Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Pope Benedict and the Vision of St. John Bosco
In light of the surprising news of Pope Benedict's resignation, I thought of the famous vision that St. John Bosco had about a future Pope. (Bosco died in 1888 and was known for having a charism of prophecy).
In a symbolic way the vision was a prophecy of the spiritual battles the Church would face against the forces of evil. The vision uses the imagery of ships, a common image for the Church as the barque of Peter. But the interesting thing about it is the way it describes the succession of two popes:
"Suddenly the Pope falls, seriously wounded. He is instantly helped up, but struck a second time, dies. A shout of victory rises from the enemy, and wild rejoicing sweeps their ships. But no sooner is the Pope dead than another takes his place. The captains of the auxiliary ships elected him so quickly that the news of the Pope's death coincides with that of his successor's election."
That last part is what never made sense to me--how could the Pope die at the same time his successor is elected?--but if this vision does indeed refer to Benedict as the dying Pope, it could possibly happen. Now, I fervently hope that it doesn't, but if it does, it would seem to be a confirmation of what Bosco says.
However, keep in mind that all such visions fall into the realm of private revelation; they are not part of the divine revelation that makes up the truth of the Catholic faith. So no one has to believe in such a vision even if it came from a saint. And being symbolic, they can be interpreted in various ways. Or maybe it refers to some future time. Still, I find it intriguing. The hopeful part is that the new Pope is the one who will successfully guide the Church through the spiritual battles into a new age of faith.