by Hugh Owen
Eschatology is defined as the study of the last things. Since the Gospel has always presented the last things as the ultimate fulfillment of the plan that God formed “in the beginning,” it is not surprising that modern deviations from the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation have led to a loss of faith in the Church’s traditional understanding of the last things, and a loss of a sense of urgency in regard to the Second Coming of the Lord. In this article we will see how men and women of many centuries, recognized by the Church for their holiness, have consistently predicted a certain series of events which will precede the rise of Antichrist, the Second Coming of Jesus, and the Final Judgment, and which will entail a partial restoration of the Earth back to the conditions that existed in “the first-created world.”
Eschatology and Sacred Tradition
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God” (CCC, 97). “The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the Bishops in communion with him” (CCC, 100). The Council of Trent and Vatican Council I extolled the Fathers of the Church as the foremost interpreters of the Word of God. Indeed, the Councils teach that whenever the Fathers all agree on an interpretation of Scripture, that interpretation must be accepted by the faithful. In regard to the last things, there are several points that most if not all of the Fathers agreed upon. These points include the existence of some kind of restored Roman Empire at the end of time, when peace will reign, the Gospel will be preached to the whole world, and all, or most, Jewish people will return to the Holy Land.
According to the majority of the Fathers, this period will be followed by a time of apostasy, the advent of the Antichrist, and the appearance of Enoch and Elijah, who will confront the Antichrist and trigger the mass conversion of the Jewish people shortly before the Second Coming of Jesus, the General Resurrection and the Final Judgment.
The Fathers who predicted all or most of these things include St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, and St. Ephraem. Within the framework provided by these Fathers and Doctors of the Church, additional details about the eschatological future of the Church can be learned from the prophetic writings of men and women whose writings the appropriate ecclesiastical authorities have found to be free from error and who have been judged by the same authorities to have practiced heroic virtue.
“Despise not Prophecy”
Long before the first Advent of Jesus, the prophet Amos testified that “God does nothing without informing his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). And prophecy did not cease with the Incarnation. In his letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul exhorts the Church not to despise prophecy but to hold fast to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Prophecy can reveal hidden truths of the past, the present or the future, although prophecies concerning the future bear most directly on eschatology. Through inspired prophecy God has continually protected the Church against presumption during times of peace and against despair during times of trial. Future prophecy directed the Jewish Christians of first century Jerusalem to flee the city before the Roman legions began their siege. Future prophesy also inspired the first Christians at Antioch to anticipate a famine and to set food aside for the support of their brethren (Acts 11:27-29).
Future prophecy can be either conditional or unconditional. When the prophet Jonah told the Ninevites, “Forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed,” he announced a conditional prophecy, dependent for its fulfillment on the response of the people. Other prophecies, like the prophecy of the Archangel Gabriel to Daniel announcing 483 years from the order to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem to the “cutting off”—or death—of the Messiah, are absolute and irrevocable. In either case, a loving response to prophesy can alter the course of history, either by forestalling a future event or by mitigating its effects.
In this article, we will examine a continuous thread of credible Catholic prophecy dating back to the patristic era that has predicted with remarkable accuracy the current crisis of faith, its climax, and its resolution during an era of peace that will precede the advent of Antichrist and the final stage of human history. During many centuries of Christian monarchical governments in Europe, these prophetic voices foretold the advent of an era of secular republican regimes, a grave crisis of faith within the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, followed by a resolution of the crisis by divine intervention and the reestablishment of a Christian kingdom over much of the world. During a universal era of peace under the spiritual leadership of a pope of extraordinary holiness, these prophetic voices also predict an unprecedented flowering of holiness that will begin during the crisis of faith and reach its zenith during the era of peace.
Prophetic Testimony of the Fathers and Saints
Known as the “Harp of the Holy Spirit,” St. Ephraem, the Syrian Father and Doctor of the Church, wrote of a future time before the advent of Antichrist when
The Lord from his glorious heaven shall set up his peace . . . in the place of this latter people. . . and [after that] coming forth from perdition, the man of iniquity shall be revealed upon the earth, the Seducer of men, and the disturber of the whole earth.
In subsequent centuries, many men and women recognized by the Church for their great holiness confirmed the key elements of this prophecy and added significant details. We will examine some of them here.
The Testimony of the Saints and Doctors
St. Remigius, Bishop of Rheims, baptized the Frankish King Clovis in 496 A.D. two years after making a remarkable prediction to the king. According to Venerable Cardinal Baronius, the father of modern Church history, Hincmar, Bishop of Rheims, recorded the following prediction of St. Remigius:
Take notice that the Kingdom of the Franks is predestined by God for the defense of the Roman Church which is the only true Church of Christ. This kingdom shall someday be great among the kingdoms of the earth, and shall embrace all the limits of the Roman Empire, and shall submit all other kingdoms to its own scepter.
According to the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, Rabanus Maurus, ninth century Archbishop of Mayence, was “probably the most learned man of his age. In Scripture and Patristic knowledge he had no equal.” A 1647 Latin edition of the archbishop’s writings contains the following statement:
Our principal Doctors [teachers of the Faith] agree in telling us, that towards the end of time one of the descendants of the kings of France [Gaul] shall reign over all the Roman Empire; and that he shall be the greatest of the French Monarchs, and the last of his race. After having governed well his kingdom, he shall go to Jerusalem, and lay down his scepter and crown on Mt. Olivet. This shall be the conclusion of the Roman and Christian Empire.
Not every prophet who spoke of a future era of peace under the rule of a holy pope and a great Christian monarch hailed from France. St. Hildegard was a twelfth century German Benedictine Abbess who possessed the gift of miracles and who received many prophetic insights into the Holy Scriptures. At the suggestion of her friend St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Hildegard’s private revelations were investigated by Pope Eugenius III who vouched for the authenticity of her gift of prophecy. According to St. Hildegard:
Peace will return to the world when the White Flower again takes possession of the throne of France. During this period of peace, people will be forbidden to carry weapons, and iron will be used only for making agricultural implements and tools. Also during this period, the land will be very productive, and many Jews, heathens, and heretics will join the Church.
In the fourteenth century, St. Bridget of Sweden, foundress of the congregation of the Brigittines, received many private revelations from Jesus concerning his hidden life, the Blessed Mother, and the future of the Church. The most important of these were published with papal approval. Like St. Hildegard, St. Bridget foretold a time of universal peace and evangelization. During this period
Before Antichrist comes, the portals of the Faith will be opened to great numbers of pagans.
St. Francis of Paola (1416-1505), the Italian founder of the religious order of Minims, possessed a superabundant gift of healing and prophecy. As part of the saint’s cause of canonization, witnesses testified to seven instances of his raising people from the dead as well as precise predictions of future events. Like St. Hildegard, St. Francis foretold a future Great Monarch:
He shall . . . destroy all tyrants and heresies. There will be one fold and one shepherd. He shall reign until the end of time. On the whole earth there will be twelve kings, one Emperor and one Pope.
Implicit in the predictions of St. Francis was the advent of an era of tyrants and heresies. Like St. Francis, numerous holy men and women predicted the Protestant Reformation and the rise of godless republics centuries before these events took place.
During the fifteenth century, a Swiss soldier, husband, and father turned hermit named St. Nicholas of Fluh achieved a permanent place of honor in the history of Switzerland by successfully mediating between rival cantons and averting a civil war. St. Nicholas survived for many years on the Holy Eucharist alone, possessed the gift of miracles, and foretold both the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland and an even more serious crisis of faith in the more distant future. Regarding the Protestant uprising, he foretold:
There will come a time when another faith begins, and blessed will be those who bravely reject it . . . There will be a change of religion so near to Obwald that you will be able to take water to it in a jug held with one finger.
Within fifty years, the neighboring Canton of Berne abandoned the Catholic Faith, fulfilling the saint’s prediction to the letter. St. Nicholas foresaw an even greater crisis of faith in the more distant future.
An unhappy time is coming of revolt and dissension in the Church. Oh my children, do not let yourselves be led astray by innovations. Rally and hold fast. Stay on the same road, the same footpaths as your pious fathers trod. Preserve and maintain what they have taught you. It will be enough if you resist the attacks, the tempests, the hurricanes that will arise with such violence.
The Church will be punished because the majority of her members, high and low, will become so perverted. The Church will sink deeper and deeper until she will at last seem to be extinguished, and the succession of Peter and the Apostles to have expired. But, after this, she will be victoriously exalted in the sight of all doubters.
Von Fluh’s prediction of a time of apostasy followed by victory found an echo in the writings of Venerable Bartholomew Holzhauser, a holy priest of the seventeenth century, founder of an Institute for the formation of priests approved by Pope Innocent XI in 1680. Holzhauser accurately predicted the execution of Charles I of England and the persecution of the Catholic Church in England for 120 years. (Prohibition of Mass under penalty of death lasted from 1658 until 1778.) The documents for his cause of canonization attribute miracles of healing to him. In one of his works, Venerable Holzhauser divided the history of the Church into seven periods and situated the seventeenth century Church in the fifth of these periods. He wrote:
During the fifth period, we saw only calamities and devastation; oppression of Catholics by tyrants and heretics; execution of Kings, and conspiracies to set up republics . . . Are we not to fear, during this period, that the Mohammedans will come again, working out their sinister schemes against the Latin Church? . . . During this period men will abuse the freedom of conscience conceded to them . . . there will be laxity in divine and human precepts. Discipline will suffer. The holy canons will be completely disregarded, and the clergy will not respect the laws of the Church. Everyone will be carried away and led to believe and to do what he fancies, according to the manner of the flesh. . . But, by the hand of God Almighty, there occurs so wondrous a change during the sixth period that no one can humanly visualize it.
The sixth period of the Church will begin with the powerful Monarch and the holy Pontiff . . . and it will last until the revelation of Antichrist. In this period, God will console His Holy Church for the affliction and great tribulation she has endured during the fifth period. All nations will become Catholic. Vocations will be abundant as never before, and all men will seek only the Kingdom of God and His justice. Men will live in peace, and this will be granted because people will make their peace with God. They will live under the protection of the Great Monarch and his successors.
All nations will come to worship God in the true Catholic and Roman faith. There will be many Saints and Doctors on earth. Peace will reign over the whole earth because God will bind Satan for a number of years until the days of the Son of Perdition. No one will be able to pervert the Word of God since, during the sixth period, there will be an Ecumenical Council which will be the greatest of all councils. By the grace of God, by the power of the Great Monarch, by the authority of the Holy Pontiff, and by the union of all the most devout princes, atheism and every heresy will be banished from the earth. The Council will define the true sense of Holy Scripture, and this will be believed and accepted by everyone.
It is difficult for twenty-first century readers to imagine how unbelievable Venerable Holzhauser’s predictions of the rise of republics must have seemed to seventeenth century Catholics in nations where Christian monarchies had existed for many centuries. Nevertheless, the gift of prophecy enabled a number of Venerable Holzhauser’s holy contemporaries to make similar predictions.
Venerable Marianne de Jesus Torres (1563-1635) belonged to the first convent of sisters in the New World. This remarkable Franciscan nun not only predicted the republican revolution in Ecuador against Spain. She also predicted in precise detail the future promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the sufferings of Blessed Pope Pius IX, the advent and martyrdom of Ecuador’s saintly president Garcia Moreno in the nineteenth century, an unprecedented crisis of faith and morals at the end of the twentieth century, and the ultimate renewal of the Church after the crisis under the leadership of a holy pope. More than three centuries before our time, the Blessed Mother asked Venerable Marianne and her sisters to make reparation for the sins of the twentieth century, especially through the intercession of Our Lady of Good Success. In her final testament Venerable Marianne told her sisters that the twentieth century
will be a time of great corruption of customs, and this devotion will be the safeguard of this land during the times to come when it will no longer be a colony, but a free and libertine republic. Let us weep, pray, and do penance so that this time will not be of long duration.
The secular clergy will leave much to be desired because priests will become careless in their sacred duties. Lacking the divine compass, they will stray from the road traced by God for the priestly ministry, and they will become attached to wealth and riches, which they will unduly strive to obtain. How the Church will suffer during this dark night! Lacking a Prelate and Father to guide them with paternal love, gentleness, strength, wisdom and prudence, many priests will lose their spirit, placing their souls in great danger. This will mark the arrival of My hour.
Therefore, clamor insistently without tiring and weep with bitter tears in the privacy of your heart, imploring the Celestial Father that, for love of the Eucharistic Heart of my Most Holy Son and His Precious Blood shed with such generosity and the profound bitterness and sufferings of His cruel Passion and Death, He might take pity on His ministers and bring to an end those Ominous times, sending to this Church the Prelate who will restore the spirit of its priests. . . [When all seems lost, it will be] the happy beginning of the complete restoration. This will mark the arrival of my hour, when I, in a marvelous way, will dethrone the proud and cursed Satan, trampling him under my feet and fettering him in the infernal abyss.”
In the nineteenth century, German stigmatist and Augustinian nun Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich also foretold a time of apostasy and tribulation that would culminate in the flight of the true pope from Rome. Although she had no knowledge of any of the prophecies mentioned above, Blessed Emmerich also prophesied the advent of a great Christian Emperor and a new pope who would lead the Church into an era of peace. Looking into the future, Blessed Anne suffered intensely for the pope and the bishops during these times of apostasy and tribulation.
I saw what I believe to be nearly all the bishops of the world, but only a small number were perfectly sound. I also saw the Holy Father—God-fearing and prayerful. Nothing left to be desired in his appearance, but he was weakened by old age and by much suffering. His head was lolling from side to side, and it dropped onto his chest as if he were falling asleep. He often fainted and seemed to be dying. But when he was praying, he was often comforted by apparitions from heaven. Then, his head was erect, but as soon as it dropped again onto his chest, I saw a number of people looking quickly right and left, that is, in the direction of the world . . . The ecclesiastics in the inner circle looked insincere and lacking in zeal; I did not like them. I told the Pope of the bishops who are to be appointed soon. I told him also that he must not leave Rome. If he did so, it would be chaos. He thought that the evil was inevitable and that he should leave in order to save many things beside himself. He was very much inclined to leave Rome, and he was insistently urged to do so.
Then I saw that everything that pertained to Protestantism was gradually gaining the upper hand, and the Catholic religion fell into complete decadence. Most priests were lured by the glittering but false knowledge of young school-teachers, and they all contributed to the work of destruction.
In other visions, Blessed Anne beheld the Great Monarch whom she identified as the “holy Emperor Henry.”
I saw him at night kneeling alone at the foot of the main altar in a great and beautiful church . . . and I saw the Blessed Virgin coming down all alone. She laid on the Altar a red cloth covered with white linen . . . Then came the Saviour Himself clad in priestly vestments [to offer the Holy Sacrifice]. He was carrying the chalice and the veil . . . Although there was no altar bell, the cruets were there . . . The Mass was short. The Gospel of St. John was not read at the end.
In another vision, the Great Monarch featured prominently in the restoration of the Church.
When the Church had been for the most part destroyed . . . and when only the sanctuary and the altar were still standing, I saw the wreckers . . . enter the Church with the Beast. There, they met a Woman of noble carriage who seemed to be with child because she walked slowly. At this sight, the enemies were terrorized, and the Beast could not take but another step forward. It projected its neck towards the Woman as if to devour her, but the Woman turned about and bowed down (towards the Altar), her head touching the ground. Thereupon, I saw the Beast taking to flight towards the sea again, and the enemies were fleeing in the greatest of confusion. Then, I saw in the distance great legions approaching. In the foreground I saw a man on a white horse. Prisoners were set free and joined them. All the enemies were pursued. Then, I saw the church was being promptly rebuilt, and she was more magnificent than ever before.
Triumph over Evil
Numerous saints, blesseds, and venerables foretold a dramatic triumph over the forces of evil in the form of a miniature judgment that would usher in an era of peace. At the dawn of the twentieth century Pope St. Pius X prophesied the First World War that broke out during the last year of his life. Farther in the future, he foresaw an even more terrible time when of one of his successors would be forced to flee Rome.
I saw one of my successors taking flight over the bodies of his brethren. He will take refuge in disguise somewhere; and after a short retirement he will die a cruel death. The present wickedness of the world is only the beginning of the sorrows which must take place before the end of the world.
During the nineteenth century, Blessed Anna Maria Taigi, a simple saintly Roman housewife, received one of the most remarkable mystical gifts ever recorded—a luminous globe in which God revealed to her events taking place in various places in the present and in the future. During the intense power struggle between the Pope Pius VII and Napoleon, Blessed Anna Maria prayed and suffered for the Holy Father. In her luminous globe God revealed to her the precise date of the liberation of Pope Pius VII, the decline and fall of Napoleon, the exact date of his death, and many other events that she predicted with pinpoint accuracy. In harmony with the other prophecies mentioned above, and of which she appears to have known nothing, Blessed Anne Maria foretold a time of terrible tribulation when the enemies of the Church would appear to triumph. At this time:
God will ordain two punishments: one, in the form of wars, revolutions, and other evils, will originate on earth; the other will be sent from Heaven. There will come over all the earth an intense darkness lasting three days and three nights. Nothing will be visible and the air will be laden with pestilence, which will claim principally but not exclusively, the enemies of religion . . . Only blessed candles can be lighted and will afford illumination . . . All the enemies of the Church, secret as well as known, will perish over the whole earth during that universal darkness, with the exception of a few, whom God will soon after convert. The air will be infected by demons who will appear under all sorts of hideous forms.
After the three days of darkness, St. Peter and St. Paul, having come down from heaven, will preach in the whole world and designate a new Pope. A great light will flash from their bodies and will settle upon the cardinal, the future Pontiff. Then Christianity will spread throughout the world. He is the Holy Pontiff, chosen by God to withstand the storm. At the end he will have the gift of miracles, and his name shall be praised over the whole earth.
[During this period] France shall fall into a frightful anarchy. The French shall have a desperate civil war in the course of which old men themselves will take up arms. The political parties, having exhausted their blood and their rage without being able to arrive at any satisfactory understanding, shall at the last extremity agree by common consent to have recourse to the Holy See. Then the Pope shall send to France a special legate . . . In consequence of the information received, His Holiness himself shall nominate a most Christian king for the government of France . . . Whole nations will come back to the Church, and the face of the earth will be renewed. Russia, England, and China will come into the Church.
Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified, a Carmelite from Galilee famous for her holiness, her levitations and for the beautiful mystical poetry that she wrote in ecstasy, also predicted that God would cleanse the earth of evil during three days and nights of darkness:
During a darkness lasting three days the people given to evil will perish so that only one fourth of mankind will survive.
St. Caspar del Bufalo, founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, also foretold these three days and nights of perpetual darkness.
The death of the impenitent persecutors of the Church will take place during three days of darkness. He who outlives the darkness and the fear of these three days will think that he is alone on the earth because the whole world will be covered with cadavers.
Venerable Elizabeth Cani-Mora (1774-1825) who freed Count John Maria de Mastai Ferreti (the future Blessed Pope Pius IX) from epilepsy which had prevented him from becoming a priest, not only predicted the three days of darkness but also the special role of St. Peter in choosing a new Pope to lead the Church into a new era.
As soon as St. Peter, the prince of the Apostles, had gathered the flock of Jesus Christ in a place of safety, he re-ascended into heaven, accompanied by legions of angels. Scarcely had they disappeared, when the sky was covered with clouds so dense and dismal that it was impossible to look at them without dismay. On a sudden there burst out such a terrible and violent wind, that its noise sounded like the roars of furious lions. The sound of the furious hurricane was heard over the whole earth. Fear and terror struck not only men, but the very beasts.
During the twentieth century, Sister Elena Aiello, foundress of the Calabrian nuns, also saw visions of the three days of darkness and the chastisement of the Church’s enemies:
Clouds with lightning rays of fire and a tempest of fire will pass over the whole world and the punishment will be the most terrible ever known in the history of mankind. It will last 70 hours [three days]. The wicked will be crushed and eliminated. Many will be lost because they will have stubbornly remained in their sins. Then they will feel the force of light over darkness. The hours of darkness are near.
The patron saint of parish priests, St. John Vianney, the wonder-worker of Ars, possessed the gift of prophecy to a high degree. He, too, foresaw a time so evil that it would appear that “all is lost,” until a miniature judgment by God would cleanse the earth.
A civil war shall break out everywhere. These wicked people… will imprison very many [persons], and will be guilty of more massacres. They will attempt to kill all priests and all the religious. But this shall not last long. People will imagine that all is lost; but the good God shall save all. It will be like a “sign” of the last judgment’… Religion shall flourish again better than ever before.
An Era of Holiness and Peace
According to numerous saints, the new era that will begin after the three days and nights of darkness will be an era of holiness and peace during which God will renew the face of the earth. Venerable Maria of Agreda, the seventeenth century nun who bilocated to the New World from her convent in Spain to evangelize the Indians, foresaw this era.
It was revealed to me that through the intercession of the Mother of God all heresies will disappear. The victory over heresies has been reserved by Christ for his Blessed Mother… The power of Mary in the latter days will be very conspicuous. Mary will extend the reign of Christ over the heathens and the Mohammedans, and it will be a time of great joy when Mary is enthroned as Mistress and Queen of hearts.
According to many holy men and women whose writings have been approved by the Church, the era of peace will be characterized by a new flowering of holiness which in turn will flow from a new and deeper identification with the interior life of Jesus. The great champion of devotion to the Sacred Heart in Spain, Fr. Hoyos
saw in spirit those happy times when all prophecies would be fulfilled and all nations would serve God. On another occasion he was given to understand how, by means of the new devotions which are ever springing forth in the Church, the Savior discloses to us new treasures of His goodness and new perfections which we should copy in ourselves in order to become more like Him and to arrive at a perfection similar to that of the blessed. So He states that our Lord manifested to him the glory that those souls would have through knowing and loving the affections and movements of His sacred heart which He manifests to the Church so that the faithful may fashion their hearts in the likeness of His. Thus many souls will learn from this divine heart a perfection which is much higher in love and suffering . . . (emphasis added).
The great French missionary and spiritual writer St. Louis de Montfort predicted a time when God would intervene with a “deluge of fire, love, and justice,” “destroying sin” and error and restoring the Church.
I have said that this would come to pass, particularly at the end of the world and indeed presently, because the Most High with His holy Mother has to form for Himself great saints who shall surpass most of the other saints in sanctity as much as the cedars of Lebanon outgrow the little shrubs. . . Mary has produced, together with the Holy Ghost, the greatest thing which has been or ever will be—a God-man; and she will consequently produce the greatest saints that there will be in the end of time. The formation and education of the great saints who shall come at the end of the world are reserved for her. For it is only that singular and miraculous Virgin who can produce, in union with the Holy Ghost, singular and extraordinary things. They shall be great and exalted before God in sanctity, superior to all other creatures by their lively zeal, and so well sustained with God’s assistance that, with the humility of their heel, in union with Mary, they shall crush the head of the devil and cause Jesus Christ to triumph.
Following in the footsteps of St. Louis in the twentieth century, the Servant of God Marthe Robin, founder of the worldwide spiritual movement called the Foyers of Charity, plumbed the depths of the interior sufferings of Jesus during more than fifty years of victimal paralysis. In 1936, Divine Providence introduced Marthe to Fr. Finet, the priest who was to be her spiritual father and co-worker. A great lover of Our Lady, Fr. Finet had lectured on the True Devotion to Mary ten times a year for ten years before his first meeting with Marthe. On February 10, 1936, he visited Marthe at her home. She told him that the Church would be renewed by an apostolate of the laity. To his amazement, she told him that he would help to establish centers for consecrated laity (centers that would be known as “Foyers of Charity”). According to Fr. Finet, Marthe told him that the Foyers would be “the expression of the Heart of Jesus to the nations after the defeat of materialism and satanic errors.” She told him that “among the errors that would pervade the world [before the triumph] were communism, laicism [secularism], and Freemasonry” (emphasis added). She mentioned these three in particular. She told me all this in 1936. But she said that the Blessed Virgin would intervene.”
The Servant of God’s conviction that God would preserve a holy remnant through the tribulation into the era of peace found an echo in the writings of many of her holy contemporaries. In Mexico, Venerable Conchita de Armida, wife, mystic, mother of nine, and inspiration behind five associations approved by the Church, heralded a new era of the Holy Spirit in which priests and lay people would be transformed into the perfect interior likeness of Christ:
The time has come to exalt the Holy Spirit in the world. He is the soul of this Beloved Church. This divine Person diffuses Himself prodigally in every act of the Church. I desire that this last epoch be consecrated in a very special way to this Holy Spirit who ever operates out of love. He guided the Church from her very humble beginnings, by the three humble acts of humble love in Peter. I desire that in these latter days this holy love inflame all hearts but most of all the hearts of the Pope and My priests. It is His turn, it is His epoch, it is the triumph of love in My Church, in the whole universe.
St. Maximilian Kolbe, the Franciscan founder of the worldwide Marian movement, Militia Immaculatae, also foretold an era of peace and the conversion of Russia after a time of bloody persecution.
The image of the Immaculate will one day replace the large red star over the Kremlin, but only after a great and bloody trial . . . In every country there must arise Cities of Mary Immaculate . . . you will soon see tears flowing from the eyes of the most hardened sinners; prisons will be emptied; honest workers will unite; families will overflow with virtue, peace, and happiness; all discord will be banished, for it [will then be] the new era.
Final Apostasy and Antichrist
In the writings of the saints and doctors concerning a future time of tribulation and judgment followed by an era of peace and evangelization, some predict that this period will last one generation, while others predict a longer period of peace. However, near unanimity exists among the Fathers and Doctors that the era of peace will ultimately give way to a final apostasy that will set the stage for the final Antichrist. According to an ancient prophesy widely attributed to St. Methodius:
In the latter days of the world, Christians will become ungrateful for the great favors they will receive through the coming of the great Monarch, by reason of the long period of peace and prosperity on earth which they will enjoy under his reign. Many men will then begin to doubt if the Christian Catholic Faith is really the only sanctifying Faith and will think that perhaps the Jews are right because they are yet awaiting the Messias.
In the same vein, the fifteenth century wonder-working Dominican preacher St. Vincent Ferrer prophesied:
In the days of peace that are to come after the desolation of revolutions and wars—before the end of the world—Christians will become so lax in their religion that they will refuse the Sacrament of Confirmation, saying that it is unnecessary. And when the false prophet, the precursor of antichrist, comes, all who are not confirmed will apostatize, while those who are confirmed will stand fast in their faith, and only a few will renounce Christ.
After reviewing the Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers concerning Antichrist and the end of the world, the seventeenth century doctor, St. Robert Bellarmine, summarized the patristic tradition in these words:
For it must be known that in the divine letters [Scripture], the Holy Spirit to have given to us six sure signs concerning the coming of Antichrist: two which precede Antichrist himself, namely the preaching of the Gospel in the whole world and the devastation of the Roman Empire: the two contemporaneous men [the Two Witnesses], which is to be seen prophesied Enoch and Elias, and the greatest and last persecution, and also that the public sacrifice [of the Mass] shall completely cease, the two following signs surely, the death of Antichrist after three and a half years [after his rise to power] and the end of the world; none of which signs we have seen at this time.
To these six signs might be added a seventh—the conversion of the entire Jewish people after the preaching of Enoch and Elias in Jerusalem, an event attested to by most of the Fathers and Doctors who commented on the days of Antichrist. What is not so certain is the period of time between the destruction of Antichrist and the final judgment and the end of the world. St. Robert Bellarmine voiced the opinion of most modern doctors of the Church when he stated that “‘This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world, and then shall come the consummation’ (of the world) that is, a little after [Antichrist] shall come the end of the world”
It bears pointing out that few, if any, of the future prophecies recounted in the main body of this article are unconditional. For example, it is conceivable that the era of peace could take place without a direct divine chastisement if enough souls abandoned themselves to God. The interplay of times, places, and persons foretold in these prophecies could also be fulfilled in various ways, depending on the free response of present and future men and women to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. What is quite certain is that God will soon put an end to this present darkness, with chastisements more or less severe depending upon our response to his Divine Mercy.
In France, in the late eighteenth century, a holy nun by the religious name of Sister of the Nativity was commanded to recount her prophetic visions to her spiritual director, the Abbe’ Genet. Sister of the Nativity foresaw the bloody days of the French Revolution as the first phase of a long period of trials and tribulations. She testified:
I see in God that—a long time before the rise of Antichrist—the world will be afflicted with the many bloody wars . . . I saw in the light of the Lord that the faith and our holy Religion would become weaker in almost every Christian kingdom. God has permitted that they should be chastised by the wicked in order that to awaken them from their apathy. And after the justice of God has been satisfied, He will pour out an abundance of graces on His Church, and He will spread the Faith and restore the discipline of the church in those countries where it had become tepid and lax.
I saw in God that our Mother, holy Church, will spread in many countries and will produce her fruits in abundance to compensate for the outrages she will have suffered from the impiety and the persecutions of her enemies . . . I saw that the poor people, weary of the arduous labors and trials that God sent to them, shall then be thrilled with a joy that God will infuse into their good hearts. The Church will become by her faith and by her love, more fervent and more flourishing than ever. Our good Mother the Church will witness many amazing things, even on the part of former persecutors, for they will come forward and throw themselves at her feet . . .
Sister of the Nativity told Abbe Genet that “the knowledge of these things shall contribute to the salvation of many souls, and form a treasure for the faithful of the last age of the world.” It is our hope that the knowledge conveyed by this article may indeed contribute to the encouragement and sanctification of many souls during the passage from this present darkness into the bright dawn of the era of peace.
Feast of the Epiphany
January 6, 2019
References and notes
 For a more complete discussion of this subject, readers may want to consult an excellent book by Desmond Birch entitled Trial, Tribulation, and Triumph, to whose work the present author is greatly indebted. This article goes beyond the scope of Mr. Birch’s book in two important respects, however. It explores in greater depth the spiritual dimension of the era of peace and the possible fulfillment of the eschatological predictions of the apostolic fathers after the rise and fall of Antichrist.
 Desmond A. Birch, Trial, Tribulation, and Triumph (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), p. 547.
 Ibid, p. 246.
 Ibid, p. 250.
 Yves Dupont, Catholic Prophecy (Rockford: TAN, 1970), p. 17.
 Birch, op. cit. p. 449.
 Ibid, pp. 269-270.
 Ibid, p. 315.
 Dupont, op. cit., p. 30.
 Birch, op. cit., p. 40.
 Ibid, pp. 332-333.
 Dupont, op. cit., p. 40.
 Birch, op. cit., pp. 332-333.
 “Our Lady of Good Success,” Our Lady of the Rosary Library, 4016 Preston Highway, Louisville, KY 40213.
 Dupont, op. cit., p. 68.
 Ibid, p. 67.
 Ibid, pp. 68-69.
 Ibid, p. 62. It is remarkable that Blessed Anne described a Mass so similar to the Novus Ordo Mass of today. (In the Tridentine Low Mass, bells are still rung and the Gospel of St. John is still read at the end.)
 Ibid, pp. 62-63.
 Ibid, p. 22.
 Birch, op. cit., pp. 288-289.
 Ibid, p. 278.
 Ibid, pp. 288-289.
 Ibid, p. 286.
 Ibid, p. 288.
 Ibid, p. 293.
 Ibid, p. 275.
 Venerable Maria de Agreda.
 Bernard Hoyos, S.J., was primarily responsible for spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart throughout Spain in the eighteenth century.
 St. Louis De Montfort, Prayer for Missionaries, 13, 15, 24-25; True Devotion, 49-56.
 St. Louis De Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, Article 47.
 Ibid, Article 35.
Ibid, Article 54.
 Rev. Raymond Peyret, Marthe Robin: The Cross and the Joy (New York: Alba House, 1983), p. 76.
 Quoted in Marie-Michel Philipon, O.P., Conchita, translated by Aloysius J. Owen, S.J. (New York: Alba House, 1978), pp. 195-196 (March 2, 1928).
 Quoted in Albert J. Hebert, S.M., Signs, Wonders and Response (LA. 1988), p.126.
 The context favors the translation in brackets which can be found in Aim Higher: Spiritual & Marian Reflections of St. Maximilian Kolbe (Libertyville: Prow Books/Marytown Press,) p. 72.
 It is also possible that life spans might be longer during the era of peace as a consequence of the almost Eden-like conditions that will exist on the earth during that time.
 Birch, op. cit., pp. 448-449.
 Dupont, op. cit., pp. 29-30.
 That this Roman Empire is a future entity contemporaneous with the era of peace is the unanimous, or nearly unanimous, teaching of the Fathers of the Church. St. Jerome wrote that “all the ecclesiastical writers have passed down” that this kingdom of the Romans will only be destroyed at the consummation of the world [consummatione mundi], after the Gospel has been preached to all the world during the era of peace (cf. Birch, pp. 481-483).
 Birch, pp. 481-483.
Featured image by Giuseppe ME [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons