If St. Malachy is right,the Olive could be Martini
By JOSEPH GALLAGHER
Is the papacy (and the world) only two popes away from the End? People who believe in the prophetic list of papal mottoes attributed to Irelands St. Malachy (1094-1148) point out that only two of 122 mottoes remain unfulfilled: From the Glory of the Olive, and Peter II the Roman.
But how many people believe in the list? It was supposedly discovered in the Vatican archives some 440 years after Malachys death (in the arms of St. Bernard of Clairvaux). The mottoes are simply two to four enigmatic words for each pope, and by 1590 some 74 had already been fulfilled.
Suspicion has been aroused not only by the fact that such a list could have been unknown and lost for 440 years, but also because it is much harder to fit the mottoes to the popes after the list was found. Predicting isnt easy, especially when its a question of the future.
One pious theory is that St. Malachy was divinely inspired to know the papal future so that he could persuade the hard-pressed pope of his day that the papacy would have a future. A skeptical theory is that the Benedictine monk who discovered the list wanted to give the same kind of encouragement to the post-Reformation pope of his day.
Australian author John Hogue, who sounds like a recovering Catholic, has already published several volumes on Nostradamus. Hogue is willing to admit that the discoverer of Malachys prophecies was a forger, but he charitably suggests that he was an inspired one (otherwise, I suppose, there would be no book).
Much of the book consists of brief biographies of the 110 popes who have already been covered. The list curiously includes 10 antipopes -- leave out these 10 and we might have another century of popes to go.
The sketches, which sometimes violate chronology, try to show how the mottoes fit. Much ingenuity is in evidence. Since the gentle, saintly Pius VII was scarcely a rapacious eagle, Hogue thinks that Napoleon, the persecutor of Pius, is intended. This kind of game is hard to lose.
The book includes a color photo of Milans Cardinal Mario Martini, a man on everyones list of potential successors to the present pontiff. Give Malachy, or the anonymous forger, credit for a great sense of humor if the Jesuit Martini turns out to be the Glory of the Olive.
Joseph Gallagher, a retired, non-bibulous priest of the Baltimore archdiocese, is rooting for Martini.
National Catholic Reporter, December 4, 1998