In less than 36 hours from now, the 115 cardinal electors tasked to choose and elect the new spiritual leader of the 1.2 billion-strong Roman Catholic church, the 266th pope to follow the reins of St Peter the Apostle, will converge at the Sistine Chapel amid a praying populace around the world. Could the same people, along with the skeptics, be also praying that this new pope won't herald the much anticipated doomsday not only of the secular faith but also of the world as predicted by St Malachy?
St Malachy said in the year 1143 there would be 112 more Popes before the world ends. Retired Benedict XVI, who resigned from his 8-year papacy tenure on Feb. 28, was the 111th pope. The Irish saint and Archbishop of Armagh lived between 1094 and 1148.
Vatican officials and Catholic scholars had earlier admitted they are very much aware of the apocalyptic list of prophecy of the Popes. However, they have dismissed the list as "fake."
"There are just a number of red flags," Sister Madeleine Grace, a historical theologian at the University of St. Thomas who specialises in medieval texts, earlier told NBC News. "The material that implies they're talking about future popes is rather scanty indeed, and there are factual errors . . .. The likelihood is that they're some kind of forgery."
It was said that the list got published by Benedictine monk Arnold de Wyon in 1595. In between the years, the original text was just laying around in Rome's archives.
Still, the doomsday prediction of St Malachy continued to prevail thousands of years after, and it is at its most talked about state this year, or perhaps this month.
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 anti-Christ and will usher doomsday.
Cynics immediately pointed to Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, one of this year's so-called papal conclave papabilis or potential popes. Although theologians immediately debauched the idea since Cardinal Turkson was not born in Rome, he was associated and came from the order of the Roman Curia.
Another Peter in the papabiles that cynics may have failed to realise is Italy's Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, whose real name is Tarcisio Pietro Evasio Bertone and born in Romano Canavese, Piedmont. He is this year's "camerlengo" or chamberlain, the one temporarily in charge of the interim powers of the Catholic Church until such time a new pope is elected. The 78-year-old Cardinal Bertone is currently the Vatican's Secretary of State and was Vatican's guy number two, next to resigned Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
But then again, skeptics and believers of the faith may choose to consciously avert that the 2013 upcoming new pope has anything to do with St Malachy and his apocalyptic list of Prophecy of the Popes, with doomsday as well as the name Peter.
Just like what the punters are doing right now. According to Irish bookie Paddy Power, Italy's Cardinal Angelo Scola is now 2-1 to be the next pontiff, overtaking Ghana's Cardinal Peter Turkson, the previous frontrunner, who is now at 4-1.
A top-three favorite for Pope, Cardinal Bertone has 5-1 odds.
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