Predictions of the Popes

Predictions of the Popes – Belser Verlag – Vat. Ross. 374 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

Venice (Italy) β€” 1410–15

With all sorts of hidden symbolism and criticism of the church: 30 predictions by Joachim de Fiore and others about the popes of the Late Middle Ages in 30 virtuoso and mysterious miniatures

  1. In total, the manuscript holds 30 predictions concerning the popes who reigned from 1277 to 1503

  2. 15 prophecies by Joachim de Fiore (ca. 1135–1202) and 15 further predictions from the early 14th century

  3. Each prediction is presented with a masterful miniature full of all sorts of implied symbolism

Predictions of the Popes

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  1. Description
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Predictions of the Popes

This manuscript of the Predictions of the Popes originated between 1410 and 1415 in Venice and consists of 15 prophesies supposedly written in the 12th century by Joachim de Fiore and 15 further predictions from the early-14th century. These 30 prophecies were concerned with future popes, some bad some good, which would eventually lead to the moral restoration of the Church. The work is illustrated with 30 brightly colored, dreamlike miniatures on midnight blue backgrounds that are full of symbolism. Everything is depicted in the finest detail from human figures with golden crowns, papal tiaras, and halos to terrible monsters and hybrids to buildings, castles, and columns. The enigmatic text and mysterious imagery reflect the dissatisfaction among the faithful with the growing affluence and corruption of the clergy.

Predictions of the Popes

The 12th and 13th centuries were dominated with great tensions within the Christian religious community. The growing wealth and the increasing secularization of the church created frustration and despair for a part of the worshippers both among the laity as well as the clergy. The wanted to return to a more frugal, simple life such as extolled by the gospels. This movement was led by the famous theologian and philosopher Joachim de Fiore (1135–1202). Fiore was an influential Italian abbot and founder of an order. He supposedly compiled predictions of the coming popes, which were meant to restore the church and the Christian religious community to their origins once more, but this has never been proven for certain. His predictions were recorded in a valuable codex and illustrated with breath-taking miniatures.

Symbolic Painting

The Latin codex originates from between 1410 and 1415 in Venice. It contains 30 half page miniatures in the Gothic style. The fantastic pictures are full of symbols and hidden clues. People or detailed cities and buildings are depicted in bright colors on an intense blue background. The dreamlike scenes sometimes show how multiple people interact with one another, or show single persons who are ringed with symbolic attributes. On some pages one finds fairytale monsters repeatedly, which are supposed to portend a grievance within the religious community and advise caution. Today the magical miniatures still invite the beholder to dream.

Later Completion

Altogether, the codex holds 30 predictions of the popes who reigned from 1277 to 1503. The first 15 predictions are attributed to Joachim de Fiore, who lived from 1135 to 1203. The remaining 15 predictions were probably added in the mid-14th century, however their author is unknown. The highly valuable miniatures show sometimes identifiable characteristics of the popes, with which the predictions are concerned. The mythical text, combined with the astounding miniatures take their beholder on a fantastical and unforgettable journey into the world of the Gothic era.


Alternative Titles
Prophecies Regarding the Popes
Prophecies Concerning the Popes
Vaticinia de summis pontificibus
Weissagungen ΓΌber die PΓ€pste
Vaticinia Pontificum Romanorum
Size / Format
32 pages / 22.4 Γ— 14.8 cm
Humanistic cursive
30 half-page miniatures
Thirty prophecies for future popes

Available facsimile editions:
Predictions of the Popes – Belser Verlag – Vat. Ross. 374 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1985
Detail Picture

Predictions of the Popes

Pope Urban VI

Bartolomeo Prignano was a devout monk and reformer who became unpopular soon after his election to the papacy in 1378. Many cardinals claimed he was mad with power and Antipope Clement VII was elected in Avignon five months later, igniting the Western Schism. Urban VI is depicted under a crescent moon with five stars as a hybrid creature with the bearded, crowned head of a man, donkey’s ears, and a serpent’s body with a tail encircling seven stars and terminating in a head with a sword in its mouth.

Predictions of the Popes – Belser Verlag – Vat. Ross. 374 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Single Page

Predictions of the Popes

Pope Gregory XII

After nearly forty years of infighting between two and even three popes, the Council of Constance finally resolved the Western Schism, a process that began with the resignation of Pope Gregory XII in 1415, followed by the Council deposing Antipope John XXIII. Gregory retired from public life and lived in obscurity for the next two years, at which time the empty throne of St. Peter could finally be filled with a new legitimate Roman pontiff.

The selfless pope is depicted seated and wearing a triple-crowned papal tiara surmounted by a black eagle with outstretched wings and a crown of its own. His right-hand rests on the head of a young boy standing with his arms crossed while a unicorn rests its front hooves on his left shoulder.

Predictions of the Popes – Belser Verlag – Vat. Ross. 374 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Weissagungen ΓΌber die PΓ€pste

Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1985
Predictions of the Popes – Belser Verlag – Vat. Ross. 374 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Predictions of the Popes – Belser Verlag – Vat. Ross. 374 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1985
Binding: Full leather with tooling and gold stamping
Commentary: 1 volume (96 pages) by Robert E. Lerner and Robert Moynihan
Language: German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
(under 1,000€)
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