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St. Malachy
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Religious Figure
    (1094-November 2, 1148)
    Born in Armagh, Ireland
    Achbishop of Armagh (1132-37)
    Canonized by Pope Clement XIII (1199)
    Allegedly wrote the 'Prophecy of the Popes,' a list of 112 short phrases in Latin, describing the future popes, from Celestine II to Peter the Roman, whose papacy will end with the destruction of Rome
    It is rather ironic for a saint to be mainly remembered for his prophecies since the Roman Catholic Church considers predicting the future a sin.
    His feast day was bumped back from his day of death to November 3 to avoid conflicting with All Souls Day.
    The Prophecy of the Popes first became public in 1590, four and half centuries after it was allegedly written.
    Skeptics argue that the connections between the prophecies and the popes are clear for pre-1590 popes and tend to require more stretching for post-1590 popes.
    Make a prediction sufficiently brief and cryptic and you can probably find something in a pope's life that will fit it.
    Attempts to use the Prophecy to deduce in advance what the popes will be like rarely, if ever, pan out. (For instance, 'The People's Almanac' in 1975 predicting the papacies of Gregory XVIII and Leo XIV.)
    Benedict XVI is the 111th of the popes, so if Malachy was right, the reign of Peter the Roman, when things start hitting the fan, is right around the corner.
    He persuaded the Church in Ireland to adapt the reforms of Pope Gregory VII.
    He was credited with miraculously restoring the health of the son of King David I of Scotland.
    He was known for his modesty, obedience and diligence.
    He was the first Irish saint formally canonized by a pope.
    When the successor to Pope John Paul II was being chosen, Malachy's prophecy 'Glory of the olive' led to speculation that the new pope would come from the Benedictine order, since their symbol is an olive branch.
    Joseph Ratzinger, who had never been a Benedictine, was elected and the skeptics were ready to gloat... then the pope chose Benedict as his pontifical name.

Credit: C. Fishel

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