Crucifixion of St. Peter, by Luca Giordano
There are some interesting parallels between the prophecy concerning Petrus Romanus and the vision of the pope being martyred in the Third Secret of Fatima. Although the validity of the prophetic list of popes attributed to St. Malachy is open to serious question, there is still enough accuracy involved in some of these mottoes to warrant some attention. The prophecy concerning Petrus Romanus (or "Peter the Roman") is by far the most detailed amongst the list of popes:
In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations, and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The End.
Before we go any further into this subject, I would just like to highlight the fact that I'm wary of giving this prophecy too much credence. It is very much an unknown quantity. But for the sake of interesting discussion, for the time being, let's presume that it may indeed be valid, in order to explore some the wider implications of this particular verse. While the prophecy is fairly concise in nature, there is enough scriptural allusion here (as well as a certain symbolic depth) that can help to flesh out a fuller picture of the events actually being described. First off, is the fact that the prophecy alludes to the words of Jesus in John 21. The phrase "pasture his sheep" used in the verse concerning the last pope is a deliberate allusion to Christ's commission of St. Peter to look after the flock in His absence:
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep".
The threefold command to feed Christ's flock is juxtaposed with Peter's triple denial of Jesus before His Crucifixion. Perhaps even more importantly however, this apostolic commission to pasture the sheep is made in the immediate context of the famous prophecy of the means of the martyrdom of the very first pope:
Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
So even taken separately, the words "pasture his sheep" in the prophecy of St. Malachy are loaded with meaning, and allude directly to the prophecy of the martyrdom of St. Peter. Whether the prophecy was made by St. Malachy or not, whoever it was that made this list certainly knew their theology of the end-times. This link to St. Peter is quite astute.
Another point worthy of consideration here is the fact that the martyrdom of Ss. Peter and Paul under the Emperor Nero provides the primary backdrop for narrative of the Two Witnesses being slain by the Beast that rises from the abyss in Rev 11:
"...when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified."
Scholars have long held that St. John had identified the Roman Emperor Nero with the Beast from the sea in Rev 13 by using Hebrew gematria (see the earlier post Hebrew 666?). Once transliterated from Greek into Hebrew, the name Kaiser Neron (Caesar Nero) has the numerical equivalent of 666 - an equation which was first noted by St. Irenaeus in the 2nd century AD. Given that Nero was identified with the Beast that rises from the abyss by the early Church, the preterist interpretation of the Two Witnesses of Rev 11 identifies these two figures as Ss. Peter and Paul. Tradition tells us that during the first persecution of Christians under Nero, St. Peter was crucified upside down at Vatican Hill, while St. Paul was beheaded at the site of Tre Fontane Abbey in Rome.
The Beheading of St. Paul, by Enrique Simonet
So by alluding to Christ's prophecy of the crucifixion of St. Peter in John 21, the verse relating to Petrus Romanus also highlights the significance of the relationship between the martyrdom of St. Peter and the narrative of the Two Witnesses in Rev 11. While the preterist meaning of the martyrdom of the Two Witnesses at the hands of the Beast that rises from the bottomless pit is certainly connected to the execution of Ss. Peter and Paul under the Emperor Nero (thus imbuing the text with a layer of meaning for the original audience), the Book of Revelation also makes it clear that this narrative also has an eschatological context that will only unfold towards the end of the world. The Two Witnesses are directly connected with the role of the end-time appearance of Elijah to "turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” before "the great and awesome day of the Lord" (Mal 4:6). The author of the Apocalypse clearly adheres to the principle of cyclical history, and holds that past events are destined to repeat themselves in the future:
"What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done".
For the early Christian movement, the Emperor Nero embodied the very essence of the supreme antithesis of Christ. And just as the two main pillars of Christianity in the first century AD were martyred under the Roman Emperor Nero, so too will the two greatest figures in Christianity be put to death by the Antichrist at the end-time.
The phrase "in the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church" mentioned in the prophecy of Petrus Romanus is clearly meant to indicate that Peter the Roman is the pope who will reign during the last persecution of Christians under the Antichrist - a period in salvation history which the Catechism of the Catholic Church dubs the "final Passover" of the Church:
Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh... (CCC 675)
The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection... (CCC 677)
In the various footnotes concerning this final Passover of the Church mentioned in the Catechism, a number of prophecies concerning this final trial are highlighted:
"...they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives."
"If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you."
It is this very same final Passover of the Church, during which the Catechism teaches that the Bride of Christ "will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection", that is depicted visually in the Third Secret of Fatima:
And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.
In the third part of the Secret of Fatima, the Via Crucis of the Church is the final persecution of Christians that is still to take place under the Antichrist, who like the very first persecutor of Christians - the Emperor Nero, will put to death the two main evangelists who bring Christianity to the masses - one of whom various private revelations identify as the Angelic Pope. The Nero connection doesn't end there however. Just as the Emperor Nero famously burned Rome to the ground so that he could rebuild it again according to his own designs (pinning the blame for this conflagration on Christians), the theme of the "city in ruins" is a prominent feature of both the Third Secret and the prophecy of Petrus Romanus. In the Third Secret the "Bishop dressed in White" passes through a "big city half in ruins", making his way towards his own personal Calvary. This scenario is reflected in the prophetic list of popes, which describes the destruction of the "city with the seven hills" (i.e. Rome).
The city half in ruins in the vision of the Third Secret is highly symbolic in nature. The large cross at the top of the city clearly identifies it as Jerusalem - the place where the Lord was crucified, and the location of the martyrdom of the Two Witnesses (Rev 11:8). As such, it also symbolises the Heavenly Jerusalem - the Bride of Christ, which represents the Church as the New Israel. So the city can equally symbolise Rome, which for Catholics is none other than the New Jerusalem. The fact that this Holy City is lying half in ruins appears to represent the apostasy of a large number of the baptised members of the faith.
There could be another more literal layer to this prophecy that is still to be fulfilled in the future however, with either Rome or Jerusalem being devastated as a result of war or a major catastrophe. In my book, I outline the various prophecies of the eschatological earthquake centred in Jerusalem, which is described in the Bible as to accompanying the Second Coming of Christ. This event could very well account for the level of destruction foreseen in the Third Secret.
In the Book of Revelation, the Holy City is symbolically referred to as "Egypt" and "Sodom" at the death of the Two Witnesses - locations that were destroyed by fire coming down from heaven:
"and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified."
Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. There was hail and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very heavy hail, such as had never been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field.
By referring to the Holy City as "Sodom" and "Egypt", the Apocalypse once again highlights the penalty that will be imposed for harming the Two Witnesses:
And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed.
In putting to death the Two Witnesses, the Antichrist secures his own certain destruction:
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.
(2 Thess 2:8)
The eschatological importance of Jerusalem as the location of the death of the prophets was highlighted by Jesus in the Gospels:
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
The eschatological dimension to the above passage in the Gospel of Luke is apparent in the fact that Christ tells the Jews of Jerusalem that they will not see him again until they confess Him as the Messiah. The Jews will not be able to see Jesus again until they acknowledge Him as the promised Christ, and bless Him as the one "who comes in the name of the Lord". St. Peter prophesied this end-time conversion of the Jews during his sermon in Solomon's Portico after Pentecost - thus connecting it to the Second Pentecost promised at the eschatological outpouring of the Holy Spirit:
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’
St. Peter asks the Jews of Jerusalem to repent and turn back to the Lord so that the Second Coming could take place during the "times of refreshing" (alluding to the refreshing of the Dead Sea in Ezek 47). Interestingly, St. Peter subtly connects this prophecy of the end-time conversion of the Jews with the Two Witnesses of Rev 11. First, the "restoring of all things" alludes to the role of the Elijah to come, which echoes the words of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew:
“Elijah does come, and he will restore all things".
Following this, St. Peter goes on to mention the prophet like Moses promised in Deut 18:15ff. The appearance of Elijah and Moses during the Transfiguration prefigures the coming of the Two Witnesses before the glorious appearance of Christ during the Parousia. And as we have already discussed in the previous post here, the Book of Revelation identifies the Two Witnesses with Moses and Elijah by the nature of their miracles (calling down fire from heaven, turning water to blood etc.).
Turning back to Jesus' statement concerning Jerusalem as the place where the prophets are killed in Luke 13, given that it is made in the immediate context of the end-time conversion of the Jews, this appears to be a deliberate link to the ministry of the Two Witnesses of Rev 11. A connection which is further strengthened by Christ's use of the metaphor concerning a hen gathering its chicks under its wings for protection. This same metaphor is used in Psalm 57:
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me.
But the theme of the protective wings it also an allusion to God bearing the Israelites out of Egypt on "eagles' wings" in Exod 19:
"You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself."
These are the same wings given to the Woman Adorned with the Sun to escape from the pursuit of the Dragon in Rev 12:
And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.
These wings, which are the "healing wings" of the sun of righteousness described in Mal 4 (which mentions the ministries of Moses and Elijah back-to-back), represent the Two Witnesses themselves:
"But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts.
“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
Before the land is destroyed by a decree of utter destruction, in His infinite mercy God sends the Two Witnesses - the "healing wings" of the Sun of righteousness, to restore the Church from a state of apostasy.
So if the prophetic list of popes is indeed genuine prophecy, how can it fit in with the above scenario concerning the Two Witnesses? As we have already noted before in various posts throughout this blog, there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that one of the Two Witnesses is to be equated with the Angelic Pope of various private revelations, who is foretold to restore the Church just before the coming of the Antichrist. And the other of the Two Witnesses should be equated with the more mysterious figure of the Great Catholic Monarch, who according to the most widespread accounts (e.g. Pseudo-Methodius, Adso, etc.), lays down his crown at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem before the appearance of the Antichrist. As we noted at some length in the post The Two Olive Trees of Zechariah, the roles of the Two Witnesses as High Priest (Pontifex Maximus) and the rightful heir to a lost kingdom are emphasized by the fact that they are based on Joshua and Zerubbabel in the Book of Zechariah, who are also called the two olive trees that "stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” (Zech 4:14).
Therefore if St. Malachy's prophecy of the last pope is valid, then Pope Francis would have to be equated with the Angelic Pope of private revelation - which would also identify him as one of the Two Witnesses of Rev 11. In turn, he would also have to be the pope seen in the Third Secret of Fatima, who the shepherd children seen shot to death by a group of soldiers.
In light of recent developments since the ascension to the papacy of Pope Francis, one of the major problems concerning the validity of St. Malachy's list of popes is how to reconcile this prophecy with St. John Bosco's Dream of the Two Pillars (which has a decidedly higher level of authority). If both these prophecies are genuine, then how do we make sense of them in a chronological order? In his famous dream, Don Bosco foretold that the Second Pentecost would be secured by a pope who would succeed the assassination of his immediate predecessor (see here for the full text). If this is correct, then the Second Pentecost is prophesied to be inaugurated during a papacy immediately following on from a pope who is assassinated. And if this event is yet to occur in the future, this would mean that Pope Francis simply cannot be the last pope. Given that Pope Benedict XVI was not martyred, this would infer that the prophecy of the pontiff who secures the boat to the two pillars would have to be someone who succeeds Francis. If its fulfillment still lies in the future, then St. John Bosco's Dream of the Two Pillars would therefore invalidate the prophetic list of popes.
If the current Holy Father is the pope who is martyred, then according to St. John Bosco's dream, there will be another pope to follow him who will secure the barque of St. Peter to the two pillars (the one who accomplishes the Second Pentecost). This scenario obviously rules out the authenticity of St. Malachy's prophecy of Petrus Romanus, since it explicitly states that there would be another pontiff to follow on from the "last pope". So taking both these prophecies at face value, either one of them must be false, or we should look elsewhere for an alternative explanation. Is there a way in which St. Malachy's prophecy of the "last pope" can be reconciled with Don Bosco's Dream of the Two Pillars?
As we have already discussed in the post St. John Bosco's Prophecy of the Turn of the Millennium, in his dream The March of the 200 Days, Don Bosco had prophesied that a great Marian victory during a new "Battle of Lepanto" (the event on which the Dream of the Two Pillars is based), would take place at the turn of the millennium. This would suggest that the pope of St. John Bosco's dream was Bl. John Paul II - who presided over the Great Jubilee Year in 2000. It would also imply that the Great Marian victory at the turn of the millennium was the defeat of Satan in heaven described in Rev 12, which occurs at the end of the "little while" given to the Devil - the 100 years of his greater power. This marks when Satan is finally cast down to the earth, when he transfers his power and authority to the Antichrist (possibly through some form of diabolical possession).
Following this line of interpretation, this would suggest that the pope who is assassinated in Don Bosco's Dream of the Two Pillars was John Paul I, who many conspiracy theorists believe was poisoned by "sleeper" operatives within the Vatican who were either linked to the P2 scandal or Soviet Russia (or both). If John Paul I was the pope who is assassinated in Don Bosco's dream, this would accord with the exact order of the popes in the vision, who are seen after the Second Vatican Council takes place. St. John Bosco specifically foretold that the events in the Dream of the Two Pillars would follow a Church council. If we are to follow the exact order of popes foretold in this vision, then this would also indicate that Pope John Paul II is the one in St. John Bosco's dream who secures the barque of St. Peter to the two pillars.
There comes a short lull; for a second time the Pope gathers the captains around him, while the flag-ship goes on its course. But the frightful storm returns. The Pope stands at the helm and all his energies are directed to steering the ship towards those two columns from whose summits hang many anchors and strong hooks linked to chains.
“All the enemy ships move to attack it, and they try in every way to stop it and to sink it: some with books and writings or inflammable materials, of which they are full; others with firearms, with rifles and with rams. The battle rages ever more relentlessly. The enemy prows thrust violently, but their efforts and impact prove useless. They make attempts in vain and waste all their labor and ammunition; the big ship goes safely and smoothly on its way. Sometimes it happens that, struck by formidable blows, it gets large, deep gaps in its sides; but no sooner is the harm done that a gentle breeze blows from the two columns and the cracks close up and the gaps are stopped immediately.
“Meanwhile, the guns of the assailants are blown up, the rifles and other arms and prows are broken; many ships are shattered and sink into the sea. Then, the frenzied enemies strive to fight hand to hand, with fists, with blows, with blasphemy and with curses.
“Suddenly the Pope falls gravely wounded. Immediately, those who are with him run to help him and they lift him up. A second time the Pope is struck, he falls again and dies. A shout of victory and joy rings out amongst the enemies; from their ships an unspeakable mockery arises.
“But hardly is the Pontiff dead than another takes his place. The pilots, having met together, have elected the Pope so promptly that the news of the death of the Pope coincides with the news of the election of the successor. The adversaries begin to lose courage.
“The new Pope, putting the enemy to rout and overcoming every obstacle, guides the ship right up to the two columns and comes to rest between them; he makes it fast with a light chain that hangs from the bow to an anchor of the column on which stands the Host; and with another light chain which hangs from the stern, he fastens it at the opposite end to another anchor hanging from the column on which stands the Immaculate Virgin.
Following the second meeting (which represents the Second Vatican Council) in the Dream of the Two Pillars, St. John Bosco sees a pope who is attacked and falls gravely injured. Prior to the election of Pope Francis, some commentators linked this with the assassination attempt on John Paul II (for fairly obvious reasons). This suggested that Pope Benedict XVI would be the pope who is struck by the assailants and dies. However, if we are to follow the exact sequence of the popes during and after the Second Vatican Council, the pope who is injured by the assailants would be Pope Paul VI. This injury caused by the attackers could then be linked to the changes in the Church following the council, when the "smoke of Satan" entered the Temple of God. Following an exact sequence, the pope who is struck by the assailants and dies would have to be Pope John Paul I - making Pope John Paul II the pontiff who secures the boat to the two pillars. This would thus tie in with the prophecy of the March of the 200 Days, which indicated that this victory would be won at the turn of the millennium:
It was a dark night, and men could no longer find their way back to their own countries. Suddenly a most brilliant light shone in the sky, illuminating their way as at high noon. At that moment from the Vatican came forth, as in procession, a multitude of men and women, young children, monks, nuns, and priests, and at their head was the Pope.
But a furious storm broke out, somewhat dimming that light, as if light and darkness were locked in battle. Meanwhile the long procession reached a small square littered with dead and wounded, many of whom cried for help.
The ranks of the procession thinned considerably. After a two-hundred day march, all realized that they were no longer in Rome. In dismay they swarmed about the Pontiff to protect him and minister to him in his needs.
At that moment two angels appeared, bearing a banner which they presented to the Supreme Pontiff, saying: "Take the banner of Her who battles and routs the most powerful armies on earth. Your enemies have vanished: with tears and sighs your children plead for your return."
One side of the banner bore the inscription: Regina sine labe concepta [Queen conceived without sin], and the other side read: Auxilium Christianorum [Help of Christians].
The Pontiff accepted the banner gladly, but he became distressed to see how few were his followers.
But the two angels went on: "Go now, comfort your children. Write to your brothers scattered throughout the world that men must reform their lives. This cannot be achieved unless the bread of the Divine Word is broken among the peoples. Teach children their catechism and preach detachment from earthly things. The time has come," the two angels concluded, "when the poor will evangelize the world. Priests shall be sought among those who wield the hoe, the spade, and the hammer, as David prophesied: 'God lifted the poor man from the fields to place him on the throne of His people.'"
On hearing this, the Pontiff moved on, and the ranks began to swell. Upon reaching the Holy City, the Pontiff wept at the sight of its desolate citizens, for many of them were no longer. He then entered St. Peter's and intoned the Te Deum, to which a chorus of angels responded, singing: Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. When the song was over, all darkness vanished and a blazing sun shone. The population had declined greatly in the cities and in the countryside; the land was mangled as if by a hurricane and hailstorm, and people sought each other, deeply moved, and saying: Est Deus in Israel [There is a God in Israel].
From the start of the exile until the intoning of the Te Deum, the sun rose 200 times. All the events described covered a period of 400 days.
As Fr. Frank Klauder pointed out in an article written for SOUL magazine (Jan/Feb 1998) titled The 200 Day March: Don Bosco and the Millennium, the 400 "days" here should be interpreted as representing 400 months - which gives the symbolic figure of 33.333 years (recalling St. Louis De Montfort's 33 days of preparation for the total consecration to Mary). The 200 "days" gives half of this - 16 and a half years. Fr. Klauder notes that the "great light" seen at the beginning of this vision is the Second Vatican Council (also the anchor point for the Dream of the Two Pillars), which closed on 8th December 1965. Calculating 16 and a half years from December 1965 brings us up to the year 1982, when Pope John Paul II performed his first consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on May 13th, following the attempt on his life the previous year. This consecration was repeated again together with the bishops of the world on May 13th 1984. The very same day, a huge fire broke out at a stockpile of naval missiles at the Severomorsk Naval Base in Russia, causing violent explosions which killed between 200-300 scientists and technicians. This event has been described as the worst Russian naval disaster since World War II. The following year, in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev was elected Chairman of Soviet Russia. And the year after this, the Chernobyl incident took place during the last appearance of Halley's Comet in 1986, thus fulfilling the prophecy of the Wormwood Star in the Apocalypse (see the earlier post Wormwood, Chernobyl and the Hrushiv Apparitions). Soon after, the revolutions of 1989 would see the worldwide collapse of communism (which we have already noted is connected to the enacted parable of the 153 fish, since 153 x 13 = 1989).
The 33 and a third year period involved in the March of the 200 Days brings us up to the year 1999 for the fulfillment of St. John Bosco's prophecy. As Don Bosco had stated in another prophecy directly related to this event, the peace would arrive when two full moons (or a "blue moon") had shone in the "month of flowers":
Things follow too slowly upon each other, but the great Queen of Heaven is at hand; the Lord's power is Hers. Like mist She shall scatter Her enemies. She shall vest the Venerable Old Man with all his former garments. There shall yet come a violent hurricane. Iniquity is at an end, sin shall cease, and before two full moons shall have shone in the month of flowers, the rainbow of peace shall appear on the earth. The great Minister shall see the Bride of his King clothed in glory. Throughout the world a sun so bright shall shine as was never seen since the flames of the Cenacle until today, nor shall it be seen again until the end of time...
Two full moons had taken place in May in 1988, just the year before the collapse of communism. The year 1999 also seen the rare occurrence of two blue moons in one year, during January and March.
Given that St. John Bosco's prophecy of the March of the 200 Days also points to the turn of the millennium as the time of a great Marian victory and the beginning of the era of the Second Pentecost, this makes it all the more likely that the Dream of the Two Pillars refers to the exact same event, and the pope who secures the ship to the two pillars is none other than John Paul II.
Holding that John Paul I is the pope who is killed in Don Bosco's dream would also make better sense out of the secret given to Maximin by Our Lady of La Salette:
Before all that arrives, great disorders will arrive, in the Church, and everywhere. Then, after [that], our Holy Father the Pope will be persecuted. His successor will be a pontiff that nobody expects.
Then, after [that], a great peace will come, but it will not last a long time. A monster will come to disturb it.
All that I tell you here will arrive in the other century, at the latest in the year two thousand."
If the pope who is persecuted is John Paul I, then the pontiff that nobody expects would be John Paul II - who was the first non-Italian pope in over four hundred years. After the election of the pontiff that nobody expects, the "great peace" arrives "at the latest in the year two thousand" - which is the year of the Great Jubilee and the end of the 100 years of Satan's greater power, when the Great Red Dragon is cast down to the earth in Rev 12. This event, which is marked by the appearance of the Signs in Heaven (an earthquake, solar and lunar eclipses, a meteor shower and the appearance of the "sign of the Son of Man" - all of which occured at the turn of the millennium), occurs at the opening of the sixth seal of the Apocalypse. The Dream of the Two Pillars would also have some added symbolic significance here, since we have already noted how the events of 9/11 would have to be equated with the "blood, fire and columns of smoke" spoken of by both the prophet Joel and St. Peter at Pentecost, that are foretold to accompany the Signs in Heaven at the beginning of the Second Pentecost:
“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
(See the earlier post The Two Towers and the Sixth Seal for more details).
We have already previously discussed how the events at the turn of the millennium and the "time, times, and half a time" in the Apocalypse may be related to a decreed period of seventy years of desolation being cut short to 35 years in the post The Three Days of Darkness and the Angelic Pope, and how this may be related to the beginning of the period of the Great Apostasy - which has followed in the wake of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. This is directly related to the words of Christ during his apocalyptic discourse on Mt. Olivet:
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
This alludes to the words of the prophet Daniel, who linked the days of the Great Tribulation being cut short for the sake of the elect to the victory of the Archangel Michael over the Dragon - when Satan would be cast down to the earth:
“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book."
"Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."
In a letter addressed to Pope Pius XII in 1940 requesting the consecration of the world and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Sr. Lucia herself had stated that the consecration is related to the days of tribulation being cut short for the sake of the elect spoken of by Christ in the Gospels:
In several intimate communications our Lord has not stopped insisting on this request, promising lately, to shorten the days of tribulation which He has determined to punish the nations for their crimes, through war, famine and several persecutions of the Holy Church and Your Holiness, if you will consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with a special mention for Russia, and order that all the Bishops of the world do the same in union with Your Holiness.
(See here for the full text).
Given that Pope John Paul II had performed yet another consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during the Great Jubilee Year 2000, there seems to be strong indications here that he was indeed the pope who secured the ship to the two pillars of the Eucharist and Devotion to Our Lady.
If the above line of reasoning is correct, St. John Bosco's prophecy of the two pillars thus may belong to the past, and Pope Francis may very well still be the last pope.
If we are to approach the significance of the prophetic list of popes from another more optimistic angle, then another possibility is that rather than being the last pope, the prophecy concerning Petrus Romanus is focused on highlighting the importance of this particular papacy, and there will be other validly elected popes who will follow him. Although if the Antichrist comes to world power towards the end of the pontificate of Pope Francis, I would imagine that it would be impossible to have a valid pontificate openly based in Rome. Any valid pontificates during the reign of the Antichrist would presumably have to operate underground and in exile. And if the flock are scattered upon the death of the pastor, it may prove difficult to get enough cardinal electors together to form an impromptu conclave. In all likelihood, there may be several underground conclaves, and it may be near impossible to network and ascertain who the true pope really is. During the reign of the Antichrist, it might be necessary for the Church to continue sede vacante - but as Christ promised, the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matt 16:18).
Whatever the case may be, it does seem to be a rather striking coincidence that the pontiff specifically pinpointed by the prophetic list of popes would be one and the same as the "Worthy Shepherd" prophesied by Bl. Tomasuccio de Foligno - who like Petrus Romanus, would also be the Angelic Pope who is promised to restore the Church before the coming of the Antichrist. If (hopefully) many years from now Pope Francis dies a peaceful death, and there is yet another smoothly run conclave, then we can all breathe a sigh of relief.