Wednesday, 4 March 2015











 
The Antichrist: edited photocopy of image from page [14] of  the Vaticinia de summis pontificibus




The so-called ‘Lost Book of Nostradamus’ (a) was never ‘lost’, and (b) is not by Nostradamus. These two ideas are the copyright of the Italian author Ottavio Cesar Ramotti and the History Channel – and of one decidedly over-enthusiastic producer in particular.

Reputable scholars such as Dr Jennifer Britnell have dated the original manuscript – which consists of a mixture not just of hand-painted images, but of mysterious captions and enigmatic descriptions too – to the early 14th century, centuries before Nostradamus’s time (in fact the manuscript itself claims, presumably in an effort boost its ‘authority’, that it dates back to 1100!). Its first printed edition seems to have been published in a vast collection of medieval prophecies entitled Mirabilis liber of 1522-4 (when Nostradamus was scarcely out of his teens), though for reasons of space and practicality this lacked the hand-painted images, which have since disappeared from the original St Victor library in Paris (destroyed at the Revolution), and may be the ‘orphaned’ ones that subsequently turned up in the National Library at Rome. This latter book is known to have been basic to Nostradamus’s Prophecies (many links with it can be identified specifically), so that is possibly where the confusion arises.

You can see it at:
http://www.propheties.it/nostradamus/medieval/mirabilisliber/mirabilis%20liber/mirabilisliber.htm

As republished in the Mirabilis liber, the Vaticinia de summis pontificibus (the book’s real title) features two tranches, each featuring a succession of fifteen popes, starting in both cases with Pope Nicholas III (1277-1280), and in the second case culminating with the expected Antichrist. This would take the first collection up to Pope Urban VI, who died in 1389. Since then there have been no less than 64 further popes, even if we ignore the multiple popes of the Great Western Church Schism of the late 14th  to 15th century – and none of them have shown any sign whatever of being the Antichrist (not surprisingly, since no such historical figure is to be found in the Bible!)! The book, in other words, is an understanble prophetic failure, and certainly has no practical relevance today.

Nevertheless, it seems to have successfully ‘retrodicted’ at least five historical popes, and possibly more (one would expect no less!), while its style is memorable and its illustrations are beguiling. The problems only begin when one tries to translate it into any kind of modern language. The first collection, after all, is printed in almost undecipherable Latin Gothic script, the second in a mixture of (mainly) Gothic script and late medieval French. Fortunately in 1831 the French scholar Edouard Bricon managed to translate it into the French of his day before all knowledge of the former printing practices had died out, though even he gave up in despair when faced with the abstruse intricacies of the language of the first collection. An example is printed below.



The Mirabilis liber, showing the beginning of the Prophecy of the Popes


What is believed to be the first English translation of the book follows, though the exact positioning of the images (including those not yet included) is largely a matter of guesswork until more reliable information becomes available…








THE PROPHECY OF THE POPES
(Vaticinia de summis pontificibus, first series)

THE BEGINNING OF WOES

This prophecy, with its illustrations omitted for the sake of brevity, written in old, abbreviated characters in the year 1100 or thereabouts, can be found in the most noble kingdom of France, in Paris, in the library of St. Victor, in the box labelled with the three initials K.R.K.

[So begins this section, which contains entries regarding fifteen popes, to which the second section, dating from the period up to 1356, adds fifteen more, plus fifty-two supplementary images that were apparently added later by other hands with a distinct taste for the mysterious and exotic. Both sections, consisting of images, captions and short texts, have been doubly abridged. First of all, and most importantly, the compiler has omitted the highly symbolic images that went with each text in the original St Victor edition (the source of endless misguided modern speculation about a so-called Lost Book of Nostradamus!). This was allegedly ‘for the sake of brevity.’ In the section that follows I have inserted images from other editions of the original to give some indication of what has been lost graphically.

Regarding the texts, the 1831 French translator Edouard Bricon admits to being unable to make much of the those accompanying Part One, which he merely summarises, sometimes leaving rows of dots instead (see his note at the end of this section). With the benefit of various online versions of the text, I have now endeavoured to make amends with rough impressions of what the texts actually say, though these should not be relied on too much, given the vagueness and inconsistency of the original Gothic text, the impenetrable abbreviations with which they are peppered and, no doubt, my own incompetence. Indeed one has the impression, from his propensity freely to coalesce and mangle the separate words of the manuscript, that the compositor of the Mirabilis liber text often had little idea of the meaning of what he was setting. Consequently my versions should be regarded (like Bricon’s) as paraphrases rather than translations. Better a crude translation, I suggest, than no translation at all (classicists are welcome to offer improvements)!

The sequence of the pages is somewhat disordered, and different in the Mirabilis liber from in the original, no doubt due to the fact that the compiler is known to have been working from two incompatible copies, the second of which (reflected in my graphic source) was in reverse order. Page numbers between square brackets are consequently unreliable.

The series starts with an image of the way things are supposed to be…]







Edited photocopy of image from page [3] of the manuscript, evidently
referring back to St Francis of Assisi




HYPOCRISY SHALL ABOUND[1]



Edited photocopy of page [19] of the manuscript

The she-bear feeding its young heralds new disasters in the city of Rome for thirty-six years, and misery shall be routinely abroad almost from beginning to end in eyes and faces. Before this, country and state shall suffer barbarian attacks after a bear cub is seen being miserably attacked by dogs in the depths of heaven. Thou shalt consequently deceive many others, and miseries shall spread to foreigners who are converted to unseen falsities. Build walls, or stay within them. Feed new dogs, lest thou be attacked by them in the midst of the tempests. Let Christ appear in thy reflections. A serpent or a sheep shall quickly destroy him by way of retribution both for deception and for deadly deeds. Use thy hands and feet to escape while hypocrisy washes over thee. What evil thou shalt do is like administering the bite of a wild dog. In this way thou art like wretches who vomit forth what is inimical to the good of the state.






TITHES SHALL BE WASTED ON BLOODSHED[2]



Edited photocopy of page [16] of the manuscript

He is a second son. From the river Allia a wild serpent shall fly to the south, under cover of darkness and totally deprived of light but showing its shape to the crows, and as it approaches the borders of the fatherland the emerging serpent shall be the wretched destroyer of the she-bear. O how thou shalt regret the food of the emerging crows which are the abominable race from the east! Thou shalt then have misery and thy state shall be faced with a race that thou shalt fear.






PENITENCE: HE SHALL PRESERVE TRACES OF SIMON MAGUS[3]


Edited photocopy of page [22] of the manuscript

A third pair: the bird shall torture the horses. The fleeting bird and the horse are both very quick and willing, but without unity shall be called a couple rather than a team, until they form a large number. For instance, one fine year, a day shall come in which there shall stand fast in cruciform shape in the middle of a large crowd a magus who like a king, winged as the sun, shall start to recover from the noonday heat and complete his day on the horn of courage. The radiant star shall move to the west quickly and far. He shall prepare hot-foot for war. O race heard by us that is inclined thereto, and to rage without end! O friend to the last syllable, or one who shall gain thee well-watered places on account of the hope that shall fall pre-eminently on thee! For this is the end of the horn of courage.


CONFUSION AND ERROR SHALL BE STIRRED UP[4]



Edited photocopy of page [23] of the manuscript

Here is the fourth column runnng from the she-bear, and the sword moving from hence to slice the rose when it is cut. Just as the falling rose causes much tribulation to those around, so the third tearing, signifying the third element, signifies the hands of the traitors that cut the first rose. The misery of that element can be seen, receiving precedence to cut the flower without mercy so that you may remain as commander-in-chief. See how one begins to collect the roses before presenting them to the men, and finishes by slaying many in vain.





THE SELF-ELEVATION OF POVERTY, OBEDIENCE, CHASTITY, THEIR TEMPERING AND THE DESTRUCTION OF MAGICAL CHARMS AND HYPOCRISY[5]



Edited photocopy of page [21] of the manuscript

Among the other things that exist is the carrying of a large sickle to the roses as the third element before the duplication of the first; they are separated, then joined together again and placed before the hosts of heaven before the sheep that thou shalt consume. ‘I will shortly revive by the sword the temples of the idols in less than three years.’ Barely alive, as an old man thou shalt vigorously go down to Hades in the midst of two tribulations.


THERE SHALL BE A SLAYING OF HYPOCRISY AND ABOMINATION



Edited photocopy of page [22] of the manuscript

The cow suckling the fifth cub of the she-bear prefigures the time and manner of thy coming, when in the primitive candour of thy virtues, still pure, thou wert really my friend. That is why thou hast deserved the sweetest of endings, when thou alone shalt be sublime in glory, leaving behind the almighty power of death. For thus shalt thou be welcomed by the powers of heaven.






THEY SHALL MURDEROUSLY CUT DOWN THE CHILDREN OF BAAL

 




Edited photocopy of page [23] of the manuscript

Another, second, she-bear feeding her young for the sake of shelter, so much having been written about nature’s times of abortive birth. As it says at the end, shall divisions beneath the sun reveal penitence in all things?
 






THE POWER OF THE MONASTIC COMMUNITIES SHALL RETURN TO ITS ANCIENT PLACE




Edited photocopy of page [24] of the manuscript

Alas, O city delivered to the passions! As soon as a sinister light appears, thereupon for a short time there shall fall upon thee no less than eleven sheddings of blood, and five dependent principalities of thy monarchy shall be torn to pieces by a dragon which shall kill many. Your followers shall tear away at it in vain, and you shall fall prey to civil wars, excesses of the most chaotic kind, the sword slashing with violence to the extent of six or seven thousand. Adulteries, rapes, outrages and sodomies shall signal to your eyes the final fires.


GRATUITOUS SIMONY SHALL CEASE


Edited photocopy of page [25] of the manuscript

From the writings of [‘Foxy’] Vulpianus, imagine what follows with friendly and patient affection, and restrain yourself as many a white-haired old man does. There shall come seven double revolutions during which you shall put down the mutual contenders, and with the arena already open to combatants; and the valley about to be flooded with blood, thou shalt gracefully stretch out thy victorious hand holding the irresistible sceptre.



POWER SHALL LIE IN UNITY


Edited photocopy of page [26] of the manuscript

Woe to thee, city of seven hills! The praiseworthy letter R lies in thy hands. For at that time there shall approach the fall and destruction of thy potentates and judges with scythes for fingers in the form of false witnesses who shall blaspheme the Highest, by which in [M.R.T.] thou shalt cause the corrupt [M.] to faint and die. Johannes, by the grace of God the pauper Constantine, who meditatest on holy things and wearest priestly garments on thy shoulders, fear lest thy dust and ashes be covered with opprobrium. This interpretation refers to the death of the Pope whose name is Jos. i. p. m. n. i. v. until the evening and morning in 1300 after which his sacrifice shall be named.





A GOOD PRAYER SHALL BE COUNTED AS A TREASURE BY THE POOR




Edited photocopy of page [27] of the manuscript




And there shall be revealed an anointed one who shall have the name Menachem, living amid the rocks, and out of them he shall come alone, forsaking all luxury. And he shall live in sadness and frugality, amid groans, dissipating his accumulated wealth to all who are affected by unjustified iniquity, until a great, black star appears. And naked. Therefore wander amidst the underworld.





GOOOD INTENTIONS AND CHARITY SHALL ABOUND


Edited photocopy of page [28] of the manuscript

Now the dead and those who are removed from sight shall change, and not one of many horses shall be seen travelling there, so that the one marked out by drunkenness on account of the imperial sceptre shall hold the imperial stylus. Called N, Heaven shall have announced it, for three times the celestial voice of
 an invisible being shall cry mightily: Hasten thee to the west of the city of the Seven Hills, and thou shalt find there a man who is my friend.  Bring this just man into the kingly domains. Gentle and resourceful, skilled above all in reading the future, he shall hold sway over the empire of the Seven Hills.



AN EXCELLENT PRAYER: CONCORD SHALL REIGN





Edited photocopy of page [29] of the manuscript



There shall be a man of the first, hidden race who, appearing as it were for numbers of years in utter nakedness from a dark cave, shall commence an outstanding life, the truest image, in the most solid of solid forms, of the virtuous life. After further years he shall enter in death into his cave.




A GOOD OPPORTUNITY FOR THE RITES OF THE FOLLOWERS TO CEASE




Edited photocopy of page [29] of the manuscript



Receive the gift, old man, and do not delay, but accept the Almighty. Think rather of thine end, and walk the straight path towards goodness without fearing the ravages of time, for the moment has come for you to receive tribute above all the just. For ten years under the dawn stars thou hast completed the beneficent rite from which you shall receive the relics of the annunciation. Be pleased to follow the absence of dispute to go straight to glory. A good beginning promises a good end among all creatures and habitations of the world, for thou bearest within thee both the principle and the term of all honours.






REVERENCE AND DEVOTION SHALL INCREASE



Edited photocopy of page [31] of the manuscript



Thou hast devised a good life leading from ingloriousness to virtue to which, rather than to fortune, thou owest thy merits. Hatred and harmful judgments shall have conspired to deprive you of help from above. Woe to thee, city of blood, torn apart by lying and envy: looting shall always be within thy breast. The cracking of the whip, the creaking of the wheel, the neighing of the horse shall be constantly in thine ears.


END OF THE BEGINNING OF WOES




THE PROPHECY OF THE POPES
(second series, ante 1356)


This prophecy, with its illustrations omitted for the sake of brevity, written in the year 1100 or thereabouts, is to be found in the most noble kingdom of France, in the Abbey of Cluny, in the hands of the doctor in the holy scriptures, brother Jacob Brutin.[6]








THE LORD SHALL GATHER TOGETHER THE STARS SO THAT THEY MAY SHINE IN THE FIRMAMENT[7]

 






                                             Edited photocopy of page [1] of the manuscript

Lift your hair to make it easier for you who art not afraid to shave the hair of your guide the she-bear, so that thou who feedest the wild bear shouldst gather the purest seeds wherewith to feed the dove without almost trampling them. Beware, misled by thy too lively affection, of giving the bear poisoned food for the dove which might give her ills too difficult to cure.



HE SHALL LOCK WITH A KEY AND SHALL NOT OPEN[8]


Edited photocopy of page [2] of the manuscript

Mars rises after the moon. Drunk with blood, he launches himself into the highest heavens towards the throne of the sun, obscuring the sun’s brightness with the cross and crucifying the eagle with the lily. Thou shalt not build in the temple, man of blood, who fainest the appearance of virtue, dissipatest the bounty of the sun, persecutest peace and devourest whole worlds.



THEY SHALL BE BEREAVED BY THE STRONG MAN


Edited photocopy of page [7] of the manuscript

See: here comes the blackest bird that ever existed in the crow family, scattering the life of the woods. Thou shalt die suddenly. When thou shalt see succulent fruit growing in sandy soil, then beware, for, as soon as thou wouldst eat, thou shalt die. He shall feed the black serpent who shall bring about his death.



DYING, HE SHALL DRINK FROM THE CUP OF DIVINE WRATH


Edited photocopy of page [4] of the manuscript

Wretch! thou has exalted thyself from the last to the first rank. From the sky crowned with stars, thou wouldst, in thy vanity, drag the planets down, abandoning thy first wife to widowhood. Alas useless, impudent prince, so busy with gluttony and with benefiting your lands that thou dost not realise that in part through thine own fault thou shalt lose them: weep, but in vain, when thou hearest what I shall tell thee. A general desolation shall take place, worse than there ever was since the beginning. Four times shalt thou live, and then suddenly thou shalt die in Babylon, where death abides. However, some goodness is found in thee. Therefore yield to what is larger and better than thee, for God shall put an end to thy kingdom. There shall be a commotion in the East, and after that commotion fire shall consume the world.


AT THE CRY OF THE FOX HE SHALL REVEAL THE HOSTS OF HEAVEN


Edited photocopy of page [5] of the manuscript

Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord who, simply raised, contemplates the heavens and who from dark earth ascends to heaven, then down again. For the twin voices of the foxes shall call upon the heavenly host and he shall die in tribulation abroad. O how the wife who is to be delivered to the devouring lion laments the loss of her lawful husband. Simple man, thou sendest thy wife away, and thou shalt expose her defenceless to the barking dogs. Think of thy name, and do what thou canst to be accepted in Eastern parts
.





THOU HAST ENTERED FRAUDULENTLY, THOU HAST REIGNED POWERFULLY, AND THOU SHALT DIE GROANING



Edited photocopy of page [11] of the manuscript

He shall rise high, preceded by double honours. Full of zeal for the cross and love of peace, he shall not accomplish everything he thinks. He shall raise the lowly on high.  He shall be the ornament of heaven. The woods shall be known to him. He shall extend a protective hand to the widow and the needy. Yet beware of deeds both noble and black. When the north wind shall blow violently against thee, defend thyself with the cross.





 THE WOLF SHALL DWELL WITH THE LAMB



Edited photocopy of page [2] of the manuscript

This man shall rise to multiple honours. Coming from a cloudy region, he shall restore concord amongst those who are divided. As the moon revolves, he shall take a razor to remove the superfluous. He shall eat roast meat and drink wine mingled with myrrh. He shall be poor, but capable of the highest thoughts. He shall condescend to apes.





HE SHALL TRUST THE MOVABLE AND THE IMMOVABLE, AND SHALL LAY WASTE MANY WALLED CITIES






Edited photocopy of page [8] of the manuscript


Edited photocopy of page [9] of the manuscript

See here the Babylonian women. He shall flee his wife whom he abhors and shall leave her as it were in widowhood. The name of the husband shall sound cruel: his character shall be unjust, foul, without virtue. He shall run after honours and mingle in corruption with the gladiators. The most brilliant star shall lose its brilliance, obscured by a veiled and darkened sun that fights the moon and dashes the excellence of its rising.



THIS SHAMEFUL IMAGE OF A PRIEST SHALL STRUGGLE AGAINST THE DOVE





Edited photocopy of page [9] of the manuscript

Cruel and bloodthirsty beast of lowly stock who hast devoured thy defenceless son without cause, thou alone wast able thus to shed the innocent blood.  Thou shalt find no other before thee who would have done such a thing. This is why the pseudo-prophet, when he appears, shall seduce many, because thou shalt invent both small and great evils. Most cruel wounds shall injure thee. When thou layest thy bones in the lap of the Lord, thou shalt have earned thy woes, thou who hast offended the stars and whose malignancy is shameful. For only thy name is gracious.



HE SHALL CAUSE SIX PLANETS TO SHINE, AND FINALLY HIS OWN BRILLIANCE SHALL BE ECLIPSED





Edited photocopy of page [10] of the manuscript

From the mortal and solid cities of white earth a man shall arise and do extraordinary things. He shall pour light like shadows over the stars at will. But he shall not overturn the building that the aforesaid wild beast has put up. The Lamb shall remain sorely wounded. After collecting many treasures, he shall die in need and shall have no burial. All he owns shall pass to others. He shall leave several wives in widowhood.





Edited photocopy of page [3] of the manuscript

Useless and fruitless tree, dost thou think that thou shalt achieve the greatest honour with so feeble a body and mind? Thou shalt not be able to accomplish what thou meditatest, because thou canst not stay awake for long. Thou shalt promptly fall asleep, and thou shalt not awake amidst the tribulation. Thy life shall be short.



ONLY HE SHALL OPEN THE BOOK WIRTTEN BY THE FINGER OF THE LIVING GOD



Edited photocopy of page [13] of the manuscript


Heaven calls thee, prince so frail and ill. Why dost thou groan? Arise, and gather thy strength. Kill Nero, and thou shalt be safe. Heal the wounded. Armed with a whip, squash the flies, chase the merchants from the temple. Take up an enlightened doctrine, proclaim the just, avoid the circumcised, lead forth the dove and punish the thirsty.






RED FLOWERS SHALL DISTILL PERFUMED WATER



Edited photocopy of page [14] of the manuscript

Gold is darkened, its beautiful colour is transmuted, rust shall consume thee. If the beginning was gentle, the end shall be hard. Woe, and twice woe! Let us flee the presence of the mightiest of the mighty, because he has come to make us pay for the agony of the cross. Where have the stars gone? Let us run without looking behind us; for the north wind drives all evil before it. I beg of Thee, Lord, send him whom thou wouldst send.



THOU ART TERRIBLE, AND WHAT SHALL RESIST THEE?[9]


Edited photocopy of page [15] of the manuscript

This is the final aspect of the terrible. Before the beast with the hideous face all the birds and reptiles shall flee. Not one shall be left in his presence. He shall consume whole worlds. Hell awaits thee.

Reluctantly accept that blood shall cover thy face. Spawn of the Black Prince, thou shalt nevertheless not do everything that thou meditatest. Think on what he has done and what thou hast done thyself. Thou hast despised the groaning dove. Misery shall undermine thee. Thou shalt not arrive at old age. Thou shalt not blot out the bright stars. Think, wretch that thou art about to die – yet thy life shall be disturbed. The end of war is still far off. Thou shalt put down the wives of the imbeciles and the lower unworthy who do not please God and inhabit the market-place, laying hands on them so that thou shalt deprive them of their strongest suit for God.

Normally so cruel ever since boyhood, keep close to thee the shooting stars and do not let them rush across the vault of heaven. Thou shalt feed the dove with native seed. Do not regard the things of this world. Do not shed blood as thou cuttest the rose on its stem. Thou shalt take care, without mounting it, of the white horse in the land of the Chaldeans. It is for thee to make thyself a good end, for hell awaits thee if the complaint of the dove is not heard. Its groans ascend to heaven.
                                                     
Amen.

DEO GRATIAS














[1] Pope Nicholas III (1277-1280), an Orsini noted for his corruption and excessive nepotism, characterised by Dante’s Inferno in the form of three little bears (orsatti) hanging on to his robes.
[2] Presumably Pope Martin IV (1281-1285), who broke the union between Greek and Latin Churches and presided over the violent massacre known as the ‘Sicilian Vespers’.
[3] From this point onwards it is difficult to match up the texts and images with known popes, since the proper sequence of the former is uncertain, and the link between text and image is not always clear.
[4] Could this be Pope Nicholas IV (1288-1292) who emerged only after months of electoral chaos in the Vatican?
[5] Possibly Pope St Celestine V (1294) who, too incompetent for the role, returned after only five months to his former life as a simple monk, citing "the desire for humility, for a purer life, for a stainless conscience, the deficiencies of his physical strength, his ignorance, the perverseness of the people, his longing for the tranquillity of his former life". He was the founder of the Celestine order and instituted the right of popes to resign, later exercised in modern times by Benedict XVI.
[6] Note by Édouard Bricon: It has to be admitted in all conscience, as well as in all humility, that it is impossible to grasp to its fullest extent the meaning of this ancient prophecy of 1100. The true sense of the words, hidden behind the most abstruse of abbreviations, resists all efforts to decode it, and however long-suffering the commentator, he is unable to arrive at an interpretation of such mysterious language.
[7] Once again, perhaps, Pope Nicholas III (1277-1280), an Orsini noted for his corruption and excessive nepotism, characterised by Dante’s Inferno in the form of three little bears (orsatti) hanging on to his robes.

[8] Possibly Pope Martin IV (1281-1285), who broke the union between Greek and Latin Churches and presided over the violent massacre known as the ‘Sicilian Vespers’.

[9] This postscript by the Mirrabilis liber evidently refers to the final Antichrist. The apparent reference to Edward Prince of Wales may refer to the fact that, in the course of one of his infamous marauding expeditions across France in which thousands were slaughtered, he had helped decisively to defeat the French at the disastrous Battle of Crécy (1346), and would do so again on his own behalf at Poitiers (1356), in the course of which the English had almost wiped out the flower of French chivalry and captured the French King John the Good, whom they took into exile.