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what was evil and did what was good. O happy the man who so falls as to rise with greater strength still! O happy the man who after repentance does not relapse into faultiness and a course of ruin !
In the same year, Richard, king of England, hearing, by common report and the relation of many persons, that there was a certain religious man in Calabria, of the Cistercian order, called Joachim, abbat of Curazzo, who had a spirit of prophecy and foretold to the people things to come, sent for him and willingly listened to the words of his prophecy, and his wisdom and learning. For he was a man learned in the Holy Scriptures, and interpreted the visions of Saint John the Evangelist, which Saint John has related in the Book of Revelation, which he wrote with his own hands ; in hearing which, the king of England and his people took great delight.
The following was one of the visions of Saint John the Evangelist : “ The kings are seven in number; five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come.” 95 And elsewhere in the Revelation there is another vision of the same Evangelist. “A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon beneath her feet;" which signifies the Holy Church, the sun of justice. Also, “the woman was clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and upon her head was a crown of twelve stars, and, being with child, she was in pain to be delivered ; and, behold! a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his head : and his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth ; and he stood before the woman who was about to be delivered, to devour her child as soon as it was born. And the woman brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron, and her child was caught up unto the Lord, and to His throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness of Egypt, where she had a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days."
Now of this vision the following is the interpretation, according to Joachim, abbat of Curazzo. “ The woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet," signifies the Holy Church, the sun of justice, who is Christ our God, shadowed forth and typified under that name; under his feet is the world, always to be trodden under foot with its vices and lusts. And “ upon her head was a crown of twelve stars.” Now 95 Rev. xvii. 10. 96 Rev. xii. 1.
97 Rev. xii. 1, 6
the head of the Church is Christ, His crown is the Catholic faith which the twelve Apostles have preached.
" The woman was in pain to be delivered.” So the Holy Church, which ever rejoices in new offspring, suffers pain from day to day, to the end that she may gain souls for God, which the devil attempts to snatch away and to drag with himself down to hell. “And behold! a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns.” Now this dragon signifies the devil, who is properly said to have seven heads. For all the heads of the devil are replete with iniquity, and he uses the figure 7 as something finite for what is infinite; for the heads of the devil are infinite in number; that is to say, those who are persecutors of the Church, and the wicked. Of these, although they are infinite in number, the said Joachim, in his explanation, made mention of seven principal persons who were persecutors of the Church, whose names were as follow : Herod, Nero, Constantius, Mahomet, Melsermut, Saladin, and Antichrist.
“Saint John also says in the Book of Revelation, 'There are seven kings; five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come :' which the said Joachim thus explained. The seven kings are Herod, Nero, Constantius, Mahomet, Melsermut, Saladin, and Antichrist. Of these, five have perished; namely, Herod, Nero, Constantius, Mahomet, and Melsermut; one is, namely, Saladin, who is now oppressing the Church of God; and, together with it, the Sepulchre of our Lord, and the Holy City of Jerusalem and the land on which stood the feet of our Lord are kept in his possession; but he shall shortly lose the same. On this, the king of England asked the question, “When shall this take place?”
To which Joachim made answer, “When seven years shall have elapsed from the day of the capture of Jerusalem.” Upon which, the king of England remarked, “Why, then, have we come so much too soon?” When Joachim made answer, “Your arrival is very necessary, inasmuch as the Lord will give you the victory over His enemies, and will exalt your name beyond all the princes of the earth.”
“The words then follow, “One of them is not yet come,” which is Antichrist. Now as to this Antichrist, Joachim said, “He is already born in the city of Rome, and will be elevated to the Apostolic See; and it is respecting this Antichrist that the Apostle says, 'He is exalted, and strives against every
thing that is called of God.' And then shall the wicked one be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of His mouth, and shall destroy by the dazzling brightness of his approach.” On this, the king turned to him and said, “I thought that Antichrist was to be born in Antioch, or at Babylon, of the descendants of Dan, and was to reign in the Temple of the Lord at Jerusalem, and was to walk in that land in which Christ walked, and was to reign therein three years and a half, and was to dispute against Elias and Enoch, and was to slay them, and was afterwards to die, and after his death the Lord was to give sixty days for repentance, during which those persons might repent who had wandered away from the paths of truthfulness, and had been seduced by the preaching of Antichrist and his false prophets."
“ It then proceeds, “ And there are ten horns." Now the ten horns of the devil are heresies and schisms, which heretics and sch
ics oppose to the ten precepts of the law and the commandments of God. And upon
his head were seven crowns.” By the crowns are signified the kings and princes of this world, who are to believe in Antichrist. “And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven.” This refers to the great number of persons who shall believe in him. “And did cast them to the earth.” By the name of stars he calls the lower orders of men who are to believe in Antichrist; and he mentions the third part of the stars of heaven by reason of the great multitude of men who shall believe on him. “ And he did cast them to the earth ;” that is to say, he sent all those to the bottomless pit who had perished in believing on him.
“ And he stood before the woman, who was about to be delivered, to devour her child as soon as it was born.” The devil ever lies in wait for the Church, that he may carry off her offspring, and, after so currying it off, devour it. He is well said "to stand ;” inasmuch as he never turns aside for evil, but always stands steadfast in wickedness and inflexible in the crafty wiles of his deceit. Or, according to another interpretation, his tail will signify the end of this world; at which time certain wicked nations shall arise, which shall be called Gog and Magog, and shall destroy the Church of God, overthrow the Christian race, and then forthwith shall come the day of judgment. “But in the days of this Antichrist there shall be many
Christians who shall live in the caverns of the earth, and in the
solitary places of the rocks, and shall preserve the Christian faith in the fear of the Lord, until the consummation of Antichrist; and this is meant where it is said: “The woman fled into the wilderness of Egypt, where she had a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there, a thousand two hundred and sixty days ; and her man child shall rule all nations with a rod of iron.” This is especially our Lord Jesus Christ, who after His Passion and Resurrection, has ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, and shall come to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire; of whom, if we are followers, and shall continue to obey His commands, we shall be caught up into the air to meet him, and shall always be with him.”
But although the said abbat of Curazzo gave these opinions in relation to Antichrist, still Walter, archbishop of Rouen, and the archbishop of Apamia, Gerard, archbishop
of Auxienne, John, bishop of Evreux, Bernard, bishop of Bayeux, and other ecclesiastical men of great learning in the Holy Scriptures, endeavoured to prove the contrary; and although they brought forward many arguments on both sides, with strong indications of truthfulness, the dispute is still undecided. For the ancients, when making mention of Antichrist in their writings, have written to the following effect:
“Those persons who wish to know something about Antichrist, ought first to mark why he has been so called.
The reason is, because he will be the opposite of Christ in all things, and will do what is contrary to Christ.
Christ came in humility, he will come in pride. Christ came to raise the humble and to justify sinners; on the other hand, Antichrist will cast down the humble, and will magnify sinners, will exalt the unrighteous, and will always teach those vices which are opposed to virtues, will destroy the law of the Gospel, will recall to the world the worship of devils, will seek his own glory, and will call himself “the Almighty God.” This Antichrist will therefore have many to serve him in his wickedness, of whom many have already preceded him in the world; such as Antiochus, Nero, and Domitian; in our times too we know of many Antichrists. Whatever person, whether layman, whether monk, or whether canon, lives contrary to the laws of righteousness, and impugns the rules of his order, and blasphemes that which is good, he is Antichrist and a minister of Satan. But now as to the origin of Antichrist.” What
I am saying, I am not coining out of my own imagination, or inventing ; for in reading over books with care, I find all these things there written.
According to what our authors say, Antichrist shall be born after the example of the Jews, namely, of the tribe of Dan, according to the prophecy that says: “Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path ;" 98 for like a serpent shall he lie in the way, and be in the path, that he may smite those who walk in the path of justice, and may slay them with the venom of his malice. He shall also be born from the intercourse of a father and mother, just like other men, and not, as some say, of a virgin alone. But still, in sin shall he be wholly conceived ; in sin shall he be begotten, and in sin shall he be born. At the very moment of his conception, the devil shall at the same time enter the womb of his mother; and by means of the Devil will he be cherished and protected in the womb of his mother, and the power of the Devil will always be with her. And just as the Holy Ghost came upon the Mother of our Lord, and overshadowed her by his efficacy, and filled her with his divine power that so she might conceive by the Holy Ghost, and that what should be born might be sacred and holy; so also the Devil shall descend upon the mother of Antichrist, and shall fill her entirely, surround her entirely, hold her entirely, possess her entirely, within and without, to the end that, the devil working through man, she may conceive; and what shall be born shall be entirely noxious, entirely evil, entirely wicked.
In consequence hereof, this man is also called “ the son of perdition;" because, so far as he possibly can, he shall bring mankind to perdition, and last of all he himself shall come to perdition. Behold! now you have heard how he shall be born, hear also the place where he shall be born. For, as our Lord and Redeemer in His foresight provided Bethlehem as the place where He should deign to assume humanity in our behalves, and be born, so the Devil knows of a fitting place for that wicked man who is called Antichrist, from which the root of all evils may take its rise, that is to say, the city of Babylon. For in this city, which was formerly a renowned and glorious city of the Gentiles, and the capital of the kingdom of Persia, Antichrist will be born, and it is said that he will be nourished and brought up in the cities of Bethsaida and Chorazin; to
93 Gen. xlix. 17.