A False Prophesy Falsely Attributed to Saint Francis

I’ve studied true and false private revelations for many years. I’ve researched and written many articles exposing false visionaries and their false messages. I’ve also studied the doctrines of the Church on faith, morals, and salvation for very many years. And I’ve studied Sacred Scripture closely, including preparing my own edit of the Clementine Vulgate. I’m the translator and editor of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible. In addition, I’ve written many books of eschatology, based on Scripture, the writings of the Saints, and certain true private revelations. So I’m uniquely qualified to evaluate claimed private revelations, especially when the messages refer to the end times.

There is an alleged prophecy, attributed to Saint Francis, which has several clear indicators that it is not from that Saint, not from any Saint, and not a true private revelation from Heaven at all. Here is the text, taken from a sedevacantist website, which attempts to use this prophecy to adorn their arguments against the validity of the recent Pontiffs and Vatican II.

I do not believe that the message in this prophecy was issued by Saint Francis, nor any Saint. I do not believe it is a private revelation to anyone from Heaven. Rather, it fits the type of false private revelation given to sinful persons by devils, pretending to be angels of light:

[2 Cor]
{11:14} And no wonder, for even Satan presents himself as if he were an Angel of light.

“Act bravely, my Brethren; take courage, and trust in the Lord. The time is fast approaching in which there will be great trials and afflictions; perplexities and dissensions, both spiritual and temporal, will abound; the charity of many will grow cold, and the malice of the wicked will increase.”

False private revelations often make use of parts of Scripture, to make their prophecy seem familiar and faithful. Notice the references to Jesus’ eschatological discourse, in which He talks about love growing cold and great tribulation (Mt 24:12, 21). However, there are also some oddities in the above paragraph.

Odd expressions are one hallmark of false private revelation. Warning people about “perplexities” does not make much sense. Is this not a prophecy about the end times, the time of the worst suffering for the world? And the warning is merely “perplexities”? As for dissensions, these are present in every time period.

Jesus warns us about the same time period in much harsher terms: “Then they will hand you over to tribulation, and they will kill you. And you will be hated by all nations for the sake of my name. And then many will be led into sin, and will betray one another, and will have hatred for one another.” (Mt 24:9-10).

So it is quite odd and not in keeping with the Gospel or the Book of Revelation to warn about perplexities and dissensions. If you are perplexed about something, why don’t you study Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium and clarify things also through prayer?

The charity of many grows cold. Are these persons, then, not the wicked? Yet they are contrasted with the wicked who grow in malice. That is an odd expression. In the Gospel, the charity of many growing cold is contrasted with those who remain faithful. In the prophecy above, it is contrasted with the wicked who become more malicious.

“The devils will have unusual power, the immaculate purity of our Order, and of others, will be so much obscured that there will be very few Christians who will obey the true Sovereign Pontiff and the Roman Church with loyal hearts and perfect charity. At the time of this tribulation a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavour to draw many into error and death.”

False private revelations often boast about the powerfulness of the devils — because most false private revelations are from devils, not God. Notice the boast that begins the above paragraph, that devils will have unusual power.

False private revelations often complement the recipient of the messages, so as to encourage the spread of the falsehoods in those messages. After boasting of the power of devils, the message immediately complements the members of the Franciscan Order (who the devil is trying to use to spread this message). Notice also that the persons spreading this message are sedevacantists, persons who have rejected the recent Popes and Vatican II. False private revelation tends to find a following among the unfaithful. This false revelation failed to be adopted by the Franciscans, and instead was adopted by sedevacantists as an excuse for their rejection of the Popes. Of course, the message of this false prophecy only refers to one false Pope, not a long succession of them. So it doesn’t even work for that purpose.

Now the paragraph above claims that “very few Christians” will “obey the true Sovereign Pontiff”. That claim is contrary to the dogma that the Church is indefectible. If it were true that very few obeyed the true Pope, the Church on the whole would have defected — contrary to the promise and prophecy of Jesus that the Church will never go astray, and that even the gates of Hell cannot prevail over Her (Mt 16:18). So the claim that very few will remain faithful is contrary to dogma.

But it is a common error in eschatology to think that the Church will go astray, that the Pope and the body of Bishops will go astray, and that the only faithful persons will be scattered individuals and small groups of Christians persecuted by the Pope, the Bishops, and the Church. Such a claim is heresy. Jesus promised that Peter would have a never-failing faith (Lk 22:32), and the First Vatican Council dogmatically taught that this refers to every successor of Peter.

Moreover, the indefectibility of the Church guarantees that no false Pope, no invalid Pope, no evil person who will lead the faithful astray, will be accepted by the body of Bishops as Roman Pontiff. And Saint Robert Bellarmine taught that, even if an election were invalid, the man would become the true valid Pope when he is accepted by the body of Bishops. If such an invalid Pope were not accepted by the body of Bishops, he would not be able to reign over the Church and cause grave harm.

So the claims implicit in this prophecy are contrary to dogma and therefore this is not a true prophecy given by God to a Saint.

But at least this expression, “obey the true Sovereign Pontiff”, would seem to encourage the faithful to obey the Pope, right? But next the sentence undermines trust in and obedience to every Roman Pontiff, as it claims “a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavour to draw many into error and death.” So the encouragement to obey the true Pope is a ruse, and the real purpose of this prophecy is to cause the faithful to distrust EVERY Pope.

For in every age, the faithful wonder if this is the end times. They see all the sufferings of this world, and the many failings of Catholic Christian leaders, and they consider whether this is the time of tribulation. So this fake prophecy aims to sow distrust of the Roman Pontiff by causing the faithful to doubt the validity of the election — something that the faithful cannot really determine as conclaves are secret — and thereby distrust every Pope. The false Pope is said to be cunning, meaning deceitful, so any positive signs that the Pope is faithful could be interpreted as deceit. And anytime the fallen sinners of the Church misunderstand or doubt a teaching, they are now left by this prophecy to wonder if it is error, to fear death, and thereby to have their faith in the Pope and the Church undermined in every generation.

Does this sound like a true prophecy to you? And it supposedly dates to the time of Saint Francis in the 12th century. Good timing. Would Jesus really cause the faithful of many generations to distrust the Roman Pontiff of their times, just to warn about one Pope in the distant future? No, He would not.

Finally, the encouragements given to the faithful in this false prophecy are odd. They are not enjoined by the prophecy to simply have faith in the true Popes and the Magisterium. They are encouraged to bravery, fervor, loyalty, and zeal, not to love, faith, and hope. The mention of love is phrased as “adhere to virtue with love and zeal for the truth”, instead of love for God, the Church, and our fellow human persons. The encouragement to “obey God rather than man” is said to cause the faithful to disobey the Roman Pontiff.

“Then scandals will be multiplied, our Order will be divided, and many others will be entirely destroyed, because they will consent to error instead of opposing it. There will be such diversity of opinions and schisms among the people, the religious and the clergy, that, except those days were shortened, according to the words of the Gospel, even the elect would be led into error, were they not specially guided, amid such great confusion, by the immense mercy of God.”

This prophecy not only encourages the faithful to distrust the Pope and the Church, but also tries to convince the faithful to usurp the role of the Pope and the Church in discerning error from truth. This prophecy encourages pride, and discourages faith in the Magisterium.

The warning about diversity of opinions should be laughable to a faithful Catholic. We faithful adhere to whatever the Pope and the Magisterium more generally teaches. Thus, schism is avoided by the faithful, though the unfaithful will easily fall into heresy and schism by distrusting the Pope. So the prediction of diversity of opinion and schism is an attempt by the devil (who is the real source of this message) to increase diversity of opinion so as to cause schism, by encouraging the sin of pride and discouraging faith in the Vicar of Christ.

The message of this false prophecy then uses a phrase from the eschatological discourse of Jesus about days being shortened (Mt 24:22), to make the prophecy seem more authentic. However, the message also perverts that expression by Jesus. Here’s what Jesus actually said:

{24:21} For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until the present, and such as will not be.
{24:22} And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days shall be shortened.

The time period discussed by Jesus is the very last years before His return, when the Antichrist literally reigns over the whole world by military force and false miracles. Neither the Antichrist nor his false prophet wishes to be Roman Pontiff. Instead, they wish to destroy all traces of the Catholic Church, and replace it with their own competing false religion.

Now the message of this false prophecy contradicts the above Gospel passage. Instead of saying that “great tribulation” worse than ever before in human history threatens to destroy the faithful, the message claims that mere “diversity of opinions and schisms” are what would somehow destroy. The message claims that “except those days were shortened, according to the words of the Gospel, even the elect would be led into error, were they not specially guided, amid such great confusion, by the immense mercy of God.” That makes no sense. If the elect would be merely “led into error” and if they have special guidance, then why would the days need to be shortened?

The real reason given by the Gospel and also by the book of Revelation is that the Antichrist and the false prophet are killing the faithful; they are killing anyone who opposes them. That is why the days need to be shortened, not because the elect would merely be led into error — but they have special guidance so they wouldn’t be led astray anyway.

Also, the reason the faithful in every generation are not led into error is that they have faith in the Pope and the Magisterium. Every Pope is the Rock on which the Church is founded. Every Pope has a never-failing faith. So the elect are not led into error. They do not need special guidance as they have a very special guidance in every Pope, each and all of whom are led by the Holy Spirit.

But this message proposes that the faithful distrust every Pope, as any one of them might be invalid, and therefore they would need some kind of special guidance. The message encourages the faithful to distrust the Church, the Pope, the Magisterium, the body of Bishops, and the Holy Spirit. Clearly, this is not true private revelation.

“Then our Rule and manner of life will be violently opposed by some, and terrible trials will come upon us. Those who are found faithful will receive the crown of life; but woe to those who, trusting solely in their Order, shall fall into tepidity, for they will not be able to support the temptations permitted for the proving of the elect.”

What a confused mess the above paragraph is. This is not what true private revelation sounds like. No one trusts solely in their religious order. And the danger of this, supposedly the worst time in the entire history and future of the Church, is tepidity? Then it makes no sense to say “they will not be able to support the temptations permitted for the proving of the elect”.

“Those who preserve their fervour and adhere to virtue with love and zeal for the truth, will suffer injuries and, persecutions as rebels and schismatics; for their persecutors, urged on by the evil spirits, will say they are rendering a great service to God by destroying such pestilent men from the face of the earth.”

We do not strive to preserve, in the first place, fervor, but FAITH. And the primary virtue is LOVE, so it makes no sense to say that we adhere to virtue (a general term) with love, the first of the virtues. And if you have faith and zeal for truth, you will believe what the Popes teach out of faith and out of love for Christ.

The Antichrist and the false prophet do not persecute Catholics for falling into rebellion against their Pope nor for falling away from Catholicism by schism — that is what they want. Rather, the true Church and the true Pope justly punish Catholics who sin by rebellion against Church authority and by schism against truth. This message actually encourages those sins.

The reference to “great service to God” is again a perverse imitation of the Gospel: “But the hour is coming when everyone who puts you to death will consider that he is offering an excellent service to God.” (Jn 16:2). But the verse is twisted in the message as if those who rebel against the Church and commit schism are somehow persecuted by the Church when She corrects them. This message also makes the faithful distrust the Church, thinking that they would be destroyed or put to death. And the message (the false St. Francis prophecy) prevents schismatics from accepting correction from the Church, as they will think that any correction offered by the Church is persecution.

“But the Lord will be the refuge of the afflicted, and will save all who trust in Him. And in order to be like their Head [Jesus Christ], these, the elect, will act with confidence, and by their death will purchase for themselves eternal life; choosing to obey God rather than man, they will fear nothing, and they will prefer to perish [physically] rather than consent to falsehood and perfidy.”

Then the message in this false prophecy tries to pit the Lord Jesus and the Church against one another. It speaks as if those who rebel against the Church and commit schism are standing with Jesus, when according to the words of Jesus himself, the Church can never go astray: “upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” And the rock is Peter, whose faith can never fail (Lk 22:32).

The message then encourages these rebellious schismatics to “act with confidence” in the path they have taken, and not to act with faith in the Roman Pontiff and the Church. The message also claims that by rejecting the Pope, the body of Bishops, and the Church, they are obeying God rather than man. But Jesus, the Son of God, gave the keys to the kingdom of Heaven to Peter and his successors. So when we obey Peter, we are obeying God.

The expression that we should obey God rather than men is not said of the Pope and the Church, but of men who are outside the Church, and it was said by Peter and the Apostles. Moreover, the expression is to obey God “more so than men”, not instead of men.

{5:29} But Peter and the Apostles responded by saying: “It is necessary to obey God, more so than men.

The message then says to fear nothing, while Jesus taught us instead to fear God “who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.” But the message does not want the faithful to fear God, lest they OBEY the Pope and the Church, rather than rebelling into schism. What a perverse and wicked prophecy this is! It is certainly not given to Saint Francis, nor is it from God or from Heaven at all.

“Some preachers will keep silence about the truth, and others will trample it under foot and deny it. Sanctity of life will be held in derision even by those who outwardly profess it, for in those days Jesus Christ will send them not a true Pastor, but a destroyer.” (Works of the Seraphic Father St. Francis Of Assisi [London: R. Washbourne, 1882], pp. 248-250.)

This last assertion in the message proves conclusively that this prophecy is NOT from God. For it claims that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, would send us “not a true Pastor, but a destroyer”. Does that sound like the Jesus that you know? If so, you are one of these rebels and schismatics. For Jesus would never send to His Church a destroyer disguised as a true Pastor. There have been false prophets in the past. There have been antipopes. We know that there will be an Antichrist and false prophet in the future. But to say that Jesus chooses to send up a destroyer rather than a true Pastor is a false and wicked accusation against Christ himself.

Jesus promised that each and every Pope would be the Rock of the Church. So He cannot violate His own promise and send a destroyer instead of a true Pastor. Jesus promised that, by His prayer, Peter and every one of his successors would have a never failing faith. And these promises are also dogmas of the Church (Vatican I and the ordinary and universal Magisterium).

So it is not possible for an antipope or invalid Pope to be accepted by the body of Bishops. It is not possible for a Pope to lead astray the Church. It is not possible for a Pope to be a destroyer disguised as a true Pastor. Those claims are heresy. The claims in this alleged prophecy are heresy. And the prophecy is false. It is of Satan, not of God.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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4 Responses to A False Prophesy Falsely Attributed to Saint Francis

  1. Calvin says:

    Sedevacantism doesn’t really make sense on its own terms. If the Catholic Church defected, then it was a lie and the Orthodox had it right after all. So why be sedevacantist?

    • Ron Conte says:

      And once you reject one Pope, you end up rejecting one after another. The next Pope is not going to reject Pope Francis, nor accuse him of heresy or apostasy. So the Francis accusers have not thought this through.

  2. Calvin says:

    Exactly. If you’re sincerely and in good conscience convinced that the Pope is not the head of the church, then go and join the Orthodox. At least you’ll still have the sacraments, perhaps through the graces they bestow you’ll return someday. But at least you’ll be consistent,

  3. Alex says:

    Yes, exactly! Great job, Ron! I was in trouble about that “prophecy”.

    And the song of the brother Sun, which authorship has never been doubted to be of St Francis, calls the Earth mother and sister…
    What a heresy from pope Francis to call a synod with indigenous people who say mother Earth!
    Wait, it is St Francis who said it first… For whoever has ears let him hear!

    Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
    especially through my lord Brother Sun,
    who brings the day; and you give light through him.
    And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendour!
    Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

    Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
    and the stars, in heaven you formed them
    clear and precious and beautiful.

    Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
    who sustains us and governs us and who produces
    varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.

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