It is a series of prophecies whose fate was intertwined with that of the Church and the papacy. It is generally considered one of the most enduring works of propaganda connected to the Papacy.
Portraits of benevolent pontiffs (ten in the oldest versions of the work, eight or nine in more recent copies), whose coming are simply prophesied. To this end, the texts, which are meant to underscore the work's visionary spirit, are written in the future tense even when the discourse concerns figures from the past. But in this case, the reader is actually faced with what is known as post eventum prophecies, in which little is actually undefined or sibylline.
A prophetic manuscript
The libellous includes a sequence of thirty prophecies. Some are concise, some more extensive but each one has the task of describing the personality of a pontiff, privileging the use of highly metaphorical language and obscure means of expressions. The gallery of the thirty pontiffs evoked in these prophecies and presented in full-page miniatures includes many real historical figures, leaving room at the end for a few completely imaginary.
The ten last foretellings express the belief in the arrival of a near “angelical pope” or a series of angelical popes, meaning, a saint and purifying pope, a charismatic character that distincts himself from the rest of his predecessors by the moral integrity and high spirituality. He opens also a deep renovation with the Church. This could be connected with the figure of Saint John Paul II, and also pope Francis I. The miniature related to this prophecy corresponds to folio 13v: the naked pope. A spectacular endorse of the humble spirit embodied by an angelical pope that has been deprived of all of his possessions and temporal power, believing that the papacy could only be renewed through the poverty and privation of day-to-day belongings.
Post-1600. Red leather with gold tooling; green leather inside covers.
- Images courtesy of the British Library
We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Vaticinia Pontificum by Benozzo Gozzoli": Vaticinia Pontificum de Benozzo Gozzoli facsimile edition, published by Patrimonio Ediciones, 2017Request Info / Price