An end-times prophecy about three days of darkness is making the rounds of Catholic circles. This prophecy states that God’s last act of judgment on earth will be three days and three nights of total darkness. No light will shine during this time except blessed wax candles, and the enemies of the Church will die.
According to some web searches I did, this same prophecy also makes the rounds in New Age circles (although without the references to the Church of course). On the internet you can find a purported Mayan legend about a time when the sun did not rise and there were three days of darkness until the people’s prayers brought the sun back.
The Catholic version is far more terrifying than the New-Age version. The prophecy is attributed to Blessed Anna-Maria Taigi. I have not done any research to establish whether she really wrote this, but here is the passage that you can find on the internet:
God will send two punishments: one will be in the form of wars, revolutions and other evils; it shall originate on earth. The other will be sent from Heaven. There shall come over the whole earth an intense darkness lasting three days and three nights. Nothing can be seen, and the air will be laden with pestilence which will claim mainly, but not only, the enemies of religion. It will be impossible to use any man-made lighting during this darkness, except blessed wax candles. He, who out of curiosity, opens his window to look out, or leaves his home, will fall dead on the spot. During these three days, people should remain in their homes, pray the Rosary and beg God for mercy.
All the enemies of the Church, whether known or unknown, will perish over the whole earth during that universal darkness, with the exception of a few whom God will soon convert. The air shall be infected by demons who will appear under all sorts of hideous forms.
This is the mild version of the prophecy. More serious versions tell you that all Hell will roam the earth during those three days, and just looking out a window will be fatal. You are warned to buy thick drapes or black plastic to cover all your windows. Also, it is said that during the three days you will hear people banging on your door and you will think that people you love are out in the darkness, but do not open the door because it will really be the demons trying to get you.
What should Catholics think about this prophecy? They should think that it is probably wrong. There is no scriptural support for the idea that darkness will be the last punishment of mankind. Although there are several scriptures which talk about the sun being darkened in the last days, the darkness is never the last and final judgment but it is only a sign of the judgment that is coming. This is true in the references in Matthew, Revelation, and the prophets. In Exodus 10:21-29, the only passage in the Bible that refers to three days of darkness, the darkness is the penultimate plague unleashed against Egypt. The last and final plague was the death of the firstborn.
The clearest reference in Scripture to the final judgment of the earth says that this judgment will happen by fire. Revelation 20:7-10 says this:
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
Someone could claim that the the fire that comes down from Heaven is really an intense darkness laden with pestilence and swarming with demons, but that does not make any sense.
Second, the more you think about the prophecy, the less sense it makes. This is supposed to be God’s final act of punishment against evildoers and enemies of the Church, but many evil people are going to be spared so that they can be converted by the Church after the great chastisement. Also, many good and holy persons will be among the dead, according to this prophecy.
In Exodus, the Israelites were spared the darkness and the death of their firstborn, and these plagues only fell on Egyptians. This time God must be a lot more angry, because only the just people who stay in their homes, do not look out the windows, and light blessed candles will be spared. This prophecy – and particularly the swarms of demons in the sky – seems to reflect the devil’s way of thinking and doing things much more than God’s way of doing things.
Endnote: you should be careful to read the fine print. Most of the internet sites promoting this prophecy are connected to individuals and groups which believe that the Catholic Church is in apostasy right now and most Masses are not valid. Apostasy in the Catholic Church is the devil’s favorite end-time prophecy, something he has been dreaming about since 33 AD (the devil, like many politicians, believes that if you repeat something often enough it becomes true). During the Protestant Reformation he was telling everyone that the Pope in Rome was the Antichrist. The “alternate” version of the Third Secret of Fatima, the one supposedly hidden by the Vatican, proclaims that the papacy will be in apostasy and the true faith will not be preserved in Rome, but only in Portugal. Whenever you find people believing that the Catholic Church has become or will become unfaithful to Christ, the devil is not far away.