Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, the new pope, has chosen Francis I as his papal name - a name his predecessors have not chosen. He told the cheering crowd at St Peter's Square that the world should set off on a "path of love and fraternity."
By choosing Francis I as his papal name, the new pope has more or less proved the proponents of the Prophecy of the Popes wrong. Many claimed that Pope Benedict XVI is the last in the list, and the new pope identified as "Peter the Roman" who will subsequently lead to destruction of Rome.
Pope Francis I decided to go on the "path of love and fraternity" at a time when the Church is being troubled by a series of scandals and controversies.
The papal name is chosen after lots of deliberation as it sends out a signal as to how he would lead the Church during his reign.
Once a candidate is elected, the Cardinal Dean will ask if he accepts to be the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church. The new pope will be asked to choose his papal name if he accepts his position before being brought out to greet the crowd at St Peter's Square. The name in itself is a message to the believers.
German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger chose the name Pope Benedict XVI to honour Saint Benedict of Nursia.
Pope Benedict XVI's predecessor, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland chose John Paul II to honour John Paul I. Cardinal Albino Luciani first combined the names John and Paul in 1978, as he wanted to combine John XXIII's reformative ideals and Paul VI's traditional stand.
The name Pius is associated with being "staunch conservative," and all the popes, who took the name, were known for being conservative. The name Paul is associated with "traditional stand" while John with "reformer."
Interestingly, no pope has taken the name Peter, who was the first pope of the Catholic Church. More than 260 men have reigned as pope since Saint Peter was martyred in Rome in the third decade after the death of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps, popes didn't choose Peter as their papal name to avoid unnecessary comparison with Jesus Christ's chosen leader. But if the selection of names in the past is anything to go by, someone would surely want to go in the footsteps of the first Pope of Rome.
However, nobody has chosen Peter for their papal name in the history of the Catholic Church, and it could be because of an ancient prophecy which says the world will end when a new pope takes up the name Peter.
The "Prophecy of the Popes," first published in 1595 by Benedictine monk Arnold Wion, claimed to predict the Popes of Catholic Church. Some proponents of the prophecy claimed that Pope Benedict XVI was the last on the list, and the new pope identified as "Peter the Roman," would lead to destruction of Rome which would mark the beginning of the Apocalypse, meaning disclosure of hidden knowledge in Greek. Several historians also claim that there is possibility of unlisted popes between "the glory of the olive" and "Peter the Roman".
However, Catholics don't believe in the prophecy, and they describe it as meaningless and "fabricated prophecies" that serve no purpose.
Father M.J. O'Brien, who wrote the book "An Historical And Critical Account Of The So-Called Prophecy Of St. Malachy" in 1880, described the Prophecy of the Popes as "sorriest trifling". He said that such absurd trifling can't be attributed to any holy source.
Also Read: Pope Francis: 10 Interesting Need-to-Know Facts
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