Lightning hits the Vatican as Pope's resignation recalls prophecy of Rome's destruction
A bolt of lightning struck St Peter's Basilica the day Pope Benedict announced his resignation.
According to the Prophecy of the Popes, Pope Benedict's successor will be the last, and will bring about 'the destruction of Rome'.
The prophecy is attributed to Saint Malachy, the 12th century bishop of Armagh, Ireland.
He experienced a vision of future popes and recorded them as a sequence of cryptic phrases.
Each phrase corresponds to a Pope from 1143 to the current Pope's successor in numerical order.
Interpretation of the phrases relies on finding relevance between names, birthplaces and the nature of their pontificate with the cryptic words.
The prophecy describes Pope John Paul II as "From the labour of the sun". Pope John Paul was both born and entombed on the day of a solar eclipse.
Pope Benedict is described in the 900-year-old prophecy as "Glory of the olive". Pope Benedict chose his papal name after St Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictine Order whose crest was an olive branch,
The final motto corresponding to the final Pope reads: "In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations:
and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the terrible judge will judge his people."
The church has deemed the prophecy false.
The next Pope will be in place by Easter.
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