On February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would be resigning as the head of the Catholic Church, making him the first pope to quit rather than die in the post in more than 600 years. According to Italian media, “Benedict’s decision to step down was influenced by the various scandals that blighted his eight-year papacy, including the arrest of his personal butler for leaking private documents alleging corruption in the Vatican.” Pope Emeritus Benedict later said that God told him to resign.
On the same day Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, lightning bolts twice struck the basilica of St. Peter’s dome in Vatican City. Maybe it was a portent that there now would be “two Popes” in the Vatican.
“It was also revealed that, far from retiring to a life of contemplation in a distant monastery, Benedict will live inside the Vatican in a specially-prepared apartment block. His presence close to St Peter’s Square poses the threat that the authority of the new Pope may be compromised or undermined. And it led many to fear that the church’s 1.2 billion followers could be exposed to the risk of divided loyalties to ‘two Popes.’” (Steve Doughty and Hannah Roberts, “Now will there be TWO Popes?” Daily Mail, February 12, 2013)
Nostradamus warned that the next-to-last pope would ‘flee Rome in December when the great comet is seen in the daytime.’ The Comet ISON, with its 40,000 mile-long tail, had been visible the past couple months as Benedict prepared to abdicate and leave Rome for his temporary home in Castel Gandolfo.
“And for those well-versed in the language of brimstone and fire, the signs could not have been more transparent when just hours after Benedict announced he would abdicate, a bolt of lightning struck St. Peter’s Basilica, the very heart of Christianity. A few days later a shower of meteorites fell and devastated a village in Russia.” (Carol Grisanti, “Are cardinals electing the last pope? If you believe Nostradamus…” NBC News, March 10, 2013)
There was much speculation about who would take over the leadership of the Catholic Church, but some guidance came from the 12thcentury papal prophecies of St. Malachy. St. Malachy, the first Irish canonized saint, supposedly had a revelation of the next 112 popes. We had 111 since, and were on the verge of seeing No. 112, which Malachy said will be the final pope before the end of the world as we know it:
“During the last persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit upon the throne, Peter the Roman, who will feed the sheep amid great tribulations, and when these are passed, the City of the Seven Hills (Rome) will be utterly destroyed, and the awful Judge will then judge the people.”
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In the mid 1500s, Felice Peretti was the inquisitor general of Venice. His influence was so harsh that he caused disputes within the Vatican. In order to assume the powerful “name of a man, and the number of a beast,” he would soon be among a group of three rulers known as “Pope Sixtus.”
Sixtus V demolished long streets of buildings in Rome and displaced the tenants in order to enlarge his villa and casino. He hoarded great wealth; withdrawing so much money from circulation that it caused suffering all over Europe. Sixtus V persecuted his enemies with ruthless severity. Behind the excessive desires of the rulers named Sixtus floated memories of a plot to assassinate members of the Florentine ruling Medici family, a mystic stone taken from the tomb of Jesus, and the blight of three popes (Sixtus IV, Sixtus V, the first three were called Xystus; the last, Sixtus VI, is to reign at the End Times).
Educated clergymen allowed the corruption of a name (Xystus, meaning “polished”) into Sixtus, knowing that “six thrice” is mentioned as the shameful name of “the beast” in the biblical Revelation.
Displaying typical irony, Pope Sixtus IV’s nephew Cardinal Raffaele Riario, for whom the Palazzo della Cancelleria was constructed, was a leader in the 1478 failed Pazzi conspiracy to murder Lorenzo de’ Medici and his brother. Papal bankers in Florence were behind the assassination plot.
The Pazzi name came from Pazzo, (“the madman”) a soldier in the Siege of Jerusalem during the First Crusade, “who brought away with him and returned to Florence a stone from the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher.” The Pazzi family proudly suggested they had found the “mystic stone” from which all Grail legends originated. In an elaborate Easter ceremony involving fireworks, a member of the Pazzi family would strike a spark from the stone to kindle the light of the holy altar, and all the hearth fires of Florence.
But on April 26, 1478, during High Mass, the co-ruler of Florence, Giuliano de’ Medici was stabbed nineteen times by a gang that included a priest, and bled to death on the cathedral floor while his brother Lorenzo escaped with serious wounds. When the keepers of the “Sepulcher stone” were exposed to be liars and murderers, the enraged Florentines seized and killed them.
“Jacopo de’ Pazzi was tossed from a window, finished off by the mob, and dragged naked through the streets and thrown into the Arno River. The Pazzi families were stripped of their possessions in Florence, every vestige of their name effaced. The archbishop of Pisa, a main organizer of the plot, was hanged on the walls of the Florentine Palazzo della Signoria.” Two members of the Pazzi family are placed in Hell in Dante’s Inferno, both in the circle of the traitors.
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After the abdication of Benedict XVI, who would be the new Pope? Were they to name him “Pope Sixtus VI,” an anagram for Pope 666?
It was announced at that time that Internet hit Bruno Ganz would portray a made-up Pope Sixtus VI in the Showtime cable TV network pilot of “The Vatican,” directed by Ridley Scott. Ganz starred as Adolf Hitler in “Downfall” (2004), earning awards for his portrayal at the European Film Awards, German Film Awards and London Critics Circle Film Awards, among numerous others.
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During the Renaissance in Italy, the Borgia family became important in religious and political affairs, producing two popes. It was told that the Borgias hosted orgies in the Vatican palace. There is also the punishment of Perotto, Lucrezia Borgia’s lover. When Cesare Borgia learned of his sister Lucrezia’s pregnancy, he was so infuriated that he allegedly had the father of the child murdered. “The Borgias” TV series (2011) by Tom Fontana recounts the Borgia family’s rise to power and supremacy of the Papal States during the Renaissance.
Part II of this article continues tomorrow! Saturday, September 14, 2013