Well, God is in his heaven,

And we are what was his,

But power and greed and corruptible seed

Seem to be all that there is.

            – Bob Dylan, “Blind Willie McTell


Within hours of the announcement of the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI, a lightening bolt struck the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica – a dramatic portent of the unfolding crisis in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.  The only previous voluntary abdication by a pope was that of Celestine V in 1294 at the height of another great crisis in the Church.   This connection perhaps explains the strange homage that Benedict paid to Celestine V in April 2009, when he left his pallium – worn during his papal inauguration and the symbol of his authority as Bishop of Rome   – on Celestine’s tomb.   Earlier in that same month, Celestine’s fragile glass casket had miraculously survived the great earthquake that struck the city of L’Aquila, causing the roof of the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio to collapse.

Adding to the ominous context of the Pope’s surprise resignation are the 12th Century prophecies of Saint Malachy, in which he envisioned a succession of 112 popes from his own time until the ultimate end of the Papacy.  To each of these future popes, Malachy assigned an enigmatic motto – all of which have proven to be strikingly prescient.  For example, his motto for the 110th pope, de labore solis, “of the solar eclipse”, was precisely fulfilled by John Paul II, who was both born and buried on dates of solar eclipses.  Similarly, the motto for the 109th pope, de medietate lunae, “of the half moon”, exactly describes the brief  33-day reign of John Paul I, which lasted from one half moon to the next.

Since Pope Benedict XVI corresponds to number 111 on Malachy’s list, his abdication sets the stage for the “last Pope”, whom the Saint described as Petrus Romanus, “Peter of Rome”.  Perhaps for that reason, none of the 265 men elected over the centuries to fill the shoes of the Fisherman have ever dared to take the name of the first Pope, lest they mark themselves as the last of their line.  One would have to assume that this unwritten taboo will continue to be observed when the next pope is elected in the coming weeks.  Yet, among those who are considered contenders for the papal tiara is the Cardinal of Ghana, whose name is Peter Turkson.  While obviously not a native Roman, he was educated at the Pontifical Institute in Rome and spends much of his time there as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.  If Cardinal Turkson is indeed destined to succeed Benedict XVI, he would not be the first African pope, but he would be the first black African to lead the Church.

Beyond its historic significance, the prospect of a “black pope” resonates with one of the most controversial prophecies of Nostradamus.  In Quatrains 24 and 25 of his Century VI, the Provençal seer foresees a “young black” rising to the papal throne:

Mars and the Scepter [Jupiter] will be found conjoined,

In Cancer, calamitous war:

Shortly thereafter, a new King will be anointed,

Who will pacify the earth for a long time.


When retrograde Mars reaches opposition, the monarchy

Of the great fisherman will be in ruinous trouble:

The young black [pope] will take on the hierarchy,

The traitors will act on a drizzly day.


 Previous interpretations of these stanzas, including my own, have read the “black pope” as alluding to the Jesuits, whose leader has traditionally been given that title.  But that was before the sea change in the role of black leadership which came with the election of Barack Obama.  Just as the ingrained corruption of the white political establishment has led people to turn to black candidates for change, so the shameful crimes of the Catholic hierarchy in Europe and the Americas have made African prelates – who have remained relatively untainted by the Church’s sexual and financial scandals – a credible and attractive alternative.

How does the “ruinous trouble” that Nostradamus envisions fit into the drama of Benedict’s abrupt resignation and the seething conflict of the upcoming Conclave?  It appears from the dates corresponding to the good Doctor’s planetary aspects that “the worst is yet to come”.  Indeed, despite the pretext of his ailing health, the Pope’s precipitous action was clearly motivated by a desire to duck what promises to be one hell of shitstorm.  Benedict apparently reached this decision just before the Christmas holidays, when he was presented with two bound volumes containing the results of an in-house investigation he had ordered in the wake of the “Vatileaks” fiasco.  Full of lurid details of wild sexual debauchery within the walls of the Vatican itself, much of which has already been leaked, the report has set off a feeding frenzy in the scandal-mongering Italian press. 

But the sexual scandals are largely a distraction from the core of the internal rot that the investigation revealed:  the frenzied struggle for control of the Vatican Bank, which has become the last major enclave of money-laundering on the European continent – and has garnered immense wealth for that very reason.  Readers of some of my previous writings will recall that the Vatican Bank – officially known by the comically ironic title “Institute for Religious Works”, or IOR – got into the money-laundering racket during the reign of Paul VI, who entrusted Vatican finances to the Mafia-linked “banksters” Michele Sindona and Roberto Calvi.  Paul’s successor, John Paul I, suffered a digitalis-induced heart failure when he began to delve too deeply into these matters.  After the arranged “suicides” of  Sindona and Calvi, Opus Dei became the master of the Vatican Bank and the beneficiary of its financial misdeeds.

The foregoing background helps explain why the last major moves that Benedict has made after his decision to bail out have all been directed to shoring up the crumbling legitimacy of the IOR.  In the wake of 9-11, a campaign to eradicate money-laundering as a source of terrorist funding was launched in Europe, which led to major investigations of the Vatican Bank’s shenanigans by both Italian prosecutors and EU bank examiners.  Benedict responded in 2009 by appointing Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, a respected Italian banker and Opus Dei member, to assume the presidency of the troubled IOR, in order to give it at least a sufficient veneer of “transparency” so that other banks would continue to do business with it.  But when, in May 2012, documents released by Vatileaks uncovered the IOR laundering of some $280 million on behalf of the Mafia, Gotti Tedeschi was hung out to dry as the Vatican’s fall guy.  Recalling the fate of Sindona and Calvi, Gotti Tedeschi told the press he was in fear of his life, because he knew too much about the Bank’s shady dealings.

With this recent history in mind, the moves that the Pope made in the immediate aftermath of his February 11th announcement speak volumes about the nature of the mess his resignation is meant to put a lid on.  On February 15th, he tapped Ernst von Freyberg, a German aristocrat industrialist with no particular banking experience, to fill the presidency of the IOR vacated by Gotti Tedeschi.  Manifestly unable to navigate the Vatican labyrinth, von Freyberg is a safely distant front-man for the Bank’s murky operations.  A week later, Benedict assigned Ettore Balestrero, the Vatican’s Undersecretary of State in charge of overseeing the IOR, as papal nuncio to Columbia, thereby removing from Rome yet another official who might know too much for his own good.

So Benedict had to go because he was already too compromised to lead a credible campaign to ostensibly “clean up” the Vatican Bank – at least enough to keep it from being black-listed by the international financial establishment.  The ideal candidate to succeed him is someone who is both untainted and expendable.  The former criterion is needed if he is to a have a chance of restoring the IOR to some semblance of respectability, and the latter criterion is necessary in case he fails – in which case he can take the fall without undermining the positions of any of the Curia’s key powerbrokers.  Cardinal Peter Turkson appears to fit both criteria:  He is relatively young, and he has staked out a posture as a financial reformer with his widely read proposal to restructure the world banking system.  At the same time, his undoing, if that becomes expedient, would not threaten the big Vatican players, such as Opus Dei, Cardinal Secretary of State Bertone or former Cardinal Secretary of State Sodano.

If elected, then, Peter Turkson seems to be in for a very rocky ride.  According to Nostradamus, the new pope will have to deal with two major events:  a “calamitous war” when Mars and Jupiter are conjunct in Cancer, and a Vatican palace coup when retrograde Mars is in opposition to the Sun.  The former aspect becomes exact on July 22, 2013, and the latter on April 8, 2014.  In order to get some insight into the nature of these coming events, let’s take a look at the astrological charts corresponding to each, which appear on the next two pages.


Mars Conj Jupiter Cancer.jpg

Mars Retro Opposition.jpg

When we examine the chart for Nostradamus’ “calamitous war” we see the “tripod” on which the stability of existing world order rests – the balanced forces of the governmental-military complex, the financial-media elites, and the religious-cultural institutions.  This tripod is represented astrologically by the Grand Trine of Jupiter/Mars in Cancer, Saturn in Scorpio and Neptune in Pisces.  At each angle of the Grand Trine, however, we see forces at work trying to kick one of the legs of the tripod out and turn the whole thing over.  Attacking the military-industrial complex, represented by the Mar-Jupiter conjunction, is the opposition of a malefic retrograde Pluto linked to financial speculation and sexual excess.  Pluto turned retrograde in April 2012, at the very time the Vatileaks scandal began to brew.  It’s noteworthy that Pluto is currently transiting Capricorn, where it was last seen during the American Revolution.  So the unraveling of Western democracy under the joint pressures of military empire and financial oligarchy is apparent here.

At the religious-cultural leg of the tripod, represented by retrograde Neptune in Pisces, the opposition comes from Venus, the goddess of sex and money.  Neptune is in the 7th House of marriage, which reminds us of the archetypal role of the Church as the Bride of Christ.  But in this astrological tableau, the Bride becomes the Whore of Babylon, as the Roman priesthood sinks into the most sordid lust and avarice.  It’s no accident that Neptune turned retrograde in June 2012, just as the Vatican backed away from even a pretense of reforming the IOR when it sacked Gotti Tedeschi. 

By far the strongest leg of the tripod, and the one which clearly appears to prevail in this scenario, is the financial-media elite, represented by a very karmic Saturn imbedded in the dark nadir of the chart and wrapped up in the libidinous secrecy of Scorpio.  When Dante sought a symbol for the sting of usury that poisoned society, he chose the Scorpion – and so it appears here in the same guise.  Its position is strengthened by the mutual reception of Scorpio Saturn with Capricorn Pluto, uniting these two malefic planets in the drive to reduce the world’s population to a condition of debt peonage.  Saturn squares the Sun in the l1th House, suppressing consciousness of humanity’s essential brotherhood, while the misdirected unconscious pull of the opposition Moon dims the solar light of truth.

When an old world order collapses, the collective body of humanity becomes ill, and the symptom of that illness is a fever called war.  Uranus in the 8th House of Death and in the martial sign of Aries is the portent of war in this chart, signifying a conflict that is both sudden in its onset and deadly in its outcome.  Uranus sits astride the line of attack between retrograde Pluto and Jupiter/Mars, squaring both ends of the opposition and virtually assuring that some type of nuclear weaponry will come into play during this terrible conflict.

According to Nostradamus, in the aftermath of this calamitous war, a charismatic new leader will emerge – one who will offer the weary world the prospect of long-term peace.  The “new King” will, for a time, fill the void left by the crumbling governmental-military leg of our tripod, and he will don the mantle of a “Prince of Peace” as Mars moves away from its conjunction with Jupiter and towards its opposition to the Sun.  In March of next year, Mars turns retrograde in Libra, and then reaches exact opposition on April 8, 2014 – a time in which Quatrain VI-25 predicts that the papal monarchy will be “in ruinous trouble”.  Let’s take a look at the second of our two charts to see what it suggests about the nature of this impending crisis.

What we see happening here symbolically, as Mars moves away from Jupiter to the cusp of the ill-fortuned 12th House, is the control over military operations passing from open government to secretive intelligence agencies.  The 12th House from which Mars is acting is the realm of subversive plots, coups d’état and assassinations.  The retrograde Red Planet’s affliction of the Aries Sun in the 7th House engenders a false consciousness of who humanity’s real enemies actually are.  If the history of the past 50 years has taught us nothing else, it has given us ample reason to doubt the real culpability of the officially-designated “villains” behind the string of game-changing “tragedies”, from the Kennedy and King assassinations to the 9-11 attacks.  An increasingly empowered and autonomous intelligence sector has become very adept at staging events so as to manufacture public consensus for war and hatred of targeted leaders, nations and religions.

Mediating the Mars-Sun opposition, and intensifying the energy of the Sun’s affliction, is Pluto in the 3rd House, where it betokens the ever more central role of secret information in perpetuating the dominance of false consciousness over humanity.  Adding a measure of criminal brutality to this already toxic mix is the square of retrograde Mars and Pluto, as well as square of Uranus and Pluto, which last occurred in 1933 – the year Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany.

As for the “tripod” of the disintegrating old world order that we saw in our previous chart, institutional religion, as symbolized by Neptune, has withdrawn from its position at one of the apexes of temporal power and is approaching the regenerative healing embrace of spiritualized love in the guise an exalted Piscean Venus.  Significantly, Neptune’s place at this corner of the tripod is now assumed by Chiron, the mythical Centaur who discovered the healing arts and taught them to mankind.  The trine between Chiron and Jupiter in the 9th House means that Chiron’s healing influence is most needed in the hierarchy of the Church.  And this point is underscored by Chiron’s nearly exact conjunction with the star Achernar, which is associated with the attainment of high religious offices.

The source of the required healing and purification of the depraved and degraded Church hierarchy is revealed to us by the archetypal symbol of the star Achernar, which is a sword-wielding Cherub.  This image connects with the Cherub of Genesis who expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden because they were no longer pure enough to live in the presence of God.  The angel with a flaming sword also figures prominently in the vision imparted to the three shepherd children by the Blessed Virgin in connection with the Third Secret of Fatima:

            After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire, but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, penance, penance!’ And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it,’ a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father.’ Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.


Those of you who are familiar with my other writings know that the core message of the Third Secret of Fatima is the urgent need for reformation and purification of the corrupt Church hierarchy.  The longer this reformation was delayed, the more it would involve bloodshed and martyrdom, as described in the Fatima vision above.  In a related vision, one of the shepherdesses saw a future pope being cursed and stoned by an angry mob.  The symbolic “arrows” with which the Holy Father is assailed in the Fatima vision allude to a common Scriptural metaphor equating arrows with malicious lies and slanders (e.g. Psalms 64:2-4).  This portends a campaign of calumny to be directed at the last Pope, who will be compelled to flee for his life from the violence incited against him.  And this would appear to be the “ruinous trouble” to which Nostradamus’ prophecy of the “black pope” refers.

Now let’s take what we have learned and try to apply it to the event chart for the abdication of Benedict XVI, which appears on the next page.  We are immediately struck by the powerful stellium of the Moon, Mercury and Mars with Chiron in its center.  The nearby presence of the Sun and Neptune in the 10th House indicates that the event deals with a religious monarch – indeed, the world’s last reigning religious monarch.  What we see in the Piscean stellium in the 10th House is the massing of all the human faculties – the intellect of Mercury, the emotions of the Moon, and the will of Mars – for a final assault on the citadel of ecclesiastical power.  Jupiter is in the 12th House of seclusion and is conjunct with the Ascendant, as it is in Benedict’s birth chart.  In fact, based on his natal chart, with Jupiter in his 1st House and in its sign of rulership Pisces, we can assume that Jupiter represents Benedict in this chart.  Since Jupiter is heavily afflicted by the entire stellium, as well as by Neptune, we get a sense of the Pope’s extreme isolation – mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  On the other hand, the enormous energy of the stellium is feeding through its trine Saturn in the 6th House, representing not only Benedict’s failing health, but also the feverish behind-the-scenes cut-throat maneuvering of the Curial powerbrokers to secure their stake in the Vatican Bank.  This internal power stuggle is being intensified by the tight square aspect between Saturn and an Aquarian Venus, with her subtext of deviant sexuality.


B16 Resignation.jpg

But the key to this chart, as it was in the previous one, is Chiron, the agent of redemptive purification.  In addition to centering the 10th House stellium, Chiron is at an exact square aspect to the Ascendant, which strongly suggests that Benedict himself is a major obstacle to the efficacy of the Centaur’s healing arts.  This insight is deepened when we consider that the Ascendant is in the 9th degree of Gemini, for which the Sabian symbol is an Archer.  Archery, of course, is identified with the Centaur, and also with the incipient campaign of calumny and vilification that Benedict, by his resignation, is bequeathing to his unfortunate successor.

After reviewing this chart, it’s difficult to conceive of a set of astral influences more compelling to the Pope’s resignation, as if it were literally pre-ordained by fate.  Recalling Benedict’s odd devotion to Pope Celestine V, who abdicated over 700 years ago, we have to wonder whether he had some kind of foreknowledge that his own papacy would likewise end in abdication.  If, as we have good reason to suspect, the Third Secret of Fatima forecasts the current Vatican crisis and its outcome, then Benedict – who, like all popes before him since John XXIII, has read the text of the Third Secret – could have realized that his own abdication had been prophesized.  There is considerable irony in this scenario, because it Benedict as then-Cardinal Ratzinger, along with Cardinals Sodano and Bertone, who led the effort to misrepresent and suppress the Third Secret over a decade ago.

A good deal of mystery still shrouds the brief papacy of Celestine V.  Before his improbable papal election, he was a hermit living in a cave and endowed with supernatural healing powers.  His actual name was PietroPeterMorrone.  The Knights Templar, who amassed enormous wealth by usury, were said to have had a secret hand in his election, but soon turned against him when he proved incapable or unwilling to carry out their directives.  Their attempt to get control of the Vatican through their financial leverage ended badly for them, however, as they were ultimately outmaneuvered and nearly exterminated by King Phillip IV of France, who owed them a great deal of money.  Vestiges of the Templar tradition have survived, however, in the rituals of freemasonry and in the financial empire of Opus Dei.  The shadowy Priory of Sion, lionized in Dan Brown’s novels and putative heir to the Templar legacy, has also evinced a strange fascination for Pope Celestine V.

Piecing all this together, it may well be that Benedict’s successor – Peter, the Black Pope – will be selected as a pliable instrument of the latter day Templars who would transform the Holy See into the Temple of Mammon.  And perhaps, like his namesake Pietro Morrone, this Peter will not prove himself a willing accomplice to their dark designs.  In that case, the martyrdom of “Peter of Rome” foretold by Saint Malachy, Nostradamus and Our Lady of Fatima may lie at the end of the chain of events triggered by Pope Benedict’s recent abdication.