The Five Beasts of St. Hildegard – Prophetic Symbols of Modern Society, is the title of a short but provocative new book by Reid J. Turner. Mr. Turner, who has studied both theology and history at the graduate level, brings his expertise to bear on prophetic visions of the future experienced by St. Hildegard of Bingen.
This 12th century abbess, now a Doctor of the church, authored many works in complex Latin, which have been only recently translated into English. In her very first book she delineated images and impressions that she saw reflected in “the shadow of the Living Light.” One of the more unusual visions of this type was of five animals or beasts, representing five distinct historical periods, “ferocious epochs of temporal rule,” and their effect on the Catholic Church.
Mr. Turner has diligently examined the content of this set of images in the light of the history of the Church and the world, and has pinpointed the five eras that the five beasts represent. The five animals are likened to a fiery dog, a yellow lion, a pale horse, a black pig, and a grey wolf. The epochs they represent are each defined by five separate sinful carnal desires that characterize their era. From the mouth of each animal a dark rope comes forth, which extends to one of five separate mountain peaks. The peaks signify the carnal desires, and the ropes reaching them signify that the power of these desires will last throughout each period that a beast represents.
Turner's analysis, in brief, contends that the fiery dog refers to the time from 1870 to the beginning of WWI, and that the predominant sin in this era, which saw 30 reigning monarchs and the rise of industrialism and socialism, is lack of justice. The Church during this time was despoiled of the Papal States, and Pope Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum to address the problems of social and economic injustice. The yellow lion of the second period represents the age of war, from 1914 to 1945, characterized by the sin of moral relativism, and disregard for the “righteousness of God.” During this time, the Lateran Treaty signed by the dictator Mussolini established the Vatican city-state. The third era, symbolized by a pale horse, extends from 1945 to the end of the cold war in 1991, and is tainted by licentiousness and lack of virtue. In this era “kingdoms” lose their “ruddy strength”, weaken and grow pale, and “hearts will be broken.” Although the author does not mention this, could this symbolize Vatican II's de-construction of the traditional Church, and the divisions caused by the encyclical on birth control, Humanae Vitae?
"Another is like a black pig, for this epoch will have leaders who blacken themselves in misery and wallow in the mud of impurity. They will infringe the divine law, by fornication and other like evils, and will plot to diverge from the holiness of God's commands."
The beginning of this era saw two important encyclicals by John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor and Evangelium Vitae, which took aim at moral and ethical relativism, and legislation that devalued human life. He defended Church teaching on the importance of the family with his Letter to Families. In a homily delivered in 2010 Cardinal Raymond Burke warned of a “society which pretends to take the place of God in making its laws and giving its judgments.” Turner attributes society's wallowing in the “mud of impurity” on moral issues, to the brainwashing goals and pressures stemming from political correctness, and its morphing into social engineering. Those who disagree with the PC program are branded as racists, sexists, and so on.
Ironically it seems that some in the Church itself wish to “infringe on the divine law.” Turner's book does not address the current “Synod of the Family” controversy since his manuscript was completed prior to October of 2014. Since then, high ranking prelates and leaders have expressed a willingness to change the dogmatic Moral teaching of the Church on the reception of Holy Communion, which is based on the divine law of Scripture itself. They are pushing, in the name of mercy, to open up Communion to those in irregular and possibly adulterous marriages, and to those in other types of “partnerships.” It certainly seems like a “plot to diverge from the holiness of God's commands!”
The fifth and final beast, the cunning grey wolf, will be a time of conflicts and plundering, economic turmoil and class warfare, and will ensnare many as the time of the Antichrist nears. This era will be ushered in by a significant decline of the dominant position of America in the world. The social engineers may resort to violence to crush opposition to their agenda. Interestingly, in this period the rope from the mouth of the wolf is not completely black, but is both dark and white, signifying that many in this epoch will be “white with justice.” Could this black and white rope symbolize a formal schism in the Church over the issue of divorce and remarriage?
Turner's book, although packed with information, facts and speculation, is written with clarity, and one can easily understand and follow his arguments and analysis. His pairing of the five beasts with the specific five historical eras that he identifies seems both logical and correct. The book gives the reader much to think about and ponder, and provides insight into the times in which we live, and where we are going. Reid Turner's web site and blog are at this link. The book is available from Amazon.com at this link.