St. Hildegard’s ‘Five Beasts’ in a Nutshell

In 1150 St. Hildegard completed her first major work, Scivias (“Know the Ways of God”), a description of 26 highly symbolized visions that manifest the history of salvation. Soon after her death, inexplicably, Scivias and Hildegard fell into obscurity. It wasn’t until the late 20th-century that the work was rediscovered by Latin scholars looking for material for their students. The first complete English translation appeared in the 1990s.

In Book Three, Vision 11, Hildegard describes five symbolic animals as the forerunners of the Antichrist: a Fiery-Red Dog, Yellow Lion, Pale Horse, Black Pig, and Grey Wolf. She explains that each one represents individual and brief historical periods that follow each other in succession. She also reveals how each animal symbolizes a particular evil that afflicts society during the corresponding period.

In my book The Five Beasts of St. Hildegard: Prophetic Symbols of Modern Society, I start with an examination the 20th-century with the intention of seeing how historians divided it up and then how they characterized the individual eras that the divisions would unveil. It turned out that there is general agreement among them; certain years marked major social and geopolitical changes in Western society: 1914, 1945, and 1991.

Thus the century can be divided into four eras: 1870-1914; 1914-1945; 1945-1991 ; 1991-present. (1870 was the Franco-Prussian War which changed the map of Europe and inaugurated the secularization of western Europe). Consulting a wide range of historians, some of whom were friendly to religion and others not, the characterizations of those historical periods that emerged actually matched Hildegard’s description of the specific social evils that were represented by the first four of her five beasts.

The following is a very condensed presentation of those correlations. The first one was difficult to figure out; Hildegard’s description of the era was brief and somewhat vague. The others, as you will discover, are quite obvious.

The Fiery Red Dog (1870-1914)

Historians like to call this the “Age of Imperialism”; the empires of Europe were at their zenith. From a sociological perspective, however, the theme of the era was the exploitation of the working poor, a problem Karl Marx was determined to fix. His ideology was spreading like wildfire of which the popes of the era would issue many warnings and condemnations. Pope Leo XIII, in his famous encyclical, Rerum Novarum, declared of the problem of social injustice “…there is no question which has taken a deeper hold on the public mind.” If you read the encyclical, you’ll notice that it is primarily a condemnation of communism.

Here’s how Hildegard described the era:

“One is like a dog, fiery but not burning; for that era will produce people with a biting temperament, who seem fiery in their own estimation, but do not burn with the justice of God.”*

The key to understanding this is to focus on the word “justice”. “Fiery” is to be understood as passionate, similar to a common English usage of the word. We are told that during this era characters will emerge who are passionate for justice, but not really “on fire” because it is not the justice of God, but their own form of justice. It is not difficult to make a case that she was referring to injustice toward the working poor by the upper classes and the consequent rise of communism. The history and literature of the era testify to the centrality of social injustice for understanding what was happening during the period. (Zola, Hardy, etc.)

The Yellow Lion (1914-1945)

Most historians connect the two wars and call it something like “The Age of Catastrophe”, or “The Age of Total War”, an era dominated by wars, genocides, military dictatorships, political prisons, religious persecutions, etc. Historians struggle to understand how the Christian nations of Europe permitted it to happen.

Hildegard describes the era as follows:

“Another is like a yellow lion; for this era will endure martial people, who instigate many wars but do not think of the righteousness of God in them; for those kingdoms will begin to weaken and tire, as the yellow color shows.”

“Martial” or “war mongering” does not overstate what kind of people dominated much of this era; nationalism and communism were two sides of the same coin. As the era came to a close, the fall of the Nazis and their allies proved to be a spectacular exhibition of self-delusion and cowardice.

The Pale Horse (1945-1991)

To historians these years are known as the “Cold War” era. Most focus their attention on the many conflicts, proxy wars, intrigue, etc. between the two superpowers. Others with more sociological interests will examine the student riots and unrest, assassinations, and the changing perspectives on human sexuality. In regard to the latter, one can think of two influential documents produced during the era that reveal the dramatic changes that took place with regard to sex, The Kinsey Reports (1948), and Humanae Vitae (1968).

Hildegard describes the era as follows:

“Another is like a pale horse; for those times will produce people who drown themselves in sin, and in their licentious and swift moving pleasures neglect all virtuous activities. And then these kingdoms will lose their ruddy strength and grow pale with the fear of ruin, and their hearts will be broken.”

The key word is “licentious”, meaning sexual debauchery. Thanks to artificial birth-control the purpose of sex changed from procreation to pleasure. Like a healthy horse turning sickly pale, the damaging consequences of the sexual revolution on western society began to reveal themselves in the 1980s. Statistics on abortion, divorce, single-parent families, suicide, STDs (including AIDS), etc., all exploded as the era came to an end.

The Black Pig (1991-present)

It is an open question as to how future historians will view the West since 1991 and what sort of titles will be used to characterize the period. From the experience of the last quarter century one might be tempted to call it “The Age of Globalization”. The dominant themes have been free trade, elimination of borders and for much of Europe, a common market, passport, and currency. This title also suits the continuing migrations of millions to Europe from the Middle East and Africa.

Note that Hildegard states clearly that she is referring only to the era’s “leaders” in her description. The generation of leaders since the 1990s have not been, in general, the same type of people as their predecessors. Today’s leaders tend to be pro-abortion and pro-homosexual marriage, imposing many laws, like Obergefell vs. Hodges, that are contrary to Christian teaching.

Hildegard writes:

“…[T]his epoch will have leaders who blacken themselves in misery and wallow in the mud of impurity. They will infringe the divine law by fornication and other like evils and will plot to diverge from the holiness of God’s commands”

As the agenda of political correctness, gender theory, homosexuality, race, etc., gradually became more radicalized in the higher educational system through the 70s and 80s, naturally so have our leaders who were educated in those times. Think of Clinton, Blair, Obama, Trudeau, Cameron, Holland, Merkel, etc.; think also of the thousands of their political appointees, including judges, that further the cause of political correctness, the goals of which “infringe the divine law”. Historian Paul Johnson has described it in terms of social engineering and referred to it as “the salient evil of our time”.

The Grey Wolf

The arrival of the era of the Grey Wolf will ultimately prove whether it was coincidental that the preceding four historical eras matched Hildegard’s descriptions of them. But it is important to acknowledge, however, that Hildegard’s descriptions are not interchangeable with these eras. Historians may vary on the importance of the sexual revolution, but they would not place it in the other eras, it belongs to the Cold War years. Likewise, outside of the era of the Yellow Lion, the other three eras were relatively peaceful. Social engineering was being practiced by the Soviet Union and the Fascists, but it does not define the period of 1914-1945, malice and militarism do. Moreover, since the four follow in the proper order; it strikes me as unlikely that these correlations were accidental.

It is interesting that Hildegard goes into far more detail regarding the Grey Wolf then the other eras. Essentially, three main things will define the era:

  • Civil unrest and revolutions with their cause being economic inequality.
  • Physical persecution of the Church by a specific group of people.
  • A powerful spiritual revival in the Church.

She also adds that it is when the Church will be “…replete with the full number of her children.” The Church’s mission will have been completed.

…rjt

*Quotations taken from Hildegard of Bingen: Scivias, translated by Columba Hart and Jane Bishop. The Abbey of Regina Laudis: Benedictine Congregation Regina Laudis of the Strict Observance, Inc. Paulist Press, 1990.

The Celestial Phenomenon on Sept. 23 and Revelation 12

Stellarium screen shot, 9/23/2017

The following will occur in the daytime sky on Sept. 23rd:

“And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered” (Revelation 12:1-2).

As the sun envelopes the constellation Virgo (a virgin maiden in Greek mythology) the moon will cross beneath her feet. At the same time twelve stars will congregate just above her head, nine from the constellation Leo plus three visiting planets: Mercury, Venus, and Mars.* The planet Jupiter (mythological king), which had entered Virgo’s torso back on Dec. 1, 2016, will have just exited between her legs on Sept. 12th, 9 1/2 months later. (Recall that Jupiter’s entry into the constellation Leo represented the birth of a prince in Babylonian astrology and inspired the journey of the Magi).

While there should be caution and prudence in making assumptions as to what the upcoming celestial phenomenon might portend, there should be equal caution in failing to appreciate its resemblance to St. John’s apocalyptic description of the vision he experienced. I think it’s very unlikely that this is coincidental. Our omniscient God caused John to have this vision and inspired the author to describe it utilizing celestial bodies, while at the same time knowing that the corresponding astronomical formation would occur for the first time on Sept. 23, 2017. He also knew that it would be during the centenary celebrations of Our Lady of Fatima.

What also suggests that this formation might herald something important is the transcendent nature of St. John’s portrayal; the symbolism is extraordinary and pan-historical. Catholic Biblical scholar Peter Williamson explains that it portrays Mary as the personification of the whole of salvation history:

“On the one hand, the woman of this vision symbolizes the faithful people of God of the Old and New Testaments. On the other, she is Mary, the mother of the Messiah and for that reason the most exalted member of the human race after her son.”

“The image of the sun, moon, and stars are drawn from Joseph’s dream in Gen. 37:1-7, where they represent his father, mother, and brothers, the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel. The woman thus symbolizes Israel, who in the Bible is often personified as a woman…”

“…Finally, the woman is the Church, whom God cares for during her time in the wilderness in this world, and brings forth other children” (Rev. 12:17).**

That this image is soon going to be re-created in the heavens is momentous in itself.

Following John’s description of the “woman clothed with the sun” he records a series of events:

  • The woman gives birth, and the Child (the Messiah) is taken up to heaven (vs. 5).
  • The woman flees to the desert “where she had a place prepared by God” (vs. 6).
  • A war in Heaven breaks out between Satan and the demons and Michael and the angels (vs. 7).
  • Satan is ejected from Heaven (vs. 9).
  • The serpent  pursues the woman (vv. 13-16).
  • The serpent leaves the woman and prepares to pursue her offspring (the persecutions of the Antichrist, vv. 17-18).

Many scholars consider most of these events as overlapping and occurring concurrently, representing the age of the Church; others interpret these as sequential events. From a broader perspective, however, the prophetic message of chapter 12 is pretty clear, a description of the Church, symbolized by the woman, entering the “eschaton”, the period of history when the mission of the Church approaches its end. It would make sense that the celestial sign on September 23, a perfect complement to St. John’s description, to be a herald of the arrival of that era.

The timing of this, occurring during the centenary of Fatima and the Miracle of the Sun, may also suggest it’s the harbinger of a response to the disregard of Our Lady’s requests. An astute observation by Catholic journalist points in this direction. Writing about the significance of the upcoming astronomical phenomenon, Patrick Archibold recalled a communication from Our Lord received by Fatima seer Sister Lucia in 1931:

“Make it known to My ministers, given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My requests, they will follow him into misfortune.”

Archibold explains that on June 17, 1689 Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, following Christ’s direction, implored King Louis XIV to consecrate France to the Sacred Heart. This was never accomplished and exactly 100 years later, to the day, King Louis XVI was stripped of authority when the Third Estate declared itself the sole authority to conduct the affairs of France. The Revolution had commenced; the King would be executed four years later and the Catholic Church would suffer despoliation and persecution.

God gave the French 100 years to comply with his requests and Lucia is telling Church authorities that they will have the same. The 100-year period of the Fatima apparition concludes on Oct. 13, 2017, the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, the same month that the pope is headed to Sweden to celebrate the Reformation. If that day passes without a significant event that would suggest that a difficult time for the Church lies ahead, perhaps we should all breathe a sigh of relief.

*I highly recommend downloading Stellarium, a free program that allows one to view space from anywhere and on any day. Its re-creation of what will occur on Sept. 23 is striking.

**Revelation. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015, pp. 205-220.

..rjt

St. Hildegard’s Unsettling Vision of the Bride of Christ

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Bride of Christ, Scivias, Book III, vision 11, chapter 13

It is generally agreed that the illuminations which accompany Hildegard’s Scivias (Rupertsberg Manuscript) were either sketched and painted by her, or produced under her supervision. The image of the Church as a Bride appears periodically throughout her visionary work. In Book III, Vision 11, chap. 13, which immediately follows her description of the era of the Grey Wolf, she describes the vision that corresponds to the illumination here:

“And I saw again the figure of a woman whom I had previously seen in front of the alter that stands before the eyes of God, …but now I saw her from the waist down. And from her waist to the place that denotes the female, she had various scaly blemishes, and in that latter place was a black and monstrous head.”

The Bride who appeared in an earlier vision only from the waist up is now seen fully complete, which reflects that the last days have arrived. Importantly, Hildegard adds that by this time the Church will be “…replete with the full number of her children” (Chap. 13); it will have completed her mission of evangelization. Continue reading “St. Hildegard’s Unsettling Vision of the Bride of Christ”

Charles Johnston’s Hanging it Up

I was asked by a CNS reporter last summer in private email correspondence what I thought of Charles Johnston, the seer from Denver who has made predictions of immanent civil unrest and social collapse. Unfamiliar with him, I listened to an interview the reporter provided a link to and gave the following response (additional commentary is in brackets):

“Thanks for the link and I listened to the interview. What he said was a little vague so I looked at his site [link]. He predicts a worldwide economic collapse followed by civil wars followed by a confrontation with Islam. This is also what Hildegard predicts for the era of the grey wolf; but that’s where the similarity ends. Charlie adds that there will be a major miracle followed by a prolonged period of peace. And this is all supposed to take place in the next year and a half. [He claimed that his Guardian Angel had told him these things]. The era of the grey wolf as Hildegard described it hasn’t started yet.

Continue reading “Charles Johnston’s Hanging it Up”

The Reformation and Private Revelation

It is commonly believed among Evangelical Christians that the spiritual gift of prophecy ended when the last of the apostles died. While there is no clear evidence from scripture that can be used to support that position, there is an obvious argument from silence. When compared to the Catholic Church, which has a rich tradition of various forms of private revelation, among Protestants it is rare and often treated with suspicion (excepting Charismatic churches). Continue reading “The Reformation and Private Revelation”

Fr. Gabriele Amorth and the Consecration of Russia

russian-church1In 1984, the consecration of the whole world by Pope St. John Paul II was followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of communism in Russia. The world breathed a sigh of relief and the peace that Mary promised seemed to have materialized. Sr. Lucia, one of the three seers of Fatima, unequivocally recognized the validity of the consecration.

Then why was the famous exorcist so certain that it had not been accomplished and would eventually be redone? Continue reading “Fr. Gabriele Amorth and the Consecration of Russia”

St. Hildegard’s Vision of the Moment of Consecration

eucharist1Listening to Hildegard explain aspects of the conversion of bread and wine to the real presence of Christ reveals the uniqueness of the visionary’s prophetic gift as well as how that gift was viewed by Church authorities in the twelfth-century.

While the doctrine of transubstantiation can be traced back to apostolic times, because of its mysterious nature theologians have had a difficult time explaining it. They employed philosophy and logic to draw their conclusions and thus had little success in making various aspects of the miraculous transmutation understandable. In his discourse on the subject, Hildegard’s contemporary, the early scholastic theologian Peter Lombard wrote, “If, however, it is asked of what sort this conversion is, whether formal, or substantial, or of another kind, I am not capable of defining it” (Book of Four Sentences, Book IV, Distinction 11). Continue reading “St. Hildegard’s Vision of the Moment of Consecration”

St. Hildegard’s Vision of Today’s America

Eight centuries ago St. Hildegard experienced a prophetic vision of a period of time similar to our own. She called it the era of the Black Pig, the fourth of five symbolic animals representing successive historical periods of time that precede2pig the Antichrist. The Five Beasts of St. Hildegard: Prophetic Visions of Modern Society lays out a compelling case that these eras have been unfolding in the recent history of Europe and North America. According to Hildegard, they are brief eras with distinct temporal rulers.

In comparing the eras to recent history, three particular years within the twentieth-century make dividing it into four separate historical periods an easy task. 1914, 1945, and 1991 are natural dividing lines marking major social and geopolitical changes in the Western world. There is a general consensus among historians regarding the momentousness of these years and how they serve to divide up the century. Hence, it can be divided into four eras which we choose to begin with the year of the loss of the Papal States in 1870: (1) 1870-1914, (2) 1914-1945, (3) 1945-1991, and (4) 1991-present. All are geopolitically distinct and brief. Continue reading “St. Hildegard’s Vision of Today’s America”

The Era of the Grey Wolf is Fast Approaching: New Link

I added a new link to my blogroll: GalliaWatch. The subtitle to the blog reads, “The countdown for France has begun. Stay au courant” (well-informed). The blog author, Tiberge, scours the French press for information on the social demise of France as well as the rest of Europe. Many of the translations provided by the author would be difficult if not impossible to find elsewhere. Also, the author sorts out the truth since much of what comes out of the European media is biased, heavily redacted, or outright misleading, as was demonstrated by the recent censorship and spin regarding the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults of women by Muslim immigrants.

The blogger’s focus is on the islamification of Europe but also reports on incidents of persecution of Christians and attacks on churches. It’s a front-row seat for viewing the emerging new historical era: the era of the Grey Wolf.

The Five Beasts of Saint Hildegard: Prophetic Symbols of Modern Society is primarily a study of history from 1870-present, alongside an analysis of St. Hildegard’s vision of five symbolic animals, representing five separate eras of time preceding the Antichrist. I contend that four of these eras have already transpired. The final era is symbolized by the Grey Wolf; this era lies ahead, perhaps within decade. Hildegard’s explanation of the symbolism of the Grey Wolf does not suggest a single nation or ethnicity, but Europe in general (I did, however, see a clear connection of Hildegard’s description of the wolf to Islam). Continue reading “The Era of the Grey Wolf is Fast Approaching: New Link”

Another Review of The Five Beasts of St Hildegard

Elena Maria Vidal, who maintains the beautiful and one of the most popular Catholic blogs, Tea at Trianon, has also reviewed The Five Beasts of St Hildegard. She concludes:

“The book is a must-read for all those interested in prophetic literature and anyone who is worried about the future, for all is in God’s hands and He is the ultimate victor.”

You may click on the icon below to go to the book’s Amazon page:

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