Statue of Pope Sylvester II Becomes Moist Before A Pope Diesit is said that there's a statue that gives signs of a Pope's imminent death. it has been said that Pope Sylvester's statue (others say monument, or tomb, or a stone carving), which is made of marble, becomes "moist" when the current Pope is nearing his death. learned that from here.
some say his bones rattle (got that from other sources, like the wikipedia article and the other one from positive atheism below).
so anyway i thought i'd collate sources regarding this.
Wikipedia entry on Pope Silvester II (how is it really spelled? with an i or a y?.):
The inscription on Gerbert's tomb reads in part Iste locus Silvestris membra sepulti venturo domino conferet ad sonitum ("This place, at the advent of the lord, will yield to the sound [of the last trumpet] the buried members of Silvester", mis-read as "will make a sound") has given rise to the curious legend that his bones will rattle in that tomb just before the death of a Pope.
(and if you're wondering who Gerbert is, it's Sylvester II's original name, Gerbert of Aurillac. also from the wikipedia article.)
The church of S. Croce has seen another strange death of a Pope, — that of Sylvester II. (999‑1003), a Frenchman, Gerbert by name. A legend, related first by cardinal Benno in 1099, describes him as deep in necromantic knowledge, which he had gathered during a journey through the Hispano-Arabic provinces. He is said to have carried in his travels a sort of diabolical oracle, a brazen head which uttered prophetic answers. After his election, in 999, he inquired how long he should remain in power; the response was "as long as he avoided saying mass in Jerusalem." The prophecy was soon fulfilled. He expired in great agony on Quadragesima Sunday, 1003, while celebrating mass in this church, the classic name of which he seems not to have known. The legend asserts that his sins were pardoned by God, and that he was given an honorable burial in the church of S. John Lateran. A mysterious influence, however, hung over his grave. Whenever one of his was approaching the end of life, the bones of Sylvester would stir in their vault, and the marble lid would be moistened with drops of water, as stated in the epitaph, which is still visible in S. John Lateran, against one of the pillars of the first right aisle.
It begins with the distich:—
ISTE LOCVS MVNDI SILVESTRI MEMBRA SEPVLTI
VENTVRO DOMINO CONFERET AD SONITVM.
1:282. Sylvester II.
He was the first Frenchman who sat on the throne of Peter, the reputed author of Gallican opinions, and it is said the ablest mathematician and mechanician of his time. He died 1003. Among other things, he invented a kind of clock. He had also a statue, like that of Roger Bacon, which answered all his questions.
According to the popular legend, he was in communion with the devil, who raised him successively to the sees of Rheims, Ravenna, and Rome; and promised that he should never die till he had been at Jerusalem, which Gerbert construed as a promise of immortality. But, like that made to Henry IV. of England, it proved to be a cheat, and the Pope felt the hand of death upon him while officiating in the Chapel of Jerusalem; in the Basilica of St. Croce.
The legend goes on to say that, struck by remorse, he ordered his body to be cut in pieces, to be placed on a car drawn by oxen, and to be buried wherever they stopped of themselves, he being unworthy to rest in the church of God. But, to show that pardon may be extended even to the most guilty, the oxen stopped at the door of the Lateran.
Whenever, it is said, a pope is about to die, the tomb of Sylvester grows moist, and the bones of the old magician clatter below. (See Gregorovius, On the Tombs of the Popes, and the original account in Matthew of Westminster anno 998.)
Relic: Steps of Pilate's house that Christ ascended for His sentencing (moved from Jerusalem to Rome by St. Helena)
Where: Basilica of St. John Lateran, Rome, Italy. Also in this basilica is a monument to Pope Sylvester II that is said to "cry" before a Pope dies (its marble becomes moist).
ROMAN OMEN IS POSITIVE (Feb. 26, 30005 news article)
Does a stone carving in one of Rome's biggest cathedrals know whether Pope John Paul II will survive his latest health crisis?
The monument to Pope Sylvester II, who ruled the Catholic Church 1,000 years ago, is said to moisten when the death of a pontiff is imminent.
But yesterday, a priest touched the carving in Rome's Basilica of St. John Lateran and confirmed it was dry — good news for the pope, who had windpipe surgery Thursday after being rushed to the hospital with breathing problems.
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"The stone cries. It's true, it has happened. There are people who have seen it," the other nun added.
The legend centers around the French-born Sylvester, who reigned from 999 to 1003 and was so learned that some believed him to be a sorcerer.
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