Haunted Yorkshire

They're Closer Than You Think!

Prophecy

 

Index

Introduction
Book of Revelation
Fatima Predictions
Mother Shipton
Nostredamus Predictions
Premonitions 
 

Introduction

What lies in our future?

Do some people have the inherent capacity to warn us of imminent disaster and should we take them seriously?

Virtually all of Christianity believes the Bible to be a storehouse of knowledge for all things past, present, and future, albeit written in ambiguous language that can be interpreted in a number of ways.  Certainly its pages contain the work of the world's most venerable prophets, but it is not the only source we can turn to for information by a long shot.

Consider Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, Jane Roberts/Seth, and the messages from the Mayan Culture to name just a few,  who upon close examination do seem to have important information to pass along, both for future planning and for the here and now.  Even the Great Pyramid appears to have something to say about the timeline for the human species.

 

Book of Revelation

INTRODUCTION

Over the last 1900 years, four primary understandings of the Book of Revelation have developed - the Idealist, Preterist, Historicist and Futurist viewpoints.  These understandings are distinct with their own notable characteristics.  Horton believes that part of the reason for this incompatible variety stems from whether the hermeneutics employed tend to interpret the Bible more literally or figuratively (Horton, 1994, p. 619).  As will be explained however, there are stronger reasons for the variety, which pertain to one's objectivity.

IDEALIST

The Idealist believes simply that Revelation does not refer to any historical or future event at all; rather it is a timeless allegory of the conflict between good and evil (Stern, 1992, p. 784) - a description of the spiritual principles of God that equip one for spiritual battles, which constantly confront the Church (Goswiller, n.d., p. 5).

This view originated with the Alexandrian School of Theology represented by Clement and Origen, who (consistent with their other teachings) taught that the "true spiritual interpretation" of the book could only be discovered through an allegorical interpretation (Goswiller, n.d., p. 5; Wilson, n.d., p. 15).

Nevertheless, though the book does have many symbolic figures, they all represent realities.  The Antichrist is called a beast, but he will be a real person and will fulfill plain statements given in other prophecies (such as II Thessalonians 2:3-12).  Jesus must personally come to bring about the final triumph (Horton, 1994, p. 619).

The Idealist view does not appear to have much serious support, its deficiencies being apparent.  Morris (1980, p. 1338) states, "The difficulty is that the seer does claim to be prophesying of later days".  Wilson (n.d., p. 6) writes, "The results of this method were not satisfactory, for each interpreter understood the symbols and figures according to his own ideas".   Jensen (1981, p. 498) goes as far as to claim that this view is anemic.

PRETERIST

The Preterist view derives its name from the Latin word praeter meaning "past".  It attempts to relate all of Revelation except for the very end to events in the first century, with Rome and its early emperors, particularly Nero, being the only principals (Horton, 1994, p. 619).

Kenneth Gentry (n.d.) sustains this position by appealing to 1:9 ("I John, who also am your brother, and companion in the tribulation") as evidence that "the" tribulation was a reality in John's time (although most translations do not render the verse this way).  Gentry continues, citing the continual warnings, "He that has an ear, let him hear" (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22) as evidence that the events of Revelation were taking place in that day.

Gentry further appeals to Revelation 17 where a vision of the seven-headed beast is recorded, verses 9 and 10 explaining,


    Here is the mind which hath wisdom.  The seven heads
    are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.  And
    there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is,
    and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh he
    must continue a short space.

      Gentry (n.d.) proceeds to explain that the seven mountains represent the famous seven hills of Rome.  The seven heads also have a political reference, being simultaneously seven kings.  Gentry states,

    It surely is no accident that Nero was the sixth
    emperor of Rome.  Flavius Josephus, the Jewish
    contemporary of John, clearly points out that Julius
    Caesar was the first emperor of Rome and that he was
    followed in succession by Augustus, Tiberius, Caius,
    Claudius, and, sixthly, Nero (Antiquities, books 18
    and 19).

      Gentry next enlists the aid of the number of the Beast from Revelation 13:18 to prove "Nero and Nero alone fits the bill as the specific or personal expression of the Beast" (Gentry, n.d.), stating

    A Hebrew spelling of Nero Caesar's name was Nrwn Qsr.
    . . . It has been documented by archaeological finds

    that a first century Hebrew spelling of Nero's name
    provides us with precisely the value of 666.

      Although Preterists believe that the last two chapters of Revelation pertain to the future (Jensen, 1981, p. 498), the essence of their position is that the events of Revelation arose

    out of conditions in the Roman empire of the 1st
    century AD.  The seer was appalled at the
    possibilities for evil inherent in the Roman empire
    and he used symbolic imagery to protest against it,
    and to record his conviction that God would intervene
    to bring about what pleased him (Morris, 1980, p.
    1338).

Nevertheless, despite Gentry's firm belief, one must conclude that the Preterist position is untenable. It overlooks the fact that the book calls itself a prophecy (1:3).  Mickelsen finds fault with the Preterist understanding of the mark of the Beast, stating, Nero Caesar in Hebrew letters comes out right if the consonants are NRWN QSR.  But in the Talmud the word Caesar is spelled QYSR.  If this is adopted, the total numerical value comes to 676.  In Greek, of course, no form of Nero Caesar comes to 666 (Mickelsen, 1963, p. 202; also Morris, 1980, p.1338).

Finally, the Preterist view is highly dependant on Revelation having been written before 70 A.D., yet the evidence for a 95/96 A.D. date is overwhelming (Goswiller, n.d., p. 3), Irenaeus even explicitly stating that John wrote the book during Domitian's reign (Glasson, 1965, p. 8; Morris, 1980, p. 1338).

HISTORICIST

The Historicist view of Revelation attempts to map the events described in the book to historical events, providing a panorama of the history of the Church from the days of John to the end of time (Ryrie, 1978, p. 1785).

Thomas Foster (1983, p. 8), co-founder of the Christian Revival Crusade, sees the seven Churches in chapters two and three of Revelation as being an overview of the entire Church age (which many Futurists would also believe).   Chapters four to 19 of Revelation are claimed to be a more in-depth view of Church history, with the Millennium being described in chapter 20.  According to Foster (1983, p. 123), "the Millennium proper commences about 2000 A.D." although the Laodicean period finished in 1967 (Foster, 1983, p. 18) with the six-day war in Israel.

Foster's views are strongly anti-Catholic.  The beast worship of Revelation 13 is related to allegiance to the Papal Empire in 533 B.C (Foster, 1983, p. 68). The mark of the beast is the Latin language (lateinus having the value 666) which is significant because Pope Vitallian issued a decree commanding the exclusive use of Latin in all services of the Catholic Church in 666 A.D. (Foster, 1983, p. 74-75).   Further, the battle of Armageddon is claimed to be nothing more than Russian Communism challenging Britain and the USA for supremacy (Foster, 1983, p. 94), Britian and the USA having replaced Israel, and Communism being related to Roman Catholicism.

This view is fraught with complications – its interpretations are subjective and internally inconsistent.  Foster, for example, believes that the 42 months of blasphemies by the beast refers to 1260 years of Papal power from 606 A.D. to 1866 A.D. (Foster, 1983, p. 68).  Nevertheless, the closest Foster can come to a historical event for this is the capturing of Rome by Italy in 1870 (Foster, 1983, p. 89).  One must also question the hermeneutic involved in "a day stands for a year" (Foster, 1983, p. 55) used to achieve certain dates in this scheme.

Further, Morris (1980, p. 1338) states, "It is difficult to see why the outline of history should confine itself to W[estern] Europe, especially since in earlier days at least much of the expansion of Christianity was in E[astern] lands."  Finally, Historicist adherers tend to continually rework the whole interpretation to come out in their own generation (Horton, 1994, p. 619; Morris, 1980, p. 1338).  This has been the case with Historicists in the past and undoubtedly certain of Foster's dates would now be different.

FUTURIST

Although the three views given above may entail some recognition of predictive prophecy in Revelation, not one of them permit Eschatological derivations to be made.  The fourth manner in which Revelation may be understood is the Futurist viewpoint, which views most of the book (chapters 4 - 22) as prophecy yet to be fulfilled.  Ryrie (1978, p. 1785) believes this to be the only logical interpretation if one is to interpret the text plainly.  Similarly, Walvoord states that the Futurist (in particular, pre-millenial, pre- tribulationism) viewpoint is the only one which most literally follows scripture under "consistent and proper hermeneutics" (Walvoord, 1978, p. 270).

Nevertheless, the Futurist viewpoint itself contains a number of variant views.  The seven Churches in chapters two and three, for example, may be seen in a Preterist manner (that is, relating solely to the Church in the first century) or a Historicist manner (that is, reflecting the history of the Church).   Yonggi Cho, for example, holds to the latter view, with the Laodecian Church reflecting the Church from 1905 until the Tribulation (Cho, 1991, p. 47).  The most reasonable view, however, is the Characteristic Interpretation where the letters, while still written to physical Churches in John's day, present a picture of the continuous conditions of the Church throughout history - that is, at any given time there will be an "Ephesian" Church, a "Laodicean" Church and so on (Goswiller, n.d., p. 13). 

Another area for consideration is the millennium, which has its basis in Revelation 20 - "He threw him [Satan] into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations any more until the thousand years were ended" (20:3); "They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years"  (20:4, also 20:5, 7).  "Millennium" means a thousand years, and Christian thought is divided into three categories over the millennium.   Amillennialists believe that the millennium is not a literal period of time, rather the millennial kingdom is not future but is spiritual and is in progress at the present time.  There is no distinction between the Church and Israel and Satan is actually bound now through the victory of Jesus at the cross and Christ reigns in the world in the hearts of his followers (Goswiller, n.d., p. 2).

Post-millennialists believe that the millennium is a literal thousand year period, but in contrast to Revelation's chronological ordering, "Christ will have a spiritual reign which will last for 1,000 years.  His second coming follows the thousand year reign" (Goswiller, n.d., p. 2).  A flaw in post-millennial thinking is that Christ's spiritual reign is to come about because "the present gospel message will root out all the evils of the world" (Goswiller, n.d., p. 2). This notion was first perpetuated by Augustine who claimed that the ever-increasing influence of the Church would overturn evil in the world before Christ's return (Zoba, 1995, p. 20).  The Bible however indicates that the world's condition will worsen in the last days (I Timothy 4:1-3; II Timothy 3:1-5).

During the Middle Ages the thought of a literal millennium was generally regarded as heretical (Berkhof, 1975, p. 263), but the faith of the early Church was undoubtedly chiliasm - an ill-defined pre-millennial outlook (Berkhof, 1975, p. 262; Zoba, 1995, p. 21) which anticipated Christ's literal thousand year reign after His Second Coming.

Again, the Futurist viewpoint is divided over chapters four to 19.  While all recognise the seven year Great Tribulation, the timing of the rapture is in dispute, the rapture being the "catching up" described in I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and I Corinthians 15:51-52. Post-tribulationists believe that the rapture occurs after the Tribulation.  This means that the Church must endure the Tribulation, and Willmington (n.d., p. 825) dismises this view by appealing to I Thessalonians 5:9 ("For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ").  Mid- tribulationists believe that the rapture occurs midway through the Tribulation, and finally pre-tribulationists believe that the rapture occurs prior to the  Tribulation. It is important to note that "only in relation to the premillennial position does the issue of when the rapture takes place arise; for Post- and Amillennialists, the rapture is vaguely identified with the Messiah's one and only return" (Stern, 1992, p. 623).

 To realise the time of the rapture one must recognise that the Tribulation is not merely a time of suffering or persecution (indeed, Christ said, "in this world you will have tribulation" in John 16:33).  It is rather a time of God's wrath being outpoured on the earth.  People will cry to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!  For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:16-17).  Just as God delivered Noah and his family from God's wrath (Genesis 7:6-7) and Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:14) and even the Israelites (Exodus 7:18; 8:3, 21-22; 9:3-4; 10:22-23; 11:6-7), so too the Church shall be saved from the coming Tribulation by the rapture - for the Church looks for "His Son from heaven who has delivered us from the wrath to come" (I Thessalonians 1:10).

CONCLUSION

Four (main) views of the Book of Revelation exist; obviously not all can be simultaneously correct.  While pondering the area of modern-day miracles, former Dallas Theological Seminary professor, Jack Deere, made the conclusion,

    . . . . the majority of what Christians believe is
    not derived from their own patient and careful study
    of the Scriptures.  The majority of Christians
    believe what they believe because godly and respected
    teachers told them it was correct.  (Deere, 1993, p.
    47).

This is not necessarily negative, however.  Many Christians believe in the deity of Jesus, for example, and believe the Scriptures teach this, but they could never defend His deity from the Scriptures, nor did they personally come to this belief through their own study of the Scriptures.  It is part of the tradition that has been handed down to them by teachers.  In this case, they benefit from tradition because this particular tradition is fully supported by Scripture.   Nevertheless, for this reason, many notions have been propagated which are not Scripturally sound.

Revelation should not be an overwhelming mystery. John wrote to reveal, not to conceal truth, "revelation" meaning an "opening up, uncovering" (Gentry, n.d.).  The facts have been presented and conclusions may be drawn. Everyone is encouraged to read Revelation; a blessing is promised to those who persevere in its study -

    Blessed is he who reads, and they that hear the words
    of this prophecy, and keep those things which are
    written therein: for the time is at hand (Revelation
    1:3).

Provided by David M. Williams

 

Fatima Predictions

Fatima is a village in the center of Portugal about 70 miles north of Lisbon. It was there in 1915 that three humble peasant children began having a series of apparitions of angels and, later, the "Virgin Mary." The children were: Lucia Santos and her two cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto. At the time, the Portuguese government was secular and antagonistic towards religion, which led them to treat the children very harshly -- even placing them in prison with the threat of boiling them in oil unless they confessed to having made up their story. In spite of this, the children never wavered.

The first apparition occurred on an unnamed day in 1915 when Lucia, together with her friends, sat down in the fields close to their hamlet of Aljustrel at midday to eat their lunch. They were interrupted by the sudden appearance of a cloud in the form of a man above some foliage. Lucia later described it as like a cloud, whiter than snow, slightly transparent, with a human outline.

According to Lucia, it was the form of a young man, transparent, and more brilliant than a crystal pierced by the rays of the sun. The apparition approached them and said, "Fear not! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me!" The angel knelt on the ground and bowed very low. The children imitated the angel and repeated the words of his prayer. The same angel appeared to them several more times, each time giving them a message of the need for sacrifice and preparing them for the prophecies that were to follow.

On Sunday, May 13, 1917, in a world immersed in the First World War, the children of Fatima were to receive their first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As usual, Lucia and her two cousins went to the cave, and it was almost noon when they reached it. They opened their bags to eat lunch, said the rosary and started tending to the sheep. Suddenly a bright shaft of light pierced the air. They described it as a flash of lightning. Lucia later said, however, that "it was not really lightning, but rather the reflection of a light that approached little by little. In this light, we could see Our Lady only when she was above the oak."

The lady spoke to them and said, "Fear not! I will not harm you."
"Where are you from?" the children asked.
"I am from heaven," the beautiful lady replied.
"What do you want of me?," Lucia asked.

"I came to ask you to come here for six consecutive months, on the thirteenth day, at this same hour. I will tell you later who I am and what I want. And I shall return here again a seventh time."

Mary allegedly appeared on the thirteenth of each month, and the children were there each time except for one apparition when they were locked away by government officials. Each time the children reported similar phenomena, and many messages and secrets were revealed to them.

The Miracle of the Sun

At each successive apparition, word of the events at Fatima spread farther and wider, along with the story that the October apparition would be particularly dramatic. The October miracle was predicted to be one that everyone would see. The crowd that day was estimated at 70,000. Although the sun rose that day, soon dark clouds overshadowed it and threatened a severe storm. At around 10:00 a.m., the rains came. The pilgrims and the interested skeptics kept coming, however.

Noon came, and Lucia saw the flash that always preceded the vision of Mary. As she arrived, the rains ceased and the sun began to come out. The apparition of Mary settled over the tree as usual. Lucia inquired, "What do you want of me?" Mary said, "I want to tell you that they must build a chapel here in my honor; that I am the Lady of the Rosary; that they continue to say the rosary every day. The war will end and the soldiers will return to their homes soon."

Lucia asked Mary if she would grant some petitions, to which she replied, "Some I will, others I will not. They must mend their lives, ask forgiveness for their sins. Offend not Our Lord any more, for He is already much offended." As Mary left, she opened her hands, which emitted a flood of light. While she was rising, she pointed towards the sun and the light gleaming from her hands brightened the sun itself. Suddenly a cry of awe and wonderment came from the large crowd. The sun became pale as the moon.

As the children were watching this, the crowd was enraptured by other signs in the sky. As one witness said, "We could look at the sun with ease. It did not bother [the eyes] at all. It seemed to be continually fading and glowing in one fashion, then another. It threw shafts of light one way and another, painting everything in different colors, the people, the trees, the earth, even the air." Everyone stood still and quiet, gazing at the sun. At a certain point, the sun stopped its play of light and then started "dancing." It stopped again and then again started dancing until it seemed to loosen itself from the skies and fall upon the people. It was a moment of terrible suspense.

Dr. Almeida Garrett, professor of Coimbra, said, "The sun had broken through the thick layer of clouds. It seemed to be drawing all eyes and I saw it as a disc with a clean cut rim, luminous and shining, but which did not hurt the eyes;. The clouds did not obscure the light of the sun; one could fix one's eyes on this brazier of heat and light without pain in the eyes or blinding of the retina. The sun's disc spun around on itself in a mad whirl -- then, whirling wildly, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge fiery weight. There were changes of color in the atmosphere. Looking at the sun I noticed everything around was becoming darkened. All the phenomena which I have described were observed by me. It is for others to interpret and explain them."

As the sun appeared to hurl itself upon the crowd in a zigzag fashion, the people in the crowd cried out in terror, believing they were going to die. Some begged for mercy; others said the act of contrition. One lady confessed her sins aloud. Eventually the sun stopped its sudden dive and returned to its place in the sky. As the multitude sighed in relief they realized that the miracle predicted by the children had come to pass. Then they noticed that everything had suddenly dried from the heavy rains earlier -- their clothes, the ground, everything! Not only did the immediate crowd witness the miracle, but so did those in adjoining villages. Although there were some variations in what they saw, they all reported having seen something miraculous.

Incio Lourenco reported, "Near us was an unbeliever without religion, who had spent the morning mocking the blockheads who had made all that journey to Fatima to go and stare at a girl. I looked at him. He stood as if paralyzed, thunderstruck, his eyes fixed on the sun. Then I saw him tremble from head to foot, and raising his hands to heaven, he fell on his knees in the mire shouting "Nossa Senhora! Nossa Senhora!" (Our Lady! Our Lady!)

For those who might think that mass hallucination at the site produced the spectacle, it should be noted that the miracle was seen by many throughout the region, even as far away as 25 miles from Fatima, where the poet Afonso Lopes Vieira also saw the miracle of the sun from his house.

The Prophecies

Fatima is a very apocalyptic message. It says that no matter what happens there are going to be terrible wars, there are going to be diseases, whole nations are going to be wiped out, there are going to be 3 days of darkness, there are going to be epidemics that will wipe out whole nations overnight, parts of the earth will be washed away at sea and violent tornadoes and storms. Also:

A night illuminated by an unknown light will be the sign of coming hunger, war and persecution. (Apparently happened on January 25th 1938).

A worse war will break out in the time of Pius X1 ( WWII). Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, promoting wars. Various nations will be annihilated.

The good will be martyred. The Holy Father will have much to suffer.

In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me. Russia will be converted, and some time of peace will be given to the world.

The Secrets

First Secret

"You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end, but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given to you by God that He is about to punish the World for its crimes, by means of war, famine and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father."

Second Secret

"When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the World. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays [of each month]. If My requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated."

Third Secret

Lucia would keep the Third Secret until 1941, when she received an inner "locution" from the Virgin giving her leave to publish all but the last of its three parts. As for the final part, which has come to be known as the Third Secret Sister Lucy's nearly fatal bout of pleurisy in 1943 moved the Bishop of Fatima to ask her to write it down and seal it up in an envelope, so that it might be read if she died. After much agonizing and another visitation by the Lady, she complied with the Bishop's request in January 1944, and forwarded the envelope to him with the instructions that it was to be opened by the Pope and read to the world in 1960, "because the Virgin wishes it so."

But the Vatican refused to disclose the Third Secret in 1960 and continues to suppress it to this day. All the popes since John XXIII, as well as a few Curia cardinals, have read the contents of Lucy's envelope, as John Paul II is reported to have done shortly after his inauguration in October 1978.

While conversing with a small group of pilgrims in the cathedral square of Fulda, West Germany, in November 1980, the Holy Father was asked to explain why the Third Secret had not been published in 1960, as the Lady of Fatima had directed. John Paul responded that "the gravity of its contents" was such as to possibly provoke a hostile response to its release on the part of the "world power of Communism" and hence the Vatican had seen fit to defer its publication "out of diplomacy." He alluded to a portion of the message "where it is said that the oceans will entirely flood certain parts of the earth, and that from moment to moment millions of men will perish." A question was then posed concerning the fate of the Church in Fatima's apocalyptic scenario.

John Paul: "We have to be prepared to suffer, before long, great trials which will require of us the disposition to sacrifice even our life for Christ. Through your prayers and mine, it is still possible to diminish this trial, but it is no longer possible to avert it, because only in this manner can the Church be effectively renewed. How many times has the renewal of the Church been brought about in blood! It will not be different this time."

Evidently, from John Paul's remarks at Fulda quoted above, the Third Secret of Fatima addresses this unprecedented crisis of faith and in fact predicts its onset in the latter decades of this century. This would explain the Lady's desire to have the message revealed in 1960, when a veritable epidemic of universal apostasy began to sweep across the globe. Another strong inference here is that the Church "renewal" which will resolve this great crisis may involve the martyrdom of one or more popes. It also seems clear that, even before the attempt on his life in St. Peter's Square, Karol Wojtyla believed "himself" to be destined for such martyrdom.

Thus when John Paul II first read Sister Lucy's handwritten note sometime late in 1978, he would not have been able to toss it aside with the dismissive remark, "This does not pertain to the years of my papacy," as John XXIII reportedly did in 1960 in defense of his decision not to release the message.

A tangible "marker" was left behind by Jacinta Marto, the younger seeress of Fatima. Shortly after the children received Our Lady's Secret in July 1917, Jacinta had two visions which she recounted to Lucia, who recorded them in her memoirs with the remark that they comprise "part of the [third] secret." Both visions concern the Holy Pope or Angelic Pastor:

"I don't know how it was, but I saw the Holy Pope in a very large house. He was kneeling by a table with his face in his hands and he was crying. Outside the house were many people. Some of them were throwing stones at him, others were cursing him and using bad language."

"Can't you see all those highways and roads and fields full of people, who are crying with hunger and have nothing to eat? And the Holy Pope in a church praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And so many people praying with him?"

Current Controversy

The mysterious Third Secret of Fatima remains under lock and key in a Vatican archive, while Vatican bureaucrats attempt to silence a Canadian priest leading a movement for its disclosure. On February 8, 1960 Catholics around the world were stunned when the Vatican announced in an unsigned press release that the famous Third Secret would not be disclosed that year, as expected, and would probably remain a secret forever. Thus began a controversy in the Catholic Church which shows no signs of dying out, more than 35 years later.

What is the Third Secret, and why is a Canadian priest, Father Nicholas Gruner, under fire by the Vatican bureaucracy for probing into it?

Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II all read the Secret in private, as has John Paul II's right hand man, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The suppression of the Third Secret has naturally led to speculation among Catholics that its contents must be nothing short of explosive. Yet the official Vatican line is that the Secret contains nothing that has not already been revealed in Scripture. If that is so, then why is it being suppressed? In November 1984 Ratzinger gave a tantalizing hint of what the Third Secret contains when he admitted that it refers to "dangers which threaten the Faith and the life of the Christian, and therefore of the world."

Father Nicholas Gruner has widely publicized the work of several Fatima experts who believe they have deduced what the Third Secret contains: a warning that the Catholic Church will undergo a catastrophic loss of faith and discipline beginning around 1960 - the great apostasy predicted in Scripture as a harbinger of the end times.

Lucia Dies

The last surviving witness to whom the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in a series of apparitions in Portugal in 1917 has died aged 97.

Sister Lucia de Jesus dos Santos died at the convent where she had been living since the 1940s, the Roman Catholic Church said.

She was one of three shepherd children who claimed they spoke to the Virgin Mary near Fatima town over six months.

The apparitions turned Fatima into one of Catholicism's most revered sites.

The Virgin Mary is said to have revealed prophecies of key 20th Century events, including the end of World War I, the start of World War II and the rise and fall of Soviet communism.

The Church believes the third "secret", not unveiled until 2000, foretold the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul on 13 May 1981, the anniversary of one of the 1917 apparitions.

The Church announced that Sister Lucia died at her Carmelite convent at Coimbra in central Portugal on Sunday.

"She had been weak for several weeks and had not left her cell," said Coimbra Bishop Albino Cleto.

Her body is due to be laid out in Coimbra's cathedral before her funeral on Wednesday.

Sister Lucia was just 10 when she and her two younger cousins, Francisco Marto and his sister Jacinta, are said to have seen the Virgin Mary above an olive tree near the central town of Fatima.

She was the only one who claimed to have heard clearly what the Virgin Mary said.

While her cousins both died within three years of the apparitions ending, during the flu pandemic, Sister Lucia went on to write down what she had been told.

The first two parts of the prophecy were known for decades and interpreted as predicting the world wars.

But the third prophecy was kept secret and sparked much speculation about its content.

When the Vatican revealed its interpretation of the vision, the Pope credited the Madonna of Fatima with his survival following the 1981 attempt on his life by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca in St Peter's Square.

The Pope made several visits to Fatima - along with pilgrims from all over the world - and first met Sister Lucia during a trip in 1991.

He traveled to Fatima in 2000 to beatify Francisco and Jacinta, and steps are expected to be taken to beatify Sister Lucia as well. 

 

Mother Shipton

Mother Shipton, also known as Ursula Sonthiel Shipton, was born in 1488 in Yorkshire, England, and lived until 1561. According to legend, her birth was the result of a union between her mother and the devil. When she was born, she was reportedly hideously ugly.

This is a description of her as a child written by a later biographer:

“Very morose and big boned, her head very long, with very great goggling, but sharp and fiery Eyes, her Nose of an incredible and unproportionate length, having in it many crooks and turnings, adorned with many strange Pimples of diverse colours, as Red, Blew, and mixt, which like Vapours of Brimstone gave such a lustre of the Night, that one of them confessed several times in my hearing, that her nurse needed no other light to assist her in the performance of her duty.”

As Ursula grew older she began to tell fortunes and predict the future. For instance, she predicted that Cardinal Wolsey would see York, but never go to it. Sure enough, in 1530 Cardinal Wolsey was travelling to York. He climbed to the top of a tower and saw the town in the distance, but just then received a message from King Henry VIII asking him to return to London. He died on the way back to London, thus fulfilling Mother Shipton’s prophecy.

She later made other prophecies, the most famous of which described future technology:

Carriages without horses shall goe,
And accidents fill the world with woe.
Around the world thoughts shall fly
In the twinkling of an eye….
Under water men shall walk,
Shall ride, shall sleep and talk;
In the air men shall be seen,
In white, in black and in green….
Iron in the water shall float,
As easy as a wooden boat.

Her most famous prophecy was this:

The world to an end shall come,
In eighteen hundred and eighty one.

The first known edition of Mother Shipton’s prophecies appeared in print in 1641, eighty years after her death. However, the most important editions of her work appeared in 1684, edited by Richard Head (this edition included the earliest biographical information about her), and in 1862, edited by Charles Hindley.

Mother Shipton’s prophecies are hoaxes, because it now appears that almost all of them were written by others after the events they described had already happened. For instance, the first record of her prophecy about Cardinal Wolsey dates from 1641, long after the man had died. Her prophecies about future technology, and about the world coming to an end in 1881, first appeared in print in the 1862 edition of her sayings, and Charles Hindley, the editor of that edition, later admitted that he had composed them.

The existence of Mother Shipton herself is uncertain. Her 1684 biographer, Richard Head, apparently invented most of the details of her life. In fact, she may never have existed outside of Yorkshire legend.

 

Nostradamus Predictions

NOSTRADAMUS, the French Christian Jew who lived in France in the 16th century, made many accurate forecasts, including the two World Wars. 18 of his 950 quatrains refer to a third world war. Some Nostradamus experts had given the date for the start of such a war as mid-1999, referring to the Balkan conflict surrounding Kosovo. They obviously misinterpreted the quatrains. Their attention then turned to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York.

NOSTRADAMUS

Born Michel de Notredame on 14 December 1503 in St Remy, France, he was the oldest of five sons. His grandfather, Jean, taught him Latin, Greek, Hebrew, mathematics and astrology at an early age. Nostradamus received a medical degree in 1529 and became physician-in-ordinary to Charles IX during the bubonic plague. He is said to have had extraordinary healing abilities.

Nostradamus was in his late 40s when, it is told, he frequently went into a meditative state and had visions of the future. He began to document the visions in a mixture of Lain, French, and Greek quatrains, publishing his famous "Centuries" in 1558.

Nostradamus was married twice, losing his first wife and two children to the plague. He died on 2 July 1566. "Centuries" was translated into English in 1672. In 1781 it was banned by the Roman Catholic Church. Ironically, in 1553, when Nostradamus encountered a group of Franciscan monks he threw himself on his knees, clutching at the garment of one of the monks, Felice Peretti. When asked why he had done this he replied that he must yield "before his Holiness." Nineteen years after the death of Nostradamus, Peretti became Pope Sixtus V.

What the experts say Nostradamus predicted about the Balkan war
The war prophecy is reserved for someone whom Nostradamus refers to as "the tyrant." He predicted that the Slavs will "change their prince" and "raise an army in the mountains," suggesting a guerilla war. He speaks of "when the north pole is united" (perhaps NATO?), and there are many geographical references to the Balkans, such as Greece, Italy and the Mediterranean.

The war is linked to when the "eagle" (United States) and the "cock" (France) stand together. There also is specific reference to the time when England, Poland and Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia) "form a new alliance." The former Eastblock countries recently joined NATO.

He predicted that the Allies will win, that the war will be protracted, lasting seven months, and that it may go beyond the Balkans, toward the north, but that after the war there will be "peace on earth for a long time."

The forecasts by Nostradamus seemed to be confirmed by other seers, including Nicolaas van Rensburg, the famous South African seer who lived 1862 to 1926. At the turn of the 20th Century Van Rensburg had also predicted the use of electricity, the massacre of six million Jews, the Chernobyl disaster, the rise and fall of Russia, and the European Union - in the last two instances accurately describing the flags before they were designed. Of the third world war, he predicted that England would left weakened, while Germany would rise to become the world's most powerful nation.

What the experts say Nostradamus predicted about the WTC attack
"In the year of the new century and nine months, from the sky will come a great king of terror. The sky will burn at 45 degrees... fire approaches the great new city... there will be thunder... The third big war will begin when the city is burning."
So it is quoted among rumour mongers.

The facts are:

Nostradamus appears not to have made predictions about the World Trade Centre attack or, at least, none that could easily be understood from the quatrains. He did not mention "the new century," or "nine months" and New York is not at 45 degrees; the Manhattan latitude is 40° 47' N.

What then?

Of course, not only have the "experts" on the prophets not always been correct - the seers themselves have not always been quite so accurate in their forecasts. In fact, many predictions have missed the mark.

Time will tell if the Kosovo conflict or, indeed, the World Trade Centre attack had put the spark to a bigger barrel. As for the end of the world... Nostradamus predicted it to be the year 3786 or 3797, depending on which Nostradamus expert you believe.

 

Premonition

Premonition refers to a situation when future events are foreknown or forecast. They are attributed by some people to the presence of supernatural or paranormal abilities. However, the distinction between precognition and ordinary evidence-based predictions is sometimes not made sharply. "Premonition" may be defined to include or exclude ordinary predictions, and this means a fallacy of linguistic ambiguity can lead to an overly supernatural explanation for the accuracy of predictions.

Famous premonitions

  • Abraham Lincoln's prophetic dream of his death and funeral, which he related to both his bodyguard and his wife mere hours before his assassination.
  • Otto von Bismarck predicted the beginning of the First World War, by saying (shortly before he died in 1898) to Mr. Ballen: "If there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans". Note that this is a good example of a premonition that could easily be due to a good intuitive understanding of politics, rather than being precognitive.
  • The novelist Mark Twain predicted that Halley's Comet would be seen on the day of his death, just as it was when he was born. Twain died weeks before Halley's 1910 appearance on May 18th
  • The French apothecary and seer Nostradamus is also believed to have predicted his own death and the date in which his tomb would be opened
  • Julius Caesar's wife Calpurnia had a dream the night before he died that he would get stabbed by a friend, and she warned him not to go.