“Your avarice has plunged the world into the dark shadow of spiritual desolation, trampling down good men so that you might exalt evil-doers. Of shepherds like you did St. John the Evangelist write in his vision of the Apocalypse, revealing you to be that Great Harlot who sits upon the many waters committing fornication with the kings of the earth; she, the seven-headed Beast, whose ten horns thunder forth her vain glory, deceiving her divine spouse with her false virtue. Of gold and silver you have made your god, no differently than does the idolater, save that he worships but one abomination and you one hundred. Ah Constantine! to so much wickedness did you give birth when you conferred temporal power and wealth upon the Holy Father.”
Dante, Inferno, xix, 104-117
Moved by the spirit of poetic prophecy, Dante “chants” these words to the infernal shade of Pope Nicholas III, who held the Keys of St. Peter during a period of great schisms in the Church (1277-1280 A.D.). It was a time of ruthless struggle between the French and the Italians for domination of the Holy See. Indeed, Nicholas himself had, in his efforts to undermine Charles of Anjou, played a most foul role in the notorious massacre known as the “Sicilian Vespers”, in which 8,000 Frenchmen perished. Understandably, then, Dante envisioned Nicholas among the wretched denizens of that precinct of Hell where the sinners are buried face-down in a hole with only their lower bodies protruding. Such was the punishment meted out to assassins under the law of 13th Century Florence.
In Dante’s turbulent times, assassination was an often-times effective instrument of Vatican policy and a not-infrequent factor in the papal succession itself. Before we hasten to banish these sinister practices to the back pages of ecclesiastical history, however, we might do well to first recall the mysterious death of Pope John Paul I in 1978, or the shooting of John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square in 1981. We might do well to entertain at least the possibility that the assassin’s hand, though now perhaps hidden in the shadows, is still poised to strike at the heart of the Holy See.
Though most assuredly the greatest poet of the Roman Church, Dante did not flinch from equating the criminally degraded Papacy of his day with the Scriptural Mother of Abominations, “drunken with the blood of the Martyrs”. After all, did not the Popes owe their temporal authority to the Caesars of Rome? The Caesars whose provincial governor had ordered the Crucifixion of Christ? The Caesars who had martyred countless of Christ’s disciples, including Saints Peter and Paul? And yet, alas, had not these same Caesars dispensed, from the hand of the Emperor Constantine the Great, a portion of their dominion to the Roman Pontiff? If the Church is the mystical Bride of Christ, then had not the Bride lain down in the carnal embrace of her divine Husband’s butcher and made of herself the Great Harlot?
So inured to evil has the general opinion of mankind become that it finds nothing at all incongruous in the opulent power of the modern Papacy. Yet those who would call themselves Christians must marvel at the vast moral gulf which divides their Prophet ― who in the wilderness of Jordan spurned the Tempter’s offer of worldly kingdoms ― from his Vicars, whose white robes are sprinkled with the blood they have wantonly spilled in the furious pursuit of power and riches. And if, like Dante, we summon the vision to peer down into the profound spiritual abyss into which the Holy See has descended, must we not also recognize that we are living in the Time of Tribulation? Can we not sense the onset of that Time of whose coming Christ forewarned his Apostles, when mankind should behold the “abomination spoken of by Daniel” standing in the Holy Place?
The Prophecy of Daniel
The great Jewish prophets did not shrink from preaching against the spiritual harlotry of the priesthood of their own day. Among them, Daniel dared to pronounce the doom of the Mother of Abominations and to foretell her fall after a span of “70 weeks” from the time when God established His Covenant with Moses. According to Biblical scholars, Moses first heard the voice of Yahweh in the burning bush approximately 1500 years before the birth of Christ. Daniel’s “week” signifies the Sacred Week ordained by Yahweh on Mt. Sinai ― a “week” consisting of 50 years, with the 50th consecrated as a JubileeYear. It follows, therefore, that Daniel’s “70 weeks” amount to 70 times 50, or 3500 years, which places the fall of the Great Harlot in the beginning of the 21st Century.
In another of his visions, Daniel reveals that the great Hebrew redemptive cycle would unfold in “a time, [two] times and half [a time]”, with a “time” corresponding to one millennium. Hence, a period of 3500 years is again indicated, commencing with the Sinai Covenant about 1500 B.C. and ending in our own time with the ouster of the Abomination from the Holy Place which she has rendered desolate. In the same Scriptural passage, Daniel informs us that the prophesied cleansing of the Holy Place will begin 1290 “days”, i.e. years, after the Abomination establishes herself there, and will be completed within 45 “days”/years thereafter. Consequently, if the consummation of this cleansing coincides with the Millennial Jubilee of 2000 A.D., Daniel must have been pointing back to the year 666 A.D. as the historical root of the Church’s spiritual crisis.
Of course, this date corresponds remarkably with the ill-famed number 666 associated with the Beast of Revelation, whose monstrous features ― seven heads and ten horns ― match those of the “fourth beast” of Daniel’s apocalyptic dream. At the time of his dream, Daniel and his people were captives in Babylon under the reign of King Belshazzar. The young prophet envisioned a succession of earthly Empires, portrayed as a series of four strange beasts, representing, in turn, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, and Rome. The “fourth beast”, then, is none other than the Roman Empire, and Daniel clearly sees this Empire, or some significant vestige of it, surviving into the 21st Century. In fact, Daniel foresees an interval of 2300 “days”/years from the conquest of the Holy Land by the third beast ― the Goat, symbolic of the empire of Alexander the Great ― to the cleansing of the Sanctuary. Since Alexander ‘s army entered Palestine in 332 B.C., this chronology once more puts the period of the cleansing in the decades leading up to the Millennium year 2000.
The prophesied “cleansing” is necessary because the “Holy Place” has been corrupted by temporal power and wealth At some point in history, the Pontiffs stepped out of the Shoes of the Fisherman, so to speak, and into the shoes of the very Roman Emperors who had supposedly crucified the Fisherman. While Dante in the Inferno spoke of the so-called “Donation of Constantine” as the source of the Papacy’s temporal sway in Rome, modern historians generally view the “Donation” as a forgery created by the Vatican to legitimize a naked power grab which actually took place two centuries after Constantine’s reign.
Up until the middle of the 7th Century, the sovereignty over Rome remained in the hands of the “Byzantine” Roman Emperor, who ruled Italy through his Exarch in Ravenna. It was at that time that the Pontiffs began to subvert the Emperor’s control by allying themselves with the invading Lombards in Italy and Croats in Dalmatia, whose kings they baptized as “Roman” Catholics, as distinguished from “Orthodox” Christians. The last Byzantine Emperor to visit Rome as its recognized sovereign was Constans II in 663 A.D. After his reception in Rome, the Emperor journeyed on to Sicily, where he was murdered in the year 668 A.D. under circumstances suggestive of an ecclesiastical plot. We may plausibly speculate, therefore, that the Vatican’s first resort to assassination, and its original appropriation of the scepter of the ancient Caesars, occurred when it became involved in the conspiracy to kill the Roman Emperor. Such a conspiracy might have been hatched in the benighted year of 666 A.D. ― a year which figures so mysteriously in Daniel’s prophecy and in the “number” of the Beast.
Having thus traced the intertwining threads of prophecy back from the infernal visions of Dante to the apocalyptic dreams of Daniel, we can already perceive a common theme of assassination as the outward manifestation of the spiritual cancer which afflicts the hierarchy of the Church. Let us now explore how this theme may relate to the Papal succession in the critical Time of Tribulation ― that is, in the last three decades of the 20th Century and the first decade of the 21st Century. This inquiry leads us first to the enigmatic writings of yet another seer who appeared at the beginning of the Second Millennium: the 12th Century Saint Malachy.
The Prophecy of St. Malachy
Born in the first century of the Second Millennium (1095 A.D.), Malachy O’Morgair was a holy man, reputed to have had miraculous powers of healing, levitation and clairvoyance. After being named Archbishop of Armagh in 1137 A.D., he embarked upon a difficult pilgrimage from his native Ireland to Rome to confer with Pope Innocent II. When he caught his first glimpse of the seven hills of the Eternal City, Malachy fell into an ecstatic trance. In this trance, he witnessed a procession of popes, beginning with Celestine II, the successor to Innocent II, and extending to the last of the line, who bore the title “Peter of Rome”. After emerging from this trance, Malachy recorded a brief descriptive “motto” for each of the popes he had seen in his vision and presented them to Innocent II at their meeting. Although the Church would, after Malachy’s death, affirm his miraculous works and canonize him as the first Irish saint,  his prophecies would lie neglected and forgotten in the papal archives for over 450 years before being rediscovered and published. Even to this day, “official” Vatican scholars deny the authenticity of St. Malachy=s prophecies.
Nonetheless, St. Malachy’s descriptions have proven to be uncannily appropriate for each of the popes in the centuries since his death, with each characterization simultaneously revealing something both personal and prophetic about the corresponding pontiff. Thus, the first pope of the 20th Century, Leo XIII (1878-1903) was styled “Lumen in Caelo”, or “Light in the Sky”. On the personal level, this is a reference to the comet pictured in Leo=s coat-of-arms. From the historical perspective, his pontificate inaugurated the 20th Century ― a century prophesied to be followed by the Advent of Christ as a great Light appearing in the clouds. Malachy names the first of the final five popes “Pastor et Nauta”, “Pastor and Mariner”. This title describes Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) personally as the former Patriarch of maritime Venice, and historically as the pontiff whose reign ushers in the four decades during which the apocalyptic Beast will emerge “from the sea”.  His successor Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) was dubbed “Flos Florum”, or the “Flower of Flowers”, a fitting title in view the fleur-de-lys motif of his papal coat-of-arms, as well as the theme of his historic encyclical Humanae Vitae, which defined the Church’s position on procreation.
To the papacy of John Paul I, cut short by his mysterious death after only a month, St. Malachy applies the positively clairvoyant phrase “De Medietate Lunae”, that is, “Of the Half Moon”. The birth of this gentle “smiling Pontiff” ― on “Half Moon Street” in the village of Forno di Canale ― occurred under the half Moon of October 17, 1912. His election to the papal throne coincided exactly with the half Moon of August 26, 1978, and his mysterious death followed soon after the next month=s half Moon. Just as the half Moon has a “dark side”, moreover, the death of John Paul I would reveal the presence of dark forces at work within the Church. Indeed, in its symbolic sense, the half Moon represents a turning point in the battle of Light versus Darkness. When the Light is prevailing, the waxing half Moon precedes the full Moon by a week. On the other hand, the waning half Moon signifies the ascendancy of Darkness leading to the new Moon ― the phase of the Moon during which solar eclipses occur. Remarkably, the abbreviated papal reign of John Paul I was bracketed by waning half Moons and was followed by the election of the Pope who Malachy dubs “De Labore Solis” ― the “Of the Eclipse of the Sun”! While this ominous title evidently bodes ill for the destiny of the Holy See, even more incredible is its individual relevance to John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyla during the solar eclipse of May 18, 1920!
It bears noting that the eclipse of the Sun has frequently figured as a “celestial sign” in apocalyptic prophecies. Such eclipses were, judging by the astronomical orientation of Stonehenge and other megalithic sites, an evident preoccupation of prehistoric humanity. Moreover, the metaphysics of ancient Egypt associated the eclipse of the Sun with the “second death” ― that most-dreaded punishment of the unjustified dead condemned to spiritual annihilation. This notion of the “second death” also finds its way into the Scriptural scenario of the Last Judgment and the Lake of Fire, in which are consumed the resurrected bodies of those who have betrayed the Holy Spirit and have accepted the mark of the Beast.  In all of this imagery, we should comprehend the unfolding of the “cleansing” process foretold by Daniel. As we shall see, this “cleansing” involves an utter transformation of the material basis of the universe ― quite literally a “new Heaven and a new Earth” ― in which only those whose beings remain rooted in the Spirit may hope to negotiate the Great Transition.
In connection with the Irish Saint’s chosen emblem for Pope John Paul II, we should also consider the dual nature of eclipses, which always occur in complementary lunar/solar pairs. A lunar eclipse can only happen when the Moon is full and must always be matched with a solar eclipse when the Moon is new. Given this inherent coupling of lunar and solar eclipses, a parallel symbolic bond is implied between the current “solar” Pope John Paul and his predecessor of the same name, who is associated with the Moon in Malachy’s prophecy. In fact, the 33-day reign of John Paul I was punctuated at its midpoint by a lunar eclipse, which occurred on September 16, 1978 and was visible in Rome. Hence, there would appear to be a strong linkage between the destinies of these two Popes. We are strongly drawn to the hypothesis that any inquiry into the fate of John Paul II ― the Pontiff of the solar eclipse per St. Malachy’s vision ― must begin with a scrutiny of his predecessor=s brief reign, marked by the lunar eclipse. Accordingly, the path of prophecy now leads us to inquire into the death of John Paul I.
The Assassination of Pope John Paul I
To understand the forces at work in the sudden death of Pope John Paul I in 1978 , we should first back up a bit in time to the 19th Century, when the Church was stripped of its sovereign power in the Papal States by the Italian national revolution. As a result, after 1870 the Pope became the pathetic “Prisoner of the Vatican” ― a “prisoner” who was, however, forever intriguing to restore his lost domains. Perhaps to compensate for the loss of his earthly kingdom, Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) convoked Vatican Council I with the purpose of proclaiming his doctrine of “Papal Infallibility”, which would replace the temporal tyranny of the defunct Vatican monarchy with the spiritual tyranny of the “Infallible See”. Quite tragically, this turn toward authoritarian and revanchist politics on the part of the Church was to play no small part in the onset of fascism in the early 20th Century.
For his despicable role in delivering the Italian nation into the bloody hands of Benito Mussolini, Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) received considerably more than Iscariot’s thirty pieces of silver. In exchange for propping up the faltering Fascist regime, the Vatican got the equivalent of million (5 million in today’s dollars) and restoration of its sovereignty in Vatican City under the terms of the Lateran Treaty of 1929. Thus had the Papacy evolved from the avaricious harlot of the Caesars to the contemptible whore of “Il Duce”. Pius and his successors would exploit this latter-day “Donation of Constantine” to create a “Vatican Bank”, effectively beyond the reach of any regulation by secular authorities, and hence uniquely suited to the nefarious work of tax evasion and money laundering in which it later became enmeshed.
By 1958 Pope John XXIII would inherit the helm of a sovereign power which was as monolithic and mindlessly dogmatic as Stalin’s Comintern. Under the totalitarian doctrine laid down by Vatican Council I, any deviation from the Pope’s moral teaching was, by definition, “error” ― and expressions of “error” were not to be granted the privilege of toleration. Sacrificing his own health in the process, John XXIII struggled mightily to pull together the reformist Vatican Council II in the face of fierce opposition by conservatives, who feared that any relaxation of papal absolutism would undermine the entire Vatican edifice. To some degree, the conservatives proved right, for the free thought which Vatican Council II had encouraged did not stop with the Council’s largely symbolic reforms of the Catholic liturgy, but proceeded on to challenge the entire worldly edifice of power and wealth which the modern Church hierarchy had erected.
After the death of John XXIII in 1963, the deadlock between conservatives and reformers in the College of Cardinals resulted in the election of a vacillating “Hamlet” in Pope Paul VI, who would agonize for five years over the question of the morality of artificial birth control. During this time, Paul would be subjected to immense pressure from the old guard in the Vatican=s governing body, which is called the “Curia”. No sooner had John XXIII died, but the Curia began battling to turn back the liberalizing tide of his Vatican Council II and return the Church to its sexually repressive, authoritarian mold.  In the course of his soul-searching, Paul VI called upon the advice of the gentle, scholarly Cardinal of Venice, Albino Luciani, who provided the Pontiff with a compelling theological argument for the Church’s honorable retreat from its fatuous incursion into the boudoirs of its faithful. When his irresolute Pontiff ultimately bowed to the relentless lobbying campaign of the conservatives and opted to ignore Luciani’s learned thesis, the Cardinal’s sense of honor and loyalty would not permit him to join in the chorus of derision which greeted the release of Paul’s Humanae Vitae in July 1968. Ironically, this principled refusal to openly criticize the Papacy’s anti-contraception crusade led to the false perception of Albino Luciani as a conservative among the Cardinal electors who convened after the death of Paul VI in August of 1978.
When the conclave assembled in the wake of Paul’s death, it was deeply divided between those who sought to move forward with the reformist agenda of Vatican Council II, on one side, and those who yearned for a return to the comforting certainty of the rigid dogma they had known before Pope John XXIII. As fate would have it, the conservatives’ prospects of electing their candidate had been considerably dimmed by an amendment to the electoral procedure, enacted by Paul VI, which disenfranchised those Cardinals over 80 years of age. Unable to install one of their own as Pope, the conservatives at the conclave resorted to a strategy of blocking the election of the leading progressive candidate and hoping that an acceptable “dark horse” candidate would emerge from the deadlock. Cardinal Luciani’s simple, self-effacing demeanor, and his apparent readiness to subordinate his own viewpoints in obedience to higher authority, as evidenced by his response to Humanae Vitae, made him appeal to the conservative Curia as a perfect compromise candidate. Luciani, they believed, would make a pope who they could effectively control.
Once elected, however, the new Pope began to display the brilliant mind and puckish charisma which had been concealed behind his former reticent reserve. Not awed in the least by his exalted station, John Paul I immediately threw himself into an all-out effort to revolutionize the Papacy: to return it to its spiritual origins, to the message of the Gospels. At his coronation, he refused to be carried on the papal sedan chair sedia gestatoria or to wear the jewel-encrusted tiara. He instructed the Curia’s Secretary of State not to invite the leaders of the military juntas in Argentina, Chile and Paraguay to his inaugural Mass. He refused to follow the scripts prepared for him by the Curia at his audiences and press conferences, where he was emphatic in announcing that his pontificate would see to the withdrawal of the Church from its involvement in “purely temporal ... and political affairs”. Totally exasperated by the new Pontiff’s unexpected independence, the Curia actually began to censor the Pope=s ex tempora remarks from the Vatican’s daily newspaper, particularly when he began to express his views on contraception and his willingness to reverse the proscriptive stance of Humanae Vitae.
While Albino Luciani proved to be an irritant to the Curia in many ways, he made himself their absolute nemesis when he began to delve into the Vatican Bank’s insidious dealings, which dated back to the reign of his predecessor. In 1968, the same year in which he had hung the albatross of Humanae Vitae around the Church’s neck, Pope Paul VI had taken into his confidence a flamboyant Sicilian financier named Michele Sindona. Sindona’s spectacular rise from veritable rags to control of a vast international banking empire was due, in part, to an extraordinary business instinct and mental acumen combined with a mesmerizing charm. But, despite his considerable natural gifts, Sindona would never have vaulted from the teeming streets of Messina to the board rooms of Milan without the support of his patrons in the Mafia and in “P2”, a secret Masonic society controlled by one Licio Gelli. Gelli, the secret society’s “Grand Master”, had assembled a network of far-right-wing military and political figures that functioned as a “state within a state” in Italy and several Latin American countries. Relying on bribery, extortion, and, when necessary, assassination and terrorism to expand his web of power, Gelli financed his empire through the systematic plunder of a growing string of banks acquired by his associate Roberto Calvi. With the “help” of Gelli and Calvi, Sindona gained control of a group of some of the oldest and most prestigious financial institutions in Italy and Switzerland, including several banks in which the Vatican held an interest.
Nicknamed the “Shark”, Sindona almost overnight became the toast of the international banking community and the subject of adoring accolades by Fortune and Time magazines. He quickly earned the reputation of taking over venerable but failing banking houses and miraculously turning them around ― not only into the black, but literally into cash cornucopias. When his house of cards finally collapsed in 1974, in what became known in Italy as “Il Crack Sindona”, prosecutors soon discovered the secret of the Shark’s “magic touch” ― massive infusions of drug money from the Gambino family which Sindona’s banks assiduously “laundered”. In order to pay back his P2 patrons Gelli and Calvi, moreover, the Shark had embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars from the banks he controlled. Soon after his financial debacle, Sindona fled to the U.S., where he felt he could rely on the protection of his old friend, then-President Richard Nixon. Unfortunately for the Shark, the Watergate scandal forced Nixon’s resignation in August 1974. “Coincidentally” within weeks thereafter Federal auditors discovered a huge “hole” in the assets of Franklin National Bank, which was part of the Sindona empire.  Indicted in both the U.S. and Italy for bank fraud and embezzlement, Michele Sindona would later order the contract killing of a key prosecution witness, for whose murder an Italian court ultimately convicted him in 1986.
This was the man to whom Paul VI turned for financial advice in 1968 when the government in Rome abolished the Vatican’s tax exemption for income from Italian investments. Fearing embarrassment from the public disclosure of the enormity of its financial portfolio which tax filings would reveal, the Vatican opted to divest most of its domestic assets ― preferably at an attractive price. An attractive price ― actually double the market value of the Vatican’s portfolio ― is exactly what the Shark had to offer, since his patrons in the Gambino family were more than willingly to exchange the “dirty” proceeds of their heroin trade for “clean” assets at a two-to-one rate. Of course, the Holy See was not expected to deal directly with the Mafia Dons whose blood money they would receive. Instead, the Shark would set up a shell corporation for the single task of acting as the conduit for the Gambino money ― a corporation he would name Mabusi, an acronym composed of the first two letters from the first, middle and last names of his son Marco.
With his extraordinary mind and innocent fearlessness, Pope John Paul I was able to penetrate to the heart of this shameful labyrinth of corruption and to identify Sindona’s key accomplices inside the Vatican within weeks of his coronation. On the evening of September 28, 1978, he called Cardinal Villot, the leader of the powerful Curia, to his private study to discuss certain “changes” which the Pope proposed to make public on the following day. During the two-hour discussion that followed, Villot was to discover, to his chagrin, the true mettle of the enigmatic man he had once assessed to be a simple fool. Among those whose “resignations” would be accepted by the Pontiff the following day were Villot himself, as well as the head of the Vatican Bank and several other members of the Curia who were implicated in the activities of Sindona and P2. Moreover, Villot was told that John Paul I would also announce plans for a meeting on October 24th with an American delegation to discuss a reconsideration of the Church’s position on birth control.
While the new Pope was preparing to blow the cover off of the simmering Vatican Bank scandal and sever the Holy See’s Gordian financial entwinement with the banking houses of Signores Sindona and Calvi, these latter two gentlemen were in dire need of the Vatican’s continued complicity. In the autumn of 1978, Italian bank examiners were closing in on proof of the 0 million in embezzled assets which Sindona and Calvi had spirited away either into their own pockets or to support the sinister work of their Masonic Master Gelli and his P2 lodge. The only real gap in the chain of evidence needed to send all of these gentlemen packing off to prison was in the hands of the Vatican Bank, and Papa Luciani was now poised to surrender that card to the authorities. While Sindona’s high-priced New York lawyers had successfully fought off Italy’s extradition efforts since Il Crack four years earlier, the exposure of the Shark’s Vatican dealings would have unceremoniously dispatched him from the Manhattan cocktail circuit into a Milanese lockup. Sindona’s desperation to avoid such a fate had already motivated him to put out “contracts”, through the Gambino family, on witnesses against him in the extradition proceedings, as well as on the assistant U.S. Attorney who was prosecuting the case.
Accordingly, when Pope John Paul I retired to his bedroom on the evening of September 28, 1978, clutching in his hands the momentous missives which would expose the Vatican’s shameful financial flirtation with the Mafia and purge the Curia of those responsible, a number of very ruthless individuals had a great interest in seeing to it that he would never awaken to issue these directives. Among them were Signores Sindona, Calvi, and Gelli ― with the latter having the allegiance, if through no other means than blackmail, of the 120 freemasons in the Roman Curia. Indeed, the new Pope had recently received, from a disillusioned former member of P2, a list of the Curial freemasons, which included the names of Cardinal Villot and Bishop Marcinkus, the head of the Vatican Bank. His planned purge targeted many of them for transfer or forced retirement. But the purge would never come.
Beyond the identifiable group within the Curia which had much to lose by the continued reign of Papa Luciani, there was a more shadowy entity which had much to gain by the premature termination of his papacy. Opus Dei was, and remains today, perhaps the most obscure yet influential “sect” within the Church. A secret society with fascist tendencies like P2, Opus Dei has followed the historical pattern of the Jesuit order in striving to recruit individuals who hold positions of power in government, business, the media, or academia. The “work of God” which these recruits are then enjoined to achieve does not involve resistance to the corruption and spiritual vacuity which characterize these worldly institutions. Rather it aims for personal advancement within these institutions as a means of expanding the power of those at the apex of the sect’s rigidly hierarchal pyramid. Seen through the prism of this cynical scheme of aggrandizement parading as “theology”, any philosophy which advocates fundamental changes in the traditional institutions of Family, Property, and the State, opposes God’s designs for mankind ― designs which include, naturally, the ever greater glory of Opus Dei itself. Given this ultra-conservative perspective, we might well expect to find Opus Dei in the front line of the Church’s assault on all forms of family-planning and population control. And in fact, the only thing higher on their agenda would be putting one of their own on the papal throne. As destiny would have it, Opus Dei was poised to achieve both of these goals by the untimely death of Pope John Paul I.
In the predawn hours of September 29, 1978, the Pope’s housekeeper knocked at his bedroom door, as she always did, promptly at 4:30 a.m. Hearing no response within, she left him a cup of coffee and returned fifteen minutes later to find him still not stirring, which was totally at odds with his punctual routine. When she entered his bed chamber, she gasped to discover the Pope propped up in bed, still clutching his papers from the night before, his face contorted in the grimace of death. On the night table beside him lay an opened bottle of Effortil, a medication which the Pontiff took for his low blood pressure. Before expiring he had apparently vomited. The housekeeper immediately notified the papal chamberlain, or camerlengo, Cardinal Villot, whose first response to the news was to summon the morticians ― before verifying the death himself or calling the Vatican physician to examine the body. Villot arrived in the Pope’s room at 5:00 a.m. and quickly gathered up the crucial papers, the Effortil bottle, and several personal items which were soiled with vomit. None of these articles would ever be seen again.
Although the Vatican claimed that its house physician examined the body and determined myocardial infarction to be the cause of death, no death certificate for Pope John Paul I has been made public to this day. Although Italian law requires a waiting period of at least 24 hours before a body may be embalmed, Cardinal Villot had the body of Albino Luciani prepared for burial less than 12 hours after his death. Although the Vatican refused to allow an autopsy on the basis of an alleged prohibition against it in canon law, the Italian press pointed out that an autopsy had in fact been performed on one of the Pope’s predecessors, Pius VIII. Although the conventional procedure for embalming a body requires that the blood first be drained and certain internal organs removed, not a drop of blood or a shred tissue was removed from the corpse of Papa Luciani ― and hence none were available to test for the presence of poison.
After being elected as Luciani’s successor, Karol Wojtyla would honor him in name only. None of the initiatives which John Paul I had been poised to take with respect to the Vatican Bank, the freemasons in the Curia, or the revision of Humanae Vitae, would ever see the light of day under Pope John Paul II. To the contrary, soon after his election Papa Wojtyla promoted the corrupt head of the Vatican Bank. Bishop Marcinkus had, after all, well served Wojtyla’s pet cause by diverting some 0 million of laundered Mafia money to the Polish Church to help underwrite their campaign against the Communist government. With the Vatican=s continued cooperation, Sindona and Calvi extended their orgy of plunder and remained at liberty for several more years, during which time a number of potential prosecution witnesses were gunned down by contract killers. In fact, when Sindona was finally indicted in the U.S. for bank fraud in connection with the Franklin National failure, the Vatican offered to provide character testimony in his defense!
As for Opus Dei, though John Paul II is not actually a member of the sect, he has often functioned indistinguishably from one. Indeed, soon after recovering from his own brush with assassination, the Pope issued an unprecedented decree granting Opus Dei official status as a “personal prelature” within the Church ― the equivalent of recognizing the sect as a “church within the Church”. And as for persevering doggedly in the policy of antagonism to contraception, abortion, homosexuality and women’s rights, the current Pope is certainly all that Opus Dei could have hoped for, and more. Beyond that, Papa Wojtyla has, through his appointments to the College of Cardinals, seen to it that the electors who will chose his successor are very receptive to the ultra-conservative ideology and moral absolutism of Opus Dei. Ironically, the ominous drive of Opus Dei toward complete supremacy in Vatican City seems to face only one formidable obstacle at this point in history. Opposing them are the Jesuits, whose once-secretive organization formed the model for Opus Dei, but who have gravitated in recent decades toward the more progressive wing of the Church’s theological spectrum. The historical irony here lies in the fact that the roots of the Society of Jesus and Opus Dei are so similar. Both emerged out of a cultural background of militarized, autocratic Spanish societies: 16th Century colonialism on the one hand and Franco’s fascism on the other.  Like the early Jesuit order, Opus Dei is organized under a strictly centralized, hierarchal command structure, with explicitly counter-revolutionary aims. Just as the Jesuits originally battled the Protestant Reformation, Opus Dei tenaciously fights socialism and liberal theology.
Prophecy is often based on resonances: the spirit of a bygone era never really disappears, it just remains inchoate, settling down into the timeless realm of quantum potentiality, until the cavity of Space/Time once again conforms to the frequency of its vibration. We have already seen how the prophets whose visions touched upon the Millennial destiny of the Holy See ― Daniel, Malachy, Dante ― each lived in a era which resonates apocalyptically with our own: the dissolute decadence of ancient Babylon, the violent factionalism of the 12th Century papacy, and the civil chaos of 13th Century Florence. And so, we should not be surprised to find that the prophet whose visions were perhaps best “attuned” to the fate of the Church in the late 20th Century was a man who lived through the Inquisition and was a contemporary of the Jesuits’ founder Ignatius Loyola ― Dr. Michel de Nostredame.
The Prophecies of Nostradamus
Along with about a thousand four-line poetic stanzas known as Quatrains, Nostradamus’ Centuries also contain two sections of prose: the Preface, which is addressed to his son Caesar, and the Epistle to King Henry II of France. Not coincidentally, both of these segments focus intently on the historical period of the 18th Century Enlightenment and the great French Revolution. In his Preface, Nostradamus explains to his son that he had originally intended to keep his prophecies a total secret out of well-founded fear of persecution by the Church and its Inquisition, whose leaders would likely find the foreshadowed changes “so little in accord with what they would like to hear”. He goes on to say that he was only moved to set down his visions, albeit in very cryptic verses, because he felt compelled to reveal what he foresaw as the “Collective Advent”.
What did Dr. Michel mean by the “Collective Advent”? Some interpreters have seen this phrase as referring to the political supremacy of the “vulgar” classes and thus have sought to apply it to the French and/or the Russian revolutions. This thesis gets some support from a subsequent passage of the Preface, which clearly identifies the period of the Enlightenment as the beginning of a long transitional phase ultimately leading to a new Golden Age. And, in one of only a dozen references to precise dates in the Centuries, the Epistle predicts a fierce persecution of the Church in the year 1792 “which they will believe will mark a renewal of time”. As it turns out, this is among the handful of Nostradamus’ prophecies whose fulfillment is absolutely irrefutable, since the year 1792 was the beginning of the intensely anti-clerical Reign of Terror and was the very year designated as Year One of the French revolutionary calendar.
Without doubt, the period of the French Revolution represents one of the three great crises in the history of the sovereign Papacy ― with the other two being the Protestant Reformation and our own era. In 1773, Pope Clement XIV, bending to the pressure of Spain and France,  demobilized the shock troops of the Inquisition with his decree suppressing the Jesuit order. Soon after issuing his edict, Clement would be poisoned and would die precisely as had been predicted by an Italian soothsayer named Bernardino Baruzzi. So much had the Church’s iron grip weakened by this time that the end of the Papacy was being openly prophesied, and these predictions seemed to be confirmed when, in 1809, Napoleon Bonaparte stripped Pope Pius VII of his temporal sovereignty and had him taken prisoner. For this reason, many of Nostradamus’ commentators have equated Napoleon with the “second Antichrist” who would, according to the Epistle, “persecute the Church and its true Vicar”. And, indeed, in view of the three historical crises of the Papacy ― the Reformation, the French Revolution, and the dawn of the current Millennium ― it is quite logical to assign one of the prophet’s three Antichrist’s to each era.
Like most of Nostradamus’ images, however, the “Collective Advent” has multiple layers of meaning. In one sense, the phrase does relate to the various political movements ― of which French Jacobinism was the prototype ― which have sought to forcibly unify humanity within the structure of the modern Nation-State. Viewed from this perspective, the final collapse of this “Vulgar” Advent was clearly foretold in the Epistle, where it marks a watershed in the unfolding of apocalyptic events at the end of the Sixth Millennium:
... thereafter extreme changes, reversals in realms and mighty earthquakes, along with a teeming new Babylon, miserable daughter enlarged by the abomination of the first Holocaust, which will last for only 73 years and 7 months
Not only does this passage forecast the rise of Red Russia ― the “new Babylon”, whose empire was expanded by World War II and the Holocaust ― it predicts with pinpoint accuracy the actual time span from the founding of the Bolshevik State in 1917 to the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991!
Nonetheless, one cannot truly understand the prophecies of Nostradamus by taking account of only the darker side of his multi-layered imagery. It is just this type of one-dimensional interpretation which over the years has unjustly cloaked the prophet’s message in the somber mantle of “gloom and doom”, when he actually foretold not the “end of the World”, but a tumultuous transition to a new “Golden Age”. Understandably, many of the institutions of the World as we know it will be radically transformed or totally swept away in this tidal wave of change, and the dislocations brought on by the precipitous collapse of these institutions will surely be a cause of temporary suffering for many. But the end-result envisioned by Nostradamus is entirely consistent with the visions of Daniel and Revelation: The “Apocalypse” is destined to accomplish the “cleansing” of Consciousness which will “uncover”  the spiritual universe in the fullness of its infinite splendor.
Taken in its supernal rather than historical sense, then, the “Collective Advent” is exactly what the words imply: the Advent of the God-Man in the form of a transfigured human race ― its ageless dream of transcendent unity finally fulfilled in the attainment of a Collective Mind, Body and Spirit. Looking back at Nostradamus’ references to the 18th Century as the onset of this Great Transition, moreover, we should recall that this same period produced not only the Enlightenment, with its deification of Reason, but also the visionary poetry of William Blake, who saw “Jesus” as the metaphysical Body of a spiritually-integrated Divine Humanity. The “Collective Advent”, therefore, is the New Jerusalem, the Millennial city of Blake’s poetry, an ecstatic realm that has always been within and all around us, but has remained inaccessible to a false consciousness which arbitrarily partitions the mental and physical Worlds and atomizes the organic Oneness of mankind.
According to Nostradamus’ prophecies, when are we to expect this Great Transition to occur? Starting with his own 16th Century, the prophet correctly foresees that the ravages of the Plague and continuous warfare would so decimate the population of Europe and rend the medieval social fabric as to usher in the revolutionary changes of the 18th Century. He tells us that this period of pestilence, famine and war would extend 177 years from the date of his writings,  that is, to the year 1732, which corresponds well to the beginning of the Enlightenment.  Taking the year 1732 as the beginning of the profound historical and spiritual changes leading to the Millennium, we are then guided by Nostradamus’ astrological calculations to a specific interval of the 20th Century:
... Mars will finish its century, at the end of which it will start another. Some [planets] will assemble in Aquarius for several years, others in Cancer for even longer... the Sun will come and then Saturn. For, according to the signs of the heavens, the reign of Saturn is returning, so that, according to all calculations, the world is approaching an an-Argonautic revolution.
From the mythical perspective, the voyage of the Argonauts to retrieve the golden Ram=s Fleece was a metaphor for the passage from the astrological Age of Taurus to the Age of Aries. About 2000 BC, the constellation Aries the Ram “flew” eastward, by astronomical precession, to displace the Taurus the Bull as the celestial portal of the vernal equinox. An “an-Argonautic” revolution must then be interpreted as the undoing or reversal of that passage. That would signify the precessional return of the so-called “kerubic” constellations ― Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius ― to the Zodiac=s “cardinal” points aligned with the equinoxes and solstices. This motif manifestly relates to Revelation’s imagery of the four “kerubic” beasts ― Bull, Lion, Eagle, and Angel ― surrounding the throne of the Son of Man. These beasts are symbols of the Zodiac=s four “fixed” signs that mark the astrological crossroads of the Ages. Moreover, the prophesied return of the “reign of Saturn”― the “Golden Age” of myth ― necessarily recalls the astrological Age of Taurus, the antediluvian era when Cronus/Saturn reigned supreme in the pagan pantheon.
Clearly then, the Great Transition is to coincide with the onset of an astrological Age in which the four “kerubic” constellations again align with the Sun’s position at the equinoxes and the solstices. This will in fact occur when the vernal equinox precesses into Aquarius: Taurus will then take over the role of Cancer as the constellation of the summer solstice; Leo will oust Libra at the autumn equinox; and dark Scorpio will unseat Capricorn at the winter solstice. This Transition occurs on several different planes ― spiritual, celestial, incarnate, and terrestrial ― “working its way down”, in a manner of speaking, from the higher planes to the lower. The change became manifest in the spiritual plane, according to the prophecy of Nostradamus’ Preface, in the year 1732, while his Epistle projects the year 1826 as the beginning of the celestial manifestation. And from the spiritual to the incarnate manifestation, the Preface aptly suggests that we measure a “century” of the planet which most epitomizes incarnation: blood-red Mars.
Since a Martian year is 687 Earth days, its “century” comprises 188 of our years, which translates us from the year 1732 to the year 1920. Significantly, within a span of ten days in that very year were born the two men  whose lives would enact the undoing of the one human institution which had spanned the entire Piscean Age ― the Roman Pontificate. On May 18, 1920, near the site of what was to become the Auschwitz death camp, Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, was born during a solar eclipse. The complementary lunar eclipse had occurred on May 3, 1920, followed five days later by the Sicilian nativity of a man who would come to personify the Vatican’s darkest side ― Michele Sindona. The lives of these two individuals overlap most conspicuously in the mysterious death of Pope John Paul ― a death described in chilling detail in the Centuries. But before we turn to the Quatrains’ rendering of Papa Luciani’s murder, let us first complete our analysis of the astrological “dating” given in the Preface. Nostradamus instructs us to watch for a assembly of planets in Aquarius, followed by a gathering in Cancer, because these cosmic signs will augur the beginning of the final phase of the Great Transition.
All of the five innermost planets did actually assemble in Aquarius in February, 1962, and this was seen by some as a signal of the dawning of the Aquarian Age. Beginning at the winter solstice of 1995, however, there began a procession of planets through Aquarius, starting with Venus on the solstice, Mercury on New Year’s Day 1996, and Mars a week later. Then the ruler of Aquarius, the planet Uranus, entered the sign on January 12, 1996, at the head of a parade of outer planets, with Jupiter entering in January 1997 and Neptune in January 1998. Another procession of planets then commences to enter Taurus, which is the “kerubic” constellation taking the role of Cancer at the summer solstice. In accordance with the cosmic scenario described in Nostradamus’ Preface, the Sun led Saturn into Taurus in 1998, with Jupiter entering the same sign in pursuit of Saturn a year later. And, when Jupiter finally caught up with Saturn, they met in the apocalyptic Great Conjunction of May 2000, which brought all five inner planets together in Taurus.
This extraordinary cosmic caravan heralded the onset of the terrestrial phase of the Great Transition beginning after the winter solstice of 1995. This date provides us with an “outside bracket” on the preceding phase of incarnate manifestation that began in 1920. In that respect, it points toward an endpoint for the intertwined lives of the two men ― Pope John Paul II and Michele Sindona ― who were born in 1920. Before we can arrive at that endpoint, however, Nostradamus’ Quatrains oblige us first to enter the infernal labyrinth of intrigue surrounding the assassination of Pope John Paul I:
... the letters seized en route:
The conspirators fourteen of a sect,
By night the supreme one choked in his bed,
... put to death with the packet of letters unread.
... poison and letters hidden in the [cleric’s] habit.
Poison suspected, treason badly concealed..
Based on our previous discussion of the death of Albino Luciani, we recognize in these lines some striking allusions to such things as the “sect” of freemasons against whom the Pope was preparing to move. We can also spot references to the role of the Cardinal Villot, who removed from the deathbed the letters containing the Pope’s momentous directives and secreted them away, literally in his habit, along with the poisoned medicine bottle from the night table. The prophet’s uncanny precision even extends to pinpointing the date of this papal homicide:
When the tomb of the great Roman is discovered,
In the days that follow a Pontiff will be elected:
Scarcely will he have been approved by the Senate,
He will be poisoned, his blood in the sacred chalice.
Albino Cardinal Luciani was, in fact, elected Pope by the “Senate”, i.e. the College of Cardinals, on August 26, 1978, soon after the completion of archaeological excavations around the supposed tomb of St. Peter. Scarcely more than a month later, on September 28, 1978, the new Pontiff died in his bed under circumstances that strongly suggested poisoning. And while the Italian authorities demanded an autopsy, twelve Cardinals of the Vatican Curia ― led by Cardinal Villot, who assumed the Papal powers pending a new election ― steadfastly blocked all inquiries:
He who will assume the powers of the Pope
Will be induced to perform several deeds:
The twelve Cardinals will defile the Cloth
Through the murder, murder which will be perpetrated.
As if to preclude any doubt, the Centuries further identify the year of the assassination of John Paul I by astrological references. Speaking of a murder carried out by “those of the Tarpeian Rock” (the site in ancient Rome where traitors were executed), one Quatrain refers to “Saturn in Leo [on] the 13th of February”. This cosmic coincidence, which is seen but once every thirty years, last occurred in 1978, the year of the Pope’s death. Further on in the Quatrains we read:
Saturn and Mars in Leo ...
... the Roman scepter struck down by the Cock ...
While steering his ship, the great Pontiff is captured,
The Second elected lacking his goodness ...
The planets Saturn and Mars last passed through the sign Leo together in 1978, when the French Cardinal Villot (the ACock@ being a national symbol of France) took part in a conspiracy to assassinate the Pope, thereby striking down the “Roman scepter” (the ceremonial staff carried by the Pontiffs). And the “Second” elected in the wake of this murder would be, quite literally, John Paul the Second. In a related Quatrain, Pope John Paul II turns up again in an allusion to the poisoning of his predecessor and namesake:
For the sake of the sexual edict,
Poison will be mixed with the Faith:
Venus will be in a transit so chaste,
As to obscure the brilliance of the Sun.
The “sexual edict” is a transparent reference to the unpopular Papal ban on contraception pronounced by Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Humanae Vitae. The announced intention of his successor John Paul I to lift this ban was a probable motive for some conservative members of the Curia to join in a conspiracy against his life. The timing of this conspiracy appropriately coincided with a transit of the voluptuous planet Venus through the “chaste” constellation Virgo the Virgin. On the other hand, the ostensibly brilliant Papacy of John Paul II has been clouded by his dogged devotion to the divisive dogma of Humanae Vitae. The Quatrain=s image of the Sun’s brightness being occluded also invokes the singular circumstance of Papa Wojtyla=s birth during a solar eclipse.
Beyond any doubt, the prophecies of Nostradamus assign an enormous significance to the murder of Pope John Paul I as the trigger of a chain of events leading to the Papacy’s final unraveling at the turn of the 21st Century. It is therefore not surprising that the Mafia figure who masterminded this vile assassination should also figure prominently in the Centuries. As we noted earlier, Michele Sindona was fond of using acronyms, often derived from the names of his two sons, as designations for the various corporations he created in order to “move money around”. One such acronym was Mabusi, and it provides the key to the Quatrain which has been interpreted as referring to the “third Antichrist”:
Mabus then soon will die, and there will follow
A horrible toll of people and animals:
... drought, famine, when the comet will run.
The last appearance of Comet Halley coincided with the beginning of a great drought and famine in the Horn of Africa. The Comet made its closest approach to the Earth in March, 1986 ― the same month in which Michele Sindona was poisoned in his jail cell near Milan, Italy. Sindona had just been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for ordering the contract-killing of a witness against him in his prosecution for bank fraud and embezzlement. To fix the date of Mabus’ death, Nostradamus uses the astrological position of the planet Saturn:
The great old enemy grieving dies of poison ...
Saturn in Sagittarius turning retrograde
In astrological parlance, a planet=s movement is “retrograde” when it appears to go backward through the Zodiac. Saturn passes through Sagittarius every thirty years, the last time being in 1986. The Ringed Planet=s motion turned retrograde on March 18, 1986, the precise date on which Michele Sindona was convicted of murder! In what can only be considered poetic justice, he would die two days later after drinking a cup of coffee laced with potassium cyanide, doubtless served up courtesy of his co-conspirators who wished to assure his silence. But Nostradamus clearly foresaw that the sinister undertakings which Sindona had set in motion within the Vatican would not expire with the death of Mabus. His Quatrains continue to track the path of these dark forces via references to the astrological positions of the “Scythe” ― the planet Saturn in the role of “Grim Reaper”. Before switching his focus to Saturn, however, the prophet reminds us that we are still completing the incarnate phase of the Great Transition ― the phase which is governed by the “centuries” of the planet Mars:
Mars menaces us with his belligerent force,
Through seventy of his bloody cycles:
Increase and ruin of the clergy
And more [ruin] for those who would silence them.
Seventy orbital cycles of Mars encompass a span of 131 years, which exactly corresponds to the period between Vatican Council I and the Millennium, i.e. 1869-2000. As we have discussed previously, the first Vatican Council was convened by Pius IX for the purpose of imposing the doctrine of Papal Infallibility ― an authoritarian dogma designed to stifle dissent among the clergy. A remarkable presentiment of the ruin which this corrosive doctrine would ultimately visit upon the Holy See came to one of its author’s successors, Pope Pius X, who described having a “horrible vision”:
“Was it of me or of one of my successors? I saw the Pope leaving Rome and, to get out of the Vatican, he had to step over the corpses of his priests.”
In recent years, the Vatican has increasingly sought to suppress dissident opinion on matters of sexual morality. In 1993, for example, Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical branding abortion, euthanasia, contraception and homosexuality as “intrinsically evil” and therefore beyond the pale of legitimate debate. If Nostradamus= words imply the ruin of an institution which seeks to silence dissent ― the “infallible” See ― do they perhaps also anticipate the nightmare scenario envisioned by Pope Pius X? As if in answer to that question, in his very next Quatrain Nostradamus turns his attention back to the “Scythe” for yet another astrological milepost of the planet Saturn:
The Scythe within the Pond, moving retrograde,
At the high point of its culmination,
... the Age approaches its renewal.
In the constellation Aquarius, the “Pond” is the area beneath the Water Bearer’s overturned vessel (called the “Urn”) through which an imaginary stream of water is falling. This region of the constellation has been variously described as by astrologers through the ages as the “Pond”, the “Urn”, and the “Water”, and Nostradamus employs all three of these names in the Centuries. Located just below the Pond is the constellation Piscis Australis, the Southern Fish, which seems to be swallowing the whole stream of water issuing from the Urn of Aquarius through its “mouth”, marked by the star Fomalhaut (which in Arabic literally means “Fish’s Mouth”). Now, the Southern Fish has a special symbolic link to the Papacy, since sacred lore has identified this constellation with the fish which was caught by St. Peter with a coin in its mouth. Christ commanded Peter to cast for this fish when Peter asked how the Apostles could obtain money to pay the Roman taxes. Moreover, the “Fish’s Mouth”, the star Fomalhaut, is the star which rose heliacally (that is, just before sunrise) on the day that Pope John Paul II was born.
Given this background, we would expect critical events in the Papacy’s deepening crisis to have transpired the last time Saturn passed through the “Pond” of Aquarius. And, in fact, this expectation would not be at all misplaced, since on the very day that Saturn entered the Pond ― April 29, 1994 ― John Paul II took the fall which broke his leg and led to the hip-replacement surgery from which he never fully recovered. After turning retrograde and temporarily leaving the Pond during the last quarter of 1994, the Scythe again swung its deadly blade through this celestial precinct beginning in late January, 1995. This again proved to be a particularly perilous time for the Pontiff, when his life was threatened by an aborted terrorist bombing during a visit to the Philippines. The mastermind of this attempted assassination was Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, a member of the Al-Qaeda network and a close associate of Osama bin Laden. Yousef’s papal plot was part of a much larger scheme code-named “Operation Bojinka”, which called for bombing U.S.-bound airliners and crashing hijacked airplanes into important American buildings. Many of Yousef’s operational plans for the aborted “Operation Bojinka” were later used in Al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
According to the words of Nostradamus, the divisive forces at work within Catholicism would gain ascendancy with the next “back swing” of the Scythe into retrograde motion, which carried it once more into the Pond precisely at the autumn equinox of 1995. Saturn then continued in retrograde motion through the Pond until November 21, 1995, when it again reversed course to move forward through the Zodiac. The verses quoted above speak of the Pond being “at the high point of its culmination” during this time. What does this mean? Astronomers divide the night sky with an imaginary line, called the “meridian”, which runs from due North to due South. When a star or planet crosses this imaginary line just before midnight, it is said to “culminate”, because then it=s most prominent and in the best position for observation. The Pond and the Southern Fish culminate during October and November each year. Therefore, retrograde Saturn and the Pond were culminating during the eight weeks between September 23 and November 21, 1995. And, if Nostradamus is right, something happened in that interval which has set the stage for the calamitous Church schism to come. But what might that “something” have been?
Based on the prophetic clues we have gathered up to this point, we would anticipate a happening somehow linked to the dogma of papal infallibility. From the perspective of the dark forces that seek to control the Church by driving a wedge of division through its heart, this doctrine alone offers the indispensable key to silencing dissent. And, although infallibility has been very sparingly invoked since its introduction by Pius IX, if abused its potential for havoc is virtually unlimited. Perhaps this explains why, during the first 17 years of his pontificate, John Paul II never once claimed infallible status for any of his teachings. And yet, paradoxically, on November 18, 1995, the Vatican issued a statement declaring the Pope’s stance against the ordination of women to the priesthood to be “infallible”. The bizarre declaration was made all the more suspect by the fact that it was not even signed by the Pope himself! Here, then, is the irreversible step which closes the door on the peaceful reconciliation of the doctrinal turmoil within the Roman Catholic ranks ― a step whose implications become even more ominous in light of the Pope’s apparent lack of involvement. Indeed, we are left to wonder: As John Paul’s physical infirmities become increasingly debilitating, are we to see the “delegation” to the Curia of even his “infallible” authority?
At this juncture, it is worthwhile to take note of another mythological association of the constellation Piscis Australis, the Southern Fish, which we have seen to be so strongly linked to both the Papacy as an institution and to Karol Wojtyla individually. According to ancient sources,  the Fish was originally conceived as the sky symbol of the Mesopotamian demigod Oannes, who was depicted as being part man and part fish. While he was credited with imparting the knowledge of the sciences, art and agriculture which gave rise to the Sumerian civilization, Oannes was, oddly enough, at the same time viewed as a repulsive being, an “Abomination”. In fact, as the precursor to the Philistine human/fish idol Dagon, Oannes undoubtedly was a prototype of the “Abomination of Desolation” in the prophecy of Daniel. Simultaneously a Promethean benefactor and a hideous monster, Oannes is a perfect example of the paradoxical riddles Nostradamus is so fond of posing in his prophecies:
When the terrestrial and aquatic fish
Is beached by a strong wave,
Its form strangely attractive, yet horrific,
Emerging from the sea, the enemies soon at the walls
As has been noted by the preeminent mythologist Robert Graves, objects of sacred veneration will often, due to the imposition of taboos, come to evoke strong responses of revulsion and disgust. By the same token, the Scriptural warnings about the coming of the “Abomination” to dwell in the Holy Place actually have mutually-contradictory meanings ― pointing at the same time in two opposite directions. They foreshadow both the sublime Advent of mankind’s returning benefactor to initiate the new Aeon, and the simultaneous rise of the Beast. The Beast or “Antichrist” ― the most seductive idol of human history ― emerges from the “Sea” of mankind’s unconscious Collective Mind.
In a shell by the Adriatic Sea
Will appear a horrible fish,
With its face human and its lower body aquatic,
It will be taken without a hook.
This and the preceding Quatrain may be seen as referring to Pope John Paul II, at whose birth the star Fomalhaut of the Southern Fish rose heliacally. His demise ― perhaps coinciding with religious turmoil in the Adriatic region ― would forebode the appearance of the apocalyptic Beast. Might the appearance of Antichrist also be associated with a new claimant to the throne of St. Peter, one who will seek to deliver the See into the hands of one of the sinister sects which have sought to dominate it since the death of Pope John XXIII? Such may be the obscure meaning of the “unknown port” which Nostradamus later sees the imperiled Bark of St. Peter approaching. In his next Quatrain, he envisions a protracted struggle between “three great ones” over the papal succession in the waning days of a pope whose astrological birth chart contains “the Eagle, Cock, Moon, Lion, Sun prominent”.
It must first be noted that the “Eagle” and the “Cock” are alternate descriptions of the astrological signs Scorpio and Taurus, respectively. Referring to the birth chart of Papa Wojtyla , we find the axis of the solar eclipse delineated by the “nodes” of the Moon (represented by the horseshoe-shaped symbols and Ω in the chart). The lunar “nodes” are the two points where the Moon=s orbit intersects the plane of the Earth=s orbit around the Sun, and it=s at these “nodes” that solar and lunar eclipses always occur. In the Pope=s chart, the axis formed by the two nodes cuts right through the middle of Scorpio and Taurus ― the “Eagle” and “Cock” of Nostradamus= prophecy. At the midpoint of the two lunar nodes, we encounter a rare conjunction of Jupiter and Neptune situated in Leo the Lion right at the apex of a triangular “T-square” whose base in the Scorpio-Taurus axis formed by the nodes. Since ancient times, the solar eclipse has been interpreted as an omen of the death or downfall of the ruling monarch, and the conjunction of Jupiter and Neptune at the apex the Pope’s nodal T-square strongly suggests that the fall of a spiritual sovereign is presaged. In the chart’s second T-square, we find the Sun and Moon at the apex very close to the position in Taurus where the apocalyptic Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn climaxed in May 2000. Forming the axis of this second T-square are Saturn and Uranus, with the latter occupying the perilous “Pond” of Aquarius which, as we have already seen, figures so dramatically in the Centuries= rendering of the last years of the Papacy.
Following several more Quatrains alluding to the murder of John Paul I, Nostradamus returns to theme of “sects” hastening the demise of the Holy See:
The “sector” of sects afflicts the one who informed:
The Beast in the theater, dressed to perform the mime:
Re-inventing the ancient noble deed,
By sects the world disordered and schismatic.
The reference to the “ancient noble deed”, i.e. suicide, is uncannily pertinent in the context of events which followed the assassination of Papa Luciani. The “deed” was “re-invented” in the sense of making it “compulsory” for those who had informed, either to the late Pontiff or to the civil authorities, regarding the identity of members of the P2 Masonic lodge within the Vatican and the government. With the subsequent public exposure of P2, which led to the resignation of the Italian Prime Minister in 1981, one must wonder whether the same forces which supported P2 did not simply shift the “sector” of their activities to another sect of kindred ideology, such as Opus Dei. If so, then the following lines take on a rather pointed significance:
When are consummated the days of the Sun’s weariness,
Then my prophecies shall be realized.
Here, the identification of John Paul II could not be more unequivocal, with the phrase “the Sun’s weariness” being a literal translation of St. Malachy’s Latin epithet “De Labore Solis”, which idiomatically signifies “of the solar eclipse”. Accordingly, this Quatrain reveals that the decline of the Polish Pontiff signals the onset of the final phase of the apocalyptic Millennial Transition of which Nostradamus’ prophecies foretell. This phase commences, we are informed in a subsequent Quatrain, with the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn near the star Hamal, the “Head of Aries”. In 7 BC a Great Conjunction occurred near the star Hamal to form the “Star of Bethlehem” that heralded the birth of Christ. The same cosmic portent recurred in May 2000, when Jupiter and Saturn again met at the “Head of Aries”, and this event inaugurated the terrestrial phase of the Great Transition. Nostradamus then turns his attention to a series of celestial events which preceded the apocalyptic Great Conjunction:
The two malignant ones of Scorpio conjoined,
The great Lord murdered in his room:
Plague to the Church by the new King joined
Astrologically speaking, the two malignant co-rulers of the sign Scorpio ― Mars and Pluto ― actually conjoined there on October 19, 1995. That date falls neatly within the interval of the Vatican crisis which the Centuries elsewhere describe, i.e., when Saturn was retrograde in the Pond of the culminating constellation Aquarius. These two planets met again in the Scorpion constellation on October 4, 1997, once again during the culmination of the Pond of Aquarius and the Southern Fish. Oddly enough, that date coincided exactly with the royal wedding of Princess Cristina of Spain to a Basque commoner in Barcelona! As a result of this marriage, the bridegroom Inaki Urdangarin joins the imperial line of the House of Bourbon, which claims the thrones of France as well as Spain. Perhaps Nostradamus is suggesting that the King who will soon rise to plague the Church will emerge from the lineage of the Spanish Bourbons?
Be that as it may, within the current time frame, Nostradamus is clearly forecasting the “election” of a “King” ― i.e., a ruler claiming to be of royal descent ― who will persecute the Church. Such royal pretensions on the part of a World leader would also explain a related Quatrain:
The year that Saturn will be conjoined in the Water
With the Sun, the strong and powerful King
Will be received and anointed at Reims and Aix,
After conquests, he will murder the innocent
As was mentioned earlier, the “Water” is another name for the “Pond” of the constellation Aquarius, where the Sun did conjoin Saturn on March 6, 1995. Reims and Aix were coronation sites for French kings and emperors, thus imputing royal blood in the ruler whose rise to power will begin during the infirmity of Pope John Paul II. It also appears from the last two Quatrains we have quoted that the reign of this new monarch will bring disaster to the Church, probably in the form of a schismatic power struggle. We have already seen several allusions to this power struggle in previous verses.
O Trojan blood! Mars carrying the arrow ...
Points afire great murder over the breach.
“Trojan blood” alludes to the lore surrounding the earliest dynasty of French kings, the Merovingians, who claimed to be direct descendants of the royal line of ancient Troy. Thus, Nostradamus is being very specific in directing our attention to a particular blood-line from which his apocalyptic Monarch will spring. As for Mars and the “arrow”, they define the timing of that Monarch’s ascendancy in terms of the position of the Red Planet at the point of the arrow in the constellation Sagittarius, the Archer, in November 1997. And the fiery “points” ― note the plural ― may refer to both this Martian conjunction and the blazing comet Hale-Bopp, which emerged from Sagittarius and bedazzled the World in spring 1997. Following along in the verses, then, the impending schism, or “breach”, in the Church will be traceable to events which began to unfold in 1997. In the wake of this “breach” will follow the bloodletting envisioned by Pius X.
Roman Pontiff, beware of approaching
The city that two rivers flow through,
Close to there you will spit out your blood,
You and your entourage, when the rose will flourish.
Based on his Provençal pedigree, Nostradamus would have been familiar with a pair of cities through which two rivers flow, those being Lyon and Avignon, both in the valley of the Rhône. Not only does the imagery of the two rivers suggest the coming ecclesiastical split, but Avignon was itself one of the competing seats of the Holy See during its last Great Schism (1378 - 1417). But what is the meaning of the “rose”, which is seen to preside over this violent rift? Later in the Centuries, Nostradamus reveals the answer:
By the Attic land [France], the center of wisdom,
Which is at present the rose of the world:
Pontificate ruined, and its great preeminence
Submerged, a shipwreck amidst the waves.
While the “Attic land” literally refers to ancient Athens, figuratively it represents the center of worldly, secular wisdom ― as opposed to Rome as the source of religious teaching. In the 16th Century, France ― and especially Paris ― inherited the role of Athens as the capital of Western intellectualism. In the historical context of the prophet’s times, then, the flourishing of the “rose” would indicate the elevation to the papal throne of a French cleric after the death or abdication of Papa Wojtyla. But we should also recognize that, in Vatican politics, the “rose” has historically stood for the party of the “Pope’s Men”, the Papacy’s ultra-loyalists. In Dante’s time, for example, the rose was the symbol of the Orsini family, the leaders of the Florentine Guelph faction, who were the papal “shock troops” of their day. Accordingly, the “rose” as used by Nostradamus may also import the current party of die-hard papal loyalists ― which, in today’s setting, aptly describes Opus Dei. That the rose will “flourish” upon the termination of John Paul’s pontificate would then appear to presage that the next pope will be an adherent of Opus Dei. There remains yet a third layer of meaning in the complex symbol of the “rose”, but we will defer consideration of that to a Chapter Four.
In other Quatrains, we encounter the imagery of a pope who is “struck from the sky”, to be followed by another pontiff “of the shipwreck”:
One who neither disease nor the sword could finish,
Dead on the crest of a hill, struck down from the sky:
The cleric will die when he considers ruining
Those of the shipwreck wishing to seize the Rock.
Clearly, there are strong indications in these prophecies that the next pope will be the one who will definitively enshrine in the Vatican the “Abomination”, in the dark sense of a monstrous idolatry of wealth and power. Therefore, he would not be a true pope, but rather an Antipope. Nostradamus foresees that this future Antipope will first rise to prominence in the Church during the reign of his predecessor, the Pontiff of the Solar Eclipse:
When the Eclipse of the Sun will be [live],
In broad daylight will the monster be seen:
It will be interpreted totally another way,
Something precious left unguarded, none will have foreseen it.
We recall that St. Malachy=s motto, “of the Half Moon”, for John Paul I refers both to the timing of his birth and his death. Likewise, might Malachy’s title for Karol Wojtyla ― “of the Solar Eclipse” ― relate not only to the date of his birth, but in some fashion foreshadow the timing of his death or abdication?
Born under the shadows of a nocturnal day,
He will become supreme in bounty and sovereignty:
His blood will rise back up into the ancient urn,
Renewing the age of gold for that of brass.
John Paul II was born in the shadow of a “nocturnal day”, i.e. an eclipse of the Sun. And in the third verse we again encounter the Urn in Aquarius, the celestial rendering of a stream of water pouring into the Fish’s Mouth ― Fomalhaut, the star of Wojtyla’s birth. Nostradamus’ imagery would now have us imagine that celestial stream, not as a flow of water, but as a torrent of blood gushing from the Fish’s Mouth back up into the Urn, thereby completing the cycle of the Pontiff’s incarnation and death. And here once more the prophecies allude to their ultimate theme: the return of the Golden Age, presided over by Saturn, the prototype of our sickle-wielding Father Time. What better metaphor for this prophesied reversion of the Ages could there be than the retrograde motion of Saturn through the ancient Urn ― the cosmic symbol of the Deluge which ended the last Aeon?
By those of Albino, Mars in Leo, Saturn near the Water...
After the see has been held for seventeen years,
It will change hands five times in a comparable period of time:
Then one will be elected at the same time [as another],
Who will not be too much in conformity with the Romans.
Pope Pius XI held the Keys of St. Peter for exactly seventeen years from February 11, 1922 to his death on February 11, 1939. During the two decades beginning with the last year of his successor’s reign, there were five occupants of the Papal throne, beginning with Pius XII, who died in October 1958, followed by John XXIII (1958 - 1963), Paul VI (1963 - 1978), John Paul I (Aug.-Sept.1978), and finally John Paul II, elected on October 16, 1978. The latter, being the first non-Italian Pope in over four-and-a-half centuries, is often identified as the one who is “not too much in conformity with the Romans”. But Nostradamus seems to refer instead to a pope who will be elected after the reign of Polish Pontiff. Interpreted in this manner, this Quatrain echoes St. Malachy’s prediction that John Paul II would have a pair of successors, both elected “at the same time”, one of whom would be an Antipope. According to Nostradamus, this apocalyptic power struggle within the Vatican traces its roots to events that transpired when Mars was in the constellation Leo and Saturn near the Water (aka Pond or Urn) of Aquarius. This planetary alignment actually ensued during the spring of 1995, in the seventeenth year of John Paul=s pontificate.
In the same verse, the phrase “those of Albino” obviously suggests the name of Pope John Paul I, which was Albino Luciani. Does this imply that the same forces at work in Luciani’s assassination will somehow have a hand in the death or forced abdication of his successor? If so, will John Paul’s successor unwittingly owe his throne to these forces, as the Polish Pope apparently did, or will he be an active accomplice in his predecessor’s undoing? The complete moral ruin which is promised by Nostradamus for the coming papal reign arguably suggests the latter scenario. In any case, both the Centuries and the prophecy of St. Malachy ― who calls the penultimate Pontiff by the title “The Glory of the Olive Tree” ― envision but two more popes after John Paul II. Adding Nostradamus’ prophecy of a modern-day Great Schism to this picture, we can envision the two successors to Papa Wojtyla as the two competing claimants to the papal throne ― that is, one Pope and one Antipope. Hence, after the Polish Pope there will only be one more legitimate pontiff, who St. Malachy calls by the name Petrus Romanus , “Peter of Rome”.
Ironically, the last Pope Peter may be the first Jesuit pope, according to the following Quatrain:
When retrograde Mars reaches opposition, the monarchy
Of the great fisherman will be in ruinous trouble:
The junior black one will rise to the highest office,
Those who betray him will act on a drizzly day.
In the third verse, we find the good Doctor referring to a junior prelate of the Jesuit order, whose hallmark is the simple black clerical habit. In fact, the Jesuit Father General has traditionally been known as the “Black Pope”. Therefore, Nostradamus is talking about a “junior” Jesuit below the rank of Father General. Prominent in today=s lineup of potential papal candidates, interestingly enough, is the Jesuit Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini, the Patriarch of Milan, who is viewed with abhorrence by the adherents of Opus Dei. According to this Quatrain, we should expect the election of this Jesuit Pope some time after retrograde Mars has gone into “opposition”― i.e. directly on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun.
The Red Planet was in retrograde motion and in opposition to the Sun in August 2003, when Mars made its closest approach to the Earth in over 50,000 years. Perhaps is was the unprecedented proximity of the god of war to our World that inflamed the escalating conflict in the Middle East in the wake of Gulf War II. In August 2003 a powerful bomb destroyed the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, and a devastating suicide bombing in Jerusalem derailed the Palestinian-Israeli cease-fire. Previous to this close encounter with the Earth, retrograde Mars had also been in opposition to the Sun in June 2001. From this opposition, Mars proceeded on to a conjunction with Jupiter ― named for the scepter-wielding ruler of the pagan pantheon ― in the sign of Cancer in July 2002. Tellingly, this very Mars-Jupiter conjunction figures in the Quatrain preceding the one which we’ve just quoted:
Mars and the scepter will be found conjoined
In Cancer, calamitous war:
Shortly thereafter, a new King will be anointed
In the interval between the Red Planet=s opposition with the Sun in 2001and its conjunction with Jupiter in 2002, the World was traumatized by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in New York and Washington. In reaction to those attacks, the United States embarked upon a policy of endless global warfare ― precisely the “calamitous war” that Nostradamus envisioned. According to the next verse, the outbreak of this calamitous war should be followed by the “anointing” of a “new King”, which is to say, by the emergence of a supreme World leader. From the Quatrains we have reviewed up to this point, this newly anointed King is recognizable as the malevolent ruler who will come to dominate the Holy See and impose a reign of terror over the entire World. In the last of his Centuries, our Provençal seer again speaks of the meteoric rise of this wicked King after the outbreak of war in the new Millennium:
The year 1999 seventh month,
From the sky will come a great King of terror:
To restore life to the King of Angoulmois
In the original French, the phrase “seventh month” is “sept mois” ― a deliberate double entendre which can also be interpreted as “Sept-ember”. Although he ostensibly refers to the year 1999, Nostradamus was probably conflating the conjunction of Mars and Jupiter in Cancer with the earlier opposition of the same two planets, insofar as both events occurred in the “seventh month”: July 2002 and July 1999, respectively. Once again, these two dates bracket the day of infamy on Sept-ember 11, 2001. Later in this treatise, we will have much more to say about the identity of the resurrected “King of Angoulmois” who is referred to in the foregoing Quatrain. For now it is sufficient to record his violent antipathy to the Jesuit Pontiff whom Malachy styles “Peter of Rome” ― destined to be the last of the line which claims to have begun with the Apostle Peter, the Fisherman. Let=s back up and take another look at the verses which predict the accession of Pope Peter:
... the monarchy
Of the great fisherman will be in ruinous trouble:
The junior black one will rise to the highest office,
Those who betray him will act on a drizzly day.