Mystery Of A Pontificate: Saintly Pope Reigned During 'Release' Of Dark Spirits
There it was, in a "revelation" during an exorcism -- if we can believe revelations during exorcisms. A swarm of spirits, it was said, had been released from the abyss. It was the conclusion of one famous exorcist in Germany that "since the pontificate of Pius IX, the Church has entered into a period of severe persecutions.
"The militant Church has to suffer a twofold evil: externally, through the persecution of her enemies, and interiorly, through the corruption of her members," he said, basing his ideas on what spirits were commanded to reveal. "And since Pius IX ascended the throne, this twofold tendency is constantly increasing. The cause of this heavy burden laid upon the Church is due, according to the confessions of the demons, to the unusually strong and numerous invasion of diabolical spirits upon this earth."
Can we really believe this? Might it not just be a deceptive spirit being deceptive?
Whatever the case, Pius IX reigned from 1846 to 1878 -- a time of enhanced evil. His successor, Leo XIII, is said to have had a vision in which he heard the devil request a period of time to test the Church. Such was granted. By some accounts, it was to be a "century."
The vision and time period -- which may be metaphorical (a "century" may simply mean a long time, in spiritual jargon), it was then that Pope Leo who penned the famous -- and potent -- prayer to the Archangel Michael on October 13, 1884.
His successor, Pius X, recognized a new undercurrent of evil and issued documents calling doctrines of modernism the "synthesis of all heresies" and said he "felt a sort of terror, considering the disastrous conditions of humanity at this present hour."
During the onset of the twentieth century, he fretted that it might be "the beginning of the sorrows which must take place before the end of the world."
Meanwhile, Anne Catherine Emmerich, the famed German stigmatic, who also saw a period of special evil, once said: "I heard that Lucifer, if I am not mistaken, would again be freed for a time about fifty or sixty years before the year 2000. A number of other devils would be released somewhere earlier as a punishment and a source of temptation to sinful human beings.”
That tied to the early days of Medjugorje, in which a seer said she was informed that the devil had asked for a century, and had been given such a period of time to test the world.
Back to Pius IX.
What was it about that pontificate? Why that particular time?
A very holy man, Pius IX was born on May 13, 1792, with a childhood filled with an intense religious life and mortifications. He was especially known for his Marian and Eucharistic devotions. It is said that St. Vincent Pallotti predicted he would become Pope and that the Virgin of Loreto would free him of an illness he was suffering -- which indeed occurred.
Born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, Pius was elected Pope on June 16, 1846 -- three months before the famous apparition of Mary at LaSalette (in France), where the Blessed Mother allegedly gave a secret (in addition to an officially accepted one) that mentioned that there would be corruption in the Church, that occultism would spread in convents, and that the devil would attack priests (causing them to do wickedness and "bedimming" their intelligence).
"In the year 1864, Lucifer, together with a large number of demons, will be unloosed from hell," said one LaSalette prophecy (which the Church has always keep at a distance). "They will put an end to faith little by little, even in those dedicated to God. They will blind them in such a way that, unless they are blessed with a special grace, these people will take on the spirit of the angels of hell; several religious institutions will lose all faith and will lose many souls."
"Evil books will be abundant on earth and the spirits of darkness will spread everywhere a universal slackening in all that concerns the service of God... The Church will be in eclipse, the world will be in dismay."
The year 1864 was smack in the midst of Pius IX's pontificate -- which ending as it did in 1878 was the longest in history.
He certainly did nothing wrong that raised the smoke from hell -- but it was no coincidence, one might guess, that he was placed there to battle it.
Indeed, as one biography points out: "It is astounding how fearlessly he fought, in the midst of many and severe trials, against the false liberalism which threatened to destroy the very essence of faith and religion. In his Encyclical 'Quanta Cura' of 8 December, 1864, he condemned sixteen propositions touching on errors of the age. This Encyclical was accompanied by the famous 'Syllabus errorum,' a table of eighty previously censured propositions bearing on pantheism, naturalism, rationalism, indifferentism, socialism, communism, freemasonry, and the various kinds of religious liberalism."
Beatified in September of 2000, Pius spent part of his pontificate in exile and was the one who proclaimed the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin as a dogma of the Church. Perhaps this helped spur the attack -- or blunted it.
At his insistence, the Catholic world was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus -- and like John Paul II, who would also have a tremendously long pontificate, he presided over an unprecedented number of canonizations.
If Satan was rising from the pit, there was this saintly man to fight it, just as there was the saintly personage of John Paul when the predictions of anti-christ, beaten back for a time, rose with new furor in the twentieth century.
A war this was, and maybe it was the special popes, including Leo, who have thus far helped hold an anti-christ at bay. For that had been another prophecy from LaSalette -- rise of anti-christ (and, as we will see in the next installment, it was a notion that came from the demons as well).
[Father Carl Vogl's writings on exorcism were in Mary Crushes the Serpent (in the Spirit Daily bookstore)]
A Matter To Discern: From Apparition To Exorcisms Were Claims On An Anti-Christ
When we left off, we were speaking about the claims from exorcists and others that a special evil entered the world during the past two centuries and especially the claim that it occurred since the pontificate of Pius IX -- who tirelessly fought the heresies of the 19th century (and instituted the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception).
As he himself said, "Since we have fallen on these evil times let us take care first and foremost, as good soldiers of Christ, not to lose heart. Indeed, in the very storms in which we are tossed, there is a certain hope of achieving future tranquility and greater serenity in the Church."
So tumultuous were those times that for a while Pius was forced to flee Rome. He faced a myriad of other challenges, challenges that continued after his pontificate and remain with us in ways that seem to be intensifying.
At LaSalette, France, where Mary appeared in 1846 -- the same year that Pius rose to the Throne of Peter -- a "secret" prophecy related that "in the year 1864, Lucifer, together with a large number of demons, will be unloosed from hell. They will put an end to faith little by little, even in those dedicated to God. They will blind them in such a way that, unless they are blessed with a special grace, these people will take on the spirit of the angels of hell; several religious institutions will lose all faith and will lose many souls." As we have noted, the year 1864 was smack in the middle of Pius IX's pontificate, which was the longest in history (1846-1878).
While the Church declared the apparition itself and an initial prophecy (concerning a coming famine and disease) as authentic, the secret portion referred to above was treated separately and has gone through both acceptance and rejection. Among a long list of coming evils, it asserted that many priests would fall away from the Church and that convents would no longer be houses of God but rather "the grazing ground of Asmodeus" (a pagan idol).
"It will be during this time," said the controversial part of LaSalette, "that the anti-christ will be born of a Hebrew nun, a false virgin who will communicate with the old serpent, the master of impurity."
He would perform wonders, said a message conveyed by seer Melanie Mathieu, and would have brothers who would "each lead armies."
At this time, claimed Melanie, "the seasons will be altered" and "the anti-christ will perform great wonders on earth and in the atmosphere." He would be preceded, it was said, by "ten kings of the anti-christ" as "the wicked will give themselves over to all kinds of sin."
The Church would be in "eclipse."
From this would precipitate an anti-christ, several mystics have discerned, and such was also claimed by evil spirits that were commanded to speak during exorcisms conducted by Father Theophilus Riesinger, a well-respected and especially holy twentieth-century priest (1868-1941) who said an evil spirit spoke through the mouth of a woman in 1928 while she was going through a famous and unusually difficult deliverance in Earling, Iowa. During those sessions, Father Theophilus ordered the demons to answer certain questions -- including queries about anti-christ.
"It must be clearly borne in mind that the questions directed to the devil and the answers given by him were by no means an entertaining dialogue between the evil spirits and the exorcist," wrote Father Carl Vogl in Begone Satan!, a booklet about the exorcism. "On occasions a long time intervened before an answer could be forced out of Satan."
But certain answers led the exorcist to a particular conclusion.
"Father Theophilus, who has had nineteen cases of possession under his care within recent years, seems convinced that present indications point to the beginning of a great battle between Christ and anti-christ," wrote Vogl, who said that at one point when Father Theophilus tried to banish the devil, he refused to go, mentioning that he had to prepare the way for the anti-christ.
As at LaSalette, Father Theophilus believed that this "anti-christ" would "perform wonderful deeds and false miracles." He saw the anti-christ as a person controlled by a demon calling itself Judas.
"At one time Satan became rather talkative about the anti-christ," wrote Vogl. "When asked whether he meant that the furious rage of the anti-christ would be directed against the Church of God, he asserted that such was self-evident and insolently continued: 'Yes, Satan is already abroad, and the anti-christ is already born in Palestine. (On another occasion he also mentioned America.) But he is still young. He must first grow up incognito before his power can become known."
These are strong claims in need of discernment. A "young" man in 1928 (when the exorcism occurred) would now be in his nineties! So too did an expert on exorcism from Germany state that due to evil in the world, "it almost seems that the millennium mentioned in Apocalypse 20:7 is at hand" (he wrote about a period in the late 1800s).
Can we trust anything out of the mouths of demons, which by definition are "deceiving spirits"?
The argument: when commanded to speak the truth by an exorcist, they must do precisely that.
Are there various "anti-christs"? Was Hitler, was Stalin, was Mao an "antichrist"?
The only place in the Bible where the word "anti-christ" is actually used is 2 John, and it is employed there in the plural. There it is defined as someone who denies that Christ is the Son of God.
Anne Catherine Emmerich, the famed mystic from Germany, saw a wave of evil beginning "fifty or sixty years" before the year 2000 -- which precisely fits with the time frame leading up to the notorious Sixties.
Is that different from the one of a century earlier -- is it a subsequent episode -- or a heightened part of the same surge of evil?
When Pius IX's successor, Leo XIII, had a famous vision in 1884 in which it is said he heard the devil ask for a 100 years of extended power with which to test mankind, was a hundred years to be taken literally, and if so, did that too relate to the period announced at LaSalette just twenty years before? In Ecuador, a seer claimed in the 1990s that the anti-christ was a young man.
Whatever turns out to be the truth, there is no doubt that we live in special times and no doubt that there has been an upwelling of evil that presents us both grief and challenges. Just before he was made Pope, John Paul II was quoted as saying that our time is an "apocalyptic" one in which good and evil are battling each other and one of his very last writings, to youth, mentioned that "darkness" seemed to be gathering -- and enveloping the planet. He was to speak further on this the Sunday after he died.
But he also held a rosary as the remedy.
And as Pius IX -- Blessed Pius -- said: "Let us arouse ourselves and the toiling clergy and laity, propped up by Divine help and inspired by that most noble statement of Chrysostom: 'Many waves and dire storms press on but we do not fear lest we be submerged, for we stand on a rock. Let the sea rage, it cannot dissolve the rock. Let the waves rise, they cannot sink the bark of Christ. Nothing is stronger than the Church. The Church is stronger than the heavens. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words will not pass away. What words? Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.'"
originally published as piusixandantichrist
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