March 21st, 2010

The Prophecy Of St. Malachy

The Prophecy of St. Malachy is a list of 112 popes, each characterised by a brief, cryptic, Latin tag, supposedly drawn up by Malachy, a 12th century bishop of Armagh.  At the time it first surfaced- in 1590- 73 of these popes were in the past- with 38 still to come. The present pope- characterised as Gloria Olivae, Glory of the Olive- is the 111th on the list.  After him we can expect one last pope, Petrus Romanus, who will hold office until the coming of the judex tremendus- the just and terrible judge.

Of course it's almost certainly a forgery- the work of someone trying to swing a late 17th century papal election;  but one can dream...

As Always

I wrote this about ten years ago, but it chimes with today's front page story in the Sunday Times about Stephen Byers- former minister of State in the Blair government- offering himself to big business as- in his own words- "a cab for hire". It was ever thus. Walpole was the first British prime minister- and massively corrupt, but maybe the bribed and the bribeable make kindlier masters than the sea-green incorruptibles. It's an argument, anyway- and I'm quite fond of playing Devil's advocate...



If we’d praise peace we must praise corruption-

For men love glory and war and have to be

Bribed from both. You hang up your helmet,

Your breastplate and pistols and plan a parterre

For which you’ll need money.  And here is Walpole,

Who pays himself hugely for paying off others,

To feed you the stuff.  So deals that are frankly

Disgusting get done over claret and beef

In order that wonderful  temples of virtue

May rise on knolls and the make-believe peasants

In broad-brimmed sun hats and low cut smocks

May pass round the flask as they rest from mowing.