A few days from now, or on Feb 28 to be exact, Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th pope, officially steps down as head of the secular Roman Catholic religion.From then it begins the month-long arduous process of choosing and electing the next pope of the world's 1 billion catholics.
Eligible papabilis or potential popes would then be flown into Rome for a scheduled papal conclave in March. However, this particular conclave, apart from the papabilis themselves, has generated far much attention, not just from the followers of the secular religion but even from kibitzers and doomsday sayers.
Yes, even the latter. For they say that the 2013 papal conclave would not only elect a new pope but someone to usher the world's final Apocalypse, all in accordance to the Saint Malachy prophecy.
The papal conclave then, must it be stopped?
Who is Saint Malachy?
Saint Malachy was an Irish saint who lived between 1094 and November 2, 1148, and to whom historians give credit on the alleged vision of the 112 Popes, more specifically the apocalyptic list of prophecy of the popes.
Story circles said that while in Rome in 1139, Saint Malachy, regarded by some as a great prophet, received a vision that showed him all the popes from his day to the end of time. After John Paul II's death, there would remain only two popes, according to these prophecies.
In his trance, Saint Malachy assigned short descriptions in Latin, usually referring to a family name, birthplace, coat-of-arms, or office held before election to the papacy, to each pope that he wrote on paper. There are some phrases that bore multiple prophecies. In all, 112 popes and their characteristics were listed from 1143 to the alleged end of the world.
Historians claimed that his prophecies, through the centuries, turned out to be amazingly accurate. It even prophesied the date of his death.
But special attention is now being given to the 2013 papal conclave because from it will rise the pope who will usher doomsday or the apocalypse or in biblical terms, the Judgment Day, according to the prophecy.
The last pope has been described in the prophecy as "Peter the Roman," whose pontificate will end in the destruction of the city of Rome.
Saint Malachy's final words were: "Rome, the seat of the Vatican, will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people."
Peter the Roman/Petrus Romanus
According to the 12th century prophecy, the final pope will likely be Satan, taking the form of a man named Peter who will gain a worldwide allegiance and adoration. He will be the final antichrist.
The 112th prophesy states: "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Petrus Romanus, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations; after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End."
The Lone Peter in the Papabilis
Among the 2013 papal conclave papabilis, there is a long Peter among the fold - Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. But theologians immediately debauched the idea since Cardinal Turkson is not born in Rome.
"There are no Pietros among the living cardinals; two Pierres (as second name): Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir and Jean-Pierre Ricard; and one Pedro: Rubiano Sáenz," Salvador Miranda, a librarian as well as creator and producer of the Web site The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church said earlier.
But Cardinal Turkson came from the order of the Roman Curia, defined as the "the ensemble of departments that assist the Pope in the exercise of his supreme pastoral office for the good and in service of the Church throughout the world and of the particular Churches," according to www.catholic-pages.com.
Putting those two facts together then, could Cardinal Turkson be the Petrus Romanus the world is so anxious about?
Fr James Weiss, a professor of church history at Boston College, told Huffington Post it would be crazy for historians and doomsday sayers alike to accept in full principle the prophecies of Saint Malachy.
First, the prediction has no original manuscript. Second, the prophecies showed up but only after the first of the newly elected popes had died.
Another theologian, Dr. Thomas Groome, chair of the Department of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry at Boston College, likewise said the same.
"For myself - and even as a native Irishman - the 'Prophecies of St. Malachy' are a grand old fun tale that have about as much reliability as the morning horoscope."
Signs of the Times?
But then people still point to the very recent signs of the times.
The flyby of Asteroid 2012 DA14 to Earth last week.
The meteorite in Russia.
Even Beyonce's Illuminati sign.
So should the 2013 Papal conclave then must be stopped?