For decades – at least since the subject of Bible prophecy was brought to the mainstream by blockbusters like “The Late, Great Planet Earth,” reading audiences have analyzed a laundry list of signs for the biblical last days. A key element of that discussion has involved the Roman Catholic Church.

Virtually demonized in some quarters (the Church is routinely lampooned by Hollywood), and of course fiercely defended in others, Catholicism remains a behemoth in the world of religion. In recent years, the wild popularity of such novels as “The Da Vinci Code” (now 10 years old!) by Dan Brown has kept the mysterious nature of the Catholic Church at the forefront.

All this is just one reason why “Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope is Here,” an examination of some strange prophecies, has been such a runaway bestseller (and the subject of an upcoming documentary).

The brainchild of Tom Horn and Chris Putnam – two of the most recognized names in the Bible prophecy community – “Petrus Romanus” traces the validity, the very credibility, of the so-called “St. Malachy prophecies,” in which clues are given as to the identity of the last pope, before the consummation of history as described in the Bible takes place.

It all adds up to a scintillating read, and a roller-coaster media ride for Horn and Putnam, who seem to pop up on radio and television ’round the clock. It seems the public simply cannot get enough information about the infamous prophecies of a 12th century Irish saint (and archbishop of Armagh).

When the book released last year, the authors simply could not have anticipated the absolute media and popular culture frenzy related to the subject. Then, it didn’t hurt that Pope Benedict, citing age, dramatically announced his resignation to a stunned Vatican and world. The subsequent story has catapulted “Petrus Romanus” back up the bestseller lists. The authors also provide a new epilogue, which discusses the most recent events.

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Among the myriad subjects that make “Petrus Romanus” a mind-bending page-turner (despite its 560 pages!) is analysis of the long-held view that a future pope would, in fact, be the Antichrist.

Vatican preparing for ‘savior’ from outer space?

Horn and Putnam also examine statements made by various popes, and in their discussion of how this all relates to Israel, they demonstrate in a single paragraph their command of the subject. The result is a pulsating book that is perhaps the definitive book on the subject.

For example: “As discussed in chapter 14, ‘The Occult Queen of Heaven,’ Pope Benedict’s recent statements about the ghostly imposter’s role as ‘woman of the Apocalypse’ also relate to Israel. For millennia, this entity impersonating the Virgin Mary has been appearing and delivering sacrilegious messages to gullible children and credulous Catholic mystics. This phantom apparition also explicitly claims to be the woman in Revelation 12.”

Such passages seal “Petrus Romanus” as a book of great controversy, as it deals with corruption, the quest for spiritual truth and a plot that begs for Tom Hanks.

Indeed, the book is so compelling that Horn seems stunned by its reception from the public: “We couldn’t have imagined this kind of response, although Chris and I knew the subject is popular. It’s just been a wild ride.”

There is something for everyone in this book, as evidenced by another section that raises an issue popular with many secret societies: “Throughout history including recent times, numerous Catholic priests have built on the foundation laid by Cardinal Manning and have often been surprisingly outspoken on their agreement regarding the inevitable danger not only of apostate Rome but of the False Prophet rising from within the ranks of Catholicism itself as a result of secret satanic ‘Illuminati-Masonic’ influences. (The term ‘Illuminati’ as used here is not strictly a reference to the Bavarian movement founded May 1, 1776, by Jesuit-taught Adam Weishaupt, but as indicative of a modern multinational power elite, an occult hierarchy operating behind current supranatural and global political machinations.)”

Literally from its first pages, “Petrus Romanus” proves to be a book so engrossing, the reader can scarcely imagine what comes next. And it begs the question: Has the last pope emerged?

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