(Photo: Reuters/Eric Gaillard)
As the College of Cardinals continues to determine the next bishop of Rome, some are looking toward the prophecies of Michel de Nostredame as indicators that the church leaders will be electing the last pope.
According to believers in Nostredame, whose latinized name is Nostradamus, the 16th century French physician and soothsayer, wrote that the second to last pope would "flee Rome in December when the great comet is seen in the daytime."
According to Carol Grisanti of NBC News, this astronomical phenomenon can be connected to the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
"Taking into account the calendar months were different hundreds of years ago, Nostradamus wasn't so far off," wrote Grisanti.
"The Comet ISON, with its 40,000 mile-long tail, has been visible the past couple months as Benedict prepared to abdicate and leave Rome for his temporary home in Castel Gandolfo."
Since Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, many rumors about centuries old prophecies and modern conspiracy theories have abounded.
For example, many have looked to a nine century old prophecy from Saint Malachy of Armagh, who purportedly predicted the final 112 popes who would reign before the end of time.
Malachy was an Irish bishop who died in 1148. His list of future popes was not discovered and published until the 16th century, leading many to question its authenticity.
Nevertheless, on many sites online the two soothsayers have had their works fused together. Vatileaks.com, a website that states its goal is to post content and documents suppressed by Vatican City, explained, "Many experts believe that he was its creator, and he credited it retrospectively to St. Malachy to prevent himself from being accused of predicting the end of the papacy that would have put the Vatican's murderous Inquisitors on his tail."
Beforeitsnews.com cited one of Nostradamus' cryptic writings, Quatrain VI-6, which reads, "There will appear towards the North/ Not far from Cancer the bearded star:/ Susa, Siena, Boeotia, Eretria,/ The great one of Rome will die, the night over."
Victor Baines of the Nostradamus Society of America wrote that, using a different Quatrain and coupling it with Malachy, the next pope "will be very active for the church," "will face many enormous challenges," and possibly "suffer the wrath of 'Selin' (Nostradamus' third antichrist)."
"According to Nostradamus, Napoleon was his first antichrist, Hitler was his second antichrist, and an Islamic man from the East (named Selin) will be his third antichrist," wrote Baines.
Nostradamus wrote in quatrain, which was cryptic poetic verse that has often been given multiple interpretations by scholars, experts, and prophecy buffs. Nostradamus has also been known to make mistakes. According to one quatrain, "In the year 1999, in the seventh month, from the sky will come the great King of Terror, bringing back to life the great King of the Mongols."