In honor of Nostradamus’ birthday (Dec. 14), a number of news websites quoted the following quatrain:
Man with a false trumpet claiming he’s right,
Will rise from the tower’s of the New World
On dames he will spew tangerine venom
But victorious he will be, despite allegations being hurled.
This, they suggest, was a reference to the victory of Donald Trump. The prophecy is typical of Nostradamus’s style; there’s just enough ambiguity to make a connection appear compelling, but not quite. He actually wrote horoscopes for a living and was the court astrologist for Catherine de Medici. Astrology was closely aligned with astronomy and generally respected at the time. Paid astrologers were tolerated by the Church but not considered as having the prophetic gift.
I don’t claim to be an expert on Nostradamus, but with regard to his writings he likely took material from the collections of past prophecies to which he had access, using them as the basis for his intentionally vague quatrains. I expect that some of those will be fulfilled, but that wouldn’t convince me that Nostradamus was a prophet. Having accumulated wealth producing horoscopes, and changing his name to sound Latin (from de Notredame), he comes across as a clever self-promoter.
The popularity of Nostradamus (1503-1566) with pop culture has been remarkable. There are over 200 editions of his book, Prophecies, and over 2000 commentaries on it. In just about any major bookstore you would find at least one book by or about him. It’s interesting that a someone like Nostradamus can attract so much attention in Western society, while Catholic prophets whose high level of authenticity can be demonstrated, like Hildegard, a Doctor of the Church, attract relatively little interest. I wrote about this a couple years ago because I saw in Hildegard’s prophecies an opportunity to evangelize:
“She [the Church] discusses and debates with essentially anyone’s particular belief system. For instance, what about people who have a curiosity about the paranormal? A recent poll showed that in the U.K., more people believed in ghosts and UFOs than in God. Think also of the popularity of movies like The Exorcist and The Shining, and the novels of Stephen King, and, of course, the quatrains of Nostradamus. People are naturally attracted to the possibility of the existence and experience of the supernatural. Should this be exploited? Of course! They’re following a natural human instinct; in fact a world of mysticism is waiting there for them, albeit good or evil” (from: Apologetics, Evangelism, and Prophetic Visions).
Prophecy has earned a bad reputation because of the over-selling of hyped-up “doom and gloom”, and repeatedly crying wolf. But eventually some generation in the West will have to endure the end-times. And on the subject of wolves, that would include what was described by Hildegard in her book, Scivias, as the era of the Grey Wolf, a period of extreme civil unrest and persecution.