Where Does Benedict’s Departure Put John Bosco’s Prophecy?

Where Does Benedict’s Departure Put John Bosco’s Prophecy?

In these last 2 (very emotionally trying) days, I’ve seen several refutations of the dubious Prophecy of St. Malachy and a fact-check on the apocalypse-seeking crowd regarding the legend of St. Paul Outside the Walls. To my surprise, I haven’t seen a single reference to the prophecies of St. John Bosco.

It was during the conclave of 2005 that I was first introduced to these much more credible dreams of this lion-tamer of adolescents, the priest of Turin who as a lad himself dreamed of turning wild animals into virtuous, reasonable, religious, kind young men. A prophetic dream was not an unusual occurrence for Bosco, but one has garnered great attention in the last few decades following the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict’s recent announcement raises the topic again.

By way of summary – you may read the whole thing in chilling detail here; for the sake of this post, I’m retelling it in a slightly different order:

The dream opens on an epic oceanic battle scene. (I always imagined something like Lepanto.) The Barque of Peter had at the helm the pope, and his sister ships accompanying him were piloted by his cardinals. All around them were hostile ships, the enemies of the Church, firing traditional weapons, but also books and pamphlets. (One begins to understand that the enemies of the Church would use the media in the attack.) At one point, the Holy Father was struck down by enemy fire, but rose again from the attack and continued to steer the ship toward the horizon. Nevertheless, he was struck down again and died, but the cardinals replaced him quickly.

Are you following? The popular theory in 2005 was that Pope John Paul II was the pope-shot-but-recovered, while his as yet unknown successor would be the second pope. Now I’ll reveal some details from the beginning of the prophecy:

The new pope continued to steer the ship of the Church toward the same goal as the previous pope, two pillars on the horizon. Both were massive, but the smaller was topped with the Blessed Virgin Mary and read, “Our Lady, Help of Christians,” the title invoked by St. John Bosco’s Salesian Order. The larger pillar was topped with the Eucharistic host and the words, “Salvation of Believers.” The moment the new pope anchored to the pillars, the enemy ships began to fire on one another, while the rest of the holy fleet anchored beside the Barque of Peter.

On July 7, 2007, our beloved Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, anchored the ship of the Church to the glorious and inestimable dignity of the Blessed Sacrament by graciously returning to the Church the proper understanding of the role of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. Whether this was the Eucharistic pillar remains to be seen, but oh, how so many of us want it to be!

Having at the time just graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville, I knew at that moment what my classmates would be saying: “Come on, Pope Benedict, just declare the Dogma of Mary Co-Redemptrix!” It’s kind of a favorite pet cause among the Steubenville crowd. I don’t want to get into that tangent. What I want to point out is that there was never anything particularly Marian about any of Pope Benedict’s decrees – though, to be fair, that’s in contrast to his predecessor – and we still see the media and the whole secular world rabidly attacking the Church. I’m not saying that Mary has been unimportant to Pope Benedict; far from it, I’m simply suggesting that he never declared anything specific to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and certainly not anything along the lines of the long-expected dogmatic title. Now we found out he’s departing the office of the papacy.

So, back to the titular question: Where does this leave our popular interpretation of the Prophecy of St. John Bosco? I see a few possibilities:

  1. Pope Benedict could still declare something spectacularly Marian in these last days of his pontificate. It doesn’t suit the pope very well to have a lame duck session; it’s not like he was ever in danger of a veto. Nevertheless, one wonders if there are any late-breaking plans stirring in his brilliant mind.
  2. The prophecy is not about JPII and BXVI. If true, this would mean a serious re-evaluation of the prophecy, but hey, it could be fulfilled in the future, and what an awesome thing that is to look forward to!
  3. The prophecy is about JPII and BXVI and we just overlooked the Marian aspect. This theory would, of course, allow us to continue looking for indications of the prophesies veracity and might even do some good, as it will lead people to a deeper study of his documents searching out the answers.
  4. The prophecy is one of those instances of where a possible private revelation is not really a revelation from God at all. Personally, this one would be hard to accept. I’m a fan of St. John Bosco and I want to believe there’s something to his prophecy, but it is private revelation, belief in which is not required of the faithful. Maybe it was just a dream.

I think this sufficiently muddies the waters for everybody going into the conclave. My work here is done.

Highly speculative update: A sign of things to come?


  1. Thank you for bringing this up as I love St. John Bosco’s dream. Benedict’s resignation might not take away anything from the vision because the answer could be partly all of your scenarios. That is the beauty of private revelations and prophesies.

  2. Our mission priest will have a 1st class relic of St. John Bosco at tonight’s mass and talk. I’ll mention your name and ask St. J. B. to pray to our Lord and Saviour to grant you a fuller understanding.

  3. This is the first that I have heard that Franciscan University of Steubenville wants Mary declared a Co-Redemptrix. I have always thought highly of this school, but not any more. Now I am very suspicious of all the bible study materials and such that come from people associated with this college. It also is becoming clear why Steubanville is taking the University off it’s City sign. As much as I revere Mary (and I do!), she is not a member of the Holy Trinity, and Mary is not a saviour. If the Catholic Church wishes to put an end to the steady stream of converts, declaring Mary a co-redemptrix would certainly do it. The Rosary is a big enough turn-off to people considering converting, as most Christians are raised to worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I feel that it is irresponsible for the National Catholic Register to have a link to this blog. I am hoping EWTN does not support or share this folly.

    • Are you certain it’s a turn-off for everyone? That seems an awfully sweeping claim.

    • I took that statement to be about what his circle of associations where saying, not so much the stance of the university. Secondly, I was raised as an anti-catholic baptist who was very against Marian devotion and the Rosary and yet here I am, a Catholic who loves Our Lady and just finished praying the Rosary not 30 minutes ago, brought here by the Holy Spirit, not myself. And most importantly, remember that the decision to define or not define a dogma is ultimately in the hands of the Holy Spirit and if such a dogmatic declaration were made, it would happen by the hand of the same Holy Spirit who is bringing the steady stream of converts, myself included, into the Church. And though I am not sure what I think about Co-redemptrix, IF the Church defines it, I will accept it whole heatedly for the same reason I accepted all of the doctrines that I found hard when coming to the Church, because I have come to accept the Magisterial Authority of the Church.

  4. I just read the link you provided that tells of the dream. I see that you have taken quite a lot of liberties in your effort to put your personal spin on the dream. You should not have changed what St. Bosco wrote. May God bless you.

  5. If and only if the dream refers to Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, then you are making a huge error by saying the Pope has to “declare something spectacularly Marian”. The Pope has an interior devotion and love of Our Lady and the Eucharist, and so it is through his devotion and his stewardship that the Church is right on track according to the wishes of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This dream could simply mean that through both Popes, with their traditional love and devotion to the Rosary and the Eucharist, the Church will be steered clear of heresies of the 20th/21st C, what with liberation theology, false interpretations of Vatican II, erroneous interpretations of scripture. The ongoing attacks on the Church are an attack on its teachings especially on homosexuality, contraception. It’s really very simple.

    By the way, Dr. Mark Miravalle got it very wrong re Ann Lay “Apostle”. And this whole thing about Mary Mediatrix is just as false. This has been propagated by the “Lady of all Nations “who once was Mary”. There are so many cults trying to wheedle their way into the Church that it has now become ridiculous.

    The vision of Don Bosco has all that is necessary. Our Lady, the Rosary, the Eucharist. Why, oh why do people go in search of the latest vision, when we have all we need?

    • Thank you for your opinion on the dream’s interpretation.

      Regarding “Anne,” I quite agree with you. The whole thing has been thoroughly debunked.

      The Franciscan University of Steubenville does not, to my knowledge, support the dogmatic definition of Mary as Coredemptrix. Nevertheless, as I said, much of the Steubenville community does support it. By supporting it, they indicate that they believe it is time for such a dogmatic definition. However, what they support is a traditional teaching. That Mary is Co-redemptrix, literally, that she is “with the Redeemer” in His saving work, is not up for debate. It is clearly consistent with the Catholic faith. The Scriptures indicate that she remained by His side to the end, that she shared deeply in His sufferings, and that she was entirely submissive to God’s will, through which union she has a share in His redemptive work, not by adding toit, but simply be taking part in it. If converts would have a hard time with such a teaching, it is not because of the teaching itself, but because of the misunderstanding you seem to share.

      As for the “latest vision,” I don’t go seeking them out. You’re jumping to conclusions based on the fact that some classmates at my alma mater favor a doctrine which happens to be proposed by – among many others – a professor who supported some dubious visionaries/locutionists. Please take note of how far removed I am from it all.

      Regarding Dr. Miravalle, you will be polite and charitable. I once saw him come out of Easter Mass in Steubenville and offer one of the town’s many homeless a place at his table. By your fruits you will know them … even if you disagree with some parts of their theological opinion.

      I didn’t substantially change what St. John Bosco wrote, and nothing I wrote in my summary was false.

      Regarding Mary Mediatrix, which you call false, I can only refer you to CCC 969, Lumen Gentium 62, et al.

      God bless!

      • First of all, there seems to be two people above. Theresa is not Therese!. Secondly you seem to be taking something personally. A bit touchy maybe? I said “some people”, not you personally. Thirdly, what town are you talking about. That comment would appear to be a form of domination deliberately attempting to put someone down for speaking up. Fourthly, where was the person uncharitable towards Dr Miravalle. You really are touchy. The cult comment was not to do with him. God help us. Finally, the Second Vatican Council (Lumen gentium ## 61-62), said:

        … in suffering with Him as He died on the cross, she cooperated in the work of the Savior, in an altogether singular way, by obedience, faith, hope, and burning love, to restore supernatural life to souls. As a result she is our Mother in the order of grace…..For this reason, the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adiutrix, and Mediatrix…….We notice that Vatican II did not add the words “of all graces.” (EWTN).

  6. I’m intrigued by the Bosco prophecy too. It could be that Benedict represents the dying Pope and the new pope is the one who guides the church safely to victory.
    In my blog I comment on the interesting detail in the prophecy: that the news of one Pope’s death coincides with that of his successor’s election. That always puzzled me but it could happen in the case of a resignation…. not that I hope it happens; I hope Benedict lives a long and fruitful life.

  7. From the perspective of a Salesian of Don Bosco, the Dream of the Two Columns is not a prophecy at all, much less one about Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI. May I recommend a Salesian interpretation of the dream? (Sorry about the long url!) See http://sdl.sdb.org/cgi-bin/library?e=q-00000-00—off-0donbosco-italian%2cportugues%2cespanol%2cenglish%2cdonbosco%2cdonbosc1-01-2—-0-10-0—0—0direct-10-DR–4—-Doc—0-1lbc–10-en-50—20-about-Mendl–00-3-1-00-0–4–0–0-0-01-10-0utfZz-8-00&a=d&c=english&srp=0&srn=0&cl=search&d=HASHc848cf3bb12ec51cf1a905

    • Father Mendl, I only had time for a glance at the moment, but your link is very informative. I’ll enjoy reading it!

      Of course, there is a moral aspect to the dream, but I think you’d have to admit it at least would be easy to see certain contemporary things in light of it. Perhaps that is a case of eisegetical interpretation on my part. :-(

      Many thanks!


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