Petrus Romanus: Why Study the Prophecy of the Popes?

“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2).

We’ve gotten a lot of questions from our Christian friends asking why we would bother to study a questionable Catholic prophecy. When we began researching the prophecy, we started with a healthy dose of skepticism. In light of the Counter Reformation and the Vatican’s well-documented trail of forgeries, one might suspect the prophecy of the popes to be some sort of manipulation. As we initially delved into the scholarship on the subject, our worst suspicions seemed to be confirmed. Early on, the evidence that the pre-1590 prophecies were written after the fact was so convincing that we considered shelving the project. However, there were a few remarkable twentieth-century fulfillments like Benedict XV, assigned the motto Religio depopulate, that merited serious pause. There is well-documented history of the prophecy in the sixteenth century, so any fulfilled mottos after that time demand serious consideration.


Even more, as our research progressed, unresolved issues fell into place and yielded unexpected results. We have uncovered a wealth of source material seldom mentioned in the popular literature. At worst, we have a Jesuit hoax or some papal propaganda. If that is the case, then at the very least this work provides a platform to refute some errors in Catholic theology. We have no illusions of grandeur. We do not fancy ourselves as end-time prophets with special revelation. Even so, there is something remarkable about the fortune we have encountered in the research. We still question ourselves, “Is this prophecy really genuine? Are we being led astray?” We believe there is strong chance Rome is intentionally promoting the prophecy, even though it seems most Jesuits have called it a forgery. We have to wonder if it is disinformation. We would not put it past Rome to arrange events in accordance with a Catholic prophecy and in some cases they clearly have. Even so, some of the fulfillments are beyond human control. While we believe demons can make educated guesses and manipulate events to give the illusion of prophecy, only God can inspire real prophecy (Isaiah 46:9–10). In light of all of the forgery and occultism associated with Rome, why would the God of the Bible inspire such a prophecy? We offer three considerations.


First, let us offer a very simple rationale. God uses the most unlikely events to accomplish His sovereign purpose. He is uniquely capable of turning the tables in unexpected ways. Think of how God used Satan’s diabolic designs against Jesus. Satan played right into to the Father’s hands, ensured his own defeat and surrendered the atonement for sins of the world (1 John 2:2). The cosmic inquisition was ended when Satan, the cosmic grand inquisitor, defeated himself. It seems just that his earthly counterpart (“grand inquisitor”) meet a similar fate. Through the cross of Calvary, God effectively, “spoiled principalities and powers [Satan and demons], he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15). In the prophecy of the popes, Mystery Babylon and her Pontifex Maximi are similarly made a public horror as the City of Seven Hills is engulfed in flames. It is truly chilling to imagine.


Second, it seems from the Scriptures that God has a sense of irony that is second to none. Even a cursory reading of the Old Testament will yield God pouring out His emotions in the livid, sardonic tones of a jilted lover, “And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring” (Le 17:7a); and “Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation” (Judges 10:14). Consider how the Prophet Elijah taunts the priests of Baal, “Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked” (1 Ki 18:27). However this is one of the places where the translators shielded the reader from an unsightly detail that is visible in the English Standard Version’s rendering of the Hebrew, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself…” (1 Kings 18:27a, ESV). The point is that God appreciates irony and often employs sarcasm. He also appreciates a clever riddle (Proverbs 25:2).


Third, God often uses the most unlikely people. From a Catholic perspective, we offer the words of Pope Benedict XIV: “The recipients of prophecy may be angels, devils, men, women, children, heathens, or gentiles; nor is it necessary that a man should be gifted with any particular disposition in order to receive the light of prophecy provided his intellect and senses be adapted for making manifest the things which God reveals to him. Though moral goodness is most profitable to a prophet, yet it is not necessary in order to obtain the gift of prophecy.”[i] While we are duly cautious to agree with a pope, it is helpful to recall Nebuchadnezzar’s dream from Daniel 2. God chose to reveal a prophecy spanning from 605 BC through the second coming of Christ to an arrogant narcissistic pagan king. Of course, it required God’s holy servant, Daniel, to interpret the dream. Similarly, God used Balaam, a sorcerer hired by Balak, a Moabite king, who was exceedingly fearful of the encroaching multitude of Israelites. Accordingly, the king sent for Balaam, a darkened wizard who now lives in prophetic infamy (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 11; Revelation 2:14). Despite Balaam’s incorrigible status, God used him to prophesy, “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult” (Numbers 24:17).


Ronald Allen, professor of Hebrew Scripture at Western Baptist Seminary writes, “In agreement with many in the early church and in early Judaism, we believe this text speaks unmistakably of the coming of the Messiah. That this prophecy should come from one who was unworthy makes it all the more dramatic and startling.”[ii] Thus, we see that God uses the most unlikely characters and situations to get His message across. This Pethorian prophecy was well over one thousand years before the birth of Christ and from a hostile source yet it is probably what led the Magi to Bethlehem. The nameless author of the allegedly lost La profezia used Balaam as an example as well, remarking that the gift of prophecy, “is essentially a free supernatural gift, in which God certifies the truth of His faith by communicating to different souls, sometimes even infidels like Balaam, in whom altered states have occurred inspiring them spontaneously to speak marvelously of the most sublime mystery of God.”[iii] If we conclude the prophecy of the popes is authentic prophecy, then it is so impossibly ironic and judiciously just that it must indeed be divine. So, we must decide where to draw the line between the authentic and the forged


To be continued next week.

Website for Petrus Romanus here:

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[i] Benedict XIV, Heroic Virtue III, 144:150.

[ii] Kenneth L. Barker, Expositorś Bible Commentary (Abridged Edition: Old Testament) (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), 216.

[iii] La profezia dei sommi pontefici, 1794, p. 15. Translation CD Putnam.

About Cris Putnam
Logos Apologia is the ministry of Cris D. Putnam. The mission of Logos Apologia is to show that logic, science, history and faith are complementary, not contradictory and to bring that life-changing truth to everybody who wants to know.


  1. Carol says:

    Thanks for the great program o Omegaman!

  2. Dennis Lewis says:

    I’m quite interested in following this discussion and reading this book. However, what is meant by, “We’ve gotten a lot of questions from our Christian friends asking why we would bother to study a questionable Catholic prophecy”?

    Are Catholics considered non-Christian? I liked the Coast to Coast interview and thought I’d check out the discussion. I’m of the mindset, though, that Catholics and Protestants are all Christians and that even Catholics can write wonderful Christian teachings. Saintly Catholics can even have prophecy.

    No doubt the Vatican needs to be looked at with a great deal of discernment. I’m not surprised that there are secrets and corruption in the Vatican. Saddened indeed, But I do not want to paint with a broad brush nor make generalizations. I have known too many good padres and heard of many more who work quietly, some performing healing miracles, some exorcisms, some are good speakers, some good shepherds and sadly some are bad apples. The bad apples get 99% of the news. But this is a cross section of any large organization. Historically the Church has mishandled many a scandal and the Papacy has supported many an atrocity.

    This post is seeming a little circular, turning back onto the point to be made but the bottom line is that there are millions of devote Christians who happen to be Catholic. If all denominations are going to bicker I’m thinking it might be best to be a Free Agent Christian, a follower of Christ, perhaps not even attending organized churches, perhaps just having small Christian gatherings without the usual building.

    • Cris Putnam says:


      I think there are Christians within but it is despite the theology and leadership. There are some fundamental issues like salvation by faith alone, necessity of sacraments and rituals, prayer to Mary and deceased humans amongst many others which are not easily overlooked. I recommend this site: and also this series:

    • Paul says:


      Cris is right. I’d ask a question… What is your understanding of the Gospel? What exactly is the Gospel, and how do you support that understanding from The Bible? Why is salvation necessary? What of those who follow other religions? Do these paths also lead to God? Can one become a Christian simply by prayerfully reading the Bible and obeying what God says in it? Or does one need further revelation and traditions and interpretations from a group of men and the system they have established? The preference you express in your closing paragraph goes dead against Catholic doctrine. That is one of the reasons why the Catholic church is not Christian — the denominations you lament were often formed by people who thought as you do and wished to separate from the “official” church. We’re called to separate from false brethren. And a great many Christians have paid dearly for doing so.

      This video might help explain the differences between Biblical Christianity and the doctrines of the Church of Rome.

      • Dennis Lewis says:

        Truth is a funny thing. We are all blind and only come to know a part of the truth as illustrated in this familiar story:

        Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, “Hey, there is an elephant in the village today.”

        They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, “Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway.” All of them went where the elephant was. Everyone of them touched the elephant.

        “Hey, the elephant is a pillar,” said the first man who touched his leg.

        “Oh, no! it is like a rope,” said the second man who touched the tail.

        “Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.

        “It is like a big hand fan” said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.

        “It is like a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.

        “It is like a solid pipe,” Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

        They began to argue about the elephant and everyone of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, “What is the matter?” They said, “We cannot agree to what the elephant is like.” Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, “All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said.”

        Adapted from
        Thanks Paul and Chris for the videos and links. Time permitting I will see them today.
        Then we can resume the dialog.

        • Cris Putnam says:

          Actually, the wise man in the story wasn’t very wise at all. All of them were wrong, it wasn’t a pillar nor a rope nor tree nor a fan nor a wall nor a pipe. It was an elephant! All religions can be wrong but it is not possible for them to all be right. They hold contradictory beliefs about the nature of God, the nature of man, sin, salvation, heaven, hell, and creation. For example,

          • Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe in different versions of a theistic God, while most Hindus and New Agers believe that everything that exists is part of an impersonal, pantheistic force they call God.
          • Many Hindus believe that evil is a complete illusion, while Christians, Muslims, and Jews believe that evil is real.
          • Christians believe that people are saved by grace while all other religions, if they believe in salvation at all, teach some kind of salvation by good works (the definition of “good” and what one is saved from varies greatly).

          These are just a few of the many differences. The idea that all religions teach basically the same things is incoherent.

          Now Jesus said things like: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Mt 7:13–14) and “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn 14:6).

          Since Jesus teachings about the nature of man and God ring true and the historical evidence for his death and resurrection is so strong I take his word for it, the way is narrow and few find it.