|Posted on February 11, 2013 at 7:55 AM|
As announced by the Vatican Press Office, Pope Benedict XVI will step down as Pope as of February 28. The decision is due to his declining strength, which he described as deteriorating in the last few months. He has served in the capacity of Bishop of Rome, successor of Saint Peter, since being elected April 19, 2005.
Subsequent to his resignation, a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked. A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, stated that there will be a new Pope "before Easter".
The last pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415.
Pope Benedict has the curious distinction of being the final Pope prophesied by St. Malachi, an Irish saint and Archbishop of Armagh. Several miracles were attributed to St. Malachi in addition to his visions of the identity of more than 100 future Popes. His Feast day is celebrated November 3.
Malachi lived from 1094-1148 AD and he was the first Irish saint to be canonized by a pope. He has been credited with reforming and reorganizing the Irish church, bringing it more in line with reforms begun under Pope Gregory VII.
Perhaps he is most famous for his visions describing 112 future Popes by using short Latin phrases while in Rome, having been summoned there by Pope Innocent II. The phrase purportedly describing Pope Benedict is "Gloria Olivae" (Glory of the olive). The Benedictine Order's crest contains an olive branch.
Most controversial is the supposed prophesy concerning the Pope to follow Benedict. Some have suggested that it was added at a later date, but since the original manuscript apparently no longer exists, it cannot be determined with any certainty. According to the questionable prophesy, the next Pope will be called Petrus Romanus (Peter the Roman), and will preside during the destruction of the city of the seven hills (Rome, Italy).
Another school of thought claims none of the prophesies were actually made by St. Malachi, but were forged and attributed to him to help secure the papacy of Girolamo Simoncelli following Pope Urban VII. Simoncelli was ultimately not elected pope.
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