|St. John Bosco|
Vol. 7, pp 107-110, has the account of the famous dream of the two columns. It's true, of course, that such things have to be interpreted carefully. They are not meant to give us photo ops of the future, so we will know exactly what will happen. But I must confess I have gotten intrigued by Pope speculation following Benedict's resignation. And saints are good sources to go to, rather than the rather absurd speculation of most media outlets right now.
So last night I sat down with vol. 7 to read about the dream. And what I found out was rather shocking. This new information puts the dream in a completely different light. That's why it's so important to go to the primary source.
But first, here's some background about the dream. Don Bosco told it to the boys in one of his "Good Night" talks, which were spiritual pep talks he gave them at night. It was May 26, 1862. Four of the boys wrote it down and Fr Lemoyne gives the details of their names etc., which I'll skip here. Suffice it to say that the Salesians have their manuscripts which basically agree on the details. Except for one thing--the number of the popes on the ship.
Lemoyne says, "Some claimed that the popes who successively commanded the flagship were three, not two." Three popes? I never heard that before! Two of them fell while steering the ship, and then the third took over and brought it to safety.
None of the accounts of the dream that I found on the internet mentions three popes, only two.
One detail Fr Lemoyne gives is quite interesting, about a priest named Fr John Bourlot, who was present when Don Bosco gave the talk. He visited Don Bosco in 1886 (Bosco died in 1888) and reminisced about the old days. The dream came up. Fr Bourlot insisted that there were three popes and said, "When the first was struck down, the captains of the other ships exclaimed, 'Let's hurry! We can quickly replace him' whereas when they gathered a second time they did not say that. While Canon Bourlot was speaking, the author of these Memoirs was talking with the one next to him at the table. Noticing this, Don Bosco said to him, 'Listen carefully to what Fr Bourlot is saying.' "
Fr Lemoyne writes, referring to himself in the third person, "When he replied that he was well acquainted with the matter, thanks to the manuscripts in his possession, and that he believed there had been two popes--no more--on the flagship, Don Bosco rejoined, 'You know nothing at all!'" (That made me laugh, because I could just hear Mother Paula, who started our congregation in America, talking the same way. She was from the same Piemonte area of Italy and the people there brook no nonsense.)
Lemoyne concludes by saying that Fr Bourlot always insisted on the three popes. "In view of the above, which of the two versions is correct? Events may still resolve the doubt. We shall conclude by saying that Caesar Chiala--as he himself told us--and the three above-mentioned clerics took this dream as a genuine vision and prophecy, even though Don Bosco in telling it seemed to have no other purpose than spurring the boys to pray for the Church and the Pope and fostering their devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and Mary Immaculate."
So let the speculation begin. If there were indeed three popes, perhaps John Paul II was the first one, the one who fell, then Benedict was the second one. And the third one? Will it be the next pope, the one who will safely bring the Church through persecution into an era of peace? A long conclave might give us a hint. It only took 2 days to elect Benedict, with a mere 4 ballots. What do you think?