
episcopal see elsewhere). 

When men are converted God will restore peace to 
the world. 

Afterwards this peace will be overthrown by the 
Beast (le monstre). 

And the Beast will come at the end of the nineteenth 
century or at latest at the beginning of the twentieth. 

The La Salette Shepherd Boy 9 
So that we have apparently the conversion of 
England ( ?), the conversion of the world, a non- 
Roman pope, profound peace, and only after all 
these things, the coming of the Beast who is to 
upset the peace. None the less, the Beast is to 
arrive at latest at the beginning of the twentieth 
century ! 

Such were the prophecies which were widely 
circulated and greedily swallowed during the 
period of mental and political disturbance which 
followed upon the Franco-Prussian War. Need- 
less to say that there were many which were 
understood to have a more direct reference to the 
final outcome of the drama which was then being 
enacted on the soil of France. Though Paris 
had capitulated before the end of January, 1871, 
some time had still to elapse before the treaty of 
peace was signed and a still longer period before 
the German garrisons, left behind to ensure the 
payment of the indemnity, were entirely with- 
drawn from French territory. This was of all 
others the season most fertile in prophecies of a 
forthcoming divine intervention. The Germans, 
it was believed, would manufacture some excuse 
for invading the country a second time. In 
punishment for the infidelities and crimes which 
had culminated in the horrors of the Commune, 
Paris would again become the prey of the enemy 
and would be almost entirely destroyed by fire. 
But when the humiliation of the French capital 
was complete, God would come to the aid of His 

io Prophecy in 1870-71 

faithful servants. A great leader would arise, 
whom every Legitimist identified with the 
Bourbon claimant, the Comte de Chambord. 
He would reign as king by the name of Henri 
V, and to the white standard which he unfurled 
all good Frenchmen would rally. The wicked 
would be exterminated, or else be converted, and 
the cause of Catholic Christianity would every- 
where triumph. It was under the inspiration of 
ideas such as these that the prophecy attributed 
to the Cure* d'Ars was disseminated in 1871-2. 
With this it will be necessary to deal more at 
length in a future chapter. In the meantime let 
me copy the latter portion of the much-debated 
" Prophecy of Orval," which more perhaps than 
any other augury gave encouragement to the 
supporters of Henri V. 

The Prophecy of Orval was originally circu- 
lated as an ancient prediction which had been 
printed at Luxemburg in 1544. A copy of this 
booklet, it was said, chanced to be preserved in 
the neighbouring monastery of Orval (Aurea 
Vallis), and was thence made public in 1793. 
But others contented themselves with asserting 
more vaguely that, whatever its origin, the text 
was at least known to be in existence in the 
monastery before the French Revolution. The 
document, as we have it, begins with the rise of 
the great Napoleon and describes his career 
somewhat minutely. Seeing that the earliest 
printed copy dates only from 1839, this is not 

The Prophecy of Orval 1 1 

very convincing, neither is one more impressed 
by the fairly accurate presentment of the reigns 
of Louis XVIII and Charles X (1815-30), which 
almost certainly had already ended when the 
document first saw the light. The interest, of 
course, begins with what is obviously intended 
to be a forecast of the events after 1830; and 
here, as the unprejudiced reader will clearly dis- 
cern, the prophet to all appearance knew nothing 
whatever of the Second Empire, but believed 
that after Louis Philippe 1 had reigned a few 
years he would be overthrown by another revolu- 
tion. Then this new democracy, according to 
the forecast, would itself end in a period of 
terrible war and desolation, which would in turn 
be succeeded by the glorious rule of a legitimist 
monarch under whom the Church would triumph. 
Dates are not very clearly indicated, but the 
prophet seems to have believed that the Revolu- 
tion, which he foresaw and which actually came 
in 1848, would last about ten years. After that 
he announced a purification by great calamities, 
which was to be followed by a sort of golden age 
in which a Bourbon king (" the offspring of the 
Cap," i.e., a descendant of Hugh Capet) would 
bring prosperity bc+h to France and to the 
Church. Apostrophizing, then, under the name 
of " Sons of Brutus," the Revolutionaries who 
were to depose Louis Philippe, the prophet goes 
on : 

1 He is clearly indicated under the phrase " Roi du Peuple." 

12 Prophecy in 1870-71 

22. Howl, ye sons of Brutus ! Call upon the 
beasts that are going to devour you. Great God ! 
what a clash of arms ! A full number of moons is 
not yet completed, and behold, many warriors are 
seen coming ! 

23. The time is over. The desolated mountain of 
the Lord [the seven hills on which Rome is built] has 
cried unto God. The sons of Juda [the Bourbons ; 
the kings of Israel were of the tribe of Juda] have 
cried to God from the foreign land, and behold, God 
is no longer deaf. 

24. What a fire accompanies his arrows ! Ten 
times six moons [five years] and again six times ten 
moons [five other years, or altogether ten years] 
have fed his anger. 

25. Woe to thee great city ! [presumably Paris]. 
Behold, there are many kings armed by the Lord, but 
fire has already levelled thee to the ground ; yet the 
just will not perish, God has mercy upon them. 

26. The abode of crime is purified by fire; the 
great river [the Seine] carries its waters all crim- 
soned with blood to the sea, and Gaul, nearly 
dismembered, will be reunited. 

27. God loves peace. Come young Prince, quit 
the island of captivity. Listen ; unite the lion and 
the white flower come ! 

28. What is foreseen is the wish of God. The 
old blood of past centuries will again terminate long 
contentions, because then one sole pastor will be seen 
in Celtic-Gaul. 

29. The man, powerful through God, will be firm 
on his throne, and many wise laws will establish 
peace. The offspring of the Cap will be so prudent 
and wise that God will be thought with him. 

The Conversion of England 1 3 

30. Thanks to the Father of mercies the Holy Sion 
proclaims again the glory of one great God. 

31. Many lost sheep come and drink at the living 
stream; three kings and princes cast off the mantle 
of error [heresy] and see plainly the true faith of 

32. At that time two third-parts of a great people 
of the sea [England and Scotland, Ireland being 
Catholic already] will return to the true faith. 

33. God is again blessed during fourteen times six 
moons [seven years], and six times thirteen moons 
[about six years, or altogether thirteen years]. 

34. God is weary of having granted His mercies ; 
nevertheless, for the sake of His elect He will 
prolong peace during ten times twelve moons [ten 

35. God alone is great ! All good is done ; the 
saints are going to suffer. The man of evil arrives, 
born of two races. 

36. The white flower becomes obscured during ten 
times six moons [five years], and six times twenty 
moons [ten years, or altogether fifteen years], and 
then disappears for ever ! 

37. Much evil and little good in those times ; many 
cities perish by fire. 

38. Then Israel comes to God Christ for good and 

39. The accursed schismatics and the faithful 
people will be separated into two camps. But the time 
is over. God alone will be believed in, and the third 
part of Gaul, and again the third part and a half, will 
be without any creed. 

40. It will be the same with other nations. 

41. And behold, already six times three moons, 

14 Prophecy in 1870-71 

and four times five moons [altogether about three 
years] have passed since all things have been 
separated, and the last century has begun. 

42. After a number not completed of moons, God 
combats through his two just ones, but the man of 
evil conquers. But all is over ! The high God has 
placed a wall of fire before my understanding, and 
I can see no more. 

We who now read this incoherent rhodomon- 
tade in cold blood find it difficult to restrain our 
impatience. It seems incredible that Frenchmen 
and Frenchwomen of intelligence can have 
pinned their faith to it as a supernatural revela- 
tion. And yet in France after the war there 
were literally scores of books written to vindicate 
its authenticity and to interpret its oracles as those 
of a sacred text. 1 Many pious writers took it 
simply for granted, 1 while others busied them- 
selves in calculating the moons and speculating, 
for example, upon the identity of the three 
Kings who were to cast off the mantle of heresy. 

1 It would be useless to attempt any catalogue, but the 
following two books may be cited as typical specimens : Albert 
de Bee, Henri V (le grand monarquc) Restaurateur du Trdne et 
des Gloires de la France et 80 ans de revolutions annonce"s et 
jug<!s par les proprieties, Paris, 1871 ; Abbe" E. A. Chabauty, 
Lettres sur les Prophttties modernes et Concordance de toutes 
les predictions jusqu'au regne d'Henri V, Poitiers, 1871. Both 
these works went through more than one edition. In another 
still more extravagant book, the Abb6 H. Torn6-Chavigny 
maintained that the real author of the Prophecy of Orval was 
Nostradamus ; see Lettres du Grand Prophete (Paris), 1870, 
pp. 32 and 153. 

1 See, for example, Huguet, Paris ses Crimes et ses Ch&ti- 
ments (Lyons), pp. 81 and 94. 

"The Offspring'of the Cap " 1 5 

As all were agreed, the phrase " Woe to thee, 
great city," obviously referred to Paris, bom- 
barded first of all by the enemy and then set on 
fire by the Commune. Not less unmistakably, 
so the same commentators insisted, was " the 
offspring of the Cap " (i.e., the descendant of 
Hugh Capet) who " joined the lion to the white 
flower," to be identified with the person of the 
Comte de Chambord, Henri V. None the less, 
in 1871, when he had attained the age of 51, it 
was not easy to understand how he could be 
apostrophized as " Young Prince"; while, on 
the other hand, when the prophecy was given 
to the world before 1839 the phrase would have 
been natural enough, for the prospects of the 
boy known as the Comte de Chambord were 
already being discussed. The solitary feature in 
the document which could even for a moment be 
suspected of betraying any preternatural insight 
into the future is the curious prediction, " At 
this time two-thirds of a great people of the sea 
will return to the true faith." No Frenchman 
in 1832, it might be thought, could have dreamed 
of such a religious phenomenon as the Oxford 
movement. But promising as this utterance 
might have seemed amid the enthusiasm of the 
" Second Spring," not even the conversion of 
England, still less that of the three sovereigns, 
has yet been realized ; while the Comte de Cham- 
bord has been in his grave for thirty years and 
the Pope is still a prisoner in the Vatican. 

1 6 Prophecy in 1870-71 

Nothing perhaps could more effectively illus- 
trate the worthlessness of all this class of pro- 
phecies than the fact that already in the course 
of sixty years three successive interpretations 
have been adopted to determine the identity of 
this young Prince " the offspring of Hugh 
Capet." In the 'fifties a verification was sought 
in the dynasty of Napoleon III, and commen- 
tators were at pains to persuade their readers that 
the Prince Imperial and his mother the Empress 
Eugenie could claim through the family of 
Medina Coeli to be descended from Blanche, the 
daughter of St. Louis ;* and now again when the 
hopes of the Chambord legitimists have suffered 
shipwreck there are still writers, incredible as it 
may appear, who cling to the Orval prediction, 
pointing out that " Louis XVII is still repre- 
sented at the present moment (this was written 
in 1910) by six grandchildren, the sons of 
Prince Edmond and Adalbert de Bourbon." 2 
According to M. Tisserant, then, the young 
prince, the offspring of the Cap, is still to come. 
None the less, to any impartial man who has the 
patience to look into the question of the prophecy 
of Orval, it must be perfectly plain that the 
document, though possibly incorporating older 
materials, was deliberately fabricated about the 
year 1832. The date is determined with all 

1 See Jeantin, Les Ruines et les Chroniques de I'Abbaye 
d' Orval (Paris, 1857), p. 224, note. 

3 H. Tisserant, Void I'Heure, 8th ed. (Nancy, 1910), p. 44, 

A Confession of Fraud 17 

desirable accuracy by the language of paragraph 
27 : " Come, young prince, quit the island of 
captivity. Listen, unite the lion and the white 
flower." From 1830 to 1832 the youthful Henri 
V, who was 10 years old in 1830, was residing 
in Great Britain, and there was at that time 
every probability that he would continue to live 
there. It can hardly be doubted that by the 
" island of captivity " the prophet meant Great 
Britain, and that by the union of " the lion and 
the white flower " (fleur-de-lys) he intended to 
suggest the desirability of a matrimonial alliance 
between Henri V and the Princess Victoria, the 
future Queen of England. 

The two facts, in any case, of which we have 
certain knowledge are these : First, that no 
printed text of the Prophecy of Orval has ever 
been produced which is older than 1839; and 
secondly, that in 1849 the Bishop of Verdun 
published a letter in which he condemned the 
Prophecy of Orval as a fraud, declaring that the 
fabricator was a priest of his own diocese who 
under pressure of a juridical examination had 
confessed his guilt. 1 

In spite of the grief caused by such a scandal, I 
have [wrote the Bishop] at least had the consolation 
of obtaining from the mouth of the culprit himself a 
complete admission of his fault. He declared to me, 
in fact, that the little book printed at Luxembourg 

1 This, we learn, was a certain Abbe 1 Henri Dujardin who 
compiled a collection of prophecies in 1840, to which he gave the 
name of L'Oracle, 

1 8 Prophecy in 1870-71 

in I544 1 had never existed, except in his own imagina- 
tion, that the portion about the Empire [he means, 
of course, the first Empire, of Napoleon I] was 
entirely his work, that the rest had been pieced 
together at random from scraps of ancient pro- 
phecies, borrowed from various out-of-the-way 
collections, with regard to which I pronounce no 
opinion, that at the first he had no other intention 
in perpetrating this fraud than just to amuse him- 
self, but that when some of his predictions chanced 
to come true, he had been led on, partly by vanity, 
partly by false shame, to persist in a deception from 
which he is now glad to be rescued. 1 

It is abundantly evident that such a letter 
could not have been written and published in the 
newspapers, if the confession of guilt spoken of 
therein had not been authentic. The Abb6 
H. Dujardin, the priest thus incriminated, was 
living at the time and made no protest. He was 
well known to have identified himself with the 
prophecy in print, and though the Bishop does 
not actually mention his name, he indicates him 
clearly by initials as " M. D. . . . Cur6 de 
B. . . ." But in spite of all this, as has been 
already noticed, the prophecy was not only 

1 In the preface to the early copies of the Prophecy of Orval 
this prediction Was said to be contained in a little book published 
in 1544. 

a At the time the Bishop's letter was penned the fullest pub- 
licity was given to it. It appeared in most of the Catholic 
newspapers, and notably in the Journal de Bruxelles, March 
igth, 1849. Both this letter and the original preface to the 
Prophecy of Orval may be found in Migne, Dictionnaire des 
Prophtties, ii, 727. Cf. Precis Historiques (Brussels, 1870), 
vol. xix, p. 485. 

Marie Lataste 19 

revived in 1870, finding thousands of enthusiastic 
defenders, but it has also retained its credit with 
some strangely constituted intelligences down to 
our own day. 

A word or two may be added about another 
prophecy which was much discussed in 1871-2, 
that of Marie Lataste, lay-sister of the Congre- 
gation of the Sacred Heart. The prediction is 
in any case noteworthy on this ground, that we 
possess beyond reasonable doubt the actual 
words of the mystic, not only dictated by 
herself at a date prior to the coming to pass of 
any of the events discussed, but published sub- 
sequently with ecclesiastical approbation. The 
exact year of the revelation cannot be assigned, 
but it must have happened upon some feast of 
the Immaculate Conception prior to 1843. Marie 
Lataste believed that on this occasion she was 
told by our Saviour that it was His will that the 
doctrine of the Immaculate Conception should 
be proclaimed on earth and acknowledged by all 
Christians. Our Lord then added : " I have 
chosen to Myself a Pope and I have inspired 
him with this resolution. He will ever have this 
thought in his mind from the time that he shall 
be Pope. He will collect together the Bishops 
of the whole world that their voices may be 
heard proclaiming Mary Immaculate in her Con- 
ception." Then Marie Lataste learnt from the 
same preternatural source that " affliction shall 
reign in the city which I love " [presumably 

2 o Prophecy in 1870-71 

Rome]. "This city will seem to succumb 
during three years, and a little longer after these 
three years. But My Mother shall descend into 
the city ; she will take the hands of the old man 
seated on a throne and will say to him, ' Behold 
the hour ! arise, see thy enemies, I cause them 
to disappear one after another, and they dis- 
appear for ever. Thou shalt live, and I will live 
with thee. Old man, dry thy tears; I bless 
thee.' " l 

Now it is unquestionable that Pius IX, who 
was elected in 1846, had the definition of the 
Immaculate Conception much at heart, and that 
he carried out his purpose in 1854. Of course, 
he may have known, and been influenced by, 
this prediction of Marie Lataste, but even so, 
the rapid fulfilment of the prophecy is sufficiently 
striking. Consequently when the papal govern- 
ment was overthrown in 1870 and Victor Em- 
manuel became master of Rome, those who 
remembered the holy lay-sister's words were 
confident that after the lapse of three years the 
Sovereign Pontiff would triumph over his 
enemies and that the temporal sovereignty would 
be restored to him. At about this period a new 
edition of Marie Lataste's writings and revela- 
tions was published with episcopal approbation, 
and the Vicar-General of the diocese of Aire 
(M. Guitton), together with another theologian, 

1 E. Healy Thompson, Life of Marie Lataste (1877), pp. 
103-4, and Letters and Writings (Eng. ed., 1881), vol. i, p. 156. 

The Test which Failed 2 1 

committed themselves in print to the statement 
that for both of them " the decisive test of the 
truth of her prophecies will be the triumph of 
the present Pope and the deliverance of Rome." 1 
Unfortunately the test failed ; not only Pius IX, 
but two of his successors, have passed to their 
reward, and the triumph is apparently as far off 
as ever. Even the most robust champions of 
Marie Lataste's prophetic gifts must surely by 
this time have had their faith somewhat shaken. 
Hardly less popular at the same epoch was the 
so-called Prophecy of Blois. If we could really 
trust the correctness of the text, which is sup- 
posed to have been communicated verbally to 
Mile, de Leyrette, afterwards known as Mere 
Providence, by an Ursuline Touriere of Blois, 
called Sceur Marianne, in 1804, the prediction 
would be a very remarkable one ; for many of its 
paragraphs seem to accord minutely with events 
which happened in 1820, 1830, and later on. 
But it is just here that the evidence is most 
unsatisfactory. Mere Providence was under the 
impression that she had been forbidden to write 
down any of the things that Sceur Marianne had 
told her. Consequently we have to trust to the 
memory of other members of the Blois Com- 
munity who had heard some of the disconnected 
utterances which Mere Providence had passed 
on to them by word of mouth. In 1870, when 
this prophecy first began to attract attention, 

1 E. H. Thompson, Life of Marie Lataste, p. 340, 

22 Prophecy in 1870-71 

Mere Providence herself was 93 years old and 
incapable of giving any exact account of what 
she had heard sixty-six years before. But the 
general drift of the predictions pointed to a 
happy consummation in the near future, when 
France, after a period of desolating war and 
revolution, would enter upon a golden age of 
peace. For example : 

Such wonderful things will happen that the most 
sceptical will be obliged to say that the finger of 
God is here. 

You will sing a Te Deum; but talk of Te 
Dennis \ I tell you that it will be such a Te Deum 
as has never been sung before. 

It will take fifteen or twenty years for France 
to recover from her calamities. 

However, things will settle down, and up to the 
time of perfect peace, until France shall have 
become more prosperous and tranquil than ever 
was known, some twenty years will roll by. 

The triumph of religion will be such that no one 
has ever before seen its like. All wrongs will be set 
right, the laws of the State will be brought into 
harmony with those of God and the Church, the 
education given to children will be thoroughly 
Christian, and the guilds for workmen will be every- 
where restored. 1 

Alas ! not twenty, but forty, years have sped 
by since the epoch of the calamities those of 

1 See especially F. Roux, Examen de la Prophdtie de Blois 
(Paris, 1871), p. 33 ; and Richaudeau, La Prophetic de Blois 
avec des Eclair cissements (4th ed., Tours, 1872). Cf. Precis 
Historiques (1871), p. 91. 

The Prophecy of Blois 3 3 

18701, which every commentator then declared 
to be the " grands e"ve"nements " directly foretold 
by the prophetess but the golden age of peace 
and the triumph of French Christianity has not 
yet arrived. 

There can be no doubt that the Prophe*tie de 
Blois, which in its more approved form is a 
document of no great length, owed much of its 
vogue to a certain dramatic picturesqueness 
which characterizes it. Speaking apparently of 
the great conflict which was to precede the 
triumph of the Church, Soeur Marianne declared : 

You will have to pray hard, for the wicked will 
seek to destroy everything. Before the great battle 
they will be masters ; they will do all the harm they 
can, but not all they want to do, for they will not 
have time. 

The great battle will be between the good and 
the wicked ; it will be awful ; the firing of the cannon 
will be heard for nine leagues round. 

The good, being inferior in numbers, will be on 
the point of being exterminated ; but oh the power 
of God ! oh the power of God ! the wicked will all 
perish. " Do you mean that all the wicked will 
perish, dear Marianne? " asked Mile, de Leyrette. 
" Yes, and many of the good as well." 

When all is over three messengers will come. 
The first will brings news that all is lost. The 
second, who will arrive at night time, will find only 
a single man leaning against his doorway. " You 

24 Prophecy in 1870-71 

are very hot, my friend," this man will say to him, 
' ' get down and have a glass of wine. " " I am in 
too much of a hurry," the messenger will reply; and 
then he will ride on towards Le Berry. 

You will all be at meditation when you will hear 
that two messengers have gone past; but then a 
third will arrive, fire and water, 1 who will tell you 
that the day is won ; but he will have to be at Tours 
in an hour and a half. 

There were many other prophecies in circula- 
tion in the days of the Franco-Prussian War, 
but we may be satisfied with having touched 
upon those which were most widely discussed. 
At the present time I note that the Prophecy of 
Orval still figures in a little brochure (undated, 
but from its contents obviously compiled or 
revised since the great war of 1914 began) which 
is now being sold in Paris. 3 Anna Maria Taigi 
and the Nun of Blois apparently offered nothing 
which the compiler found to his purpose, but 
from the Orval prediction he has extracted one 
sentence as bearing upon the present situation : 

Come, young prince, leave the isle of captivity ; 
unite the lion to the white flower. 

This, the reader will be pleased to learn, is 
now interpreted as an invitation to his gracious 
Majesty King George V to unite under his 

1 The commentators are agreed that the good sister Marianne 
used this phrase in 1804 to convey that the news would come by 
train, a manner of locomotion she was unable to explain other- 
wise. The distance from Blois to Tours is about 35 miles. 

3 Les Predictions sur la Fin de I'Allemagne, Editions et 
Librairie, Rue de Seine 40, Paris, fr.i.50. 

The Island of Captivity 25 

leadership the armies of France and Belgium. 1 
But why King George's island should be an 
" island of captivity " is a problem which is 
unfortunately left without explanation of any 

1 Predictions sur la Fin de I'Allemagne, p. ai. 



IT must not be supposed that the flood 
of prophetic literature of which we have 
just been speaking was allowed to cir- 
culate entirely without protest. Already 
in 1870, before the Franco-Prussian 
War had been more than a month or two 
in progress, a series of able articles, which 
rumour correctly attributed to Father Victor de 
Buck, S.J., the distinguished Bollandist, began 
to appear in the Precis Historiques of Brussels. 1 
Not only did the writer himself deprecate 
strongly the credulity with which these pro- 
phecies were too commonly received, but he 
appealed to the praiseworthy example of pru- 
dence set by certain other religious periodicals 
which had not allowed themselves to be sucked 
into the vortex. Still more important was the 
pronouncement of the famous Bishop of Orleans, 
Mgr. Dupanloup, who since 1854 had been a 
member of the Academic francaise. A confer- 

1 " Des Prophecies en vogue " the first article was printed 
in the Precis for October, 1870, pp. 479 et seq., and it was 
followed by four others. 


Mgr. Dupanloup 27 

ence delivered by him on this subject was after- 
wards published as a pastoral under the title of 
Lettre sur les propheties contemporaines. In this 
the Bishop tells his readers incidentally that he 
had had more than twenty books of this kind in 
his hands, and that he knew that of one of them, 
Le Grand Avenement precede du Grand Prodige, 
more than 50,000 copies had been sold in a few 
weeks. But the main appeal of the letter is, of 
course, concerned with the regrettable effects 
produced upon the Christian life by the unre- 
strained indulgence of this appetite for the 

From all sides to-day [wrote the Bishop] we hear 
of nothing but miracles and prophecies, and to our 
generation also one may say what our Lord used 
once to say to His : " This generation seeketh a 
sign " Generatio ista signum queer-it. There is 
nothing to surprise us in this phenomenon. Periods 
of trouble, like ours, are its ordinary witnesses and 
causes. How much, indeed, in the midst of our 
sorrows have we not need of that token for good 
signum in bonum (Ps. Ixxxv. 17) of which the 
Psalmist speaks? When great political and social 
commotions have upset men's minds, when un- 
wonted calamities have tallen upon a people, when 
profound revolutions have shaken a nation to its 
very foundations, disturbed imaginations begin to 
work ; they try to pierce the darkness of events, to 
catch a glimpse of the mysterious unknown hidden in 
the future, to discover at last the salvation long 
desired, the expected Saviour. Then the real, where 

28 Ecclesiastical Authority 

nothing reassuring is seen, is surrendered for the 
imaginary, where everything is seen, especially what 
is hoped for. Prophets arise and wonder-workers 
too; visions, oracles, prodigies are multiplied; with 
fanatics in good faith knaves get mingled. Never- 
theless, souls in their craving for light turn eagerly 
to any source which offers it, a curious ear is lent 
to those marvellous tales and to those voices 1 which 
profess to have come from on high ; the credulous, 
and sometimes the sceptical themselves, through 
that deep need of penetrating the unknown which is 
inborn in the human soul, are swept off their feet ; a 
whole generation feeds on chimeras, and at one time 
seized with vain fears trembles before the calamities 
announced as at the approach of the year 1000, at 
another following the dominant craze is filled with 
exultation, or goes to sleep without misgiving, 
buoyed up by hopes that are equally baseless. 3 

And since we are upon this topic, it may be 
well to supplement Mgr. Dupanloup's shrewd 
criticism by citing the text of certain conciliar 
decrees to which he rightly makes appeal as 
expressing the mind of the Church in the most 
authoritative manner. The first of these pro- 
nouncements was drawn up in the form of a 
papal bull during the fifth council of Lateran in 
1516, sacro approbante concilia, and includes the 
following passage : * 

1 An obvious reference to the book previously spoken of, Voix 
Prophdtiques. There were also German collections bearing the 
same title Prophetenstimmen. 

* Dupanloup, Lettre sur les Prophtties, Eng. trans., p. 4. 
I have slightly modified the rendering there given. 

* Harduin, Concilia, vol. ix, cols. 1808-9. 

The Fifth Council of Lateran 29 

As regards the time at which the calamities to 
come are to happen, the coming of Antichrist and 
the day of judgment, let no one allow himself to 
announce them and to fix their date, for Truth has 
said that it is not for us to know the times or 
moments which the Father keeps in His own power. 
All who up to the present have dared to make such 
predictions have been found to be liars (ipsos 
mentitos fuisse constat), and it is certain that their 
conduct has done no small injury to the authority 
of those who are content to preach without predict- 
ing. For the future, then, we forbid all and any 
to announce future events in their public discourses 
by means of fanciful explanations of Holy Scripture, 
to pose as having received such instructions from 
the Holy Ghost or by a revelation from Heaven, and 
to set forth strange and vain divinations or things of 
that sort. ... If, however, the Lord reveal to 
anyone by inspiration certain things to come to pass 
in the Church of God ... as the matter is of great 
moment, seeing that no spirit is to be lightly 
believed, but spirits are to be proved, as the Apostle 
testifies, whether they are of God, we will that, in 
ordinary law, such alleged inspirations (tales 
assertae inspirationes), be understood to be hence- 
forth reserved to the examination of the Apostolic 
See before being made public or preached to the 
people (antequam publicentur aut populo prcedicen- 
tur). And if any dare in any way to contravene the 
premisses, besides the penalties provided by law 
against such, we will them to incur a sentence of 
excommunication also, from which they can be 
absolved only by the Roman Pontiff, except when 
at the point of death. 

30 Ecclesiastical Authority 

Although these warnings were immediately 
addressed to the popular preachers, who at a 
time of political excitement and religious decay 
scandalized many by their extravagances, 1 they 
nevertheless illustrate the attitude of ecclesiastical 
authority towards all such pretended revelations 
in general. Moreover, a comparatively modern 
decree, passed at Paris in a national council of 
all the French Bishops in 1849, and subsequently 
ratified by the Holy See, is still more to our 
purpose. Its enactment was obviously occasioned 
by the vogue of trie prophecy of Orval and a 
number of similar predictions then current in 
France : 

Since [said the Council] according to the Apostle 
not every spirit is to be believed, we warn our flocks 
that no one rash'y set himself to spread the know- 
ledge of prophecies, visions and miracles relating to 
politics, the future state of the Church or similar 
subjects, if published without their having been 
examined and approved by the Ordinary. Parish 
priests and confessors, in their prudence, will deter 
the faithful of Christ from a too easy acceptance of 

1 The example set by Savonarola some years before had been 
followed by a number of other popular preachers. Jerome of 
Bergamo in 1508 had announced to vast crowds that Italy 
would be devastated, and that Rome, Venice, and Milan would 
be destroyed by a nation hitherto unknown. A little later a 
Franciscan, Francesco da Montepulciano, produced a still more 
tremendous sensation by his prophecies of woes to come. He 
predicted that Rome would be laid waste, the clergy of evil 
life exterminated, that for three years there would be neither 
mass nor sermons, that the land would be bathed in blood, etc. 
See the account given by Pastor, History of the Popes, Eng. 
trans., vol. v, pp. 217 et seq. 

Pope Leo XIII 3 1 

them. They will also, as occasion offers, explain 
the rules prescribed by the Church on this subject, 
and especially will they admonish the faithful that 
their conduct is to be governed, not by private 
revelations, but by the ordinary laws of Christian 
wisdom. 1 

Neither must it be supposed that because the 
decrees most commonly appealed to are com- 
paratively remote in date this legislation has 
fallen into desuetude. There is, for example, a 
section contained in the Constitution Officiorum 
et munerum of Pope Leo XIII (January 25th, 
1897), which runs as follows : 

Books and writings which recount new appari- 
tions, revelations, visions, prophecies and miracles, 
or which introduce new devotions, even under the 
plea of their being for private use, supposing such 
to be published without the lawful permission of 
ecclesiastical authority, are forbidden. 

Still more recent is an ordinance published by 
Mgr. Douais, Bishop of Beauvais, and embodied 
in a pastoral dated May 25th, 1912. It is interest- 
ing to note the provisions of this document, 
though, of course, its binding force is limited to 
the diocese for which it was issued : 

i. We wish the most scrupulous reserve to be 
practised in the forum externum in regard to all 
stories of revelations, prophecies and miracles. 

ii. If public notice be directed to such revelations, 
prophecies and miracles, we order them to be at 
once submitted to ecclesiastical authority. 

1 Ada et Decreta, Collectio Lacensis, vol. iv, p. 17. 

32 Ecclesiastical Authority 

iii. We forbid them to be communicated publicly 
to others, or to be propagated before they have been 
canonically pronounced upon or without our 

iv. We forbid preachers either of the regular or 
secular clergy to introduce such stories into their 
sermons without first submitting them to ecclesi- 
astical authority. The priests in charge of parishes 
are bound to make this prohibition known to 
preachers who are strangers. 

v. Such stories must not be published either as 
books, or as articles in periodicals, without our 
permission, and we forbid the reading of them. 

vi. When authorization is given to publish such 
stories the injunction of Urban VIII should be 
carefully observed. 

vii. We ask pious persons, and our dear 
daughters the nuns of all religious communities, to 
be particularly on their guard in this matter. What- 
ever may be said to them, and whatever the degree 
of trust they repose in those who converse with 
them, they ought to be extremely reserved and 
prudent. The truest piety is that which is exact in 
observing the laws of the Church. 

viii. We forbid the publication of all devotions 
and prayers unless they have been duly approved. 1 

No doubt all the Bishops did not in this matter 
hold the views here expressed by Mgr. Douais, 
and in the years which followed the Franco- 
Prussian War there was some difference of 
opinion and action among them regarding the 

1 See the Revue du Clergt Fratifais, Aug. ist, 1912, vol. Ixii, 
P- 367- 

An Archiepiscopal Imprimatur 33 

ecclesiastical approval of books of prophecies. 
Father de Buck in 1870 was thoroughly justified 
in saying that for the most part these collections 
appeared without the sanction of authority. 
Even in the case of the Voix Prpphetiques, 
which was less open to objection than some other 
publications of the same class, the three first 
editions bore no episcopal imprimatur of any 
kind. The fourth, however, had two or three 
letters prefixed which might be held to amount 
equivalently to an ecclesiastical approval. The 
fifth, published towards the close of 1872, bears 
a formal though somewhat guarded commenda- 
tion signed by Mgr. Dechamps, Archbishop of 
Malines, in whose diocese the book was printed. 
His letter seems to throw the responsibility of 
approving such collections upon sundry articles 
which had appeared in the well-known 
Jesuit periodical of Italy, the Civilta Cattolica. 1 
These articles directed attention to the predic- 
tions as documents which deserved to be treated 
seriously and which might usefully help to in- 
spire confidence in the hearts of despondent 
believers. Probably the Archbishop felt that it 
would be tactful to entrench himself against such 
criticisms as those of Father de Buck by invoking 
the example of the Jesuit Father's own religious 
brethren who, living under the shadow of the 
Vatican, were believed to be almost more papal 

1 See in particular Civilta Cattolica, March 22nd, 1872, 
pp. 526 et seq., and April 23rd, 1872, pp. 291 et seq. Cf. 
November i7th, 1871, p. 529, and July 2nd, 1854, pp. i et seq. 

34 Ecclesiastical Authority 

than the Pope himself. It must be confessed 
that these Civilta articles are now rather pitiable 
reading. The trust reposed in such predictions 
as those of Marie Lataste, Anna Maria Taigi, 
and in the still more apocryphal utterances 
attributed to St. Caesarius of Aries, Jerome 
Bottin, and David Pare", 1 teach a painful lesson 
as to the fallibility of the guidance afforded by 
the learned editors. It becomes plain that in 
matters in which the wish was the father to the 
thought, neither all their orthodoxy nor all their 
theological learning could save them from egre- 
gious self-deception. 

Speaking generally, however, very few of the 
books of prophecies, especially at first, appeared 
with any sort of imprimatur, and the enthusiasts 
who, with more or less of good faith, were keenly 
interested in propagating these revelations of the 
future, realized the advantage of associating 
them as far as possible with names which all the 
religious world held in veneration. Sometimes 
this result was attained by attributing the pro- 
phecies themselves to saintly authors like St. 
Bridget, St. Caesarius, the Cure" d'Ars, the Abb 
Eymard, etc., sometimes by inducing priests 
who were exceptionally respected to take an 
active part in the propagation of this kind of 
literature. A remarkable example of the latter 
procedure may be noticed in the case of the 

1 All these writers were quoted in justification of the belief 
that the triumph of the Church might be expected in the near 
future during the pontificate of Pius IX himself. 

The Saint of Toulouse 35 

well-known Capuchin missioner, Father Marie- 
Antoine (Clergue), whose Life, a volume of 680 
pages royal 8vo, has recently been published 
under the title of Le Saint de Toulouse. 1 The 
good Father's biographer, while skating as 
rapidly as possible over thin ice, does not dis- 
guise the fact that the holy Capuchin was the 
compiler of one of the most famous of these col- 
lections of prophecies, that known as Le grand 
Pape et le grand Roi. He evidently feels that 
some sort of explanation is called for, and thus 
in speaking of the nightmare of discouragement 
and irreligion which had settled down on France 
after the war of 1870, the biographer just re- 
ferred to tells us that all good Frenchmen eagerly 
looked forward to happier times, adding that 

While the wiser of them were content to wait 
for events to develop, the more ardent spirits, eager 
to anticipate the coming of the dawn, turned their 
thoughts heavenwards and consulted the future. In 
response to this state of popular feeling, which was 
widespread in France at the time, an immense 
number of predictions were dragged to light out of 
old books, or legends of more or less doubtful 
authenticity. The great body of Catholics believed 
in them. The most sober newspapers, the Univers 
and the various Semaines Catholiques, joined in 
giving them currency, priests of high standing 
guaranteed them authentic. These prophecies 
gratified a craving almost universally felt. The 

1 Le Saint de Toulouse, Vie du Pere Marie- Antoine, 
O.F.M.C., par P. Ernest-Marie de Beaulieu (Toulouse, 1908). 

36 Ecclesiastical Authority 

present outlook was so gloomy that men were driven 
to find consolation in hopes, which, alas ! were no 
more than phantoms, and which only led to further 
disappointment. l 

One of the most ardent collectors of these pro- 
phetic utterances was, it appears, a certain 
Father Fulgentius, an enthusiastic royalist and 
supporter of the Bourbon claims, who was then 
also a member of the Capuchin community at 
Toulouse. From him were derived the materials 
for the two volumes which the saintly Pere Marie- 
Antoine published under the titles of Le grand 
Pape et le grand Roi and Le prochain Denoue- 
ment de la Crise actuelle. The biographer just 
quoted tells us that of all the brochures of which 
Pere Marie-Antoine was the author these two 
had the greatest sale. Even a member of the 
French episcopate, Mgr. Epivent, Bishop of 
Aire, wrote enthusiastically to the author when 
the second of these two works appeared : 

I have drained it at a draught as one drinks 
from a goblet full of a beverage unknown, but most 
refreshing. It has left a flavour of piety behind, 
and also a steadfast spirit to encounter the terrors 
with which we are threatened 

Unhappily, the Great Monarch, Henri V, 
whose glorious reign these prophecies professed 
to announce, died in 1883, and by this fact it 
was made clear that " the saint of Toulouse,** in 
spite of his personal holiness, was by no means 

1 Le Saint de Toulouse, p. 367. 

The Curt d'Ars 37 

divinely inspired when he encouraged his 
countrymen to attach credence to these fallacious 

Naturally the holiness of the author of a pro- 
phecy was held to be a point of even more im- 
portance than the holiness of those who put 
faith in it. We cannot, therefore, be surprised 
to find that the authority of such a man as the 
Cure* d'Ars was widely invoked to lend credit to 
the dream of a renovated France, a triumphant 
Christian monarchy, and a pope reinstated in his 
temporal jurisdiction. This particular attempt 
to invest the alluring but baseless vision with a 
religious sanction has the better claim to our 
attention because the same materials were served 
up again in the September of 1914, and were 
supposed to find their true fulfilment in the 
events of the military drama then being enacted. 
The whole process is worth studying as an illus- 
tration of the mentality of those who put faith in 
revelations of this kind. 

Although the accredited biographers of the 
Blessed Jean Marie Vianney attribute to him a 
remarkable prophetic gift, often exercised for the 
benefit of individual souls who consulted him, 
they are silent as to any disclosures of future 
political events. It was a fixed principle with the 
holy Cure* to concern himself as little as possible 
with such matters of public interest. The sanc- 
tification of his own soul and the help of his 
neighbours absorbed all his time. The fact then 

3 8 Ecclesiastical Authority 

remains that all these alleged predictions of the 
Cure" d'Ars which were so keenly discussed in 
1871 and in 1914 depend simply upon the testi- 
mony of a young lay-brother unnamed, who, as 
the political crisis of the Franco-Prussian War 
grew more and more grave, professed to recall in 
more and more detail what had been told him by 
the Cure in the course of two interviews some 
twelve or fifteen years earlier. If we had to de- 
pend entirely upon the information of the Abbe* 
Curicque, the compiler of the Voix Prophe- 
tiques, we should not even know to what reli- 
gious congregation this lay-brother belonged ; 
but in the Grand Pape et grand Roi of Pere 
Marie-Antoine we learn that he was a member 
of the Lazarist Order. That the recollections of 
this anonymous brother, unsupported by any 
other evidence, oral or documentary, should 
have been so readily credited and should have 
supplied material for discussion to thousands of 
Catholics and even unbelievers, is alone a 
curious revelation of the keenness of the popular 
appetite for the marvellous. But the manner in 
which the so-called prophecy was revived and 
re-cast forty-three years later to fit quite another 
set of circumstances is even more instructive. 
Perhaps the simplest way of making the matter 
intelligible will be to translate the relevant data 
from the pages of the Abbe* Curicque in the 
order in which they were taken down by the 
members of the lay-brother's own community. 

An unsupported Witness 39 

It appears, then, that on September 7th, 1870 
(Sedan, it will be remembered, was fought on 
September 2nd of that year) the lay-brother told 
his confreres something of the predictions which 
he had heard, as he maintained, from the lips of 
the venerated Cure" himself shortly before his 
death in August, 1859. We may note as an in- 
structive fact, that at first the community ad- 
mittedly paid no heed to these communications. 1 
This seems to show that they did not usually 
regard the narrator as a very serious or trust- 
worthy person. We are expressly informed 
that it was only towards the end of the siege 
of Paris that they could be persuaded to listen 
to him with any attention. However, when 
the siege was already over, that is in February, 
1871, a formal statement of these disclosures was 
drawn up, which the lay-brother afterwards 
signed. Most of this statement relates to the 
brother's vocation to the Lazarists and to the 
history of the house in which he lived, but some 
other rather obscure utterances seem to refer to 
the siege of Paris by the Prussians, as well as 
to the capitulation of the city, the surrender of 
weapons, and to the difficulty in obtaining pro- 
visions. Then the account goes on : 

The Brother also added that M. Vianney told 
him : ' ' It will not last long. People will think that 
all is lost, but the Bon Dieu will make everything 

1 Voix Prophetiques, 5th ed., vol. ii, p. 177. No mention of 
this incredulity occurs in the 3rd ed. 

40 Ecclesiastical Authority 

right. It will be a sign of the last Judgment. Paris 
will be transformed, and also two or three other 
cities. They will want to canonize me, but they 
will not have time for it.*" 

From Abbe* Curicque's account it plainly ap- 
pears that this passage was already an addition 
to the brother's original statement. But at the 
beginning of March, 1871, he had still further 
recollections to communicate. The Abbe" 
Curicque, when making these public in the 
autumn of 1871, remarks that this further sup- 
plement, like that just quoted, must plainly have 
reference to events which at that date had not 
yet come to pass. 

The enemy will not quit the country alto- 
gether. 3 They will come back again, and they will 
destroy everything on their line of march. No 
resistance will be offered; they will be allowed to 
advance, but after that their supplies will be cut off 
and they will suffer great losses. They will retire 
towards their own country, but we shall follow them 
up, and not many of them will ever reach home. 

1 Voix Prophttiques, 5th ed., vol. ii, p. 182. In the version 
printed by Pere Marie-Antoine other details are added in this 
same context. Lyons and Marseilles 'are named as other cities 
that would be transformed, and it is stated that " God shall 
come to help, the good shall triumph when the return of the 
King (Henri V) shall be announced. This shall re-establish a 
peace and prosperity without example. Religion shall flourish 
again better than ever before." See The Christian Trumpet 
(London, 1875), p. 88. 

3 It is important to remember that when this was first com- 
mitted to writing in 1871, the war was indeed over, but many 
Prussian garrisons were still left in France to secure the obser- 
vance of the conditions of peace. 

How the Story Grew 41 

Then we shall recapture everything that they have 
carried off, and plenty more besides. 1 

According to Pere Marie-Antoine's version 
the lay brother here spoke not of the " enemy " 
but of the " Prussians." He also declared that 
the Prussians would advance as far as Poitiers, 
300 miles south-west of Paris, and that the 
" papal zouaves of Cathelineau and Charette 
would cover themselves with glory." 

But not even yet were the brother's recollec- 
tions entirely exhausted. In November, 1871, 
too late for this third edition of the Voix 
Prophetiques, Abbe" Curicque received from the 
Lazarists these further details, written down 
some time in August, concerning M. Vianney's 
communication to the lay brother fifteen years 

The crisis is not over yet (la grosse affaire 
n'est pas passee). Paris will be demolished and burnt 
in earnest, but not entirely. Events will happen 
more terrible than anything we have yet seen (he 
refers presumably to the siege and the period of the 
Commune). However, there will be a limit beyond 
which the destruction will not go. 

Asked what kind of limit was meant, the 
brother declared he did not know : " But," he 
added, " we shall come through all right (pour- 
tant nous serous en de$a), and I should not 
think of leaving the house." By this time the 
brother, who according to his own fellow reli- 

1 Voix Prophetiques, 3rd ed., p. 349. 

42 Ecclesiastical Authority 

gious, was a simple countryman who in general 
knew little of the news of the day, had heard of 
the indemnity and of the Prussian garrisons that 
were to remain in France until the indemnity 
was paid. At any rate, it was only at this date 
(August, 1 871)' that he represented the Cure 
d'Ars as having finally said to him : 

" They will want them to leave sooner, but the 
enemy will demand more money or some other con- 
cession, and they will come back. This time it will 
be a fight to a finish (on se battra pour tout de bon) ; 
for on the first occasion our soldiers did not fight 
well, but then they will fight ; oh ! how they will 
fight ! The enemy, it is true, will let Paris burn, 
and they will be well pleased with themselves, but 
we shall smash them and put them to flight for 
good and all (et on les chassera pour tout de bon). 
1 don't know (added the holy Cur) why I tell you 
all this, but when the time comes you will remember 
it, and you will be quite easy in your mind, as well as 
those who shall believe you. ' >J 

To anyone who pays attention to the sequence 
and the wording of these communications, it 
became abundantly plain that the brother be- 
lieved (what so many other Frenchmen believed, 
while Prussian garrisons still remained on 
French soil and the payments of the war indem- 
nity were still being made), that the five milliards 
of French gold once delivered over would only 

1 Voix Prophttiques, 4th ed., vol. ii, p. 172 ; 5th ed., vol. ii, 
p. 183. 
3 Ibid. 

The Prophecy adapted to 1914 43 

whet the Prussian appetite for more. The oppor- 
tunity would soon come (ce ne sera pas long), 
a pretext would be found for fresh demands, the 
Prussians would again invade France, Paris 
would be burned, but God in the end would in- 
tervene and the enemy would have to disgorge 
all they had taken. 

Now, in September, 1914, those who endea- 
voured to apply this prediction to the campaign 
then begun cannot fail to have seen the weak 
points of such an interpretation. But they took 
certain sentences apart from their context, 1 and 
some of the more unscrupulous deliberately 
added a clause to the original, naming a feast 
of Our Lady (the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, 
September 8th) as the turning point of the cam- 
paign. Of this clause concerning the feast of 
Our Lady there is not a trace either in the ver- 
sion of the Abbe* Curicque or even in what he 
describes as the interpolated text of Pere Marie- 
Antoine. Still, in the following adaptation, 
which was widely circulated in September, 1914, 
the prophecy sounded highly impressive : 

The enemy will not retire immediately. They 
will again return, destroying as they come. Effective 
resistance will not be offered them. They will be 
allowed to advance, but after that their communica- 
tions will be cut off, and they will suffer great losses. 
They will then retire towards their own country, but 
they will be followed, and not many will reach their 

1 See for example the brochure Les Predictions sur la Fin de 
L'Allemagne (Paris, 1914), p. 20. 

44 Ecclesiastical Authority 

goal. They will then restore what they have taken 
away, and more in addition. Much more terrible 
things will happen than have yet been seen. Paris 
will suffer, but a great triumph will be witnessed on 
the Feast of Our Lady. 1 

To those who still continue to treat this predic- 
tion seriously one can only point out that, accord- 
ing to the express terms of the lay brother's 
account, Paris was to be burned down before 
the hour of triumph came. Paris has not been 
burned down, and it is consequently quite im- 
possible to identify the change of fortune which 
began about the 8th of September, 1914, with 
the final victory foreshadowed by the Lazarist 
lay-brother. It is difficult to resist the convic- 
tion that the brother, no doubt in all good 
faith, had come to read his own dreams into a 
somewhat vague recollection of his conversa- 
tions with the holy Cure. At any rate, as the 
prophecy stood in 1872, and as it was unani- 
mously interpreted by its editors at that date, it 
is certain that the prediction was not fulfilled. 

Not unlike the forecast attributed to the 
Blessed Jean Marie Vianney is that fathered 
upon the saintly Dom Bosco, the founder of the 
Salesians. The motive, viz., to secure the 
appearance of high religious sanction for an 
encouraging prognostic, was no doubt the same 
in each case ; but while the prophecy assigned to 

1 See, e.g., the Daily Chronicle and several other English 

The Dom Bosco Fabrication 45 

the Cure" d'Ars has at least some shadow of 
foundation in the recollections of the Lazarist 
lay-brother, the prediction circulated under the 
name of Dom Bosco seems to have been a 
deliberate imposture. In fact, the whole setting 
of the document proclaims its suspicious charac- 
ter. It appeared in many English and foreign 
newspapers, but I quote it here exactly as it 
stands in the Occult Review for October, 1914 : 

As I go to press yet another prediction of the pre- 
sent war reaches me, this time from Norway, though 
the author of the prediction is stated to have been a 
Portuguese priest by the name of Dom Bosco, who 
died ten years ago, and the quotation is a translation 
from the well-known French paper, Le Matin, in 
which it appeared in June, 1901. It runs as follows : 

" In 1913 or 1914 a great European War will 
break out. Germany will be torn completely to 
pieces, but not before the Germans have penetrated 
into the heart of France, whence they will be forced 
back to the further banks of the Rhine. An arrogant 
man will see his family tree cut in splinters and 
trampled upon by all the world. Great battles will 
take place on August i5th and September i5th. At 
that time the Pope will die and live again, and 
become stronger than ever. Poland will get back 
her rights." 

Now to begin with, Dom Bosco was not a 
Portuguese priest, neither did he die ten years 
ago. A Piedmontese 1 by birth, he died in Turin 

1 It is possible that in some manuscript copy " Piedmontese " 
was written, but misread " Portuguese." On the other hand, 
Father Macey tells me that he has heard of another Dom Bosco 
who was of Portuguese nationality. 

46 Ecclesiastical Authority 

in January, 1888. The only point which would 
lead one to think the prophecy worthy of a mo- 
ment's consideration is the explicit statement 
that this prediction containing an announce- 
ment of the Pope's death in August or Septem- 
ber at the beginning of a great European war 
was published in Le Matin in 1901. A friend of 
mine who had the curiosity to write to the Paris 
office of Le Matin to make inquiries, sent on 
to me the letter he received in answer. The 
letter simply stated that Le Matin had published 
no such prophecy. This may be taken as con- 
clusive, and it seems useless to attempt to pursue 
the matter further. The more so that, in answer 
to my inquiries, the Very Rev. C. B. Macey, the 
Rector of the Salesian School at Battersea, has 
kindly informed me that according to the unani- 
mous testimony of their older Fathers there was 
no ground for attributing such a prediction to 
their venerable founder. 




& ^ HE predictions discussed in the 
* last chapter have already brought 
us into contact with the European 
war of 1914, and we may now ap- 
propriately occupy ourselves with 
the most audacious of the many attempts to exploit 
popular credulity which have been occasioned by 
that great political crisis. The " Prophecy of 
Brother Johannes," originally published in the 
Figaro, 1 has attracted an enormous amount of 
attention, and has been translated into almost all 
European languages. It has reached even the 
English local newspapers, and has been sold 
separately in many forms. But despite all this 
publicity and the strenuous efforts of devout be- 
lievers, it remains as completely destitute of 
external confirmation as when it was first made 
known. There are sundry people who declare 
vaguely that they have seen it in print years 
ago ; but no definite book has been produced 
which contains it, nor has even the title been 

1 September loth, 1914, and September lyth, 1914. Cf. also 
the issue for September 26th. 


48 "Brother Johannes " 

quoted of any such work. So far as the public 
at large are concerned, the prophecy of " Brother 
Johannes " may be said to have dropped from 
the clouds. No single detail in the account given 
of it has been verified or seems capable of veri- 
fication. But let us turn at once to the document 
itself, which, according to M. Josephin Pe"ladan, 
who found it and edited it for the Figaro, is 
translated from a Latin original written some- 
where about the year 1600. 


1. People will many times have imagined that they 
recognized him, for all the slayers of the Lamb are 
alike and all evil-doers are the precursors of the 
supreme evil-doer. 

2. The true Antichrist will be one of the monarchs 
of his time, a son of Luther. He will call upon the 
name of God and will give himself out to be His 

3. This prince of liars will swear by the Bible. He 
will pose as the arm of the Almighty, chastising a 
corrupt age. 

4. He will be a one-armed man, but his soldiers 
without number, whose motto will be " God with 
us," will resemble the legions of hell. 

5. For a long space he will work by cunning and 
crime, and his spies will infest the whole earth, and 
he will make himself master of the secrets of the 

6. He will have theologians in his pay who will 
certify and demonstrate that his mission is from on 

The Antichrist of To-day 49 

7. A war will furnish him with the opportunity for 
throwing off the mask. It will not be the war that 
he will wage against a French sovereign, but another 
which will be easily recognized by this mark, that 
within a fortnight all the world will be involved in it. 

8. It will set all Christian peoples by the ears, as 
well as all the Mohammedans and other nations far 
remote. In all the four quarters of the world armies 
will muster. 

9. For the angels will open men's minds, and in 
the third week they will come to see that it is Anti- 
christ, and that they will all be made slaves if they do 
not overthrow this hell-begotten tyrant. 

10. Antichrist will be known by many signs. He 
will above all put to the sword priests, monks, 
women, children, and old men. He will show no 
pity. He will sweep onward, a blazing torch in his 
hand, like the barbarians of old, but the name of 
Christ will be on his lips. 

11. His deceitful words will be like those of the 
Christians, but his acts will resemble those of Nero 
and the Roman persecutors. There will be an eagle 
in his coat of arms, as there is also in that of his 
lieutenant, the other wicked emperor. 

12. But this latter is a Christian, and he will die 
of the curse of Pope Benedict who will be elected at 
the beginning of the reign of Antichrist. 

13. Priests and monks will no longer be seen to 
hear confessions and to absolve the combatants; 
partly because for the first time priests and monks will 
fight like their fellow-citizens, partly because Pope 
Benedict having cursed Antichrist, it will be pro- 
claimed that those who fight against him are in a 

50 "Brother Johannes" 

state of grace, and if they die go straight to heaven 
as the martyrs do. 

14. The Bull that proclaims these things will pro- 
duce a great sensation ; it will re-enkindle the 
courage of the faint-hearted, and it will cause the 
death of the monarch allied with Antichrist. 

15. Before Antichrist is overthrown more men will 
have to be killed than were ever contained within the 
walls of Rome. All kingdoms will have to unite in 
the task, for the cock, the leopard, and the white 
eagle would never get the better of the black eagle 
if the prayers and vows of all mankind did not come 
to their support. 

1 6. Never will mankind have had to face such a 
danger, because the triumph of Antichrist would be 
that of the spirit of evil who has taken flesh in him. 

17. For it has been said that twenty centuries after 
the Incarnation of the Word, the Beast in his turn 
will become incarnate, and will threaten the earth 
with as many horrors as the Divine Incarnation has 
brought blessings. 

Here the first instalment of the prophecy 
stopped, and a paragraph was added to explain 
with quite unnecessary insistence, that the pre- 
diction could not have been meant to apply to 
the war 1870-1, but that its many indications 
were only verified in the later war. After which 
the reader was told : 

There are people who reject all prophecies. But 
who can fail to be moved by the agreement in so 
many precise details and at three hundred years' 
interval between the predictions of Brother Johannes 
and the events going on around us? 

The Battle of the Beasts 5 1 

The prophecy of Brother Johannes does not end 
here, it contains a terrible second part ; but this last 
promises an era of peace and of light for France 
and all the world, and before this era is reached a 
vengeance so frightful that it even goes beyond 
men's thoughts or desires. 

This article attracted an amount of attention 
which must have been highly gratifying both to 
the contributor himself and to the editor of the 
Figaro. Accordingly a week later another in- 
stalment was launched, consisting, like its pre- 
decessor, of exactly seventeen paragraphs and 
with a curious completeness and unity of its 
own, as if the prophet three centuries before had 
foreseen that his vaticinations were going to be 
published in the form of short newspaper articles. 
We may call this second part, though this is 
not the title given it by M. P&adan, by the name 


1 8. Somewhere about the year 2000 Antichrist will 
stand revealed ; his armies will exceed in number 
anything that can be imagined. There will be 
Christians amongst his hordes, and there will be 
Mohammedan and pagan soldiers among the 
defenders of the Lamb. 

19. For the first time the Lamb will be entirely 
red, in the whole of the Christian world there will not 
be a single spot that will not be red ; and the heavens, 
the earth, the water, and even the air will be red, 
for blood will flow in the sphere of the four elements 
at the same time. 

52 "Brother Johannes" 

20. The black eagle will throw itself upon the 
cock, which will lose many of its feathers, but will 
strike heroically with its spur. It would soon be 
exhausted were it not for the help of the leopard 
and its claws. 

21. The black eagle, which will come from the 
land of Luther, will surprise the cock from another 
side, and will invade one-half of the land of the cock. 

22. The white eagle, which will come from the 
north, will set upon the black eagle and the other 
eagle, and will invade the land of the Antichrist from 
one end to the other. 

23. The black eagle will find itself compelled to let 
the cock go in order to fight the white eagle, and the 
cock will pursue the black eagle into the land of 
Antichrist to help the white eagle. 

24. The battles waged until then will be trifling in 
comparison to those that will take place in the land of 
Luther, because the seven angels will at the same 
time pour fire from their censers on the impious land 
(image taken from the Apocalypse), which means 
that the Lamb will order the extermination of the 
race of Antichrist. 

25. When the Beast sees that he is lost he will 
become furious. It is ordained that for months to- 
gether the beak of the white eagle, the claws of the 
leopard, and the spurs of the cock must tear his 

26. Rivers will be forded over masses of dead 
bodies, which in some places will change the course 
of the waters. Only great noblemen, generals, and 
princes will receive burial, for to the carnage caused 
by firearms will be added the heaps and heaps of 
those who perish by famine and plague. 

The Punishment of Antichrist 53 

27. Antichrist will ask for peace again and again, 
but the seven angels who precede the three animals, 
defenders of the Lamb, have declared that victory 
shall only be accorded upon condition that Antichrist 
be crushed, like straw on a threshing-floor. 

28. Executors of the justice of the Lamb, the 
three animals cannot stop fighting as long as Anti- 
christ has a soldier left to defend him. 

29. The reason why the sentence of the Lamb is so 
ruthless is that Antichrist has claimed to be a 
Christian and to be acting in His Name, so that if he 
did not perish the fruit of the redemption would be 
lost, and the gates of Hell would prevail against the 

30. It will be seen that this combat, which will 
be fought out where Antichrist forges his arms, 
is no human contest. The three animals, defenders 
of the Lamb, will exterminate Antichrist's last 
army ; but the battlefield will become as a funeral 
pyre, larger than the greatest of cities, and the 
corpses will have changed the very features of the 
landscape through the ridges of mounds with which 
it will be covered. 

31. Antichrist will lose his crown, and will die 
abandoned and insane. His Empire will be divided 
up into twenty-two States, but none will have either 
a stronghold, an army or ships of war. 

32. The white eagle, by Michael's order, will 
drive the Crescent from Europe, where none but 
Christians will remain ; he will instal himself in 

33. Then an era of peace and prosperity will begin 
for all the universe, and there will be no more war, 

54 "Brother Johannes' 1 

each nation being governed according to its wish and 
living in justice. 

34. There will be no more Lutherans or 
Schismatics. The Lamb will reign, and the bliss of 
human race will begin. Happy they who escaping 
from the perils of this prodigious time can taste of its 
fruit, which will be the reign of the Holy Spirit and 
the sanctification of humanity, only to be accom- 
plished after the defeat of Antichrist. 

It can be hardly necessary to point out that by 
the Cock France is indicated, by the Leopard 
England, by the White Eagle Russia, and by 
the Black Eagle and the other Eagle Germany 
and Austria. 

On reading this document it seems almost 
incredible that it can ever have been considered 
in any other light than that of a hoax or a 
mauvaise plaisanterie. But many persons regard 
it seriously, and among them not only simple- 
hearted nuns and pious women who would con- 
sider a forgery in these matters as little better 
than a sacrilege, but also enthusiasts of a much 
more robust mentality. Its fictitious character, 
to my thinking, cannot for a moment be in 
doubt, though it is possible that in the first 
instance it may have been fabricated to deride 
rather than to mislead. 

To begin with, it lacks any sort of reliable 
authentication. We have nothing more than 
M. Peladan's assurance that he found it among 
his father's papers after the death of the latter, 

The Provenance of the Document 55 

which took place in 1890. It is further stated 
that the prophecy was given to M. Adrien 
Peladan, pere, by a Premonstratensian monk of 
S. Michel de Trigolet, near Tarascon (ominous 
name), who in his turn had received it from an 
Abbe" Donat, a learned priest, who died at an 
advanced age at Beaucaire. For all this, how- 
ever, we have no evidence except the declaration 
of M. Josephin Peladan, who in all probability 
makes no scruple of availing himself of a 
novelist's privilege to invent a pedigree for his 
fictions. Romance writers from Sir Walter Scott 
downwards have always been fertile in such ex- 
pedients. As for the supposed author, Brother 
Johannes, no information is furnished regarding 
hislrianner of life or the place in which he lived, 
or the Order to which he belonged, or the 
circumstances under which this revelation was 
made to him. In glancing through some thirty 
odd volumes of this kind of literature which I 
have been able to consult, I have not come upon 
the least trace of Brother Johannes' wonderful 
seventeenth century prophecy. Neither can I 
recall more than one or two that even affect the 
same precision of detail. Let us note how mar- 
vellously minute the information is. Antichrist 
is to be an Emperor who makes a parade of his 
devotion to the Bible, who has theologians in 
his pay to draw up manifestos, and who is 
leagued with another Emperor near to death. 
Further, he has only the use of one arm, he is a 

56 "Brother Johannes" 

hypocrite, and he has vast armies under his 
control, whose motto is " God with us." During 
his time a Pope shall be elected called Benedict. 
In the universal war that breaks out and em- 
braces both East and West, no mercy shall be 
shown to priests and nuns, and numbers of 
priests, for the first time in history, shall take 
part as combatants (v. 13). Even Mohammedans 
and pagans shall be found in the ranks of those 
opposing Antichrist (v. 18). The war also will 
be fought in the air as well as on land and sea 
(v. 19). Can it be conceived that to this abso- 
lutely unknown monk of the seventeenth century 
the Almighty should have given such marvellous 
prophetic insight as is not to be paralleled in all 
the recorded history of the canonized saints ? I 
would confidently challenge the production of 
one well attested example, either of saint, mystic, 
or seer which in any way rivals the foreknow- 
ledge displayed by Brother Johannes. We know 
what the scriptural prophecies are like, and we 
may easily acquaint ourselves with the language 
of the authentic prophetical writings of saints 
like St. Hildegard, St. Bridget, or St. Catherine 
of Siena. In this matter one of the very col- 
lections against which we are protesting lays 
down quite soberly the following canon as a 
means of distinguishing genuine prophecies 
from the spurious : 

Genuine prophecies have a prophetic form. They 
are set forth in marvellous images in dark mysterious 

The Personality of Sar Peladan 57 

words; they often bring together totally dissimilar 
events, invert occasionally the order of time; while 
their authors, overpowered with the general impres- 
sion of their visions employ exaggerated language. 
For instance " the blood will mount even to the 
horses' bridles." From these peculiarities we see 
that a certain obscurity attaches to prophecies. But 
this very quality bespeaks their divine origin, as 
hereby they seem to bear a certain conformity to the 
other works of God. In nature and history also 
God conceals Himself in order that those only who 
seek Him in faith may find Him. 1 

Moreover, the gravest suspicion is thrown 
upon the document under discussion, owing to 
the fact that at its first appearance in print, 
which occurred, as already stated, in the Figaro 
of September loth and i7th, 1914, it was intro- 
duced to the world by that extraordinary genius, 
M. Josephin Peladan, whose talent is undeniable, 
but who may be described as a medley of 
Richard Wagner, Cagliostro, and Madame 
Blavatsky rolled into one. Here is the account 
of him in Curinier's Dictionnaire national des 
Contemporains. 3 

PELADAN, JOSEPHIN called " le Sar " (i.e., the 
Seer), novelist, art-critic and dramatic author, born 
at Lyons 20 October, 1859. The son of a religious 
writer, 3 he has devoted himself to a style of litera- 

1 Beykirch, Pvophetenstimmen mit Erklarungen, Paderborn, 
1849, p. 7. 

3 Vol. v, p. 15, 1905. 

8 M. Adrien Peladan, p&re, was for many years editor of the 
Semaine religieuse of Lyons. There was also an Adrien 
Peladan, fils, the brother of Josephin. 

58 "Brother Johannes" 

ture which is partly mystic and partly erotic, while 
the titles he has bestowed upon himself of Mage and 
Seer serve to direct attention to his own personality, 
just as his wish to seem different from the rest of the 
world is made clear to all by his eccentricities of 
manner and costume. 1 

In the same notice, after a long list of his 
novels, plays, and other works, we are told that 
" M. Peladan founded the Order of the Rosy 
Cross, Cross of the Temple, of which he 
appointed himself Grand-Master." No doubt 
the Seer identifies himself with the cause of 
Catholicity, or at any rate Christianity, but his 
creed seems to be one peculiar to himself in 
which Occultism plays a larger part than reve- 
lation. 2 On the other hand, it is quite true that 
M. Peladan 's father was, as stated, a collector of 
prophecies, particularly in the Catholic and 
Legitimist interest, and that he published in 
1871 a book entitled Le nouveau " Liber mira- 
bilis," ou toutes les propheties authentiques sur 
les temps presents, with some other collections of 
the same kind. 

1 M. Peladan, it appears, loves to attire himself in long robes 
or oriental fashion and texture, while his portraits are evidently 
designed to produce the effect of a Blavatsky-like intensity of 
expression. All the resources of photography have been invoked 
to emphasize the dilated pupils, which seem to read into the 
soul and penetrate the future. 

3 Here is a specimen of one of his utterances, which, for fear 
of misinterpretation, I copy untranslated : " L'occulte est 
1'esprit m6me de la religion et la religion est le corps mime de 
1'occulte. L'occulte est la tete ou se congoit le mystere, la 
religion est le cceur ou le mystere se dynamise." Peladan, 
L'Occulte Catholique. 

An Accommodating Editor 59 

Taken as a whole, the explanations which M. 
Peladan has offered concerning the prophecy of 
Brother Johannes have only served to throw 
more suspicion upon the document itself. When 
it first appeared in the Figaro he let it be 
understood that he himself had translated it 
from the Latin (j'ai trouve a la traduire et a 
I'eclaircir). Later he declared that he had done 
no more than to eliminate a few verbal redun- 
dancies (je n'ai fait que serrer un peu I'expres- 
sion). 1 Certain it is, in any case, that not a 
phrase now survives which suggests a Latin 
original. On the other hand, M. Peladan tells 
us that out of consideration for republican sus- 
ceptibilities he omitted sundry references to " the 
great monarch, the offspring of the lilies " to 
whom in the text the final defeat of Antichrist 
is attributed, also that he " bitterly regretted 
not having struck out all mention of the present 
Pope, the religio depopulata of St. Malachy." 
But it is just by this free-and-easy attitude 
towards an historical document that the editor 
forfeits all our confidence. Either the name of 
Pope Benedict was in the copy left by M. 
Peladan, pere, or it was not. If it was not, his 
son, by inserting it in the text without warning 
of any kind, has committed a literary fraud 
which is absolutely unpardonable. On the other 
hand, if the name of the present pontiff stood 

1 See the Figaro, September 26th, 1914, and the prophecy in 
leaflet form published at the " Librairie Moderne," 5, Rue du 
Pont-de-Lodi, Paris. 

60 "Brother Johannes " 

revealed in a document copied by M. Peladan, 
pere, before his death in 1890, the fact is mar- 
vellous beyond example, and to suppress such 
a circumstance in editing the document would 
be to deprive the prophecy of its supreme 
authentication. As the whole of M. Peladan 's 
commentary shows, his mind is fixed, not upon 
what is true, but upon what is expedient, i.e., 
what will best help to enkindle the fury of his 
countrymen against the German invader. This 
attitude alone would let us clearly see what we 
have to expect from him. 

Again, M. Peladan informs his readers that 
what he has published " is only a section (une 
tranche) of a long prophecy which extends with 
occasional breaks from the sixteenth to the twen- 
tieth century." Surely, if he were really serious, 
the Seer could not be so lacking in perception as 
to be blind to the prodigious interest of all this. 
Even were the document no older than 1890, 
such a forecast of fighting in the air, theologians' 
manifestos, combatant priests, a newly-elected 
Pope named Benedict, etc., would make it, as 
already pointed out, the most wonderful pro- 
phecy ever heard of. But supposing it to date 
from 1600, the revelation becomes stupendous. 
There would not be a word of this marvellous 
text which we could spare. We should want to 
have it all before us in facsimile in order that 
from the measure of its fulfilment in the past we 
might learn how far we might rely with safety 

The Seer's Rhapsody 61 

upon its exhilarating promise of victory in the 

But it is absurd to labour the point. M. 
Peladan, in spite of his fantastic allures, is much 
too shrewd a man to be blind to all this. It is 
probable enough that he found among his 
father's papers some rather lurid prediction con- 
cerning Antichrist and a great battle in which 
the cock and the leopard all played their parts. 
There were hundreds of such documents circulat- 
ing in the seventeenth century extracts from 
one or two will be given later on and since then 
the number has continually been added to. From 
the evidence of a certain Madame Faust 1 it is 
clear enough that more than twenty years ago 
M . Pe" ladan was accustomed to deliver some such 
" Prophecy of the Twentieth Century " as a 
recitation. A seer has to justify his seership. 
France dreamed of the revanche long before 
1890, and an identification of the Lutheran 
monarch with Antichrist, a figurative description 
of an awful conflict among the beasts ending 
with the victory of France and the Lamb would 
have been readily welcomed by most of the 
audiences which M. Peladan had to address. 
No doubt he at that time acquired the habit 
there was no particular reason why he should 
not of adapting the details of his weird pro- 
phetic rhapsody to the hopes and sympathies of 

1 See the Occult Re-view, December, 1914, p. ii, and Light, 
December 5th and i2th, pp. 587 and 594. 

62 "Brother Johannes'* 

his hearers. Naturally enough the crisis of last 
September revived the idea in his mind, and, lo ! 
we have a hastily elaborated recension 1 of the 
old Antichrist prophecy, adjusted to modern con- 
ditions, appearing in the columns of the Figaro. 
There is not a scrap of evidence forthcoming to 
show that any one of the really significant 
features of the present document, e.g., the name 
of the Pope, the priests as combatants, the con- 
test in the air, etc., is older than the declaration 
of war in August, 1914. Be it noted also in 
passing, a propos of the contest in the air (v. 19) 
that the enumeration of the four elements in- 
volves a blunder of which no seventeenth century 
author could possibly have been guilty. I hold, 
then, that the significant part of the prediction 
is of the same alloy as the prophecy of Orval and 
other similar fabrications. The foundation docu- 
ment may be relatively ancient, but even this has 
very probably been modified in transmission in 
accordance with the ideas of those who copied it 
or edited it. For this reason I do not think that 
we can attach the slightest importance to the 
statements of those who vaguely assert that they 

1 The signs of carelessness in the adaptation are unmistak- 
able. From v. 7 it is plain that the original prophet, if he 
identified Antichrist with any German Emperor, identified him 
with William I ; only William I could have " made war on a 
French sovereign." Again v. 12 declares that the new Pope is to 
be elected at the beginning of the reign of Antichrist, but William 
II succeeded to the throne in 1888. Further, the date " about 
the year 2000 " (v. 18) is utterly irreconcilable with either 
William I or William II. 

The Prophet's Strange Omissions 63 

have previously seen the prediction in print or 
heard it read aloud. Not one person in a 
thousand possesses so exact a memory as to be 
able to identify the peculiarities of a text casually 
listened to or examined a dozen years ago, when 
there are scores of similar documents with which 
it might be confused. 

Only one point remains which seems to call 
for notice, and that is the remarkable silence of 
" Brother Johannes " regarding all those 
developments of the war which could not have J y* 
been foreseen in September, 1914. Of the trench 
fighting and the consequent deadlock of the 
great armies, of the blockade by submarine, of 
Germany's cry for food, not a word is said; 
even Belgium is not so much as mentioned. 
For us the tragedy of Belgium remains at 
present the most appalling horror of the 
war, but on September loth the tragedy of 
Belgium had not been consummated. Antwerp 
was still deemed impregnable, and it must 
have been before September loth, probably 
some time before that date, that Mr. PeUadan 
sent off his manuscript to the editor of the 
Figaro . 

I have spent some time over this " prophecy 
of Brother Johannes," utterly foolish as I con- 
sider it to be, simply because it has had so much 
vogue and because it has been championed by 
presumably serious people, who do not scruple 
to maintain that its genuineness is conclusively 

64 "Brother Johannes " 

established by evidence. 1 It only remains to 
give an illustration of the type of predictions 
which found favour in the seventeenth century. 
Both as an example of the tendency to father 
these extravagant inventions on famous ecclesi- 
astics, and to provide an instance of the figura- 
tive use of beasts in political allegory, I may 
quote an extravagant prophecy, published in the 
year of the great fire of London, under the name 
of St. Thomas Becket, the martyred Archbishop 
of Canterbury. It runs as follows : 

The Lily (France) shall remain in the better part, 
and shall enter into the land of the Lion (Holland), 
they wanting his assistance, which the beasts of his 
own kingdom shall tear with their teeth and shall 
stand in the field among the thorns of his kingdom. 
At length shall the Son of Man (England) come with 
a great army, passing the waters, carrying wild 
beasts in his arms, whose kingdom is in the land of 
wool, and feared by the whole world. The Eagle 
(Germany) shall come out of the East with his wings 
spread upon the sun, with a great multitude of his 
people to the help of the Son of Man. In that year 
camps shall be torn, great fear shall be in the world, 
and in some part of the land of the Lion shall war be 
amongst many kings, and there shall be a flood of 
blood. The Lily shall lose his crown with which the 
Son of Man shall be crowned. And for four follow- 
ing years shall there be many battles amongst 

1 See in particular The End of the Kaiser, a brochure by Mr. 
Ralph Shirley, the editor of the Occult Review. The December 
number of this journal had a label posted on it : " ANTICHRIST 

Allegorical Beasts 65 

Christians. Part of the world shall be destroyed; 
the Head of the World (Pope or Turk) shall be to the 
earth. The Son of Man and the Eagle shall prevail, 
and then there shall be peace over the whole face of 
the earth. Then shall the Son of Man receive a 
wonderful sign, and shall go into the land of 
promise. 1 

Extravagant though this may be, it is interest- 
ing to note that even in a native English pam- 
phlet " the land of the Lion is used to designate 
not England but the Netherlands or Flanders, 
while the animals blazoned on the shield of the 
King of England are described as ' wild 
beasts.' " French heralds, indeed, have always 
called them leopards, and they are so designated 
in French armorials to this day.* It will be 
understood, therefore, that no objection can be 
raised against M. P&adan's prophecy on the 
ground of its identifying England with the 
Leopard, France with the Cock, or Germany 
with the Eagle. 3 My contention only is that, 

1 The Prophecies of Thomas Becket, lately found in an 
ancient Manuscript at Abington by Dr. Ailsworth, London, 
1666. Both the rather incoherent wording and the interpreta- 
tions in brackets belong to the original pamphlet. 

3 We are told in the Nouveau Larousse (1902) " the heraldic 
leopard is a lion which, instead of being rampant, is passant, 
and the head of which faces the spectator," and similarly the 
authoritative Dictionnaire archeologique et explicatif de la 
Science du Blason, by Comte A. O'Kelly, describes the English 
royal arms with which we are all familiar as de gueules, a trois 
Uopards d'or (gules, three leopards or). 

* The prophecies, circulated in the sixteenth century under 
the names of Johann Liechtenberger and Johann Carionis, are 
full of similar political allegories under the disguise of beasts, 

66 "Brother Johannes" 

having taken an ancient prediction about Anti- 
christ from no one knows where, he has so modi- 
fied it and changed its character as to make it 
say whatever seemed to him desirable. 

As a final illustration of the vogue of this kind 
of allegory among the prophets and prophecy- 
mongers of the seventeenth century the following 
passage, which I translate from its Latin original, 
may also be cited. Curiously enough it comes to 
us through a certain Johannes (Johannes 
Wolfius), a Lutheran, who made a prodigious 
collection of oracles and portents, and who 
published them in two folio volumes printed in 
the year 1600. The prophecy itself, however, 
professes to have been written in 1498. 

The Eagle shall fly, and by his flight shall be over- 
thrown the Lion, who will reign at Jerusalem for seven 
years. At length the princes of Germany will con- 
spire together and the chief men of Bohemia shall be 
crushed. And the Leopard will devour him. Then 
a king- shall arise of the stock of the eastern Eagle, 
and there will come the offspring- of the Eagle and 
will build its nest in the house of the Lion, and it will 
be destitute of all fruit or nourishment from its father. 
And a king shall be chosen to whom is not paid the 
honour due to a king. He shall reign, and ruling 
mightily shall hold sway and will stretch his branches 
to the uttermost limits of the earth. In his time the 
Sovereign Pontiff shall be made prisoner and the 

etc. We read there of black eagles and young eagles, golden 
lions and white lions, cocks, wolves, foxes, lilies, etc. But 
I have not hit upon any which bears a true resemblance in 
substance to the disclosures of " Brother Johannes." 

Black Magic 67 

clergy shall be plundered, for they corrupt the faith. 
Alas for the evil lives of the clergy I 1 

The incoherence of these predictions belongs 
to the original, and is probably intentional. 
Johannes Wolfius quotes them, as he does many 
others, with a distinct controversial animus 
against the Church of Rome. 

In taking leave of M. Peladan, the exploiter of 
this " Brother Johannes " prophecy, it is worth 
while to notice that he stands charged amongst 
others by the late J. K. Huysmans, the author of 
En Route with engaging in the practice of 
black magic in a serious and malignant form. 3 I 
do not propose to discuss here the unpleasant sub- 
ject of "Satanism," but whether the hideous 
rites ascribed to the cult are real, or only 
imaginary, the atmosphere created by these sur- 
roundings unquestionably leaves a certain moral 
stigma attaching to all who allow their names to 
be prominently associated with it. 

1 Johannes Wolfius, Lectionum Memorabilium et Recondi- 
tarum Centenarii XVI (Lavingae, 1600), vol. i, p. 722. 

3 See Joanny Bricaud, /. K. Huysmans et le Satanisme, 
Paris, 1913. Huysmans writes : " II est indiscutable que de 
Guaita et Pe'ladan pratiquent quotidiennement la magie noire." 
Bricaud, p. 50, and cf. pp. 29 and 37-8. 




ARDLY any feature is of such 
common occurrence in the pro- 
phecies of all countries and all 
periods as the prediction of some 
great conflict of the nations, 
which generally ends, after terrible sufferings, 
in the final triumph of religion and justice. 
These ideas were no doubt largely inspired 
by the traditional interpretation of Armaged- 
don in the Apocalypse (xvi. 16) as the scene 
of the ultimate contest between the powers 
of good and evil. As to the rightfulness 
of that interpretation this is not the place to 
inquire, but it permeated all Christian literature 
and it gave birth to a number of what may be 
called folk-tales, supposing the word tale to 
mean simply a thing told and to be capable of 
referring to the future as well as to the past. 
There is in particular a whole group of these 
folk-tales which come from Germany and which, 
while assuming a good many different forms, 
centre in an incident commonly known as " the 
Battle of the Birch Tree "die Schlacht am 
Birkenbaum. The prophecy is in any case an 


The Battle of the Birch Tree 69 

interesting piece of folk-lore, and I may give it 
here in what is perhaps its most authentic shape, 
as it was translated more than sixty years ago 
in Blackwood's Magazine. 

A time shall come when the world shall be godless. 
The people will strive to be independent of king and 
magistrate, subjects will be unfaithful to their princes. 
It will then come to a general insurrection when 
father shall fight against son and son against father. 
In that time men shall try to pervert the articles of 
the faith and shall introduce new books. The Catholic 
religion shall be hard pressed, and men will try 
with cunning to abolish it. Men shall love play and 
jest and pleasure of all kinds at that time. But then 
it shall not be long before a change occurs. A 
frightful war will break out. On one side shall 
stand Russia, Sweden, and the whole north, on 
the other France, Spain, Italy, and the whole 
south under a powerful prince. This prince shall 
come from the south. He wears a white coat with 
buttons all the way down. He has a cross on his 
breast, rides a grey horse, which he mounts from 
his left side, because he is lame of one foot. He 
will bring peace. Great is his severity, for he will 
put down all dance-music and rich attire. He will 
hear morning Mass 1 in the church of Bremen. From 
Bremen he rides to the Haar (an eminence near 
Werl), from thence he looks with his spy-glass 
towards the country of the Birch-tree and observes 
the enemy. Next he rides past Holtum (a village 
near Werl). At Holtum stands a crucifix between 
two lime-trees ; before this he kneels and prays with 

1 Some copies apparently read, " he will say (lesen) Mass." 

yo The End of War 

outstretched arms for some time. Then he leads his 
soldiers, clad in white, into the battle, and after a 
bloody contest he remains victorious. 

The chief slaughter will take place at a brook 
which runs from west to east. Woe ! woe ! to 
Budberg and Sondern in those days. The victorious 
leader shall assemble the people after the battle and 
harangue them in the church. 1 

So runs the best-known version of dieSchlacht 
am Birkenbaum, and it is perhaps a little curious 
that the district which tradition has assigned 
for the battle-field of this momentous contest 
is pointed to by military authorities as the 
scene of the last desperate struggle between 
Germany and a western invader. So at any 
rate, says Commander Driant, in his preface 
to a clever forecast of the war now raging, 
which was published by M. de Civrieux a couple 
of years back. 3 The district of Westphalia 
marked out by the mention of such places as 
Werl, Holtum, Bremen, Budberg, etc., is about 
forty miles east of the great Krupp ordinance 
works at Essen. Still more remarkable at first 
sight is the fact that the conqueror is to be a 
man clothed in a white coat with buttons all the 
way down, who mounts his horse on the wrong 

1 The original German may be found in Das Buch der Wahr- 
und Weissagungen (Regensburg, 1884), pp. 222-3, or again in 
C. B. Warnefried, Seherblicke in die Zukunft (Regensburg, 
1861), pt. ii, pp. 59-60. The above translation is taken from 
Blackwood's Magazine, May, 1850, p. 568. 

3 La Fin de I'Empire allemande la Bataille du Champ des 
Bouleaux, par M. de Civrieux, Paris, 1912. 

Jaspers 7 1 

side. The present Kaiser, as is generally known, 
owing to an injury at birth, has not the full use 
of his left arm, and is consequently compelled 
to climb into the saddle from the off side. 
Still a moment's consideration of the prophecy 
shows clearly how trivial the coincidence is. 
The victorious prince is the leader, not of Ger- 
many, but of France and Spain and Italy, a 
Catholic who hears or even says Mass, and who 
prays before a crucifix; while the injured limb 
is not his arm but his foot. Coincidences of 
this superficial kind must now and again occur 
in all such predictions, and if we accept them as 
proof of supernatural insight, there will be no 
limit to the extravagances into which we shall 
be led. 

Other variants of the prophecy just quoted 
continued to be repeated until quite modern 
times. In particular a man named Jaspers, a 
Westphalian shepherd, of Deininghausen, is 
said in the year 1830, shortly before his death, 
to have made a public prediction to this effect : 

A great road will be carried through our country 
from West to East which will pass through the 
forest of Bodelschwingh. On this road carriages 
will run without horses and cause a dreadful noise. 
At the commencement of this work a great scarcity 
will prevail, pigs will become very dear, and a new 
religion will arise in which wickedness will be re- 
garded as prudence and good manners. Before this 
road is quite completed a frightful war will break out. 

72 The End of War 

In 1830 not even the first English railway had 
been opened, but before 1848 a railway had been 
constructed in the part of Westphalia spoken of. 
There was also about this time a great scarcity, 
and the bringing of workmen into the country 
led to a deterioration of morals among the 
peasantry which might have been described as a 
new religion. All this sounds very promising, 
but what follows of Jaspers 5 prophesyings, 
though vaguely echoing the Birkenbaum pre- 
dictions, is sadly disappointing when compared 
with the actual history of the years 1850-70. 

1 . Before the great road is quite finished a dreadful 
war will break out. 

2. A small northern power will be the conqueror. 

3. After this another war will break out, not a 
religious war among Christians, but between those 
who believe in Christ and those who do not believe. 

4. The war comes from the East; I dread the 

5. The war will break out very suddenly. In the 
evening they will say Peace, peace ! and yet peace 
is not ; and in the morning the enemy will be at the 
door. Yet it shall soon pass, and he who knows a 
good hiding-place, even for only a few days, will be 

6. The defeated enemy will have to fly in extreme 
haste. Let the people cast cart and wheels into the 
water, otherwise the flying foe will take all vehicles 
with them. 

No disturbance of this kind has certainly 
taken place in Westphalia from Jaspers* day to 

Westphalian Folk Predictions 73 

the present; while on the other hand it must be 
plain that the circumstances described in no 
way correspond with anything possible in the 
war now raging. Prophecies that have missed 
the mark are almost as uninteresting as a ten- 
year-old Bradshaw, and if I quote any further 
details it is only to indicate how little trust can 
be placed in the precisely similar details which 
are found in other prophecies. Thus Jaspers 
declares : 

9. The great battle will be fought at the Birch-tree 
between Unna, Hamm, and Werl. The people of 
half the world will there stand arrayed against each 
other. God will terrify the enemy by a dreadful 
storm. Of the Russians but few shall return home 
to tell of their defeat. 

10. The war will be over in 1850, and in 1852 all 
will be again in order. 1 

11. The Poles are at first put down; but they 
will, along with other nations, fight against their 
oppressors and at last obtain a king of their own. 

12. France will be divided internally into three 

13. Spain will not join in the war, but the 
Spaniards shall come after it is over and take posses- 
sion of the churches. 

14. Austria will be fortunate, provided she do not 
wait too long. 

15. The papal chair will be vacant for a time. 8 

1 The article in Blackwood from which I borrow this trans- 
lation was printed in May, 1850, and had probably been written 

1 Blackwood's Magazine, May, 1850, pp. 583-4. 

74 The End of War 

Somewhat more desultory, but even more 
terrific, are such oracles as the following, ex- 
tracted from old Westphalian traditions in 1849 
by Thomas Beykirch : 

Alas ! once happy Cologne ! when thou art well- 
paved thou shalt perish in thine own blood. O 
Cologne ! Thou shalt perish like Sodom and 
Gomorrha ; thy stream shall flow with blood and thy 
relics shall be taken away. Woe to thee, Cologne ! 
because strangers suck thy breasts and the breasts 
of thy poor of thy poor who therefore languish in 
destitution and misery. 1 

Or, again : 

Woe ! woe ! Where Rhine and Moselle meet a 
battle shall be fought against Turks and Baschkirs 
(Russians?) so bloody that the Rhine shall be dyed 
red for twenty-five leagues. 1 

Such predictions as these, however, were no 
doubt found unsatisfactory for many reasons. 
It was necessary to bring them up to date and 
to adapt them to present circumstances if they 
were to find any general acceptance. We have, 
I think, a characteristic example of this proce- 
dure in a document published by the Matin on 
August 23rd, 1914. It was then described as 
"The famous Prophecy of Mayence," and was 
stated to date from 1854, but no indication was 
given of any book printed in 1854 in which it 

1 This is said to have been found by Heinrich von Juddon 
in a religious house of the Carmelites. 

1 See Beykirch, Prophetenstimmen and Blackwood, I.e., p. 

A bogus "Prophecy of Maycnce" 75 

could be found, and we may venture to remain 
sceptical about this fact until more particulars 
are furnished. As is the case with so many other 
bogus predictions, the prophecy claims credit for 
itself on the ground that its earlier forecasts had 
already been fulfilled with startling exactitude. 
In the particular instance of this Mayence docu- 
ment verses 5-7 provide a marvellous account of 
the central incidents of the Franco-Prussian 

5. Napoleon III at first despising his adversary, 
will fly very soon towards the " Chesne-Populeux " 
(near Sedan) 9 where he will disappear never to appear 

6. In spite of the heroic resistance of the French, 
a number of soldiers, blue, yellow, and black, will 
spread themselves over a great part of France. 

7. Alsace and Lorraine will be wrested from 
France for a time and a half. 

Certainly if this prophecy of Mayence was 
really in circulation in 1854, its accuracy as 
regards these earlier events is very astonishing 
indeed. The extraordinary thing is that though 
it had been already famous in 1854 and had 
been so marvellously verified in 1870, it makes 
no appearance in any of the elaborate collections 
of similar materials such as the Voix Prophet- 
iques and Le Grand Pape et le Grand Roi, the 
editors of which in 1871 and 1872 scoured heaven 
and earth in the intervals between their succes- 
sive editions to add new documents to their 

76 The End of War 

store. It seems, then, practically certain that, 
like so many others, the prophecy of Mayence 
is a fake, but it is interesting to note how in the 
nine concluding verses, which presumably have 
reference to the war now raging, the materials 
available in the old " Battle of the Birch Tree " 
saga have been turned to account. I quote the 
translation published in The Referee (August 
3Oth, 1914), which, like many other newspapers, 
professed to treat the document quite seriously. 

10. Courage, faithful souls, the reign of the dark 
shadow shall not have time to execute all its schemes. 

n. But the time of mercy approaches. A prince 
of the nation is in your midst. 

12. It is the man of salvation, the wise, the in- 
vincible, he shall count his enterprises by his 

13. He shall drive out the enemy of France, he 
shall march to victory on victory, until the day of 
divine justice. 

14. That day he shall command seven kinds of 
soldiers against three to the quarter of Bouleaux 
between Ham, Werl, and Paderborn. 

15. Woe to thee, people of the North, thy seventh 
generation shall answer for all thy crimes. Woe to 
thee, people of the East, thou shalt spread afar the 
cries of affliction and innocent blood. Never shall 
such an army be seen. 

16. Three days the sun shall rise upwards on the 
heads of the combatants without being seen through 
the clouds of smoke. 

17. Then the commander shall get the victory; 

Hermann of Lehnin 77 

two of his enemies shall be annihilated, the remainder 
of the three shall fly towards the extreme East. 

1 8. William, the second of the name, shall be the 
last King of Prussia. He shall have no other suc- 
cessors save a King of Poland, a King of Hanover, 
and a King of Saxony. 

The seven kinds of soldiers appear to be 
English, French, Russians, Belgians, Servians, 
Austrians, and Hungarians. By the " people 
of the North " Prussia is plainly indicated, by 
the "people of the East" Austria. It is pre- 
sumably the Tsar who figures as " the man of 
salvation," but it would be futile to speculate 
about the details. 

The point of chief interest is the fact that such 
Westphalian townships as Ham, Werl, and 
Paderborn are mentioned, and that the trans- 
lator, being apparently unaware that bouleau 
means a birch-tree, has turned it into a proper 
name (v. 14). The last verse also apparently 
betrays adaptation from some older source. 
Prussia as a separate monarchy is of little in- 
terest now. The famous prophecy of Hermann 
of Lehnin which, while professing to be the work 
of a mediaeval monk, was probably fabricated 
about 1690, long ago said : 

Tandem sceptra gerit, qui stemmatis ultimus erit. 
At length he sways the sceptre who will be the 
last of his race. 

But this should properly apply to Frederick 
William IV, and the defenders of Hermann's 

78 The End-of War 

prophecy explain it by saying that Frederick 
William IV. was really the last king of Prussia, 
for his brother William I, who succeeded him, 
became Emperor of Germany. By his change of 
title, they contend, the kingdom of Prussia was 
virtually extinguished. 

Unquestionably the interpreters of the pro- 
phets, whether modern or ancient, are driven to 
hard shifts, and I may state here in concluding 
that part of our investigation which bears 
specially on the great war, that of all the utter- 
ances which I have examined concerning the 
results of the contest only two have seemed to 
suggest even a vague possibility that the pro- 
phet possessed intuitions which transcended the 
limitations of ordinary prudent conjecture. 
Moreover, the first of these, when traced to its 
sources, loses all its verisimilitude. Still as it has 
an interest of its own and recalls some of the 
features of certain familiar psychic phenomena, 
it may be recounted here. The narrator is a 
certain Father Korzeniecki, a Polish Dominican, 
who, it appears, had a great devotion to the Jesuit 
martyr Blessed Andrew Bobola, put to death by 
the Cossacks with most terrible tortures in 1637. 
The incorrupt body of Blessed Andrew, it should 
be noted, passed, on the suppression of the 
Society of Jesus, into the keeping of the Domi- 
nicans. One night in the year 1819 Father 
Korzeniecki, overwhelmed by the tribulations of 
his beloved Poland, was engaged in prayer to 

Blessed Andrew Bobola and Poland 79 

his patron when he saw standing by him a 
religious in a Jesuit habit, who bade him open 
his window and look out. Instead of gazing 
upon the familiar garden of the convent, he 
beheld a landscape of vast extent stretching as 
far as the eye could reach. This, he was given 
to understand by the apparition, was the pro- 
vince of Pinsk in which he, the Blessed Andrew, 
had suffered martyrdom, and then the Domini- 
can was bidden to look at the prospect again. 

At this moment, as the Father viewed the scene a 
second time, the plain seemed to him suddenly 
covered with innumerable hordes of Russians, Turks, 
Frenchmen, Englishmen, Austrians, Prussians, and 
other nations beside, which the Religious could not 
exactly distinguish, fighting in a sanguinary hand- 
to-hand conflict such as might be seen in a war of 
ruthless extermination. The Father was aghast and 
bewildered by the horrible spectacle. 

"When," said the Martyr, "the war of which 
you have just seen a picture shall have given way to 
peace, then Poland shall be restored and I shall be 
recognized as its principal patron." 

It is certainly a curious fact that English and 
French soldiers should have been given a promi- 
nent place in the record of such a dream or 
vision, and for a moment the coincidence of the 
Tsar's declaration of liberty for Poland, made 
at the beginning of the present war, seems rather 
remarkable. Unfortunately, however, one finds 
on investigation that the vision first attracted 
attention at the opening of the Crimean War, 

80 The End of War 

and this, I am afraid, offers an only too satis- 
factory explanation of the fact that Russians, 
Turks, Frenchmen, and English are named first 
among the motley armies that were seen in com- 
bat on the plains of Pinsk. 

The second prophecy is of more importance 
for the reason that it is not entirely explained 
by the circumstances under which it was de- 
livered, and that it still, alas ! retains a certain 
intrinsic probability. It is, moreover, a pre- 
diction to which, so far as I am aware, no 
attention has yet been directed. It occurs in a 
little English Life of a Carmelite nun known as 
Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified. This Life was 
privately printed by the late Lady Herbert of 
_Lea in 1887, and the preface was written in the 
March of that year. 1 It would be no libel upon 
the undoubted services rendered by Lady Herbert 
to Catholic religious literature to say that she 
was not always a conspicuously accurate writer. 
Nevertheless, this sketch professes on its title- 
page to be " taken from various documents pre- 
served in the Carmelite monasteries of Pau and 
Bethlehem," and it certainly shows a consider- 
able dependence on pre-existing materials. It 
is conceivable, of course, that the author may 
not have reproduced the data so furnished with 
entire fidelity, but if she altered them, there 
seems no assignable reason why she should 

1 A Sketch of the Life of Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified, by 
Lady Herbert, London, printed for the author, 1887. 

A Carmelite Ecstatica 81 

make the good Carmelite say what she does 
make her say. The general expectation of 
Catholics at that time did not run in the direction 
actually followed, but rather the other way. The 
whole tendency was to anticipate, not to retard, 
the triumph of the Church. However, let me 
first set before the reader the two passages which 
have a bearing on our present subject, only 
premising that Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified 
(1846-78) seems to have been a mystic whose 
religious experiences were altogether startling 
and abnormal. If we may believe her confessor 
and her fellow-religious, she not only had con- 
stant ecstasies, but she was for several years 
marked with the stigmata in her hands, feet, x 
and side, from which last wound on every Friday 
the blood flowed freely. On several occasions 
she was seen suspended, like St. Joseph a 
Cupertino, high above the ground, while for 
many months together, like the Blessed Cure* 
d'Ars and numerous other saints, she is said to 
have been beaten and tormented by the devil 
with extraordinary ferocity. With regard, how- 
ever, to her prophecies, which alone concern us 
here, the two following passages had better be 
transcribed exactly as they stand in Lady 
Herbert's sketch : 

One day, while in an ecstasy, she saw a large 
church in which were many altars. On the principal 
one was a beautiful rose with a delicious perfume. 
This she was made to understand represented Pius 

82 The End of War 

IX. Then she saw two kings enter the church with 
intent to destroy the rose, but they failed. One, 
however, more bold than the rest, tried to cut it 
down, but in vain; and he said to himself: " In 
another year." A little time seemed to elapse, and 
then she again saw the rose attacked by the two 
kings, and one of them succeeded in bruising it and 
tearing off some of the leaves. But afterwards it 
rose up stronger and more beautiful than before. 
St. Elias appeared to her and said: " Our present 
Holy Father is a saint. After him shall come another 
like no other; he shall suffer much from the hands 
of his enemies. The third Holy Father shall be the 
Seraphic. The fourth alas ! alas ! there is and shall 
be no cross like the one he will carry ! But the 
Church will begin to triumph under the rule of this 

Holy Father, and after his death completely. 

Now such manifestations, supposing them to 

be something more than the mere illusions of a 
disordered brain, may be assumed to take their 
colouring from the mystic's previous beliefs and 
habits of thought. There may sometimes, I 
hold, be a real intuition of a spiritual truth, even 
though the setting be fantastic, ridiculous, or 
contrary to ascertained fact. Joan of Arc, for 
example, may have been the percipient of per- 
fectly authentic voices though they came to her 
through a St. Catherine whom she conceived of 
according to a legend which modern historical 
criticism has now exploded. The fact that St. 
Elias' connection with the Carmelites must be 
considered more than problematical would not 

" The Fourth Part of Men " 83 

necessarily discredit all the communications of a 
revelation attributed by a Carmelite nun to his 

But the second passage in this account of 
Sister Mary's revelations has a more direct bear- 
ing on our present subject. After previously 
speaking of a vision of a dark cloud by which 
in 1868 the mystic was forewarned of the Franco- 
Prussian War and the occupation of Rome, the 
writer continues : 

Later on she seemed to have had a still wider 
insight into the future. Again she saw the black 
cloud, very thick, but covering not only France, but 
the whole of Europe. Then there were fearful wars 
convulsing every part of Europe; and when they 
were over, only the fourth part of men remained ; 
the rest had all perished in the struggle. " At that 
time," she said, " the priests will be few in number, 
for they will have died for the Faith or in defence of 
their country. There will be sorrow and mourning 
everywhere till God's anger is appeased." 1 

Putting these two forecasts together we are left 
to infer that according to the prophetic intuitions 
of this strangely favoured mystic, the terrible 
time of war, thus foretold, was to coincide with 
the pontificate of the fourth pope of her vision, 
to wit Benedict XV; for clearly this season of 
calamity must precede the triumph and peace of 
the Church which is to begin before the end of 
his reign, and such an awful visitation as we 

1 A Sketch of the Life of Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified, by 
Lady Herbert (London, 1887), pp. 34 and 36. 

84 The End of War 

are now experiencing would very well explain 
the words, " Alas ! alas ! there is and shall be 
no cross like the one that he will carry. " 

No exact indication is given of the date of 
these revelations, but Sister Mary of Jesus Cruci- 
fied died in August, 1878, six months, that is 
to say, after the election of Leo XIII and five 
years before the dream of a great Christian 
monarchy was shattered for most French Legiti- 
mists by the death of the Comte de Chambord. 
I lay stress on this because if the quotations just 
given accurately represent the predictions made 
by Sister Mary, she was not echoing the ideas 
prevalent among the French religious with 
whom she lived. As we have already learned 
from several of the prophecies previously dis- 
cussed, the whole purport of such publications 
as the Voix Prophetiques and countless others 
was to encourage the belief that even before the 
death of Pius IX the Church should see the 
dawn of a happier age. Necessarily this view 
was modified after the accession of Leo XIII, 
but the idea of a comparatively early restoration 
still persisted. It is recorded of Palma, the 
stigmatisee of Oria, near Brindisi, that shortly 
before her death she expressed herself in terms 
which one of the ecclesiastical magnates of the 
neighbourhood thus reported to Dr. Imbert- 
Gourbeyre: 1 "She was at one with the other 

1 Imbert-Gourbeyre, La Stigmatization (Paris, 1894), vol. i, 
pp. 568-9. 

Defective Evidence 85 

mystics in declaring positively that Pope Leo 
XIII would not see the triumph of the Church, 
but, she added, his successor would witness it." 
Still more noteworthy is Sister Mary's prevision 
that " fearful wars should convulse every part of 
Europe " until " only the fourth part of men 
(? of the male population) remained," and it is 
certainly curious that she should have foreseen 
a great dearth of priests, owing in part to the 
fact that many had died "in defence of their 
country." There was, so far as I know, no 
reason in 1878 to suppose that a time would 
ever come when the clergy would have to take 
part in battle as combatants. 

Nevertheless, the attempt I have been making 
to find something which can be put forward as 
a genuine prophecy of these latter times, at once 
encounters a serious set-back from the fact that 
in the much fuller and more official Life of Sister 
Mary of Jesus Crucified, published in 1913, 1 the 
prediction of universal war and the destruction 
of three parts of men, apparently finds no place. 
Moreover, the vision of the Popes is quite 
differently narrated, though in the larger Life, 
as in Lady Herbert's sketch, the revelation is 
communicated to Sister Mary through the pro- 
phet St. Elias, and the date of the vision August, 
1867, is apparently the same. In the longer Life 

1 Vie de Soeur Marie de ]esus Crucifie, par le R. P. Estrate 
(Paris, Victor Lecoffre, 1913), pp. xviii~4o8 ; see especially p. 


86 The End of War 

nothing is said of "the fourth Pope," the 
present Holy Father. On the contrary, the 
phrase " there is and shall be no cross like the 
one he shall carry " (in the French il n'y aura 
pas de croix comme celle qu'il aura) is applied 
to the successor of Pius IX, i.e., Pope Leo 
XIII. 1 

Despite these difficulties, the gravity of which 
I should be sorry to underrate, I am not altogether 
convinced that the version followed by Lady 
Herbert is without authority. To begin with, 
Lady Herbert must have had some text before 
her, and she can have had no possible object in 
altering it to suit a much more distant future. 
Secondly, she was in relation with contem- 
poraries of the ecstatica probably now dead, and 
we know for certain that an English priest as 
well as an English nun who had at one time 
been novice mistress to Sister Mary were among 
these special sources of information. Thirdly, 
I think it quite as likely that Pere Estrate, the 
author of the French Life, or those who edited 
it after his death in 1910, would have felt them- 
selves justified in expurgating or adapting the 
texts before them (especially in cases where 
there might be some conflict of evidence), as that 
Lady Herbert herself would have done so. It 
might easily have happened, for example, that 
the idea of priests laying down their lives as 

1 Vie de Sceur Marie de J6sus Crucifte, par le R. P. Estrate 
(Paris), p. 324. 

A Prediction verified 87 

combatants in defence of their country might 
have been considered unseemly by Pere Estrate 
when he first compiled the biography in 1889. 

On the other hand one cannot help realizing 
that the forecast of the four Popes, as Lady 
Herbert prints it, may have been in part inspired 
by the prophecy of pseudo-Malachy. The de- 
scription of the third Pontiff (Pius IX) as the 
" Seraphic " might very naturally have been 
suggested by his motto Ignis ardens (burning 
fire), and the use of the phrase Religio depopu- 
lata (religion laid waste) for Benedict XV un- 
questionably calls up the idea of a period of 
suffering and humiliation for the Church and 
her ruler. Still there is no hint of the beginning 
of victory either in that motto or in its successor 
Fides intrepida. 

Without attempting to decide the point, it 
seems in any case certain that Sister Mary of 
Jesus Crucified was regarded by her fellow- 
religious as endowed with a remarkable gift of 
prophecy. The fact comes out clearly in a letter 
which Lady Herbert has preserved, written by 
the Carmelite Mother Prioress at Bayonne to 
the English priest above referred to. Towards 
the end of August, 1870, a colony of nine Car- 
melite nuns from Pau and Bayonne, the ecstatica 
Sister Mary of Jesus being one of the number, 
sailed from Marseilles to establish a house of the 
Order at Mangalore in India. The letter, which 
is dated September 2nd, 1870, refers to this 

88 The End of War 

rather unusual incident in Carmelite history in 
the following terms : 

You know, dear Father, that I have just sent off 
three of my dear children to the Indian missions 
with the Rev. Mother Mary Elias of Pau and five of 
her daughters, amongst whom is my saintly child 
Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified. . . . My heart and 
soul are with my dear children. Sister Elias, my 
Irish lily, is one of the three; the other two are 
Sister Mary of the Angels and Sister Mary of St. 
Joseph. I hope that you have told your good and 
reverend brother about Sister Mary of Jesus Cruci- 
fied. You may now do so freely. She is far away 
now and there is no danger of its doing her any 
harm. I have been to Pau with my children and 
have seen and heard many more interesting particu- 
lars about her. I will give you another linen steeped 
in the blood which flowed from her stigmata and 
which is to perform miracles. 1 She has foretold sad 
things for some of our Sisters who have sailed, but 
they are in the hands of God. 

This letter, written a few days after the party 
set sail, confirms the explicit statement of Pere 
Estrate that Sister Mary had foretold that of the 
nine sisters who went, three would never live to 
see the new foundation. In point of fact, Sisters 
Stephanie and Euphrasie died in the Red Sea 

1 The priest in question believed himself, when in the last 
stage of consumption, to have been miraculously and instan- 
taneously cured by one of these linen cloths. If the original 
letter was in French the phrase " which is to perform miracles " 
may represent " qui doit opeYer des miracles," which is not 
quite the same thing. 

The Language of Prophecy 89 

and Mother Elias died at Calicut before reaching 
her intended destination. If we may trust the 
accuracy of the same French Life several other 
predictions of the ecstatica concerning domestic 
events and the future of individuals were fulfilled 
in an even more remarkable way. 

Finally, we shall do well to remember that the 
language of prophecy is nearly always figurative 
and grandiose. If He who is the Truth and the 
Light could describe the repose of His sacred 
body in the tomb as lasting " three days and 
three nights " (Matt. xii. 40), we are certainly 
not constrained to attach an absolutely literal 
interpretation to such phrases as " the fourth 
part of men " or " the triumph of the Church." 
Admitting, as we may do, the bare possibility 
that the words attributed to the Carmelite 
ecstatica may have been inspired by some true 
intuition of the future, we cannot safely infer 
more than that the conclusion of this terrible war 
may witness a revival of religious faith and a 
period of comparative peace for the Church in 
her unending struggle against principalities and 



O~J August 3ist, 1914, and con- 
sequently quite at the beginning 
of the present war, the following 
letter appeared in The Times. If 
we may judge by the number of 
allusions to it which one has come across since, 
the forecast contained therein must have attracted 
a good deal of attention. 


SIR, In the summer of 1899 I chanced to be 
sitting with the present German Secretary for Foreign 
Affairs, Herr von Jagow (then a Secretary of the 
German Embassy in Rome), on the balcony of the 
Embassy, the Palazzo Caffarelli, on the Capitol. In 
the course of conversation Herr von Jagow expressed 
the belief that no general European war was likely 
to occur before the end of 1913. He gave as his 
reason the influence of a prophecy made to the 
Kaiser's grandfather, Prince William of Prussia, at 
Mainz, in 1849. Prince William of Prussia, who 
was proclaimed German Emperor at Versailles on 
January i8th, 1871, was in 1849 wandering incognito 
in the Rhine Provinces, attended only by an aide-de- 
camp. He had incurred great unpopularity by his 

Von Jagow's Gipsy Story gi 

attitude during the Berlin revolution of March, 1848, 
and had been obliged to spend some time in England, 
whence he returned, still a semi-fugitive, to the 
Rhineland. At Mainz a gipsy woman offered to tell 
him his fortune, and addressed him as " Imperial 
Majesty. ' ' Not a little amused for at that moment 
his chance of succeeding even to the throne of 
Prussia seemed slight the Prince asked, " ' Imperial 
Majesty,' and of what empire, pray? " "Of the 
new German Empire," was the reply. " And when 
is this Empire to be formed? " he inquired. The 
woman took a scrap of paper and wrote on it the 
year 1849. Then she placed the same figures in 
column beneath . . . . . . . 1849 


and adding them together obtained the total 1871 

" And how long am I to rule over this 
Empire? " asked Prince William again. 
The woman repeated the arithmetical 
operation, taking the number 1871 and 
adding the same figures in column . . 1871 



which gave the result 1888 

Astonished by her confidence, the Prince 
then asked, " And how long is this fine 
Empire to last?" Then the woman, taking 

92 Diviners and Soothsayers 

the figures 1888 and repeating the same 
operation 1888 


obtained the result 1913 

The story soon spread in Prussian Court circles. 
Prince William became German Emperor in 1871 
and died in 1888. The effect of the double fulfilment 
of the prophecy upon the present German Emperor's 
mind was great, and, as my experience shows, it 
entered into the calculation of Prussian diplomatists 
as long ago as 1899. May we not have here a 
psychological clue to the failure of the German 
Emperor to use his influence for peace during the 
diplomatic negotiations of last month? I am, Sir, 
yours, Vmi. 

Although the year 1913 is undoubtedly past 
beyond recall, the lovers of mystery are loth to 
allow so promising an example of what they 
call cabbalistic divination to fizzle out like an 
exploded squib. The year 1913, they contend, 
may still be regarded as fatal because it was 
the last year of the Kaiser's unchallenged 
supremacy. It does not seem to occur to them 
that by this lax interpretation they are multiply- 
ing the mathematical chance by three, for if the 
empire had been overthrown in 1912 the same 
interpreters would undoubtedly have urged that 
the prophecy was verified, on the ground that 

Variants of the Story 93 

the year 1913 stood first in the new order of 
things. In point of fact, even as an historical 
incident, the story abounds in suspicious 
features. To begin with, it is told in several 
different ways. For example, a French brochure, 
Predictions sur la Fin de I'Allemagne, which 
is followed by Mr. W. M. Fullerton in a book 
recently published, Problems of Power, 1 refers 
to it as the "prediction of Fiensberg " Fiens- 
berg being, it seems, a village near Baden where 
the incident occurred. According to this version 
a certain Countess R., who was supposed to be 
gifted with second sight, had been asked by 
William, then Prince of Prussia, what she could 
tell him about his future destiny. In answer the 
Countess simply took him through the little 
series of addition sums which has just been 
given. On the other hand, according to Mr. 
F. L. Rawson, 2 a Paris variant declares that the 
prophet lived in England and was a thought- 
reader by profession, but as the future Emperor 
visited England in 1848, and not in 1849, the 
amendment seems eminently improbable. An- 
other account 3 states that the Emperor William I 
consulted a clairvoyante when he was a young 
man as far back as 1829. She bade him add up 
the digits ( 1 829 +1+8 + 2 + 9=1 849) and told him 

1 Fullerton, Problems of Power (London, 1913), p. 282, note. 

2 F. L. Rawson, How the War will end (London, 1914), p. 
46. This writer also refers to a version in the Neue Meta- 
physische Rundschau, January, 1912. 

3 See Light, February 24th, 1912. 

94 Diviners and Soothsayers 

his life would be attempted in 1849, and the rest 
as before. In any case, we may assert with 
confidence that neither the gipsy woman, nor 
the Countess R., nor anyone else in 1849, in- 
vented this very innocent arithmetical device for 
guessing at the future. The method is abun- 
dantly illustrated in a book published in 1842, 
called Amusements Philologiques, by " G. P. 
Philomneste," of which there were also earlier 
editions. In this little work the following 
remarkable example is given, not as connected 
with any story of successful divination but 
simply as an arithmetical curiosity : 

Robespierre fell and the Reign of Terror 
ended in 1794, adding the sum of these digits to 
the date we get: 1794+1 + 7 + 9 + 4=1815, which 
is the year of the fall of Napoleon. Again 
pursuing the same process a stage further, we 
obtain 1815 + 1+8+1+5 = 1830, which saw the 
fall of Charles X and with him of the Bourbon 
dynasty. Thus : 

1794 1815 

i i 

7 8 

9 i 

4 5 

1815 1830 

(Battle of Waterloo) (Expulsion of the 


Napoleon Ill's Fatal Year 95 

Perhaps almost the only example which can 
be quoted of a prophecy which is extant, in black 
and white, at a date earlier than the time of its 
verification, is a numerical prognostic of the 
same kind which may be found in Notes and 
Queries for September i5th, 1866, p. 215 : 

Louis Napoleon, says the writer, was proclaimed 
Emperor (see Hartland's Tables) in January, 1853. 
Add to this year the digits either of this date, or of 
his birth (in 1808), or of the birth of the Empress 
Euge'nie (in 1826), and we get : 


Emperor 1853 1853 1853 



8 Bi ? h I 8 

8 Empress \ 6 

1870 1870 1870 

And, indeed, we might join to these converg- 
ing coincidences the results given by the date of 
Louis Napoleon's marriage with the Empress, 
which also took place in 1853. But this very 
prognostic, which looks so startling when we 
find it set out in print four years before the 
battle of Sedan, i.e., before the downfall of the 
second Empire, also illustrates in a remarkable 
way how purely fortuitous is the significance of 
the whole computation. In point of fact Napoleon 
was not proclaimed Emperor in January, 1853, 
but in December, 1852. It is true, as the writer 
in Notes and Queries states, that the date 

96 Diviners and Soothsayers 

assigned in Hartland's Chronological Dictionary 
is January, 1853, but this is simply a blunder. 
A hundred different authorities could be quoted 
to show that the second Empire began in the 
preceding year. Moreover, we have only to 
select our facts a little differently and it is easy 
to prove, this time without the aid of any 
erroneous chronology, that the annus fatalis for 
Louis Napoleon ought to have been 1869, not 
1870. The revolution, which ended in Napoleon 
being elected President of the Republic, was in 
1848. Add 1+8 + 4 + 8 to 1848 and we get 1869. 
Again, he became Emperor in 1852, he was born 
in 1808, Eugenie was born in 1826, and they 
were married in 1853. From all these we obtain 
the date 1869, as the following figures show : 

Emperor 1852 















1869 1869 1869 

This agreement is curious, but not so very 
remarkable. A really surprising coincidence, 
however, is revealed when we apply the same 
treatment to the case of Louis Philippe, the 
immediate predecessor of Napoleon as ruler of 
France. Louis Philippe became king in 1830; 
he was born in 1773, his queen was born in 1782, 
and he was married in 1809. Now this gives us : 

Cabbalistic Coincidences 97 

Date of 

Accession: 1830 1830 1830 

Date of 

* Date of 
' wife's 

I I 

7 Date of J 8 
8 marriage"] o 


2 1 9 

1848 1848 1848 

Strange to say, 1848 was, in fact, the date of 
Louis Philippe's downfall. But, in spite of a 
similar unanimity of the prognostics, it was in 
1870, and not in 1869, that the overthrow of 
Napoleon actually came to pass. 

The fact is, that when one takes the trouble to 
look into it, the mystery admits of a very simple 
explanation. The sum of the digits of any 
modern date must in any case lie between 9 and 
27, most commonly between 15 and 25. Now 
an interval of from 15 to 25 years is the sort of 
period in which momentous political changes 
come about, and if one selects one's starting- 
point judiciously it is not difficult to hit upon 
coincidences. Take, for example, the election 
of Pope Leo XIII in 1878. Add these digits 
together and you have 1878+1+8 + 7 f 8 =1902 
for the election of his successor, and the sum of 
the digits of this last date (1902+1+9 + 2 = 1914) 
would prepare us for the coming of another new 
Pope in 1914. As a matter of fact, Pope Leo 
XIII was inconsiderate enough to upset our 
calculation by dying in 1903 instead of in 1902, 
but the forecast might have been claimed by any 

98 Diviners and Soothsayers 

aspirant to seership as a very near thing, and he 
might plead in extenuation of this slight mis- 
carriage of his previsions, that in any case Pope 
Pius X must have been fated to die in 1914 
because the most conspicuous epoch in his career 
was 1893, in which year he was both created 
Cardinal and named Patriarch of Venice, and 
1893+1+8 + 9+3 = 1914, the year of his death. 
It was suggested above that to secure success- 
ful divination upon these lines it is essential to 
choose one's starting point judiciously. For 
example, any embryo Zadkiel who chanced to 
notice that the date of the accession of the un- 
fortunate Louis XVI, i.e., 1774, contained a 
premonition of the time of his execution upon 
the scaffold (1774+ i + 7 + 7 + 4=1793) would be 
careful not to proclaim this fact baldly in such 
a way that it seemed a mere isolated coincidence. 
He would probably invent a picturesque setting 
for his prognostic and develop it as far as 
possible ; something, for example, in this style. 

It was the year 1760, at the crisis of the 
struggle between the Encyclope'distes and the 
Jesuits. The Encyclopedistes stood for the new 
godless philosophy of Voltaire, and the Jesuits, 
so soon to be expelled from France, represented 
clericalism and the ancien regime. To an aged 
Jesuit, filled with sadness at the political out- 
look, there came the gouvernante of the little 
Prince Louis, son of the Dauphin and grandson 

King Louis XVI 99 

of the King. She asked the good priest why 
he seemed so sad, what misfortune threatened. 

"I have been studying," he replied, "the 
cabbalistic properties of numbers, and what I 
see fills me with alarm. Add up the digits of the 
present year, 1760. One and seven and six and 

"That makes 14, Father." 

" Well, in 14 years' time, that is in 1774, this 
little prince, still a mere boy, will be called upon 
to govern France. But further add up for me 
the digits of 1774." 

" The sum, Reverend Father, is 19." 

" And if you add 19 to 1774 what do you get 

" It gives us 1793." 

"Then I would have you know that in 1793 
this poor boy will perish by a most terrible 
death, and that with him will fall the whole 
political order which he represents." 

"Is that the end?" 

"No; sum up yet again the digits of 1793, 
and add this also to the year itself." 

"That, Father, will bring us to 1813." 

" Well, in 1813 a battle will be fought which 
will place France at the mercy of the other 
nations of Europe. The empire founded by a 
tyrant on the ruins of our kingship will then, in 
its turn, be overthrown." 

Of course it would have been more effective if 

ioo Diviners and Soothsayers 

we could have come out at the year 1815, the 
Battle of Waterloo ; but the Battle of Leipzig in 
1813 does very well, and it was really the end of 
the Napoleonic usurpation. This, in any case, 
is a more impressive presentment of the facts 
than the statement of a single coincidence, and 
it is all due to the prudent selection of 1760 as 
a starting-point. You take 1760 because the 
digits happen to bring you to the 1774, which 
you want, and no other year would serve. The 
same principle, if I mistake not, has guided the 
choice of the year 1849 for the starting-point of 
the Kaiser Wilhelm prognostic. Nothing 
momentous happened to the Prince of Prussia 
in 1849. He did not come to the throne in that 
year, or attain any new dignity, but the sum of 
the digits of 1849, when added to the date itself, 
happens to yield 1871; 1871, similarly treated, 
conducts you to 1888, which is really the only 
coincidence in the series; 1888, with its digits 
added, comes very near to landing us in the 
great European cataclysm now going on around 
us, but, as usual, spoils the sequence by being 
just a year or two out, in this case a year or two 
too early. 

It may be worth while to add that some arith- 
metical prognostic of the kind here discussed 
seems to have been current in Germany as early 
as 1882, that is to say, six years before the death 
of Kaiser Wilhelm I. But Miss Max Wall's 
letter on the subject to Light (August 22nd, 

An Arithmetical Prognostic 101 

1914) does not leave a very clear impression of 
the nature of the prophecy which was then in 
circulation. In any case no one has so far 
produced any reliable evidence to show that the 
prediction had been heard of before the period of 
the Franco-Prussian War. 

It is plain then that no reliance can be placed 
on this method of arithmetical divination. The 
instances in which it seems occasionally to be 
verified are mere coincidences. Neither can such 
coincidences be regarded as at all extraordinary, 
seeing that the mathematical chance against their 
occurrence cannot ordinarily be rated higher 
than at about 20 to i. Moreover, it will hardly 
be disputed that the whole process is puerile and 
arbitrary in the highest degree. Perhaps this 
last aspect of the matter may best be emphasized 
by a sort of reductio ad absurdum. Here is an 
arithmetical computation made in one of those 
prophecy books previously spoken of, in which 
pious Legitimists, after the close of the Franco- 
Prussian war, sought confirmation for the belief 
they professed in the speedy triumph of Henri 
Vand Pius IX. Could anything be more pathetic 
than the state of mind which finds comfort in 
such reasoning as the following ? : 

The Venerable Anna Maria Taigi predicted that 
Pius IX would reign twenty-seven years and about 
six months, and that he would consequenetly die in 
the 28th year of his pontificate. 

A very curious cabbalistic calculation leads us to 

1 02 Diviners and Soothsayers 

the same result. Take first the signature of the 
Holy Father Pius Papa nonus (Pius IX Pope), and 
secondly his motto in the prophecy of St. Malachy 
Crux de Cruce. Make a Latin alphabet (since the 
words which we are now concerned with are Latin 
words) and number it. There are 23 letters, as you 
know, since i and ; only count as one letter, and 
similarly u and v, and there is no w. Then a counts 
i, b 2, c 3, and so on until we get to 2 = 23. Then 
make your first trial ; take the signature. Pius gives 
you 62 ; Papa 32 ; nonus 78. Add these cabbalistic- 
ally and you have 6 + 2 + 3 + 2+7 + 8 = 28. Treat the 
motto in the same way. Crux gives 61 ; de 9 ; cruce 
48. Once more add these together cabbalistically and 
you have 6+1+9 + 4+8 = 28. A Jewish cabbalist 
would at once draw the inference that Pius Papa 
nonus is identical with the personage designated by 
Crux de Cruce, since they both yield the same 
number. 1 

The worthy Abbe" Chabauty, who is the author 
of this marvellous rigmarole, proceeds to push 
his conclusions even further; but we will be 
content to note that after these developments he 

1 Lettres sur les prophties modernes et Concordance de 
toutes les Predictions (Paris, 1872), p. 155. 

This device of attaching a numerical value to the letters of 
our alphabet is not entirely unknown in England. Let me quote 
the following illustration from The Principles of Science of 
W. S. Jevons, 3rd ed., p. 263. He gives it as an example of a 
curious coincidence : 

" The French Chamber of Deputies in 1830 consisted of 402 
members, of whom 221 formed the party called ' La queue de 
Robespierre,' while the remainder, 181 in number, were named 
' Les honnetes gens.' If we give to each letter a numerical 
value corresponding to its place in the alphabet it will be found 
that the sum of the values of the letters in each name exactly 
indicates the number of the party." 

Anna Maria Taigi again 103 

comes back with much satisfaction to the main 
point, viz., that the pontificate of twenty-eight 
years thus assigned to Pius X is not only in 
exact accord with the prophecy of Anna Maria 
Taigi, but also with the " three years and a 
little longer " assigned by Marie Lataste for the 
desolation of Rome. In August, 1870, Rome 
was left defenceless when Napoleon withdrew 
the French troops from the city. The three years 
would be up in August, 1873, the Pope, accord- 
ing to Anna Maria Taigi's prophecy of a ponti- 
ficate of 27^ years, would die about the middle 
of December, 1873, and consequently between 
September, 1873, and the December of the same 
year, Catholics would see the patrimony of the 
Holy See restored. The complete triumph of 
the Church, however, would only come when, 
after the death of Pius IX, the victorious monarch 
of France, Henri V, should instal the Pope's 
successor upon the chair of St. Peter with every 
circumstance of pomp and splendour. 

So M. Abbe* Chabauty dreamed in 1871. I do 
not know how many editions his book went 
through. The copy I have before me is of the 
second edition, issued by a first rate firm of 
religious publishers in Paris in 1872.* Such 
speculations do not call for much discussion 
when we look back upon them forty years after- 

1 The book indeed bears the imprint both of Henri Oudin of 
Poitiers and Victor Palm6 of Paris. The latter firm issued the 
reprint of the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum in 60 vols. folio, as 
well as numberless other important works. 

104 Diviners and Soothsayers 
wards. It is sufficient to remind the reader that 
Pope Pius IX died not in 1873 but in 1878, still 
virtually a prisoner, that to this day the temporal 
authority of the Holy See does not extend 
beyond the precincts of the Vatican, and that the 
Comte de Chambord (Henri V) ended in 1883 
a life which had almost entirely been spent in 
exile from his native land. 

Quite apart from any pretence of the quasi- 
scientific manipulation of numbers there exists 
at all times a literature of divination, the extent 
of which is realized by few who have not per- 
sonally made acquaintance with it. For the one 
or two publications like Old Moore's Almanack 
and Zadkiel's Almanack, of which the names are 
familiar to the general reader, there are scores of 
others in every European language which equally 
profess to unveil the future and which are in- 
variably more or less identified with the jargon 
of astrology and horoscopy. Beyond a few 
passing words I have no intention of attempting 
to deal with the subject here, but it seems worth 
while to point out, however briefly, that the true 
cause of the favour shown to these bogus pro- 
phecies lies in the disposition of the uncritical 
mind to count only the successes and persistently 
to ignore the failures. As Bacon says in his 
essay on the subject, " Men marke when they 
hit, and never marke when they misse." The 
tendency is by no means confined to persons of 
a conspicuously religious temperament. Quite 

Zadkiel 105 

recently the strong impression made upon an 
acquaintance of a very opposite habit of mind 
the incarnation, I should have judged of robust 
scepticism by the vaticinations of the celebrated 
Mr. Zadkiel concerning the present war, induced 
me to make an investigation both of this and of 
some copies of the Almanack published under 
the name of " Old Moore." The inquiry, I 
confess, when not confined to one issue but 
extending over several years, proved distinctly 
interesting as a revelation of the methods 
followed by the compilers of this class of pub- 
lications. But let me quote first the prognostics 
which had excited the alarm of my usually 
incredulous friend. In connection with the total 
eclipse of the sun which took place on August 
2 ist, 1914, Zadkiel nine months before had 
remarked : 

Junctinus averred that a great eclipse of the sun 
in Leo " presignifies the motion of armies, death of 
a king, danger of war, and scarcity of rain." In 
countries and cities ruled by the sign Leo such events 
would be most likely to take place in France, Italy, 
Sicily, Roumania, Rome, etc. As the eclipse falls 
in opposition to the place of the moon at the birth of 
the King of Italy, his Majesty should as far as 
possible avoid war and safeguard his health this year 
and for the next two years. 

It is singular that this great eclipse falls in the 
exact place of Mars in the summer solstice. The 
rulers of Prussia and Austria should accept the 
warning also. 

io6 Diviners and Soothsayers 

Taken thus far, the seer's forecast might easily 
impress the casual reader as evincing a somewhat 
uncanny insight into future events. But it goes 
on : 

At St. Petersburg Mars is only two degrees past 
the mid-heaven, and Venus is in the tenth house, so 
that the influences are well balanced as to peace and 
strife, and accordingly there is ground for hope that 
Europe will be spared a great war and that the great 
nations, if not all, will be enabled to pursue their 
peaceful occupations. 

Here we have, of course, an obvious inclina- 
tion to hedge, but even with this qualification it 
is quite intelligible that anyone who did not 
know Mr. Zadkiel and his ways should credit 
him with a rather remarkable hit. It is only 
when we come to look at the previous issues, 
and note that the complications of the Eastern 
question and the growing armaments of Ger- 
many have induced our astrologers to persist 
year after year in prophesying war that we 
appreciate how little it all amounts to. Thus 
for the politically peaceful autumn of 1911 
Zadkiel issued the warning : 

Mars flames fiercely close to the mid-heaven. 
This should be a serious warning to our Government 
to strengthen army and navy and to keep a sharp 
eye on the North Sea and the East of Europe and 
Egypt. The ancient aphorism relating to such a 
configuration indicates " quarrels, discords, and 
bloodshed." Should peace in Europe and Asia be 
happily secured, then there is a risk that political 

War in 1 9 1 2 ! 1 07 

strife will culminate in discords, strikes, and serious 
riots in England, Wales, and Ireland. 

This was no doubt the autumn of the railway 
strike, but disturbances thus vaguely indicated 
and safeguarded are a very safe card to play. 
For the spring of 1912 (which, except for the 
Italo-Turkish War, begun in the previous Sep- 
tember, passed away peacefully and unevent- 
fully), we have the following startling announce- 
ment in capitals : 

As the central line of the solar eclipse passes, etc. 
. . . the danger of WAR IN EUROPE is imminent, 
and it is our duty to warn the rulers of European 
countries of this danger. ... It is imperative that 
England should strengthen army and navy and pre- 
pare to meet sudden attack by a formidable combina- 
tion on her great empire. 

In May, 1912, we have this caution from the 
same source : 

A most critical time is at hand in the United 
Kingdom, in Europe, and in the United States, and 
it will be a matter for great thankfulness if blood- 
shed and warfare can be avoided and if the breakers 
of solemn treaties and the instigators of piratical 
warfare can be compelled to keep the peace. . . . 
The loth and 2ist and the last few days seem to be 
the most critical for the civilized world, especially 
for Russia, Prussia, and France. 

This might have served very well for a forecast 
of August, 1914, but it had not a shadow of 
justification in May, 1912. It would be absurd 
to multiply further illustrations. Let me only 

io8 Diviners and Soothsayers 

notice that for the same year, 1914, side by side 
with the relatively well-founded caution against 
war, we have such wild shots as the following : 

August, 1914. Our relations with Russia appear 
to be strained. It is to be hoped that the threatened 
rupture may be averted. . . . Towards the close of 
the month there may again be trouble in Bengal. In 
and around Delhi the Viceroy should be well 

Or, again : 

September, 1914. About the 7th of the month 
there are indications of female influence being 
adverse to Parliamentary proceedings, and it is 
possible that the suffragists will become obstreperous. 

Similarly in 1913 Zadkiel announced : 
This seems to presignify that the Liberal Govern- 
ment will become very unpopular and meet with a 
speedy overthrow. 

There can be little doubt and a comparison 
of the issues for successive years strongly deepens 
the impression that the prophetic utterances of 
Zadkiel and Old Moore are carefully calculated, 
in accordance with what seems to be the balance 
of probabilities, to score as many hits as possible. 
An immense number of shots are made that 
many of them are mutually inconsistent matters 
little and it is hoped that a fair proportion of 
these will go near enough to the mark to be 
claimed as successes. This multiplication of 
predictions is in many of these books reduced to 
a system by making the prognostics three times 

Judicious Hedging 109 

over first in the calendar itself, then in a 
general summary of the prophetic outlook, and 
lastly by separately calculating the horoscope of 
all prominent political personages. In each of 
these divisions new forecasts are introduced and 
they are often quite divergent from each other in 
tone, sometimes absolutely irreconcilable. On 
the other hand, nearly all statements are quali- 
fied and safeguarded. We are not told positively 
that a war will take place, but that peace is 
seriously menaced ; we are not informed that the 
Emperor of Austria, for example, will die, but 
that he ought to take care of his health. If any 
calamity of the kind hinted at actually occurs the 
prophet claims a success and duly advertises it 
in next year's issue. If nothing happens the 
catastrophe is supposed to have been providen- 
tially averted and the prediction attracts no 
further attention at any rate, it is not counted 
as a failure. Even when successes are proclaimed 
with an immense flourish of trumpets those 
readers who will take the trouble to compare the 
events as they actually occur with the wording 
of the forecast will almost invariably find that 
the data calculated to mislead are far in excess 
of the details that are verified. For example, in 
the Antares Almanac for 1913 an announcement 
was made concerning the Kaiser, which has 
been much quoted as a most wonderful example 
of astrological divination. The whole passage 
runs as follows : 

1 1 o Diviners and Soothsayers 


The Kaiser's star courses in 1913 and 1914 are 
brooding. They are a menace both to his health and 
fortunes, but chiefly to his fortunes. Such aspects 
as these will, we fear, impel him to declare war 
either against England or France in 1913 or 1914, 
and these aspects threaten him with heavy money 
loss. Disaster, therefore, will attend his military 
operations. Verily, the stars will be fighting against 
the German Emperor as they fought against Sisera 
of old, but it is especially on the sea that disaster will 
overtake him. We have no hesitation in predicting 
the destruction of the whole of the German fleet if, 
as we expect, Germany engages herself in war with 
England; for our King's star courses are propitious 
and indicate success, whilst the Kaiser's indicate 
unmitigated disaster. We regard 1913 and 1914 as 
the most critical and perilous years of the Kaiser's 
life, both for his health and fortunes. They are 
years not only of aggressive fortune, but of the 
malice of fortune. 

Now to begin with, the prophet, we notice, 
gives himself a margin of two years. This seems 
to me a generous allowance, when, after all, in 
predicting war, he was only echoing the confident 
anticipations of two-thirds of our journalists. 
Then he certainly implies that by the end of 
1914 catastrophe will have overtaken the Kaiser, 
that his fleet will have been annihilated, or that, 
in any case, disaster at sea will be the outstand- 
ing feature of any hostilities which are set on 
foot. Nothing is said of the conquest of 

Dubious Successes 1 1 1 

Belgium, of the occupation of a considerable 
slice of French territory, of a campaign success- 
fully maintained against the numerical prepon- 
derance of Russia. It is true that the final issue 
has not yet been reached. Overthrow and 
financial ruin may still be the ultimate fate of 
the aggressor, but any rash believer who allowed 
himself to be guided in, let us say, his com- 
mercial speculations, by this exceptionally 
" successful " forecast of the Antares seer, would 
almost certainly have laid up for himself a time 
of bitter disappointment, if not of irretrievable 
disaster. And if this is the case with the suc- 
cesses, what is to be said of the failures ? 

I am not now expressing any opinion as to 
the abstract possibility of foretelling the future. 
One Hears wonderful stories of the predictions 
made by palmists and others. It would not be 
scientific to assert a priori that all these stories 
must be untrue. Even though we can give no 
rational explanation of the phenomena of second 
sight, it would be rash to declare it to be a myth. 
But so far as I have had any opportunity of 
testing such accounts, I have never yet met with 
a satisfactory example of an event of public 
interest which had been clearly foretold by any 
palmist or clairvoyante. There are always flaws, 
and generally serious flaws, in the evidence by 
which such stories of successful divination are 
substantiated. Whenever a great crisis say, 
for example, an Arctic expedition is expected, 

112 Diviners and Soothsayers 

there are a thousand reasons why any soothsayer 
who is conscious of possessing the power to 
foresee the result should exercise that gift. There 
are equally a thousand reasons which would 
prompt him or her to have the prediction put on 
record, in the clearest terms and with the 
strictest formalities, while yet that result is un- 
known. But though there are innumerable 
prophecies made and even printed, it is still 
possible for serious students of psychic pheno- 
mena to debate whether all history can show a 
single reliable instance of the prevision of an 
unguessable future event, especially, as said 
above, an event of public interest. 

The palmist " Madame de Thebes " has the 
reputation of having foretold the terrible con- 
flagration at the " Bazar de la Charite" " in which 
the Duchesse d'Alen9on and so many other 
great ladies lost their lives. Unfortunately no 
adequate evidence establishes the genuineness 
of the prediction. If the claim were indisputable, 
it would be greatly to the pecuniary interest of 
Mme. de Thebes to put the evidence for the 
prophecy permanently on record. Most of our 
palmists and diviners do not disdain to receive 
money for the exercise of their peculiar faculty. 1 

1 I am not in the least disputing the power possessed by many 
persons of unveiling the past secret history and present diffi- 
culties of those (often complete strangers) who come to consult 
them. Of that gift more than one explanation may be offered. 
But the question now before us concerns only the knowledge of 
the future. 

Madame de Thebes 1 1 3 

It is curious that they should be content to 
receive guineas and half-guineas for regulating 
the love affairs of quite obscure people, when an 
assured knowledge of the approach of war, the 
spread of revolution, and the death of monarchs 
and statesmen, would make such gifted persons 
the very kings of the Stock Exchange if they 
directed their energies to a more remunerative 
field of industry. What financier was it who 
said that he did not ask to know the future 
twelve months ahead, but that if any lady could 
always tell him what was going to happen the 
day after to-morrow he would be delighted to 
offer her a retaining fee of fifty thousand a year 
for her exclusive services? 

Consequently when the same Mme. de Th&bes 
chimes in with the Antares prophet and tells us 
with much eloquence and entrain all kinds of 
gruesome things about the Kaiser's horoscope, 
I confess she leaves me unmoved. Here is a 
specimen culled from the Almanack de Mme. de 
Thebes for 1913 : 

Germany menaces Europe in general and France 
in particular. When the war breaks out she will 
have willed it, but after it there will be no longer 
Hohenzollern or Prussian domination. I have said, 
and I repeat, that the days of the Emperor are 
numbered, and after him all will be changed in 
Germany I say his days of reign, I do not say his 
days of life. 

In the Almanac for 1914 she continues in the 

1 14 Diviners and Soothsayers 

same strain, but it would serve no good purpose 
to quote further. 

I do not deny that curious coincidences 
occasionally take place. Even when we have 
eliminated the mystifications caused by the sup- 
plementary matter imported at a much later date 
into the original Centuries of Nostradamus, it 
must seem a rather astonishing fact that two of 
the most tragic incidents of the history of 
England in the seventeenth century should have 
been announced in Paris nearly a hundred years 
before they happened. 1 Whatever the obscurities 
of the context, obscurities that are met with in 
every quatrain attributed to Nostradamus, the 
words Senat de Londres mettront & mort leur 
Roi can admit of but one interpretation. But it 
may be interesting to quote the whole quatrain, 
together with an early English translation : 

Gand et Bruceles marcheront contre Anvers, 
Senat de Londres mettront mort leur Roi ; 
Le sel et vin luy seront a 1'envers 
Pour eux avoir le regne en desarroy. 

(Cent. IX, 49.) 

Brussels and Ghent 'gainst Antwerp forces bring, 
And London's Senate put to death their King; 

1 Klinckowstroem in his essay Die dltesten Ausgaben der 
Prophtties des Nostradamus has carefully examined into the 
dates and contents of the early editions. It is sufficient for my 
present purpose to note that all the prophecies of special interest 
to English readers are to be found in print in editions earlier 
than 1605. Most of them are much older, for Michel Nostra- 
damus himself died in 1566. 

Nostradamus 1 1 5 

The Salt and Wine not able to prevent 
That warlike Kingdom's universal rent. 

Here, also, is the quatrain which is supposed to 
predict the Fire of London, with its date, 1666 : 

Le sang du juste & Londres fera faute 
Bruslez par foudres de vingt trois les six ; 
La dame antique cherra de place haute, 
De mesme secte plusieurs seront occis. 

-(Cent. II, 51.) 

The blood o' the just London rues full sore 
When to thrice twenty, you shall add six more, 
The ancient Dame shall fall from her high place, 
And the like mischief others shall deface. 

Whether Ghent and Brussels can in any sense 
be said to have marched to Antwerp towards the 
close of the Thirty Years' War, whether " salt 
and wine " can stand for France or have any 
intelligible meaning at all, whether de vingt 
trois les six can represent 1666, whether la dame 
antique is to be identified with St. Paul's Cathe- 
dral, and so forth, are questions which cannot be 
discussed here. In any case, it is probably 
sufficient to say that no clever charlatan who 
chooses to throw all order and consistency to the 
winds, and who sketches in cryptic language an 
infinity of possible future occurrences, can fail 
to score some hits in the course of more than 
three centuries. The brilliant epigram, whether 
it was Beza's or another's, which represents 
Nostradamus as the prince of humbugs, pro- 

1 1 6 Diviners and Soothsayers 

bably comes nearer to the truth than anything 
that was ever said of him by his admirers : 

Nostra damus cum falsa damus nam f allere nostrum 

Et cum falsa damus, nil nisi nostra damus. 1 

As for the other more famous predictions of 
public occurrences, they have for the most part 
been deliberate fabrications concocted after the 
event. Such, for example, is the well-known 
prophetic vision of the horrors of the French 
Revolution, attributed to Cazotte, the author of 
Le Diable amoureux. No one now seriously 
doubts that the whole was a hoax or jeu d' esprit 
of which La Harpe was the true author. On 
the other hand, Dollinger is satisfied of the truth 
of the statement that, thirteen years before the 
outbreak of the Revolution, a celebrated 
preacher, Beauregard, declared from the pulpit 
of Notre Dame : 

The temples of God will be plundered and destroyed, 
His festivals abolished, His name blasphemed, His 
service proscribed. Yea, what hear I? What see I? 
In place of hymns in praise of God, loud and pro- 
fane songs will be sung here, and the heathen 
goddess Venus herself will dare here to take the 
place of the living God, to set herself on the altar 
and to reeive the homage of her true worshippers. 3 

1 The epigram, which turns on a pun, for Nostradamus 
means in Latin " we give our own," is quite untranslatable. 
It means literally " we give our own when we give you lies, 
for lying is our trade ; and when we give you lies we give you 
nothing but our own." 

2 Dollinger, Prophecies and the Prophetic Spirit, p. 16. 

Mother Shipton 1 17 

But this Dollinger justly considers not to 
exceed the limits of natural prevision in a man 
thoroughly well acquainted with the moral 
corruption and blasphemous spirit of the times. 

Of faked modern predictions an example of a 
quite different purport may be quoted from a 
booklet which a few years ago professed to 
record the prophecies of " Mother Shipton." 
Mother Shipton herself, according to Sir Sidney 
Lee, 1 is probably a mythical personage, but she 
is supposed to have foretold all kinds of historical 
events, and amongst other things that Cardinal 
Wolsey, though Archbishop of York, should 
never visit his cathedral city. She was also said 
to have predicted the Civil Wars and the Fire of 
London. But a volume printed in 1872 went 
still further and attributed to her the following : 


Entitled by popular tradition " Mother Shipton's 
Prophecy " ; published in 1448, republished in 1641. 

Carriages without horses shall go, 
And accidents fill the world with woe. 
Around the world thoughts shall fly, 
In the twinkling of an eye. 
The world upside down shall be, 
And gold be found at the root of tree. 
Through hills man shall ride 
And no harm be at his side. 
Under water men shall walk, 
Shall ride, shall sleep, shall talk. 
1 Diet, of Nat. Biogr., s.v. 

1 1 8 Diviners and Soothsayers 

In the air men shall be seen, 

In white, in black, in green. 

Iron in the water shall float 

As easily as a wooden boat. 

Gold shall be found and shown 

In a land that's now not known. 

Fire and water shall wonders do 

England at last shall admit a foe. 

The world to an end shall come 

In eighteen hundred and eighty-one. 1 

As the language alone would suffice to show, the 
whole was a modern fake, and a Mr. Charles 
Hindley subsequently admitted that he had fabri- 
cated it. 

I will conclude with a reference to the one 
single instance I have ever come across in which 
an event which could be called an event of public 
interest seems to have been really foretold before 
it came to pass. It is quoted, with what appear 
to be exact references, in the Annales des Sciences 
Psychiques,* though the prophecy after all does 
not amount to very much. 

At the beginning of June, 1905, a certain 
Scandinavian merchant, a Mr. Thorlakur O. 
Johnson, had a vision of the death by an 
accident of the reigning King Frederick VIII 
of Denmark, and it was in some way conveyed 
to him that this would take place in 1912. He 
narrated the vision next day to a friend, a Mr. 

1 See Notes and Queries, December 7th, 1872, p. 450; also 
April 26th, 1873. 
* Annales des Sciences Psyckiques, August, 1912, pp. z$o-i. 

A Public Event foretold 1 1 9 

Thorkell Thorlaksson, and induced the latter to 
make a formal record of it in these terms : 
" King Frederick VIII will die in the course of 
1912 as the result of an accident. " Mr. Johnson 
seems also to have mentioned the vision to 
several other persons, amongst the rest to Mr. 
G. T. Zoega, a well-known scholar, author of 
an Icelandic dictionary published by the Claren- 
don Press. The fact is curious, and it seems 
well authenticated, but it may be doubted whether 
this fulfilment of what seems to have been no 
more than an exceptionally vivid dream can be 
considered to lie outside the range of mere 
accidental coincidence. Most assuredly we 
should have heard nothing of the matter if the 
prediction had not been fulfilled. 



IN the course of the preceding chapters 
reference has many times been made to 
certain mottoes attached to the Popes of 
these latter times. Almost every reader 
is aware that the phrase crux de cruce 
(cross from a cross) is identified with Pius 
IX, that lumen in ccelo (light in the heavens) 
belongs to Leo XIII, that Pius X and 
his present Holiness, Benedict XV, are re- 
spectively characterized as ignis ardens (burning 
fire) and religio depopulata (religion laid waste). 
Mottoes such as these and such as those also 
which await the two next Popes, to wit, fides 
intrepida (undaunted faith) and pastor angelicus 
(the angelic shepherd), can cause no misgiving 
in the mind of the simple-hearted believer. He 
likes to think them divinely bestowed, and he 
knows of no special reason why they should be 
pronounced inappropriate. Tradition seems to 
be in their favour, and they are so commonly 
taken for granted that the plain man is prompted 
to conclude that if there was any flaw, so to 
speak, in their original title to rank as prophetic 

Unknown to St. Bernard 121 

utterances, the flaw has been made good by 
subsequent ratification or by what canonists 
would call a sanatio in radice. This is no doubt 
a very natural attitude of mind and a belief in 
itself quite harmless. None the less, it is certainly 
illogical, and the perverse use which has been 
made of these mottoes to bolster up predictions 
of quite a different order renders it desirable that 
the fraudulent and ignoble origin of this pre- 
tended prophecy should be more generally 
understood than it is. 1 

The oracular utterances of which we speak 
form part of a long series of similar mottoes 
which is supposed to have been delivered in the 
spirit of prophecy by St. Malachy, an Irish 
Cistercian monk, who became Archbishop of 
Armagh. St. Malachy lived in the twelfth 
century, and was the friend of St. Bernard, who 
wrote a short life of him. The great founder of 
Clairvaux informs us very casually that " the 
gift of prophecy was not denied " to the saintly 
Archbishop, 3 but with the exception of this brief 

1 As an illustration of the vogue which still attaches to the 
Malachy prophecy attention may be called to the two books 
published on the subject by a French priest, the Abb6 Joseph 
Maitre. The first of these, La Prophetie des Papes attribute 
a S. Malachie, Paris, 1901, contains 880 pages. The second, 
Les Papes et la Papaute d'apres la Prophttie attribute d S. 
Malachie, Paris, 1902, contains 778 pages. Needless to add 
that the Abb6 Maitre is an ardent champion of the authenticity 
of the prophecy. 

3 " Si bene advertimus pauca ista quae dicta sunt, non pro- 
phetia defuit illi, non revelatio, non ultio impiorum, non gratia 
sanitatum, non mutatio mentium, non denique mortuorum 
suscitatio " (Vita Malachice, cap. 29). 

122 Prophecy of St. Malachy 

remark no word has ever been produced from 
any mediaeval author making reference to the 
prophecies with which his name is now con- 
nected. 1 It was not until four centuries and a 
half later that the world first heard of his col- 
lection of mottoes for future Popes. In 1595 
Dom Arnold Wion, a Benedictine monk, origin- 
ally of Douai, published in Venice a book called 
Lignum Vitce, Ornamentum et Decus Ecclesice, 
dealing mainly with the glories of the Bene- 
dictine Order. His work was comprehensive, 
and included the Cistercians as well as Bene- 
dictines proper. He had consequently occasion 
to mention St. Malachy, the Cistercian Arch- 
bishop of Armagh, and at the end of his short 
notice of the saint he remarks : 

Three epistles of St. Bernard addressed to St. 
Malachy are still extant (viz., 313, 316, and 317). 
Malachy himself is reported to have been the author 
of some little tractates, none of which I have seen 
up to the present time, except a certain prophecy 
of his concerning the Sovereign Pontiffs. This, as 
it is short and has never been printed, is inserted 
here, seeing that many people have asked for it. 

1 J. Schmidlin has pointed out that St. Bernard in his Life 
of St. Malachy refers to the Archbishop's gift of prophecy in 
one or two other passages, but on the other hand it is certain 
that St. Bernard himself did not believe in a long succession 
of future Popes, for he always preached and maintained that 
the end of the world was near. We can only conclude that he 
knew nothing of St. Malachy 's long list of in papal mottoes. 
See Schmidlin in Festgabe Heinrich Finke gewidmet (Miinster 
i. W., 1904), pp. 16-17. 

The early Mottoes 123 

Then follows the list of in mottoes, 1 beginning 
with Ex castro Tiberis, which is assigned to 
Pope Celestine II (1143-4). Wion prints each 
motto side by side with the name of the Pope 
to which it refers, and with a short elucidation to 
explain how the phrase applied. This interpre- 
tation was, he tells us, the work of Father 
Alphonsus Ciacconius, O.P. Of course, when 
Wion gets down to his own times he can no 
longer offer any explanations, and so after No. 74, 
De rore coeli (From the dew of Heaven), applied 
to Urban VII, 1590, all the remaining mottoes 
are simply set down in order without comment. 
For our present purpose it is the early mottoes 
occurring before that of Urban VII which 
specially claim our attention. Perhaps without 
printing the whole list, it may be well to give 
a short specimen. I have selected it almost at 
random, and, so far as I am aware, the mottoes 
chosen are neither more nor less extravagant 
than the rest. It seems unnecessary to quote the 
interpretations in the original Latin. 

Supposed prophecy of Name of Interpretation attr{- 
St. Malachy. corresponding buted to Ciacconius. 


(29) Ex rosa leonina Honorius IV He belonged to the 
(from a leonine (1285-1287). family of Savelli, 
rose). whose coat of arms 

was a rose held by 
two lions. 

1 Religio depopulata, which apparently falls to the lot of 
Benedict XV, is the one hundred and fourth in the series and 
seven still remain to be fulfilled. 

124 Prophecy of St. Malachy 

Supposed prophecy of 
St. Malachy. 

(30) Picus inter escas 
(a magpie amongst 

(31) Ex eremo celsus 
(exalted from the 

(32) Ex undararum 
benedict i one 
(from the benedic- 
tion of the waves). 

(33) Concionator Patar- 

(the preacher of 

(34) Defessisaquitanicis 
(from the Aquita- 
nian fesses). 

Name of 


Nicholas IV 

Celestine V 

Boniface VI 1 1 

Benedict XI 

Clement V 

(35) De sutore osseo John XXII 
(from the bony or 
osseous shoe- 

Interpretation attri- 
buted to Ciacconius. 

He came from the town 
of Ascoli or Escoli in 

He was formerly called 
Peter de Morrone, 1 
and was a hermit. 

H i s Christian name 
was Benedict, and he 
had waves for his 
coat of arms. 

He was called Brother 
Nicholas, 2 and be- 
longed to the Order 
of Preachers. 

He was a native of 
Aquitaine, and had 
fesses for his coat of 

A Frenchman, the son 
of a shoemaker, 
whose family name 
was Ossa. 3 

Foolish and trivial as the commentary may 
sound, there is no room for doubt that these 
interpretations and no others were intended by 
the author of the prophecy. The most ardent 
defenders of its authenticity have never suggested 

1 Ciacconius' interpretation, supposing it to be his, would 
hardly be intelligible to any one but an Italian. He apparently 
wishes to convey that celsus in the prophecy was suggested by 
the word gelso, which is a synonym in Italian for moro, or 
morone, a mulberry-tree. It must be remembered that in the 
Italian pronunciation, with a soft g and 'a soft ch for c, the 
words gelso and celso resemble each other more closely than 
they would do in English. 

3 The interpreter assumes that his readers will know that St. 
Nicholas was a native of Patara, and might readily be called 
patareus, the Patarean. 

3 This is untrue, see p. 147. 

Papal Arms 125 

anything substantially different, and once the 
fact is grasped that the mottoes are derived 
sometimes from the armorial bearings, some- 
times from the cardinalitial title, sometimes from 
the Christian or family name, and sometimes 
from the place of origin of the Pope, or from a 


" Vir anguineus." 


" Ex rosa leonina." 

combination of two or more of these elements, a 
sort of law will be found to run through the 
whole. Certainly, the identifications are in the 
aggregate so striking as far to transcend the 
possibilities of mere coincidence. It is conceiv- 
able that the motto anguinus (sic) vir (the ser- 
pentine man), assigned to Gregory X, might by 

126 Prophecy of St. Malachy 

mere accident have corresponded with the fact 
that the Pontiff in question bore a snake in his 
coat of arms, 1 or it might have happened by 
chance that Clement IV draco depressus (the 
dragon overthrown) displayed an eagle on his 
shield treading under foot a prostrate dragon ; 3 
but it is surely impossible that any lucky guess 
could show a score (or rather several score) of 
such hits, or could exactly fit the case of two 
Popes related to each other, as were the two 
Borgias, Callistus III and Alexander VI. I 
think I am right in saying that these two Popes 
are the only two in the list who blazoned a bull 
upon their escutcheon. In Malachy 's list a bull 
is also twice mentioned, viz., in the case of just 
these two Popes. In the shield of Callistus III 
there are no quarterings, but the quadruped is 
represented in Panvinio with its head down, and 
with tufts of grass at its feet. The motto assigned 
to Callistus by St. Malachy is bos pascens (the 
bull grazing). In the case of Alexander the bull 
only appears in Panvinio in the dexter half of 
the shield without any indication of grass. The 
motto of Alexander VI in the same prophecy is 
Bos Albanus in Portu (an Alban bull in a 
harbour), which is explained when we remember 

1 These are the arms assigned him by Panvinio, but it is 
practically certain that they are quite incorrect. Gregory did 
not belong to the Visconti of Milan. See Mgr. Barbier de 
Montault, CEuvres, vol. iii., p. 366, and Woodward, Ecclesias- 
tical Heraldry, p. 159. 

3 This again is wrong, as we shall see later, though given by 
Panvinio and those who copy him. 

Ready Acceptance 127 

that Cardinal Borgia had held successively the 
cardinalitial titles of Episcopus Albanus and 
Episcopus Portuensis. No reasonable man, 
therefore, would hesitate to admit the preter- 
natural character of such vaticinations, if only 
the fact were established that the prophecy had 
preceded the event. But there precisely comes 
the difficulty, for, as already stated, not one 
scrap of evidence has ever been adduced to show 
that St. Malachy's prophecy about the Popes 
had been quoted, or even heard of, before it was 
published by Wion in 1595. 

The list of Papal prophecies in the Lignum 
Vitce, though occupying only a few inconspic- 
uous pages in the middle of a big book, 1 very 
soon attracted attention. We find it frequently 
reprinted in variou^ historical works of consider- 
able bulk, as for instance in Messingham's 
Florilegium Insulce Sanctorum, and also issued 
separately as a tract of a few leaves with ex- 
planations in the vernacular. 8 In 1663 seemingly 
appeared the first refutation of these pretended 
prophecies by a Franciscan Friar named Car- 
rire,* and this exposure was supported and 

1 Lignum Vitas, pt. i, pp. 307-11. The five divisions of the 
work, with supplementary matter, fill more than 1800 pages in 

a An edition in Latin and Dutch, printed at The Hague in 
1645, is in the British Museum. 

* This book I have not seen. Weingarten, who in his article 
on the subject in Studien und Kritiken, 1857, p. 560, gives 1629 
as the date of the first edition of the Digesta Chronologice 
Pontificia, seems to have confused both title and date. See 
Maitre, La Prophdtie des Papes, p. 70. 

128 Prophecy of -St. Malachy 

enforced by the high authority of Father Pape- 
broech the Bollandist, and especially by Father 
Menestrier, another distinguished Jesuit, who 
devoted a special essay to the subject. 1 The 
arguments of these writers are in themselves 
conclusive. No person of sound judgment who 
will take the trouble to peruse the detailed 
analysis of the prophecies given by the last- 
named writer can hesitate for a moment in his 
verdict as to their spuriousness. He points out 
in the first place that there is absolutely no trace 
to be found of any such oracles before the 
appearance of Wion's book. Not only do we 
find no mention of them among the writings of 
St. Malachy's contemporaries, but no mediaeval 
manuscript is known to contain them, no author 
cites them, though many interested themselves 
in such subjects, and Wion, who published the 
document with its interpretation, says not a word 
as to whence or under what circumstances he had 
obtained it. 2 Secondly, Father Menestrier lays 
stress upon the appearance in such a list of eight 
Antipopes, usually without any sign to distin- 

1 Lest I should seem to imply that the Society of Jesus as a 
body was arrayed against the authenticity of these prophecies, 
I may mention that the Lux Evangelica of Father Henry 
Engelgrave, S.J., took the other side, and had probably more to 
do with obtaining popular credence for the mottoes than any 
other work of that age. Father Cornelius a Lapide, in his 
commentary on the Apocalypse, also seems to place full con- 
fidence in the prediction. 

3 If Ciacconius, or his nephew, were really responsible for 
the interpretations, it is most significant that not a word is said 
of the prophecy in the works of this historian of the Popes. 

The Mottoes Meaningless 129 

guish them from the genuine Popes. The true 
Pope, Urban VI, is, on the contrary, designated 
by the words de inferno prcegnante (out of the 
womb of hell), while the Antipope is described 
as crux apostolica (the cross of the Apostles). 
No doubt it might be said that the prophet looks 
only to the historic fact that rightly or wrongly 
such men did figure before the eyes of their 
contemporaries as Vicars of Christ; and if we 
were dealing with a case of clairvoyance, or 
second sight, the plea might be accepted. But 
then these are supposed to be facts communicated 
to the saint by divine revelation presumably for ^ 
some useful end. What possible end of edifica- ; 
tion or utility can be served by a series of 
quibbling enigmas in which such a Pontiff as 
Innocent XI, a man conspicuous for his personal 
sanctity, is described as bellua insatiabilis (in- 
satiable monster), in which another Pope is 
identified with the motto, to follow the received 
reading, of sus in cribro (a sow in a sieve), 1 and 
in which the learned and exemplary Benedict 
XIV figures as animal rurale (a country beast)? 
But the most conclusive argument against the 
genuineness of the prophecy, as was pointed out 
by its earliest critics, lies in the striking contrast 
between the success and uniformity of the earlier 

1 I am tempted to think that the proper reading may be avis, 
The arms of the Crivelli, as pictured by Panvinio, show a bird 
(an eagle?) above the sieve. I know of no evidence that the 
family, as the interpreters state, ever had a sow in their coat of 

130 Prophecy of St. Malachy 

interpretations and the failure and wide diversity 
of the later ones. The document was first given 
to the world in 1595, and down to this epoch the 
mottoes without an exception 1 fit their subjects 
accurately. That they are far-fetched, ridiculous, 
and purposeless is not disputed, but, as already 
remarked, they follow some sort of system. After 
that date their interpretation becomes practically 
hopeless, and there is hardly a proportion of one 
in six in which any semblance of probability 
attaches to the explanations suggested. If the 
motto can be got to fit the subject at all, it is 
only by adopting a system of interpretation 
which is entirely without a parallel in the earlier 
part of the list. 3 Down to the end of the sixteenth 
century there is not one single instance in which 
the events of any Pope's reign are alluded to in 
his motto. 9 This motto refers in every case 
exclusively to circumstances connected with the 
Cardinal previously to his election to the Papacy 
for instance, to his coat of arms, his family 
or birthplace, his episcopal sees, or title as 
Cardinal, his Christian name (never, be it noted, 

1 I believe that the slight difficulties which occur in the case 
of one or two, may be satisfactorily accounted for by the 
possible misprints or misreadings in the copy printed by Wion. 

8 Professor Harnack has been the first, I think, to lay stress 
upon this in the Zeitschrift fur Kirchengeschichte, vol. iii, 
p. 321. 

8 Perhaps the frumentum floccidum of Pope Marcellus II, 
which seems to refer to the shortness of his reign, might be 
considered an exception, but, as I shall show, it is in any case 
an exception which proves the rule. 

Before and after Publication 1 3 1 

the name assumed by him in becoming Pope), 1 
or even the manner of his early training and the 
Religious Order he belonged to. But of the 
events of the Papacy never a hint. Even such 
conspicuous figures as Innocent III, Boniface 
VIII, Nicholas V, Pius II, Leo X, are all desig- 
nated by some absurd verbal quibble connected 
with their family name, their coats of arms, or 
what not, but there is absolutely not an allusion 
to the part each played as Head of the Church 
in the secular or religious history of his time. a 
On the other hand, the few Pontiffs of the last 
three centuries who can in any intelligible 
manner be connected with the mottoes assigned 
them, owe the identification in almost every case 
to the events of their Pontificate. Peregrinus 
apostolicus is no doubt an admirably appropriate 
label for the chequered career of Pius VI, but it 
describes his life as a Pope and not as a 
Cardinal. Aquila rapax may be thought by 
some to signalize the Pontificate of Pius VII by 
a reference to the ravening eagle of the first 

1 It may be urged that in celsus ex eremo, which betokens St. 
Celestine V, celsus is meant as a contraction of Celestinus ; but, 
as shown in a previous note, a quite different explanation is 
forthcoming, and this last is obviously the explanation suggested 
by the interpreter. 

2 Innocent III is comes signatus, he was a count of the 
family of Segni ; Boniface VIII is ex undarum benedictions, 
from his Christian name Benedict, and the waves in his coat of 
arms ; Nicholas V, from his humble birth at Luna, is called de 
modicitate lunce ; Pius II, who had served the two Cardinals, 
Capranica and Albergato, is de capra et albergo ; Leo X, the son 
of Lawrence de Medici, and the pupil of Politian, is de craticula 
Politiana. from the gridiron of Politian. 

T 32 Prophecy of St. Malachy 

French Empire, but again it is the Pontificate 
which is in question, not the Pope's antecedents 
before his election. Crux de cruce would stand 
well enough for the cross laid upon the shoulders 
of Pius IX by the white cross of Savoy, but 
once more the cross is one which came to him 
only after, and long after, he had taken up the 
government of the Church. 

On the other hand, in the prophecies of the 
last three centuries an heraldic interpretation 
hardly ever presents itself. In the mottoes of 
the seventy-four Popes before 1590 there are 
twenty-eight plain references to different coats of 
arms, 1 and this in spite of the fact that the 
arms of many of the earlier Popes were not 
known. Since 1595 there have been only three 
mottoes which can with any sort of probability 
be explained by the Popes' armorial bearings. 
One of these instances is that of a pontiff of quite 
modern times. The lumen in coelo, a delightfully 
vague description, is usually interpreted of the 
comet which appears with the fleurs-de-lys and 
the cypress-tree in the shield of Leo XIII. Twice 
before in his earlier mottoes the prophet had 
referred to some heavenly body, and on each 
occasion called it sidus. Why on this occasion, 
if he really meant a star, he should have chosen 
so much more ambiguous a word, does not 

1 L'Abbe" Maitre, La Prophetic des Papes (Paris, 1901), pp. 
194-220, considers that there are thirty-one allusions to papal 
coats of arms during this same period. 

A Keeper of Mountains 1 3 3 

appear. Of the twenty-eight Popes who have 
reigned since 1590, no less than eleven have a 
single star or a group of stars displayed more or 
less conspicuously in their coats of arms. To 
each one of these the motto lumen in ccelo 
would have applied quite as well as to Leo XIII. 
Again, there is the motto which falls to the lot 
of Alexander VII ; custos montium. His arms 
are three hills with a star above them, and it 
may be admitted that the interpretation is to this 
extent satisfactory. But the coincidence is far 
from a marvellous one. A glance at the armorial 
bearings of the Roman Cardinals at any period 
will show quite a large proportion of shields in 
which a group of the conventional mountain 
peaks looking like thimbles are conspicuously 
displayed. Out of the last thirty Popes, moun- 
tains appear in the arms of five. The probability 
against such a phrase as montium custos fitting 
any individual Pope would therefore be about 
six to one. But it is really much less, for if the 
Pontiff in question had held such a cardinalitial 
title as St. Martini in Montibus, St. Stephani in 
Monte Ccelio, or St. Petri in Monte Aureo, the 
prophecy would assuredly be claimed as a 
striking instance of successful divination. What 
is more, the prediction would be considered veri- 
fied if such a Pope had been born, or had been 
bred, or had been Bishop in any one of the fifty 
Italian townships whose name begins with 
Monte, or had been Legate in Montenegro, or 

134 Prophecy of St. Malachy 
had lived in the Alps or the Apennines, or even 
had been known to take his daily constitutional 
on the Pincio. As for the one remaining motto 
which the champions of the prophecy profess to 
explain heraldically, I can only say that the 
attempt is itself a hopeless confession of weak- 
ness. On the ground that the coat of arms of 
Innocent XI exhibits a lion and sometimes an 
eagle, it is maintained that there is sufficient 
justification for the motto assigned to him of 
bellua insatiabilis insatiable beast ! l 

Surely it is unnecessary to argue the subject 
further. If the prophecy were an inspired pre- 
diction of St. Malachy in the twelfth century, it 
is inexplicable why the mottoes should be easily 
verifiable, systematic, and largely heraldic, down 
to the date when the prophecies were first 
printed, and then should suddenly change their 
character completely. On the supposition, how- 
ever, that it is a forgery of about the year 1590, 
this is exactly what we should expect to find. 

Of all the later mottoes, the nearest approach 
to a hit seems to be that which is assigned to 
Gregory XVI, de balneis Etrurice. There is a 
place known as Bagno (Balneum) in Tuscany 
(i.e., Etruria). It is true that Gregory was not 

1 According to Woodward, the correct blazon of the arms of 
Innocent XI (Odescalchi) is " vair, on a chief gules a lion 
passant argent, this chief abaisse" under another of the empire 
(eagle)." The markings of the fur vair have curiously been 
turned into lamps or cups in many of the copies. See Notes 
and Queries, 6th series, vol. vi, p. 82, and vol. vii, p. 198; 
yth series, vol. vi, p. 205. 

A Dog and a Snake i 35 

born there and had personally no connection 
with it ; but he had been a Camaldolese monk, 
and this particular village in the Apennines, 
called Bagno, was associated with the life of St. 
Romuald, the founder of the Order, and was 
only a few miles from the desert of Camaldoli. 
Still, even here no one could ever say that the 
name Bagno was so intimately associated with 
the Camaldolese Order that it could popularly 
be accepted as a synonym for the desert itself. 
Manresa might stand for the Jesuits perhaps, 
and Monte Cassino for the Benedictines, but we 
should not dream of identifying the hermit monks 
of St. Romuald with the town of Bagno di 
Romana. As for the majority of the interpre- 
tations attached to the later prophecies by such 
champions of their authenticity as Maitre, 
Gorgeu, or Cucherat, they are hopelessly far- 
fetched and extravagant. For example, the motto 
which falls to Leo XII is canis et coluber (a dog 
and a snake). There is nothing of the sort in 
his coat or arms, so Cucherat is satisfied to 
believe that Leo combined the vigilance of a 
dog with the prudence of a serpent, though he 
suggests as equally satisfactory the explanation 
that the revolutionary agitators of his reign 
barked against him like dogs and crawled like 
serpents. Interpretation is easy on such terms. 
So again, when Urban VIII (Barberini, with 
three bees for his coat of arms) is designated by 
lilium et rosa (the lily and the rose), we are told 

136 Prophecy of St. Malachy 

that " he was a native of Florence, a town which 
takes its name from flowers, and the bees which 
appear in his coat of arms are particularly fond 
of lilies and roses." The rest are little better. 

It must not be supposed that these considera- 
tions in any way exhaust the arguments which 
might be urged against the genuineness of the 
so-called prophecy. I reserve for later treatment 
one or two points which seem to me practically 
conclusive. But it will be best before going 
further to offer some explanation regarding the 
probable origin of the list of mottoes printed by 
Wion. And, be it remarked in passing, we 
cannot too often remind ourselves that Wion's 
^,1 text is the ultimate and only source of every 
modern copy. There is not even a single one of 
the mottoes which has been found existing 
separately and professing to derive from some 
other document prior to, or independent of, the 
Lignum Vitce. 

If the prophecy of St. Malachy has met with 
as much favour as it has done, despite all the 
refutations of which it has been the object, the 
fact, I think, is largely due to the feeling latent 
in many minds, that it would not have been 
possible or, at any rate, worth while to fabricate 
such a list. The tolerably minute acquaintance 
which it supposes with Papal history and 
heraldry are such that it is difficult to believe that 
a person so gifted we are speaking, it must be 
remembered, of the year 1590 would condescend 

Panvinio's Pope-Book 137 

to this kind of fraud. This objection would not 
be without its weight if it were not that we are 
able to point to one, or more accurately speaking, / 
to two definite works which offered ready to/ 
hand all the information the forger wanted. A 
careful examination and minute comparison of 
these books with the first seventy mottoes attri- 
buted to St. Malachy will render it clear beyond 
the possibility of doubt that the author of the 
prophecy worked with these books open before 
him. Without a single exception these volumes 
explain the origin of every detail, every triviality 
to be met with in the so-called prophecy down to 
the time of Paul IV (1555). The few intervening 
years before 1590 needed no research, they would 
have been fresh in the memory of every one. 
I speak of two works, but they were in reality but 
one, and they had but a single author. Onofrio 
Panvinio, a famous Roman antiquary, had col- 
lected, at the direct suggestion of the Sovereign 
Pontiff, a mass of historical material to elucidate 
the History of the Popes by Platina. He had 
compiled lists of the Cardinals created in each 
Pontificate, with drawings of their armorial 
bearings and brief summaries of the lives of 
those who were elected to occupy the chair of 
St. Peter. Somehow or other the manuscript of 
these supplementary collections passed out of 
Panvinio's keeping and apparently fell into the 
hands of a printer of Venice, who forthwith had 
all the arms engraved, and published the book in 

138 Prophecy of St. Malachy 

! 557 as a handsome folio volume embellished 
with an immense number of blocks representing 
the shields of Popes and Cardinals. The author 
got wind of this when it was too late, and 
bitterly complaining that the work had gone to 
press from a rough unfinished copy abounding 
in errors, he himself superintended an issue of 
the text of the same work, for the most part re- 
written and considerably modified, which like- 
wise saw the light at Venice in the same year, 
X 557* O n account of the extreme haste with 
which the author's own edition had to be pro- 
duced that it might not lag behind its rival, it 
was found impossible to prepare blocks with the 
armorial bearings. This edition therefore 
appeared in quarto form and without illustra- 
tions, but the text claimed to be in many ways 
more accurate than that of the folio copy, which 
was externally more sumptuous. Here then in 
these two works we find all the material used in 
fabricating the prophecies of St. Malachy. I 
reproduce here a specimen taken from the folio 
copy to illustrate the nature of the information 
which the forger had ready to hand as he com- 
piled his motto for each Pontiff. Of the three 
shields which stand at the head the centre one is 
that of the Pope (Boniface VIII); the other two 
are those of the two earliest Cardinals of his 
creation. Panvinio knew nothing of the armorial 
bearings of the second, and according to his 
custom drew the shield but left it blank. 

Boniface VIII 139 

Below we have a concise biography of the 
Pope before his election to the Papacy. Through- 
out the volume no attempt is made to narrate 

BONIFACIVS PP. vnl. NV. ccxvnl. AH. CHR. ooccx'rxin. 





nationc Iralus,patna Romanuscx nobih &antiquafamilia Caictacu Ana 

guja ormndus, Pontificrj ciiulisque iitris peritifsimus, alti cordis, & reruni 

hmn.inan.imcxpcricntifsimus . Hie a PP. Martino ml. Diaconus Card. 

inDiaconia S.Nicolai in carccreTullianocreatusert.moxa PP. Nicblao 

niI.presb.Card.cft,ordinatusinit SS.SiIueftri & Martini intnonti bus. 

Demum PP.Coclertino v. Ncapoli fponteabdicante,quum(ctanwmoliimpares humcros 

habcrccognouilfct, adnitcntc } &iuuante Regc Carolo in cius locum omnium Cardinalift 

fuffragiis in ui ?iUa Natalis Domini.hoc eft i x . C alcnd. lanuarrj Pontifctf Ma^imus rcriun- 

ciatus cft.praeacccflorc fuo tnuente . Scdit autcm in facraiilsima fcdc beati Pclri Apolloli, 

annos odo,mcnfcs nouera,& dies dcccm & nouem. 

the history of the Pontificate itself. The reason 
is very simple. The work had only been pre- 
pared, as Panvinio tells us in his preface to the 
quarto edition, to supplement the history of the 

140 Prophecy of St. Malachy 

Popes by Platina. The detailed account of each 
Pontificate was to be found there, and it was 
useless to repeat it. The fabricator of the pro- 
phecies was content to use this Epitome of 
Panvinio in its double form to the exclusion of 
everything else. It placed before him the arms 
of the Pope, where they were, known, and a few 
facts about his parentage, birthplace, cardina- 
litial titles, etc. One or two scraps extracted 
from this summary were woven together in a 
kind of oracular jargon, and behold the pro- 
phecy complete. In the case of Boniface VIII, 
the notice of whom is here reproduced, the 
forger has picked out the fact that his Christian 
name was Benedict, and that a wavy bend was 
the sole charge upon his shield, and from this 
he has evolved the motto already mentioned, Ex 
undarum benedictione, from the benediction of 
the waves. The reader will now readily see why 
it is that the prophecies down to the close of the 
sixteenth century contain no allusion to the 
events of any Pope's reign. They were not 
introduced into the mottoes, for the simple 
reason that they were entirely passed over in the 
book from which the fabricator of the mottoes 
was working. I have spoken of a possible ex- 
ception which proves the rule. It is in the case 
of Pope Marcellus II, whose premature death 
after a few weeks' pontificate is said by Wion's 
interpreter (Ciacconius ?) to be alluded to in the 
motto Frumentum floccidum, drooping corn. 

Marcellus II 141 

" His arms/' says the interpreter, " consisted of 
a stag and corn ; it was drooping corn because 
he lived only a short time in the Papacy." Now 
as it so happens, Panvinio in his notice of 
Marcellus II, who was his intimate personal 
friend, departs rather from his usual practice, 
and concludes his, account by a sort of little 
panegyric deploring the Pope's untimely death. 
" Whilst he strove (says Panvinio) to reform the 
Church of God, he sank to earth like the flower 
of the morning " (tanquam flos matutinus 
recidit). Is it unreasonable to suppose that this 
phrase taken with the wheat ears of the coat of 
arms suggested the frumentum floccidum of the 
prophecy ? l 

But here a champion of the Malachy prophecy 
will possibly raise an objection. Granted, he 
may say, that Panvinio supplies the materials 
from which a forger might have fabricated the 
first seventy mottoes, this is after all no proof 
that the mottoes had actually no other origin. 
Why could not St. Malachy have known before- 
hand by revelation the facts which Panvinio in 
his day acquired through a process of historical 
research ? 

1 Although the arms as engraved in the folio Panvinio 
undoubtedly show ears of corn, it seems probable that the true 
blazon should be bulrushes. The family name Cervini comes 
from cervo (a stag), in Latin cervus. Now in Ps. xli. i we 
have Quemadmodum desiderat cervus ad fontes aquarum (As 
the hart panteth after the fountains of water). This suggests 
bulrushes, not ears of corn. See Woodward, Ecclesiastical 
Heraldry, p. 163. 

142 Prophecy of St. Malachy 

To this objection it would be possible to return 
a very long reply, but I cannot persuade myself 
that an exhaustive demonstration is needed. In 
sum the answer amounts to this, that it is in- 
conceivable that God could have revealed the 
future to one of His mediaeval saints in the exact 
form in which the facts would afterwards be 
known to a renaissance scholar, with all that 
scholar's blunders, misapprehensions, and idio- 
syncrasies. Let us treat the matter as concisely 
as possible under these five heads. 

1. Panvinio's book is a very peculiar one. As 
it was written to supplement Platina's Lives of 
the Popes, it concerns itself only with the ante- 
cedents of the prelates elected to the papacy, 
and gives no account of the history of each 
pontificate. Now, as we have seen, the same char- 
acteristic marks the mottoes assigned to the first 
seventy Popes in the Malachy list. They all 
find their explanation, as their interpreters 
admit, not in the events of each pontificate, but 
in those antecedent details furnished by Pan- 
vinio, e.g., the Pope's family name, or coat of 
arms, or cardinalitial title, or birthplace, or 
origin. Is it not a little extraordinary that if 
St. Malachy, in the twelfth century, beheld a 
vision of the Popes to come, he should see and 
describe, not what each one did as Christ's 
Vicar, but only the title he held as cardinal, or 
his arms or birthplace or family connections? 

2. It has always been objected against the 

The Antipopcs 143 

prophecy that true Popes and Antipopes are 
placed upon the same footing. The mottoes do 
not, ordinarily speaking, serve to distinguish the 
one from the other. Strange to say, the same 
feature is found in Panvinio. But there are two 
remarkable exceptions. The Popes whom Pan- 
vinio designates Nicholas V (1327), and Clement 
VIII (1424), appear in his quarto edition, with 
the heading ANTIPAPA in large capitals, and 
in just these two cases, and these two cases only, 
we have the idea of a schism introduced into the 
mottoes. Nicholas V is called Corvus schis- 
maticus, Clement VIII Schisma Barchinonium. 
Moreover, the order of these Popes and Anti- 
popes, which is most peculiar, and which is cen- 
sured by Menestrier and others for its historical 
inaccuracy, is exactly the order of the revised 
quarto edition of Panvinio. Probably no other 
book has ever been printed, save those directly 
founded on Panvinio, which gives the Antipopes 
in precisely that relative position. 

3. The irrelevancies and extravagances which 
we note in the oracular jargon of these mottoes 
is over and over again explained by the casual 
occurrence of some word in Panvinio's brief 
description. For example, Nicholas III is 
styled " Rosa composita." The rose is in his 
coat of arms, but where does the composita come 
from or what does it mean ? Panvinio tells us 
that a morum gravitate compositus est appellatus 
(folio ed., p. 177), from the seriousness of his 

144 Prophecy of St. Malachy 
character he was called " the composed.** So 
again, Nicholas V (1447, not the Antipope), 
who was born in Luna, is styled De modicitate 
lunce, whatever that may be supposed to signify. 
The expression is only explained when we find 
that Panvinio describes him in the folio edition 
(p. 311) as ortus modicis parentibus, born of 
middle-class parents. 

4. It seems an unlikely thing that if God had 
really made known to St. Malachy, an Irishman 
who lived much in France, certain distinctive 
characteristics which would serve to identify the 
future heads of His Church, He should have 
indicated them by phrases only comprehensible 
to those who have a knowledge of Italian. 
Alexander Ill's motto is ex ansere custode 
(from a guardian goose), but we can only inter- 
pret this when we learn from Panvinio, of 
course, but the fact is very doubtful that his 
family name was Paparo. If one happens to 
know that papero in Italian means a gosling, 
the connection is plain, but not otherwise. 
Similarly the mottoes take for granted the 
reader's knowledge that Caraffa is derived from 
cara fe or fede (Paul IV), that gelso and moro 
both mean mulberry-tree (Celestine V), that 
albergo means inn (Pius II), that Caccianimici 
means putting your enemies to flight (Eugenius 
IV), that Piccolomini means small man (Pius 
III), and so forth. 

The difficulty is a serious one, for to take some- 

Precocious Heraldry 145 

what broader ground, if there is anything which 
may be regarded as a general principle in all such 
revelations, it is that the subjective element is 
never eliminated. In Holy Scripture itself the 
prophets show that their thought is coloured by 
the conditions of their daily life, and they express 
themselves according to the fashion and know- 
ledge of their contemporaries. Now the pseudo- 
Malachy writes not as a mediaeval monk, but as 
a post-renaissance Italian. Whatever may be 
said of the antiquity of the science of heraldry, 
it is unquestionable that its developments in the 
early twelfth century were of the rudest and 
most primitive kind. 1 The Roman of 450 years 
later, on the contrary, was forced to be some- 
thing of a herald, for over almost every building 
upon which his eye rested he might distinguish 
the coat of arms of the Pontiff or the Prince 
who had erected it. It was natural enough for 
an idler, who found himself confronted at every 
turn with lilies, and mountains, and oak-trees, 
such as appear in the shields of the Pontiff, to 
amuse his fancy with mottoes like Montium 

1 The late Marquis of Bute writes : " The earliest unquestion- 
able example of heraldry in the world is stated by Planch^ to be 
the case of Philip I, Count of Flanders, on a seal of 1164 ; and 
it is therefore ra'ther staggering to find apparent allusions of the 
kind applying not only to the Pope who was reigning at that 
time, but to one who died in 1144. Moreover, it is certainly 
more probable than not that St. Malachy, who died in 1148, had 
never heard of any such thing as heraldry in his life." Dublin 
Review, October, 7885, p. 380. 

146 Prophecy of St. Malachy 

Gustos, Fructus Jovis juvabit, 1 AZsculapii phar- 
macum, Lilium et Rosa, Hyacinthus Medi- 
corum, 2 etc. No wonder that, as Menochius 
tells us in his Stuore, there was a superstition 
among the ignorant populace that the arms of 
every Pope until the end of the world were to be 
found carved somewhere upon the bronze doors 
of St. Peter's, and could be detected by any 
one, if only he had the patience to puzzle them 
out. But how should such thoughts come to a 
far-off Irish monk* in the destitution of the first 
beginnings of Clairvaux? To the late Lord 
Bute the mottoes seemed self-condemned by the 
paganism of their language. "They look," he 
said, " like indications of a mind so blinded by 
the heathenism of the later Renaissance as not to 
perceive their extraordinary incongruity with 

1 " The 'acorn will aid." Jove's fruit was the acorn, the 
fruit of his sacred tree. This was the motto of Julius II (della 
Rovere). The family name meant oak-tree, and he bore an 
oak-tree with golden acorns for his arms. 

2 Paul III. The hyacinthus stood for the Farnese lilies in 
his coat of arms as above. Medicorum came from his " title " 
of SS. Cosmas and Damian. Lord Bute, in his valuable essay 
on the Prophecy of St. Malachy (Dublin Re-view, October, 
1885), sees here an allusion to the rare precious stone called the 
jacinth (p. 379), and thinks that it refers to an heraldic tincture. 

3 I am not urging that the mottoes cannot possibly be due to 
St. Malachy merely because they may seem extravagant. Some 
of the miracles attributed to this saint are, to use the phrase of 
the Abb6 Vacandard, decidedly bizarre. The following, for 
instance : " Venit mulier gravida et vere gravis. Indicat se 
contra omnes naturae leges retinere partum jam quindecim 
mensibus et diebus viginti : Compassus Malachias super novo et 
inaudito incommode orat et mulier parit." (Malachice Vitce, 
n. 47.) 

Panvinio's Blunders 147 

the alleged nature of the document in which 
they are found." 1 

5. But the most conclusive argument of all is 
the adoption and perpetuation of Panvinio's 
mistakes. For example, this historian, in both 
his editions, states that Eugenius IV had been 
a Celestine monk, and hence pseudo-Malachy 
dubs him Lupa coelestina. But this is simply a 
blunder, as Menestrier and others have shown. 3 
Eugenius was an Augustinian, not a Celestine. 
Again, Panvinio supposed that the father of 
Pope John XXII was a shoemaker named Ossa, 
and from this we get Malachy's motto, De sutore 
osseo, but modern research pronounces unhesi- 
tatingly that his name was Duese or D'Euse, 
and entirely discredits the shoemaker story. 8 
Finally, in four different cases in which the 
mottoes are admittedly founded on the coat of 
arms which the Pope in question is supposed 
to have borne, the motto agrees perfectly with 
the coat of arms figured in Panvinio, but more 
recent authorities declare, and with reason, that 
the arms so figured are quite erroneous. The 
four cases to which we refer are those of Alex- 
ander III, Clement IV, Gregory X, and Martin 
IV. In all these cases Panvinio's engraving, 
upon which the motto is founded, differs from 
the blazon given in such a modern authority as 

1 Dublin Review, p. 381. 

3 See for example Pastor, History of the Popes, Eng. trans., 
vol. i, p. 286, note. 

8 See Mollat, Les Papes d' Avignon (Paris, 1912), p. 43, note. 

148 Prophecy of St. Malachy 
Woodward's Ecclesiastical Heraldry. It will be 
sufficient to consider one example here. Accord- 
ing to pseudo-Malachy the motto belonging to 
Pope Clement IV (1265-69) was draco depressus 
the dragon crushed and this is at once ex- 
plained when we look at the coat of arms pro- 
vided for the Pope in Panvinio's folio edition, 
which shows a dragon underneath an eagle 
which is squeezing it in its talons. But later 
authorities lend no countenance to this idea. 
According to Woodward, Pope Clement IV's 
arms were : Or, six fleurs-de-lis azure in orle ; 
while his family shield was Or, an eagle dis- 
played sable, on a bordure gules ten bezants. 1 
In either case there was no dragon, and unfor- 
tunately it was upon this feature alone that the 
motto of pseudo-Malachy was based. 

And now before we turn to speak briefly of the 
possible occasion of the fabrication of these 
mottoes, it will be well to remind the reader of 
one or two points to which prominence has been 
given by Dollinger and others. Although no 
word was ever spoken of St. Malachy as a seer 
who concerned himself with the succession to 
the papacy, the famous Abbot Joachim of Flora 
(c. 1132-1202) was accredited with a similar 
series of oracula. He was even on this account 
called par excellence papalista or papalarius. 
The mottoes (it must be confessed, quite un- 

1 Woodward, p. 159. Cf. Mr. Everard Green (Somerset 
Herald) in Notes and Queries, 6th series, vol. vi, p. 81, and 
Miss Buck, t'b., vol. vii, p. 489. 

Prevalence of Papal Oracles 149 

warrantably) attributed to his authorship were 
not so concise as those fathered on St. Malachy, 
and they were much more denunciatory in tone, 
but they had a wonderful vogue from the early 
part of the fourteenth century onwards. Thus 
they were followed by a crowd of imitations to 
which such names were attached as Anselm 
Bishop of Marsico (probably an altogether 
fictitious personage), Jodochus Palmerius, the 
Friar ^Egidius Polonus, and others. In nearly 
all these collections, as Dollinger points out, the 
same feature is observed, viz., that the early 
mottoes, having been composed after the event, 
fit their subjects at least so far that they are 
easily identifiable, while the later, which were 
really fabricated at a venture a mere guess at 
what might be expected " lose themselves more 
and more in meaningless, unintelligible phrases 
and commonplaces." 1 

Remembering, then, the prevalence of this 
species of composition all of it counterfeit and 
much of it, as the printed editions show, still 
enjoying popular favour at the end of the six- 
teenth century and for long afterwards we are 
led to ask what was the probable origin of the 
particular set of mottoes ascribed to St. Malachy. 
Two suggestions in particular have been offered 
to explain them. The first, which has been 
advocated by Hermann Weingarten,' lays the 

1 Dollinger, Prophecies and the Prophetic Spirit, p. 13. 
* Theologische Studien und Kritiken (1857), pp. 555 et seq. 

150 Prophecy of St. Malachy 

fabrication at the door of the monk who first 
published them, Dom Arnold Wion. The Ger- 
man professor points out that Wion gives 
absolutely no account of the document, or of 
how it came into his hands, and that it has never 
been shown to exist in any other copy than that 
which appeared in Wion's book. Further, we 
may note that this book proves the author's 
intimate acquaintance with the two separate 
editions, the Quarto and the Folio, of the 
Epitome of Panvinio, from which, as has been 
shown above, the list attributed to St. Malachy 
has almost certainly been fabricated. I may add 
one other item on the same side, which seems 
to have escaped the notice of Weingarten. The 
only point in which I have observed that 
Malachy's list contradicts the data supplied by 
Panvinio is in the case of Pope Clement VI. 
Panvinio, in both editions, calls him Bishop of 
Aries episcopus Arelatensis as also does 
Ciacconius, but Malachy's motto for him is ex 
rosa Attrebatensi " from the rose of Arras." 
Now, in this departure from Panvinio, the 
pseudo-Malachy is right and Panvinio is wrong. 
Clement VI had been Bishop of Arras, not of 
Aries. It becomes a little suspicious then, when 
we find Wion in another place in the same book 
correcting Panvinio from his own personal 
knowledge : 

This Pope [he says of Clement VI] is described 
by Panvinio in his Epitome in 4to as Archbishop of 

Wion's Correction 151 

Aries (Arelatensis), which I think must be a misprint 
for Arras (Attrebatensis) ; for history is silent about 
any such bishopric of his at Aries. On the other 
hand, we have just quoted what Thomas (Walsing- 
ham) says about his election to the see of Arras, and 
this statement is confirmed by the lists of the Bishops 
of Arras and the pictures of the same, which are to 
be seen in the Church of St. Mary at Arras, where 
His Holiness Clement V is represented with the 
insignia of the Sovereign Pontiff, as I have myself 
more than once seen them. 1 

None the less, I doubt if any argument can 
be built upon this circumstance. If Wion had 
the list of Malachy's supposed prophecies, and 
believed them to be genuine, it is extremely 
natural that, coming across a designation which 
he knew from his personal investigations to be 
erroneous, he should treat it simply as a blunder 
of the copyist, and change Arelatensi into 
Attrebatensi without calling attention to the 
substitution. As an argument, this circumstance 
adds nothing to the case against Wion, and I 
must confess that on the whole the weight of 
evidence seems to me against his being himself 
the forger. 3 

This view is also the conclusion of Prof. A. 
Harnack, who in an article in the Zeitschrift fur 
Kirchengeschichte 3 has treated this question 

1 Wion, Lignum Vitce, pt. i, p. 159. 

3 It is, however, to be noted that Wion was certainly very 
keen about prophecies. See the Lignum Vita, pt. ii, pp. 700 ff 
and 803 #. 

s Vol. iii, pp. 315 et seq. 

152 Prophecy of St. Malachy 

with special reference to the theory of Wein- 
garten. He points out that the aim of Wion's 
book was confessedly the glorification of the 
Benedictine Order. A man who was unscrupu- 
lous enough to fabricate a document like the 
so-called prophecy of St. Malachy, would 
certainly not have hesitated to give special pro- 
minence in the text to the Benedictine Popes, 
and to call attention to the fact that they had 
been Benedictines. Now, in this prophecy, 
although the Dominican Popes are noted as 
Dominicans, nothing shows the least Bene- 
dictine bias. Again, if Wion had fabricated the 
list he would surely have made it accurate up 
to date, and have supplied interpretations down 
to the time at which the list was printed and 
given to the world. But this is not the case. The 
interpretations stop with Urban VII, who died 
in 1590. The Lignum Vitce of Wion appeared 
in 1595, and in the interval three Popes had 
succeeded Gregory XIV, Innocent IX, Clement 
VIII, none of whom can be said in any way to 
fit their mottoes. A forger would certainly have 
managed better. 

Professor Harnack accordingly reverts to the 
theory suggested long ago by F. Menestrier, the 
first critic who satisfactorily demolished the pro- 
phecies of pseudo-Malachy, and since then 
endorsed by Dollinger. He considers that the 
fabrication had its origin during the long sede 
vacante which preceded the election of Gregory 

Theory of Harnack 153 

XIV in 1590, and that it was devised in the ) 
interest of the senior of the College of Cardinals, 
Cardinal Simoncelli, Bishop of Orvieto, who 
was plainly designated by the motto assigned 
to the Pope next in order Ex antiquitate urbis, 
Orvieto being etymologically, as every man of 
any little education would have known, Urbs 
vetus, the old city. In support of this theory, 
Professor Harnack appeals strongly and forcibly 
to the fact pointed out above, that in the whole 
long list of mottoes up to that date the desig- 
nations are entirely derived from circumstances 
of the life of each Pontiff previous to his election. 
It was the forger's object, he thinks, to show 
that the prophecies were always taken from 
something which belonged to him as Cardinal. 1 

Let me point out, however, that this argument, 
specious as it may appear, is not wholly convinc- 
ing. The fact that the mottoes were elaborated 
out of Panvinio, sufficiently explains why they 
are confined wholly to the circumstances of each 
Pope's life before his election. Panvinio, as 
already explained, said nothing about the actual 
Papacy, but only of the Pope's antecedents, and 
the forger who used Panvinio naturally confined 
himself to what he found in the book before him. 

1 Gb'rres, writing in the Zeitschrift f. wissenschaftl. Theologie 
(1903, pp. 553-62) on " Die angebliche Prophezeiung des hi. 
Malachias," contends that the forgery of the mottoes was a 
political move carried out in 1590, a time when party feeling 
between the Spanish and French factions in the Conclave ran 
very high. The arguments, however, which are adduced in 
support of this view seem to me quite unconvincing. 

1 54 Prophecy of St. Malachy 

Without further discussion, then, I may con- 
tent myself with indicating my own conclusion 
that the fabrication of the prophecy had nothing 
to do with the conclave of 1590, but must be 
assigned to the three or four last years of the 
life of Sixtus V. There can be no question that 
Simoncelli, in 1590, was an absolutely impos- 
sible candidate. We have a number of different 
accounts of the famous conclave which finally 
resulted in the election of Gregory XIV, but in 
no one of these that I have seen is there the 
slightest allusion to Simoncelli as a possible 
occupant of the Papal Chair. What motive 
could a man have for fabricating so elaborate a 
prophecy, which he must have known with 
absolute certainty would be falsified in a few 
weeks' time. Again, there is no mention of any 
party who supported the interests of Simoncelli, 
no hint of any ruse by which a prophecy was 
brought into play to influence the voting. 1 The 
whole struggle lay between the Spanish faction 
and the party identified with the policy of Sixtus 
V, led by his nephew, Cardinal Montalto. Even 
two or three years earlier, when Simoncelli was 

1 A considerable number of " Relations " of the events of 
this conclave are to be found amongst the MSS. of the British 
Museum. Most of these are repetitions of the account given in 
the Histoire des Conclaves, but not all. Then there is the 
narrative of Germonius, printed in the Monumenta Histories 
Patrice, and the Diario of the Master of Ceremonies, Aleoni. 
Not one of these says a word of Simoncelli as a possible Pope, 
much less speaks of any prophecy being used to advance his 

Harnack's Theory rejected 155 

less old and decrepit, there was no talk of him 
as a likely Pope. In MS. Additional, 28,463, 
there is an interesting discorso on the chances 
of the various Roman Cardinals, in July, 1589, 
less than a year before the death of Sixtus V. 
Simoncelli is not even mentioned as papabile. 
Castagna, who, according to a contemporary 
account, was recommended to the Cardinals by 
Sixtus, on his death-bed, 1 and Mondovi (Laureo) 
are regarded as the most probable candidates. 
Sfondrato is also described as " running very 
near the Papacy." He succeeded as Gregory 
XIV after the short pontificate of Urban VII 
(Castagna), but is objected to by the author of 
the memorandum on the ground that he wore a 
perpetual smile, which many people found 

If, therefore, Simoncelli was really designated 
by the motto ex antiquitate urbis, this could only 
have been when the possibilities of the future 
seemed remote and ill defined. And this appears 
to agree with the intrinsic probabilities of the 
case. It seems almost obvious that any forger 
who took the trouble to fabricate such a docu- 
ment would not be content to look only to the 
immediate future of the time at which he was 
writing, and make a guess at a single Pope, but 
that he would foresee the possibility of a short 

1 MS. Add. 21,382, fol. 1403. The same MS. contains a 
sonnet on the conclave held on the death of Sixtus V. All the 
prominent Cardinals are introduced, but not Simoncelli. 

156 Prophecy of St. Malachy 
reign, or a series of short reigns, and would 
indicate two or three among existing Cardinals 
as likely to succeed in course of time, perhaps 
even picking out a few distinguished young 
men, not yet Cardinals, whom he thought likely 
to be raised to the purple and to become Pope 
some day. This is in fact what I believe to 
have happened in the present case. The list was 
perhaps fabricated about 1585, shortly after the 
accession of Sixtus V, and the forger I am 
inclined to guess that Ciacconius himself may 
have fabricated it as a hoax and jeu d'esprit 
set down the following mottoes as indicating a 
likely series of Pontiffs among the men he knew 
then living in Rome : 

Motto Persons designated. 

De Rore Cceli. Castagna (or perhaps Mondovi). 

Exantiquitateurbis. Simoncelli (Laureo). 

Pia civitas in bello. Bellarmine (not then Cardinal). 

Crux Romulea. Santacroce. 

Undosus vir. Baronius (not then Cardinal). 

Pia civitas in bello seems to me to designate 
Bellarmine in a most marked and obvious way, 
looking always to the principles on which the 
early prophecies were formed. The Pia civitas 
was Montepulciano the shrine of a saint, the 
birthplace of a saintly Pontiff whose memory 
was still green (Pope Marcellus II, who was 
Bellarmine's uncle) and itself almost proverbial 
for the good lives of its citizens. 

Crux Romulea would fit no one so well as a 

Baronius 157 

member of the Roman family of Santa Croce. 
Cardinal Santa Croce, who was looked upon at 
the beginning of Sixtus V's reign as a most able 
man, died, however, in 1588. It is just possible 
that a nephew of his, who was then living in 
Rome, may have been regarded by the compiler 
as likely to be made Cardinal some day, and 
finally Pope. 1 


Undosus vir, again, was Baronius, whose 
arms are depicted above. The pens and cross 
were presumably added when he became Car- 
dinal. The waves in the family arms beneath 
would have suggested the undosus, just as the 

1 In the Ragguaglio della Cavalcata de N. S. Gregorio XIJII 
(1590), by F. Albertorio, among the signori caporioni " gor- 

feously dressed and wearing swords," is named Marcello 

158 Prophecy of St. Malachy 

arms of Boniface VIII suggested the motto ex 
undarum benedictione. 

When also we remember that varon or baron 
is the Spanish for man (vir\ it is easy to under- 
stand how a Spaniard like Ciacconius might 
have thought that Baronius would be excellently 
indicated by the phrase Undosus vir. 

Of course the point which in all this discus- 
sion most needs to be insisted on is the fact that 
the mottoes of pseudo-Malachy must necessarily 
be treated as one document. It is impossible to 
reject the first seventy as a barefaced imposture 
and to consider the thirty or forty that remain, 
or any part of them, as divinely inspired. The 
difference between the two sets is that the forger 
in passing from the region of the known to the 
future and unknown, deals more and more, as 
Dollinger says, " in meaningless unintelligible 
phrases and commonplaces." It may be worth 
while to copy here the whole of the remaining 
list from Crux de cruce, identified with Pius 
IX, down to the end. I simply print Wion's 
text with Lord Bute's translation : 

101. Crux de cruce. The cross from a cross. 

102. Lumen in coelo. A light in the sky. 

103. Ignis ardens. Burning fire. 

104. Religio depopulata. Monasticism plundered 

(or religion laid waste). 

105. Fides intrepida. Faith undaunted. 

106. Pastor angelicus. An angelic shepherd. 

107. Pastor et nauta. A Shepherd and a sailor. 

108. Flos florum. A flower of flowers. 

Mottoes still outstanding 159 

109. De medietate lunae. From an half moon, 

no. De labore soils. From the toil of the sun. 

in. Gloria oliva?. The glory of the olive. 

In persecutione extrema During the last perse- 

Sacrae Romana? Ecclesia- cution of the Holy Roman 

sedebit Petrus Romanus Church there shall sit the 

qui pascet oves in multis Roman Peter, who shall 

tribulationibus, quibus fe 5 d the sheep amid great 

transactis, civitas septi- tribulations, and when 

collis diruetur et Judex these are passed the City 

tremendusjudicabitpopu- of Seven Hills shall be 

lum. utterly destroyed and the 

awful Judge will judge 

the people. 

It is curious that these last words, if I rightly 
understand a remark of Wion's, do not belong to 
the original supposed prophecy of Malachy, but 
are an addition by Ciacconius. How completely 
Delphic in their uncertainty and consequently how 
much worse than useless these utterances are for 
any purpose of practical guidance, may be illus- 
trated by a passage from a prophecy book, The 
Christian Trumpet, printed in England in 1875. 
At that date, of course, Pius IX still occupied the 
chair of St. Peter, and the writer remarks re- 
garding the time to come : 

According to St. Malachy, then, only ten, or at 
most eleven, Popes, remain to be in future more or 
less legitimately elected. 

We say more or less legitimately elected, because 
out of those future Popes it is to be feared that one 
or two will be unlawfully elected as Antipope. It 
is suspected that the one designated as Ignis ardens 

1 60 Prophecy of St. Malachy 

(Burning fire) shall be the first Antipope, who will 
be unlawfully elected in opposition to Lumen in 
Ccelo (Light in the heaven) the legitimate successor 
of the present Pope. Besides some predictions 
announcing the deplorable event, many powerful and 
influential persons in Europe are at present agreed 
and determined to use all their efforts to elect an 
Antipope in order to produce a schism in the Church 
and to have a man who will favour their impious 
designs against the Catholic religion. 1 

On the other hand, the Abbe* Joseph Maitre, 
who in two huge volumes has constituted him- 
self the champion of the authenticity of the 
Malachy prophecy, holds that the motto ignis 
ardens " may either symbolize the zeal and 
charity of the Pontiff to be elected, or may de- 
pict the violence of the sufferings and trials he is 
to endure, perhaps from a terrible war, perhaps 
from a general conflagration or cataclysm in the 
moral or physical order. ' " Again, M . L ' Abb Cha- 
bauty inclines to the view that the Pope desig- 
nated by Ignis ardens must be destined " to set 
on foot and carry to completion the conversion 
of the entire world, so that under him we shall 
see the realization of the promise of ' one fold 
and one shepherd.' ' " I infer this," adds the 
Abbe, " not to quote other proofs ( !), from the 
text, ' I have come to cast fire upon the earth 
and, what will I but that it be kindled.' " The 

1 The Christian Trumpet (London, 1875), p. 203. 
* Maitre, Les Papes et la Papantd d'apres la Prophetic attri- 
bute a St. Malachie (Paris, 1902), p. 737. 

Malachy improved upon 161 

same critic concludes that religio depopulate. 
represents an anti-Pope. 1 

Could we ask for better proof of the futility of 
such prophecies, for all purposes of instruction 
or even edification, than this divergence of 
opinion among the most thoroughgoing de- 
fenders of the Pope-mottoes ? 

Lastly, I may draw attention, if only for the 
sake of completeness, to a development of the 
Malachy oracles to which publicity has been 
given of recent years. Here the names of the 
next few Popes profess to be disclosed, and the 
statement has been made that the text was 
printed in 1899. This assertion it is out of my 
power to verify. If it were true, it would be a 
remarkable fact, for the Pope corresponding to 
Ignis ardens is correctly designated as Pius X. 
But even if the prophet was successful in his 
first venture, he has come sadly to grief in his 
second interpretation, as he assigns to religio 
depopulata the name of Paul VI. a After that we 
can feel little interest in learning from him that 
Pius XI and Gregory XVII come next in order, 
and that the former of these after a glorious 
victory will become King of Italy. 

1 E. A. Chabauty, Lettres sur les Propheties modernes (2nd 
ed., Paris, 1872), pp. 219-20. 

3 C. Niccoulaud, Nostradamus, ses Propheties, Paris, 1914. 
M. Niccoulaud quotes for these facts La Revue Internationale 
des Societes secretes, August 5th, 1913, p. 2741. 



I PROPOSE to conclude these somewhat 
desultory chapters by speaking briefly of 
the two subjects in which prophets and 
soothsayers since mediaeval times have 
found their principal inspiration, to wit 
the destiny of their own native land and the 
near approach of the end of the world. To 
discuss these themes in any great detail does 
not seem needful; for here, more than any- 
where else, all verification being indefinitely 
remote, extravagance and incoherence are parti- 
cularly likely to prevail. But it would argue a 
certain incompleteness in this survey of modern 
prophetic books, if these topics which are apt 
to occupy so much space in their pages were 
passed over entirely without comment. 

For the past history of " national prophecies, 1 ' 
as they have been called, I can only advise the 
reader to consult the third chapter of Bellinger's 
essay. The subject is too extensive to admit of 
my summarizing it here. Neither will space 
allow us to busy ourselves with foreign countries 


Folk prophecies in Ireland 163 

and with the beliefs regarding the future which 
in their case have often grown out of deeply- 
rooted popular traditions. Of this species of 
folklore little probably now survives in England ; 
although in the sister Isle, Professor O 'Curry, 
half a century ago, wrote pathetically of the 
prevalence of such predictions. 

" I have myself known," he said, "hundreds of 
people, some highly educated men and women 
amongst them, who have often neglected to attend 
to their worldly advancement, in expectation that the 
false promises of these so-called prophecies many 
of them gross forgeries of our own day would in 
some never accurately specified time bring about such 
changes in the state of the country as must restore it 
to its ancient condition. And the believers in these 
idle dreams were but too sure to sit down and wait 
for the coming of the golden age ; as if it were fated 
to overtake them without the slightest effort of their 
own to attain happiness or independence. " ] 

In England, as just remarked, there has been 
comparatively little of this, especially in recent 
times, but as the British Empire plays a part of 
some importance in the drama of the world, any 
dearth of native prophets has been compensated 
for by the interest which the seers of other 
countries have taken in the destinies of perfidious 

Something has already been said of one or 
two prognostics of the French astrologer 

1 Eugene O 'Curry, Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of 
Ancient Irish History (Dublin, 1878), p. 431. 

1 64 The Fate of England 

Nostradamus regarding London in the seven- 
teenth century, and, indeed, there are many 
others, hardly less curious, which might have 
been cited from the same source. But I will 
content myself now with reproducing one other 
quatrain which, in view of the fact that it was 
printed a good twenty years before the defeat of 
the Spanish Armada, must certainly be counted 
a remarkable utterance. The words of Nostra- 
damus are these : 

Le grand Empire sera par 1'Angleterre 
Le Pempotam 1 des ans plus de trois cens, 
Grandes copies passer par mer et terre ; 
Les Lusitains n'en seront pas contens." 

A seventeenth century English version 
translated it thus : 

England of Empire shall be long the seat, 
More than three hundred years continuing great. 
Large forces thence shall pass through lands and seas 
To the disquiet of the Portuguese. 

Is this to be understood as a prophecy of the 
maritime dominion of England ? Portugal 
certainly was the great naval power in the East 
Indies at the time when this was written, and it 
was the Portuguese rather than the Spaniards 
that England was destined to supplant. At the 
same time it is very doubtful whether we have 
anything more here than a masterpiece of 

1 A dreadful hybrid word which seems to be derived from irav 
potens = a\\ powerful. 
3 Century, x, 100. 

Rule Britannia Foreshadowed 165 

Delphic ambiguity. Sea power, after all, is not 
directly mentioned. Moreover, if it had chanced 
that France had conquered England, and by 
means of that conquest (par VAngleterre) had 
acquired an overseas empire, the prognostic 
would have seemed to be even more strikingly 
fulfilled than it is now. Undoubtedly the un- 
rivalled success of Nostradamus's oracles is due 
to the fact that avoiding all orderly arrangement 
either chronological or topographical, and re- 
fraining almost entirely from categoric state- 
ments, it is impossible ever to say that a parti- 
cular prognostic has missed its mark, while 
amongst the multitude of political occurrences 
vaguely outlined, some quite startling coinci- 
dences are sure to be observed in the course of 
years. In other words, Nostradamus provides an 
ingenious system of divination in which the 
misses can never be recorded and only the hits 
come to the surface. For the reputation of the 
would-be prophet such conditions are naturally 

Except for the implied limitation of England's 
maritime dominion to 300 years, this prognostic 
of Nostradamus is distinctly favourable. Other 
foreign prophecies regarding the destiny of 
Britain are not so encouraging. For example, 
the Pere Nectou, who had been a Jesuit and 
Provincial of Aquitaine before the suppression 
of the Society, was supposed to have made many 
remarkable prophecies towards the close of the 

1 66 The Fate of England 

eighteenth century. Some of these, referring to 
individuals, are said to have been fulfilled in a 
most surprising way. In dealing with public 
events he does not seem to have been so success- 
ful ; at any rate, fulfilment has so far been 
delayed. Thus we are told that he predicted a 
second revolution in his native country, adding 

During this revolution, which will very likely be 
general and not confined to France, Paris will be 
destroyed so completely that twenty years afterwards 
fathers, walking over its ruins with their children, 
the children will inquire what place that was. To 
whom they will answer: ''My child, this was 
formerly a great city which God has destroyed on 
account of its crimes." 1 

It may be, however, that the appointed hour 
has not yet arrived, for the Pere Nectou went 
on : "As when the fig-tree begins to sprout and 
produces leaves, it is a certain sign that the 
summer is near, so when England shall begin 
to wane in power, the destruction of Paris will 
be near at hand." 

This shall be as a sign. England shall, in her turn, 
experience a more frightful revolution than that of 
France. It shall continue so long as to give time to 
France to recover her strength, and then she will help 
England to return to order and peace.* 

The Revolution which is to be the downfall of 
England's greatness has long been a rather 

1 Voix Prophdtiques, 5th ed., vol. ii, p. 239. 
3 U>-> P- 249. 

Mile. Couedon 167 

favourite theme with the seers of the Continent, 
particularly in Germany. For example, here is 
a summary estimate of the fate of England found 
in a Catholic work, already referred to, printed 
thirty or forty years back, and known as Das 
Buck der Wahr und Weissagungen. It has 
gone through more than one edition. 

England has caused much mischief in Germany and 
other countries, and has put upon them many an 
insult. She will continue through intrigues and 
bribery of all kinds to frustrate all efforts at reforma- 
tion. Ireland will rise in revolt and come victoriously 
out of the contest. England's star is on the wane, 
and it is only by perpetual trickery that this nation 
of shopkeepers is preserved for a short time from 
utter ruin. 

The edition from which I quote this was 
printed in 1884. l 

Again a certain Mile. Couedon, who was 
much consulted as an oracle in Paris, found her- 
self inspired, at the time of Queen Victoria's 
second Tubilee, to deliver some most startling 
prophecies regarding the future of Great Britain. 
She announced, amongst other things, the 
restoration of the Stuarts : 

L'Angleterre sera changed 
Je la vois de'membre'e ; 
Une famille qui a regne* 
Et qu'on a emp^che'e, 

1 Das Buck der Wahr und Weissagungen (Regensburg, 
1884), Appendix, 

1 68 The Fate of England 

Je la vois remonter ; 

Un roi du passe", 

Lui sera donne*, 

Quand ceux, qui ont usurpe" 

Seront de"tr6n6s. 1 

Still more alarming were the calamities which 
Mile. Coue'don predicted as threatening Eng- 
land's naval supremacy : 

Quant au jubile 
Pour cette Reine il faut prier, 
Les Anglais vont changer, 
Les Indes leur seront 6te"es. 
Je vois la guerre de"clare"e. 
Je vois leur flotte de"cime, 
Je la vois submerge'e ; 
II n'en va pas rester. 

If anyone were disposed to take these oracles 
at all seriously, he might find consolation in the 
fact that while Mile. Coue'don declared that a 
vast European conflict would break out in the 
immediate future, she also predicted that France 
would have to support the struggle alone. 
Russia, on which her hopes had been built, 
would not stir a finger to help her. 

Ce que vous avez re"ve* 
II n'y faut pas compter. 

1 L'Echo du Merveilleux, February ist, 1897 : " Engtand will 
be changed ; I see her dismembered ; a family which reigned 
before and which has been attainted, I see it restored. A 
king of a former dynasty will be given to her, when those who 
usurped their power will be dethroned." 

Bartholomew Holzhauser 169 

Also that Paris would be burnt to the ground, 
and that without delay. 

Le feu va y passer 
Et cela sans tarder. 1 

Despite these gloomy forebodings there have 
been not a few among those who believed them- 
selves prophetically inspired who have written 
concerning England with great sympathy. The 
most famous of these was the mystic 
Bartholomew Holzhauser in the time of the early 

This venerable servant of God, who was born 
of humble parents in 1613 not far from Augs- 
burg, was the founder of an Institute of Secular 
Priests, which met with considerable favour in 
his native country. He was a man of remark- 
able piety, and was held by many of his 
contemporaries to be possessed of extraordinary 
prophetic gifts. Certain visions of his were 
written down by him and collected into one 
manuscript volume towards the beginning of the 
year 1646. In these, it appears, he asserted that 
England would fall into extreme misery, that 
the King would be slain, and that afterwards the 
Kingdom of England would return to the ancient 

1 L'Echo du Merveilleux, July ist, 1897 : " As for the Jubilee, 
we must pray for the poor Queen ; a change is to come over 
England. The Indies will be taken from them ; I see war 
declared ; I see their fleet decimated ; I see it sunk ; nothing will 
be left of it." Cf. Marquis de Guiry, Mile. Couedon est elle 
inspiree de Dieu? (Paris, 1899) a question which the author 
answers in the affirmative ! 

170 The Fate of England 

Roman faith, and the English achieve more for 
the Church than on their first conversion to 
Christianity. Among the friends of Holzhauser 
was a Jesuit, Father Lyprand, who after his 
death described how he had met him during one 
of his visits to Ingolstadt, and as a report had 
been for some time current that Charles I of 
England, who was then still living, was likely 
to become a Catholic, Father Lyprand asked the 
mystic how this could be reconciled with his 
prophecy about England. On this Holzhauser 
replied in a very confident manner : " King 
Charles of England is neither now a Catholic, 
nor will he ever become a Catholic.*' " The 
event," says Father Lyprand, "proved the 
truth of his words. At the same time he in- 
formed me that he knew from God that the 
Swede would never have a footing in the German 
Empire, and that the Rhine would return to its 
ancient master." 

As to Bartholomew's prophecies in general, 
Father Lyprand expresses himself with caution. 
"I have always been of opinion," he wrote, "that 
he went to work without any guile, and that his 
natural parts were inadequate to their fabrica- 
tion . . . but although I hold it as probable 
enough, nay, as extremely probable, that 
Holzhauser had received from God the gift of 
prophecy, yet I would not venture to assert that 
he always rightly understood the prophecies 
communicated to him; for it is agreed among 

Holzhauser and England 171 
theologians that the first gift may exist without 
the second." 1 

It appears that during the period of the 
travels, Holzhauser was presented to him at 
Geisenheim, and told him something of his 
visions, recommending to His Majesty's pro- 
tection the Catholic religion in England and the 
priests who were labouring there. The King, it 
is stated, gave him his hand and promised to be 
mindful of his request; and here Holzhauser's 
biographer remarks : 

It is astonishing with what a burning zeal Holz- 
hauser laboured to bring about the conversion of 
England. This was the marrow of his thoughts 
the subject of his conversation the sum of all his 
desires. With his blood he would fain have washed 
away, had he been permitted, all the errors of heresy. 
No resolution was so fixedly implanted in him, as to 
go to England, and there, utterly regardless of any 
risk he might run for his life, make a beginning 
towards a restoration of the Catholic faith. He 
awaited only the Elector's permission to prosecute 
this voyage. This permission he would have sought 
with earnest prayers had he not been overcome by 
the still more urgent solicitations of his friends, 
Giindel and Vogt, and been induced to defer for one 
or several years the execution of a project, which he 
never would entirely give up, in order, in the first 
place, to consolidate his rising Institute until such 
time as his presence might be more easily dispensed 

1 Gaduel, Vie de Barihelemy Holzhauser (Paris, 1861), 9.369. 
The letter of Father Lyprand was written in 1660. The text is 
in J. D. Gruber, Prodromus, pp. 792-8. 

172 The Fate of England 

with. It was with difficulty he could be held back 
from this project. 1 

Perhaps the most remarkable passage in his 
visions bearing on England is the following : 

I stood in the year 1635 by the Danube, giving 
alms to the banished, and offering up prayers for the 
whole earth. I stood towards the north and the west, 
and my heart poured itself out in many lamentations 
before God, saying : " How long will the adversary 
hold this kingdom in bondage, which swimmeth with 
the blood of martyrs, spilled by that accursed woman 
Jezebel, as she wished to reign in the Church of 
God? " And I heard at the same time that the 
lawful sacrifice would be intermitted for one hundred 
and twenty years ; and on the other side of the sea I 
saw immense lands, and how peoples and tongues 
thronged together, and how the land was inwardly 
shaken by armies, as by an earthquake. The pro- 
digious multitude I saw divided, and I beheld the 
king standing in the midst. And it was told me, "All 
rests with the king, and the king is, as it were, sold. " 

And towards the west the heavens were opened, 
and the land trembled as with an earthquake, and the 
nations were shaken, and terror came over the whole 
kingdom ; and it was told me : " On the king depen- 
deth the salvation of the people ! " And it seemed 
to me as if he refused; and I heard : " If the king 
will not, then will he be smitten." And the heavens 
again opened towards the west ; a large, fiery ball 
came down, flew oblique, and smote the king. And 
now his kingdom rested in peace, and the land was 

1 L. Clarus, Bartholotnceus Holzhauser ; Lebensgeschichte, p. 

Intermission of the Mass 173 

And lo ! I saw a ship sailing on the sea, and arrive 
in port, and righteous and holy men, who were in 
the ship, landed, and they began to preach the Gospel 
in those countries. They prospered in their under- 
taking ; and that land returned to peace and to the 
sanctification of Jesus Christ. 1 

That the Holy Sacrifice should be intermitted 
for 1 20 years does not seem to me, as it appar- 
ently seemed to the writer of the article in the 
Dublin Review, from which I quote it, a re- 
markably happy hit. In one quite true sense, 
that of actual fact, the offering up of the Mass 
was never interrupted in England. If, on the 
other hand, we take account of the period of the 
legal prohibition, the penal statutes which 
rendered the saying of Mass a criminal offence, 
were in force for within a few years of two cen- 
turies. Neither has the " landing of holy men " 
in England by which we are no doubt meant to 
understand the clergy of France exiled at the 
Revolution, together with the younger religious 
Orders, such as the Passionists and the Redemp- 
torists brought us perceptibly nearer the con- 
version of the nation as a whole. But amid the 
enthusiasm of the Oxford movement and the 
restoration of the Catholic hierarchy, there must 
have been many to whom the return of England 
to the faith seemed very near. It was this 
expectation which no doubt led some amongst 
them to attach a new meaning to the prophecy 

1 Translated in the Dublin Review, September, 1850, p. 133. 

1 74 The Fate of England 

of St. Edward the Confessor. That monarch a 
few hours before he passed away was super- 
naturally visited, as he believed, by two holy 
monks whom he had known in his youth. 
Appearing to him in a vision, they denounced 
the grievous corruptions of the Church and 
State, and warned him that on this account God 
had laid a curse upon the realm of England. 
The King, after vainly enquiring whether this 
sentence could in any way be averted, finally 
asked how long the curse should last. To which 
they replied : 

In that day when a green tree shall be cut away 
from the midst of its trunk, when it shall be carried 
away for the space of three furlongs from its root, 
when without the help of man it shall join itself again 
to its trunk and shall again put forth leaves and bear 
fruit in its season then first shall be the time when 
the woes of England shall come to an end. 1 

Contemporary evidence makes it practically 
certain that St. Edward on his death-bed did 
narrate some such vision to those who stood 
round; and in the twelfth century Englishmen 
commonly interpreted the prophecy as fore- 
shadowing the restoration of the old Saxon line 
by the marriage of Henry I with Eadgyth or 
Matilda, after continuity had been broken for 
three generations by the intrusion of the 
usurpers Harold, William the Conqueror, and 
William Rufus. But the enthusiasts of the 

1 Freeman, Norman Conquest, vol. iii, p. n. 

The Antichrist Legend 175 

" Second Spring " attached quite a different 
meaning to the prediction. The curse in their 
opinion was to last not for three reigns, but for 
three centuries, during which the Church of Eng- 
land, by the act of Henry VIII and his daughter 
Elizabeth, should be severed from the true vine, 
the parent trunk of Rome. Only then would 
the curse be removed when, without the help of 
man, the bough should again be united to its 
root through the submission of England to the 
Holy See. 

Turning now to the anticipation of the coming 
of Antichrist and the end of the world, there can 
be no doubt that this topic, remaining substantially 
the same under an infinite variety of forms, has 
attracted the deep interest of Christians since the 
time of the Apostles. It is not my intention 
here to discuss the matter historically or to 
attempt to disentangle the extremely complicated 
story of the Antichrist legend. The investiga^ 
tion has been carried out very systematically by 
such scholars as Zezschwitz, Bousset, R. H. 
Charles, and others. Let it be sufficient to 
recognize the fact that some elements of the myth 
go back to pre-Christian times, while others are 
derived from the canonical scriptures (notably 
from the Epistles of St. Paul to the Thes- 
salonians, the First Epistle of St. John, and the 
Apocalypse), and others again from the 
Apocrypha of the New Testament. Among 
these last we may reckon the document com- 

176 The coming of Antichrist 

monly known as the Ascension of Isaiah, which 
Dr. Charles considers can be analysed into three 
more primitive components, one of them being 
what he calls " the Testament of Hezekiah," and 
dating, as he believes, from the actual time of 
the Apostles ("between 88 and 100 A.D."). 1 
Whatever view we may hold of the genesis of 
the Ascension, the passage concerning the near 
approach of the end of the world is of remarkable 
interest. Here an Antichrist is introduced, 
though he is not called by that name, who is 
really Satan incarnate, clothed in the likeness of 
the Emperor Nero, " the slayer of his mother," 
into whose hands also the Apostle St. Peter was 
delivered. 2 The name Beliar (= the Belial of 
2 Cor. vi. 15) is used simply as a personal name 
for Satan-Antichrist. 

The prominence here given to the Emperor 
Nero as a sort of type of Antichrist is in full 
accord with the most probable interpretation of 
the verse of the Apocalypse concerning the 
number of the beast. " He that hath under- 
standing let him count the number of the beast. 
For it is the number of a man : and the number of 
him is six hundred and sixty and six " (Apoc. 
xiii. 1 8). Now the words NERO C^SAR, written 
in Aramaic, contain letters, the numerical 
values of which amount to 666, and what is even 

1 Professor Burkitt in his Schweich lecture on Jewish and 
Christian Apocalypses, p. 45, protests against this dissection. 

3 It seems that at this very early date St. Paul had not yet 
commonly come to be counted among the twelve Apostles. 

Nero or Beliar ? 177 

more significant, another spelling of the same 
words would yield the total 616, which happens 
to be a variant reading found in some early 
manuscripts of the Apocalypse. It is also cer- 
tain from such early Christian documents as the 
Epistle of Barnabas that considerable attention 
was paid to the numerical equivalent of the 
letters of proper names. Also it may be noticed 
that the whole extract from the Ascension of 
Isaiah is very similar in spirit to the Gog and 
Magog passage in the Apocalypse (xx. 7-10), 
while the duration of the rule of Beliar is, no 
doubt, suggested by Dan. vii. 25, and xii. n. 

And now Hezekiah and Josab, my son, these are 
the days of the completion of the world. After it is 
consummated, Beliar, the great ruler, the king of this 
world, will descend, who hath ruled it since it came 
into being- ; yea, he will descend from his firmament 
in the likeness of a man, a lawless king, the slayer of 
his mother, who himself will persecute the plant 
which the twelve Apostles of the Beloved have 
planted. Of the twelve, one (i.e., St. Peter) will be 
delivered into his hands. This ruler in the form of 
that king will come, and there will come with him all 
the powers of this world, and they will hearken unto 
him in all that he desires. And at his word the sun 
will rise at night and he will make the moon to appear 
at the sixth hour. And all that he hath desired he 
will do in the world. He will do and speak like the 
Beloved and he will say : " I am God, and before me 
there has been none." And all the people in the 
world will believe in him, and they will sacrifice to 

178 The coming of Antichrist 

him and they will serve him, saying : " This is God, 
and beside him there is no other." And the greater 
number of those who shall have been associated 
together in order to receive the Beloved he will turn 
aside after him. And there will be the power of 
miracles in every city and region, and he will set up 
his image before him in every city. And he shall 
bear sway three years and seven months and twenty- 
seven days. And many believers and saints having 
seen Him for whom they were hoping, who was 
crucified, Jesus the Lord Christ, and those also who 
were believers in Him of these a few in those days 
will be left as His servants, while they flee from 
desert to desert, awaiting the coming of the Beloved. 
And after one thousand three hundred and thirty-two 
days the Lord will come with His angels and with the 
armies of the holy ones from the seventh heaven, and 
He will drag Beliar into Gehenna and also his armies. 
And He will give rest to the godly whom He shall 
find in the body in this world and to all who because 
of their faith have execrated Beliar and his kings. 1 
Passing from Apostolic times to the early 
Middle Ages, we find that the approach of the 
end of the world was still an absorbing topic of 
interest, though men's ideas now centred very 
largely upon the anticipated peaceful reign of a 
world-ruling earthly monarch, who was to re- 
duce all Christendom to harmony, and the 
contumacious having been previously extermin- 
ated, to convert Jews, Turks, and Pagans to the 
acceptance of the law of the Gospel. It was 

1 Charles, The Ascension of Isaiah, pp. 24-34. 

Adso's Prankish Emperor 179 

only after this preliminary period of peace and 
happiness, a sort of renewal of the golden age, 
that Antichrist would be permitted to devastate 
and seduce mankind, while he in turn, after his 
brief three years of desolating tyranny, would 
be cast down from his throne by St. Michael and 
the angels of God, who would at the same time 
destroy the world and all its inhabitants to usher 
in the day of general judgment. Perhaps the 
most primitive and fundamental presentment of 
this conception, so popular in the Carolingian 
epoch, was that contained in the letter of the 
monk Adso, sent in A.D. 954 to Queen Gerberga, 
wife of Louis IV (Louis d'Outremer). The most 
significant passage in the document is the 
following : 

This is why the Apostle Paul says that Antichrist 
will not come into the world until rebellion has gone 
before that is to say, until all the kingdoms which 
were at first subject to the Roman Empire have 
thrown off the yoke. 

Now this time has not yet come ; for although we 
see the Roman Empire in great part overthrown, 
still as long as the kings of the Franks shall last, who 
are destined to maintain the Empire of Rome, the 
dignity of the Roman Empire shall not be utterly 
destroyed, because it will survive in these kings. 

Indeed, some of our teachers even say that a king 
of the Franks will possess the entire Roman Empire. 
This king will be the greatest and the last of all 
monarchs. And after having prosperously governed 
his kingdom he will come in the end to Jerusalem, 

i8o The coming of Antichrist 

and he will lay down his sceptre and his crown upon 
the Mount of Olives. This will be the end and 
consummation of the Empire of Rome and of Christen- 
dom. And the same doctors add that immediately 
afterwards, according to the before-mentioned text 
of the Apostle Paul, the Antichrist will come. 1 

It was natural that with the anticipation of this 
all-conquering and most religious monarch there 
should in time come to be associated the con- 
ception of a Saintly Pope, who would be the 
ideal of rulers in the spiritual order, as the great 
king of Prankish race was destined to be the 
ideal of temporal sovereigns. Whether the 
Abbot Joachim, of Flora, was really the author 
of this attractive vision of a " Papa Angelicus," 
as was afterwards commonly believed, seems 
more than doubtful, but the dream undoubtedly 
belongs to the century of Joachim 's death. In the 
Opus Tertium, addressed by the famous English 
Franciscan, Roger Bacon, to Pope Clement IV 
in 1267, occurs the following passage : 

For forty years past it has been prophesied, and 
many in visions have seen the same, that there will 
be one Pope in these our days (his temporibus), who 
will purge the canon law and the Church of God of 
the quibbles and the knavery of the lawyers, and that 
justice will be done universally without contentious 
litigation. And on account of the holiness, the up- 
rightness, and the justice of this Pope it will come to 
pass that the Greeks will return to the obedience of 

1 Sackur, Sibyllinische Texte und Forschungen Pseudo- 
Methodius, etc. (Halle, 1898), p. no. 

Friar Roger Bacon 1 8 1 

the Roman Church, and that in great part the Tartars 
will be converted to the faith and the Saracens will be 
destroyed; and so " there shall be one fold and one 
shepherd," to quote the word which the prophet had 
ringing in his ears. And one who saw these things 
in revelation said and still maintains that he himself 
will see all these marvels come to pass in his own 
lifetime. 1 

Roger Bacon had also clearly heard that the 
reformation of the Church was to be accom- 
plished by a great Pope and a great King 
working in conjunction, and that the end of the 
world was probably near at hand ; 2 still he does 
not himself assert this. Great preachers like St. 
Vincent Ferrer and Savonarola in the fifteenth 
century were much more explicit in their pro- 
nouncements. St. Vincent in particular for 
several years together preached throughout 
France and Spain, as a matter, not of opinion, 
but of certain knowledge, that the coming of 
Antichrist was imminent. Being denounced on 
this account to Benedict XIII the Pope of his 
obedience (it was during the period of the great 
schism) St. Vincent justified himself to the 
Pontiff in a long and reasoned statement, in 
which he declared that " the time of Antichrist 
and the end of the world will be soon, and very 
soon, and in exceeding short space " (cito et 

1 F. Rogeri Bacon, Opera Inedita, ed. J. S. Brewer (Rolls 
Series), p. 86. 

2 16., pp. 403-4. 


i8a The coming of Antichrist 

bene cito et valde breviter). He added that he 
was himself convinced that Antichrist had already 
been born some time before, and he justifies 
this belief by certain miraculous experiences of 
his own, as well as by the testimony of others 
and by the evidence of the demons whom he had 
questioned when exorcising possessed persons. 
To use his own words : 

From all these facts there has been formed in my 
mind an opinion and a probable belief, though not 
such as I can proclaim for absolute certainty, that 
Antichrist has already been born these nine years 
past. But as for the conviction which I have already 
stated, 1 to wit, that soon, quite soon and very shortly, 
the time of Antichrist and the end of the world will be 
upon us, I proclaim it everywhere with certainty and 
without misgiving, " the Lord working with me and 
confirming the word by the signs that follow." 5 

Further, St. Vincent both said in his sermons 
and told the Pope that he (Vincent) himself was 
the angel spoken of in the Apocalypse (xiv. 6-7), 
who was sent to proclaim with a great voice : 
" Fear God and give Him glory for the hour of 
His judgment is come." 2 

He stated also that when he announced that 

1 He had previously written, " Quarta conclusio est quod 
tempus Antichrist! et finis mundi erunt cito et bene cito et 
Valde breviter." F. Pages, O.P., Notes et Documents de 
I'Histoire de St. Vincent Ferrier (Paris, 1905), p. 220. 

3 Pages, Notes et Documents, p. 223. 

3 Pages, Histoire de St. Vincent Ferrier (Paris, 1901), vol. i, 
pp. 312 et seq. 

SS. Vincent Ferrer and Norbert 183 

the end of the world would come soon, he meant 
this in the proper sense of the words (proprie et 
stride loquendo), while contemporaries declared 
that he worked the stupendous miracle of recall- 
ing a dead person to life to witness the truth of 
what he prophesied. 

But although all this happened more than five 
hundred years ago the end of the world has not 
yet arrived. So again we learn from no less a 
person than St. Bernard of Clairvaux that St. 
Norbert, the founder of the Premonstratensians, 
prophesied about the year 1128 that the coming 
of Antichrist might be expected immediately. 
" I asked him," writes St. Bernard, " what were 
his ideas about Antichrist. He declared that he 
knew in a very certain way that he would be 
manifested in this generation (ea quae nunc est 
generatione revelandum ilium esse). As I did 
not share his belief, I asked him his reasons, but 
his reply did not satisfy me." 1 St. Francis of 
Paolo, on the other hand, the founder of the 
Minims, in a most astounding series of letters to 
a Neapolitan nobleman, predicted that before the 
expiration of 400 years (he was writing in 1485) 
a descendant of his should institute the last 
and greatest of all the religious orders, a 
military order of "Cross bearers," who would 
exterminate all the Mohammedans and un- 
believers left unconverted in the last age of the 
world. If we could put any confidence in the 

1 St. Bernard, Ep. 56; Migne, P.L., clxxxi, 162. 

184 The coming of Antichrist 

authenticity of these letters, 1 the Saint wrote to 
his correspondent in such terms as these : 

God Almighty will exalt a very poor man of the 
blood of the Emperor Constantine, son of St. Helena, 
and of the seed of Pepin, who shall on his breast wear 
the sign which you have seen at the beginning of this 
letter (+). Through the power of the Most High he 
shall confound the tyrants, the heretics, and infidels. 
He will gather a grand army, and the angels shall 
fight for them; they shall kill all God's enemies. O 
my Lord ! that man shall be one of your posterity, 
because you come from the blood of Pepin. 
Or again in another of the letters : 
MY EXCELLENT LORD, Let your soul rejoice ! for 
his Divine Majesty manifests through you such 
wonderful signs and great miracles, according to 
what I, by God's will, have often and again written 
and foretold to you. One of your posterity shall 
achieve greater deeds and work greater wonders than 
your lordship. That man will be a great sinner in 
his youth, but like St. Paul he shall be drawn and 
converted to God. He shall be the great founder of 
a new religious order different from all the others. 
He shall divide it into three classes, namely : i. 
Military knights; 2. Solitary priests; 3. Most pious 
hospitallers. This shall be the last religious order in 
the Church, and it will do more good for our holy 
religion than all other religious institutes. By force 
of arms he shall take possession of a great kingdom. 
He shall destroy the sect of Mahomet, extirpate all 

1 The letters are printed in Spanish by Montoya, the historio- 
grapher of the Minims, as an appendix to his Coronica General 
de la Orden de los Minimos, Madrid, 1619. 

St. Francis of Paolo 185 

tyrants and heresies. He shall bring the world to a 
holy mode of life. There will be one fold and one 
Shepherd. He shall reign until the end of time. On 
the whole earth there shall be only twelve kings, one 
emperor, and one pope. Rich gentlemen shall be 
very few, but all saints. May Jesus Christ be praised 
and blessed ; for he has vouchsafed to grant to me, a 
poor unworthy sinner, the spirit of prophecy, not in 
an obscure way as to His other servants, but has 
enabled me to wtite and to speak in a most clear 

That these letters were authentic I cannot for a 
moment believe, but they were accepted by 
Montoya and by such scholars as Morales, 
Cornelius a Lapide, and a number of others, and 
they therefore reflect not unfairly the tone of 
mind which in the seventeenth century prevailed 
among religious people even with some pretence 
to learning. It is not surprising, then, to find 
that such a mystic as Holzhauser, when inter- 
preting the Apocalypse, speaks with confidence 
of the long-hoped-for epoch of universal 

Like most of the prophets who committed 
themselves in any detail to a picture of the last 
age of the world, Holzhauser calls up a wonder- 
ful vision of the peace and happiness that will 
prevail before the coming of Antichrist. This 
belief may be traced back to the Papa Angelicas 
of Abbot Joachim or Bacon, and in nearly all 
these prognostics the ecclesiastical and civil 

i 86 The coming of Antichrist 

powers are represented as acting in perfect 
accord. Thus the German mystic writes : 

The sixth period of the Church the status consola- 
tionis begins with the Holy Pope and the Powerful 
Emperor, and terminates with the birth of Antichrist. 

This will be an age of solace, wherein God will 
console His Church after the many mortifications and 
afflictions she had endured in the fifth period. For all 
nations will be brought to the unity of the true Catholic 

A type of this period was the sixth age of the old 
world, from the deliverance of the Israelites out of 
the Babylonish captivity, and the rebuilding of the 
city and of the temple of Jerusalem, down to the 
coming of Christ. As God gladdened His people by 
the rebuilding of the temple and of the holy city ; as 
all kingdoms and nations were subjected to the Roman 
Empire; and Caesar Augustus, the most powerful and 
excellent monarch, after vanquishing all his enemies, 
gave for fifty-six years peace to the world : so will 
God pour out upon His Church, that witnessed in the 
fifth period nought but affliction, the most abundant 
consolations. But this happy age will be ushered in 
under the following circumstances. When all is 
desolated with war ; when the Church and the priests 
must pay taxes ; when Catholics are oppressed by 
heretics and their faithless fellow-religionists; when 
monarchs are murdered; subjects oppressed; when 
riches are extirpated; when everything concurs to 
bring about the establishment of republics, then will 
the hand of the Almighty produce a marvellous 
change, according to human notions seemingly im- 
possible. For that strong monarch (whose name is 

Holzhauser's Sixth Age 187 

to be the help of God), will as the envoy of the 
Almighty, root up these republics. He will subject 
all things to himself, and will zealously assist the true 
Church of Christ. All heresies will be banished into 
hell; the Turkish Empire will be overthrown to its 
foundations, and his dominion will extend from east 
to west. All nations will come, and will worship the 
Lord in the one true Catholic faith. Many righteous 
men will flourish, and many learned men will arise. 
Men will love justice and righteousness, and peace 
will dwell on the whole earth. For the Omnipotent 
will bind Satan for many years until the advent of 
him who is to come the son of perdition. 

In respect to perfection, this period corresponds to 
the sixth day of creation, on which God created man 
after His own image, and subjected to him, as lord 
of creation, all creatures of the earth. So will man 
be now a true image of God (in righteousness and 
holiness), and the strong monarch will rule over all 

The sixth gift of the Spirit, the fear of the Lord, 
will in this period be poured out upon the Church ; for 
men will fear the Lord their God, keep His command- 
ments, and serve Him with their whole heart. The 
Scriptures will be understood after one uniform 
fashion, without contradiction and error, so that all 
will marvel they had so long misunderstood the clear 
sense of Holy Writ. The sciences will be multiplied 
and completed, and men will receive extraordinary 
illumination in natural, as well as divine knowledge. 1 

If this teaching is to be generally accepted, and 
it has prevailed as the more common opinion for 

1 Beykirch, pp. 27-9. 

1 88 The coming of Antichrist 

many centuries, the immediate coming of Anti- 
christ is not yet to be feared, for most assuredly 
that age of grace which is to precede his advent 
is still far off. 

At the same time among the multitude of 
writers, both ancient and modern, who have 
treated of Antichrist and the end of the world, 
the greatest diversity of view prevails, not only 
with regard to the time of the second coming of 
the Son of man, but also with regard to the 
character and order of those occurrences which 
are to herald His approach. The quaint legend 
prevalent in the later Middle Ages, which re- 
counted the whole history of Antichrist from his 
portentous birth to his destruction at Jerusalem, 
together with the marvellous preaching of Enoch 
and Elias (identified with the two " witnesses " 
of Apoc. xi. 3-12), is not now, of course, accepted 
with the same unquestioning faith as formerly ; 
but the belief in a personal Antichrist seems still 
to be general amongst those who incline to a 
conservative interpretation of Holy Scripture. 1 
The late Cardinal Newman pointed out long ago 
in his essay on " The Patristical Idea of Anti- 
christ," published as one of the Tracts for the 
Times in 1838, that it was the universal tradition 
of the early Church " that Antichrist is one in- 
dividual man, not a power not a mere ethical 

1 The Abbe* A. Chauffard, for example, published several 
books in 1893 and 1894 dealing with the coming of Antichrist, 
the best known of which perhaps is La Revelation de S. Jean 
et le prochain grand regne de I'Eglise, Paris, 1894. On the other 

The Diana Vaughan Myth 189 
spirit or a political system, not a dynasty or suc- 
cession of rulers ' ' ; and in reprinting this essay 
in 1872, he added nothing to indicate that his 
views on this matter had undergone any change. 
The question cannot be discussed here, but it 
may be noted that, as in the days of St. Vincent 
Ferrer, so of recent years the belief in the near 
coming of a personal Antichrist has led, especially 
at times of religious unrest, to many extrava- 
gances of superstition and credulity. It will be 
remembered that the most objectionable features 
of the Diana Vaughan myth were cunningly 
devised by Leo Taxil to trade on this common 
expectation of pious Catholics. But even 
among those who regard the Apocalypse as an 
entirely prophetic document, there still remains 
the widest divergence of view with regard to its 
chronology, and it may be noted that a learned 
Dominican, Pere Gallois, writing some years ago 
in the Revue Biblique* not only argues in favour 
of a modified Millenarianism, but supposes that 
this thousand years of peace in the Church is to 
follow, not to precede, the period of Antichrist's 
dominion. In all this confusion and conflict of 
opinion the only thing upon which we can lay 

hand, I may note that Colonel J. L. Ratton, who, after two 
previous apocalyptic works, published in 1912 a book called 
The Apocalypse of St. John, which is dedicated to Cardinal 
Bourne, deprecates the idea of " an anthropomorphic Anti- 
christ," remarking that " Antichrist is a movement, not a 
man " (p. 252). 

1 See the Revue Biblique, 1893, pp. 384-430 and 506-43 ; 1894, 
PP- 357-74- 

1 90 The coming of Antichrist 

stress with any sense of security is that utter- 
ance of our Saviour, the very language of 
which conveys so marked an emphasis : " But 
of that day or hour no man knoweth, neither the 
angels in heaven, nor the Son, but (only) the 
Father " (Mark xiii. 32). 





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Thw R War and the Prophets 




The War and the Prophets. .T55