Pagina non iam in rete ('s_Letter.htm)

Letter of Adso to Queen Gerberga Concerning

the Origin and Life of Antichrist

[1291] To the most excellent Queen, cherished in royal dignity by almighty God and beloved by all the saints, mother of monks and leader of holy women, to his lady Queen Gerberga, Brother Adso, the least of all her servants, wishes glory and eternal peace.

Ever since I became worthy of the bud of your pity, Lady Mother, I have always been faithful to you in all things, as if I were your personal slave. Therefore, however unworthy prayers from my mouth might be in the sight of the Lord, nevertheless I beg the mercy of our God for you and for your elder lord the King, as well as for your children's safety, that He deign to preserve in you the pillar of empire in this life, and that He cause you to reign blissfully with Him in Heaven after this life. For we believe and know for certain that if the Lord gives you prosperity and your children a long life the Church of God must be exalted and our religious order become greater and greater. I, your faithful servant, hope and pray for this; if I were able to strengthen your royal authority, I should do so must freely, but since I cannot do this, I shall pray to the Lord for your safety and for that of your children, that His grace always go before you in all your deeds, and that His glory follow you piously and mercifully, so that you, obedient to divine commands, may accomplish the good deeds which you long for, whereby the crown of the heavenly kingdom might be given to you. Therefore, because you have a pious zeal to hear the Scriptures and to talk, frequently about our Saviour, and also to know about the impiety and persecution of Antichrist, as well as his power and origin, just as you have deigned to teach me, your servant, I wanted to write something to inform you, in part, about Antichrist, inasmuch as you have not disdained to hear this from me, having with you as you do a most prudent pastor, Don Rorico, the brightest mirror of all wisdom in this age of ours.

Therefore, since you wish to know about Antichrist, learn first why he has this name. This is because he will be contrary to Christ in all things, that is, his actions will be contrary to Christ. Christ came as a humble man; he will come as a proud man. Christ came to raise up the lowly, to pass judgment on sinners; he, on the contrary, will cast down the lowly, glorify sinners, exalt the impious and always teach vices which are opposite to virtues. He will destroy the law of the Gospel, [1292] bring back the worship of demons in the world, seek personal glory and call himself the almighty God. Furthermore, Antichrist has many servants of his evil here, many of whom have already preceded him in the world, such as Antiochus, .Nero, and Domitian. In our own time also we know that there are many Antichrists. For whatever man - layman, cleric, or monk-lives contrary to justice and opposes the rule of his station in life and blasphemes the good, he is Antichrist and the servant of Satan.

But now let us consider the origin of Antichrist. The source of my information is not my own imagination or invention; rather, I found all this in written works after careful research.

My authorities say that Antichrist will be born from the tribe of Dan, according to the words of the prophet: "Dan is like a snake by the road side, an adder on the path." For he will sit like a serpent by the road side, and he will be on the path to strike those who walk on the paths of righteousness and kill them with the venom of his malice. He will be born as the result of the sexual intercourse of his mother and father, like other men, and not, as some say, from a virgin alone. But he will be conceived entirely in sin, he will be engendered in sin, and he will be born in sin. At the very beginning of his conception, the devil will enter with him into his mother's womb, and by the devil's strength he will be fostered and protected in his mother's womb, and the devil's strength will be with him always. And just as the Holy Ghost came into the womb of the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ and covered her with His strength and filled her with divinity, so that she conceived from the Holy Ghost and what was born was [1293] divine and holy: so also the devil will go down into the womb of Antichrist's mother and fill her completely, possess her completely inside and out, so that she will conceive by man with the devil's assistance, and what is born will be completely foul, completely evil, completely ruined. That is why that man is called the son of destruction, because as far as he can he will destroy the human race, and he will himself be destroyed at the Last Judgment.

Now you have heard about the manner of his birth; hear also the place where he is to be born. For just as our Lord and Saviour preordained Bethlehem for Himself, the place where He put on humanity for us and deigned to be born, so the devil knows a fit place for this man of perdition called Antichrist, whence it is fitting that all evil will arise, namely, the city of Babylon. For in this community, which was once a famous and proud city of the heathen and the capital of the Kingdom of the Persians, Antichrist will be born. It is said that he will be brought up and live in the towns of Bethsaida and Corozain; for the Lord condemn these towns in the Gospel with the words: "Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to thee, Bethsaida." Antichrist will have magicians, criminals, soothsayers, and wizards, who, with the devil's inspiration, will bring him up and instruct him in every iniquity, trickery, and wicked art. And evil spirits will be his leaders and eternal friends and inseparable comrades. Then he will come to Jerusalem, and all the Christians whom he cannot convert to his side he will kill by various torments, and he will place his own throne in the holy temple. He will restore the temple, now in ruins, which Solomon built to God into its original form and will circumcise himself and give out the lie that he is the son of the almighty God.

He will first convert kings and princes to his side and then, through them, the rest of the people. He will trample on the places where the Lord Jesus Christ walked, and after destroying that which the Lord has illuminated, he will then send his messengers and preachers throughout the whole world. His message and his might will prevail from sea to sea, from east to west, from north to south. He will also make many signs, great and unheard-of miracles. He will make fire come terribly from the sky, he will make trees suddenly bloom and dry up, the sea rage and suddenly become calm, natural objects change their forms, rivers change their courses, the sky tremble with winds and storms and other countless and stupendous things. He will even bring the dead to life in the sight of men, "so that if it were possible, [1294] even the elect would be deceived." For when they see so many great miracles, even those who are righteous and chosen by God will wonder whether or not he is the Christ who, according to the Scriptures, will come at the end of the world. Furthermore, he will stir up persecution of the Christians and all the elect throughout the world. He will exalt himself against the faithful in three ways: fear, gifts, and miracles. To those who believe in him, he will give great presents of gold and silver. Those whom he cannot corrupt by gifts, he will conquer fear. Those whom he cannot terrify, he will try to seduce by signs and miracles. Those whom he cannot convince by miracles, he will cruelly torture, and put to a pitiful death in the sight of all. Then there will be such distress as never was on earth from the time the races of men began to be even unto this time." Then those who are on the plains will flee to the mountains, saying, "Fall upon us," and to the hills, "Cover us up," and he who is above the roof will not go down into his house to bring anything out of it. Then every faithful Christian who is discovered either will deny God or will perish by sword or furnace fire or serpents or wild beasts or any other kind of torture whatever, if he should remain in the faith.

This awful and terrifying tribulation will last for three and a half years in the whole world. But then the days will be cut short, for the sake of the elect. For unless the Lord cuts the days short, none of the flesh would be saved. Thus the Apostle Paul has revealed the time when Antichrist will come and when the day of judgment will appear. "But there is one entreaty we would make of you ... as you look forward to the time when our Lord Jesus Christ will come," he writes in the letter to the Thessalonians, and explains the problem when he says "the apostasy must come first; the champion of wickedness must appear first, destined to inherit perdition." For we know, since after the Greek Empire and the Persian Empire, each one of which in its own time thrived in great glory and flourished in greatest power, finally, after the other empires, the Empire of the Romans began, which was the strongest of all earlier kingdoms and had all earthly kingdoms under its dominion, [1295] and all nations of peoples lived under the Romans and paid tribute to them. Therefore, the Apostle Paul says that Antichrist will not come into the world unless the apostasy comes first, that is, unless first all the kingdoms which long ago were subject to the Roman Empire secede from it. This time, however, is not yet come, because, even though we see that the Empire of the Romans is for the most part destroyed, nevertheless, as long as the kings of the Franks, who possess the Roman Empire by right, survive, the dignity of the Roman Empire will not perish altogether, because it will endure in the French kings. Indeed, certain of our learned men tell us that one of the kings of the Franks, who will come very soon, will possess the Roman Empire in its entirety. And he will be the greatest and last of all kings. He, after governing his kingdom prosperously, will ultimately come to Jerusalem and lay down his sceptre and crown on Mount Olivet. This will be the end and the consummation of the Empire of the Romans and the Christians. And immediately, according to the aforesaid opinion of the Apostle Paul, they say that Antichrist will soon be at hand, and then will be revealed indeed the "champion of wickedness," viz. Antichrist, who, though he be a man, nevertheless will be the source of all sins, and the "son of perdition," that is, the son of the devil, not through nature, but through imitation, because he will carry out the devil's will in all things; because the fulness of diabolical power and of depraved nature will dwell bodily in him, where there will be hidden away all the treasures of malice and iniquity.

"This is the rebel," that is, one who rebels against Christ God and all his members, "who is to lift up his head," that is, he is risen up in pride, "above every divine name," that is, above all the gods of the heathen, viz. Hercules, Apollo, Jupiter, and Mercury, whom the pagans think are gods. Antichrist will be lifted up above all these gods, because he will make himself greater and stronger than all of them, and not only above these, but also "above all that men hold in reverence," that is, above the Holy Trinity, which alone is to be worshipped and adored by every living creature. He will lift himself up so much that "he [will] enthrone himself in God's temple, and proclaim himself as God." For as we have said above, after his birth in the city of [1296] Babylon, and his arrival at Jerusalem, he will circumcise himself, saying to the Jews, "I am the Christ promised to you, who am come for your salvation, to gather together and protect you who were dispersed." Then all the Jews will rush together to him, thinking that they are accepting God, but they will be accepting the devil. Antichrist will also "enthrone himself in God's temple," that is, in Holy Church, making all Christians martyrs, and he will be extolled and glorified, because in him will be the fountainhead of all evils, the devil, who is king over all the sons of pride.

But lest Antichrist come suddenly and without warning and deceive and destroy the whole human race at once by his error, before his arrival, two great prophets, Enoch and Elijah, will be sent into the world, to defend the faithful of God by divine weapons against the attack of Antichrist and to train and strengthen and prepare the elect for war, teaching and preaching for three and a half years; moreover, whatever sons of Israel are found in that time, these two greatest prophets and teachers will convert to the grace of faith, and from the pressure of so great a storm they will render their faith unconquerable among the elect. Then what the Scripture says will be fulfilled: "The number of the sons of Israel may be like the sand of the sea, but it is a remnant that will be left." But after they have fulfilled their preaching for three and a half years, Antichrist's persecution will soon begin to grow hot, and Antichrist will first take up arms against them and kill them, just as [12971 is said in the Apocalypse: "Then, when they have borne me witness to the full," he says, "the beast which comes up out of the abyss will make war on them, and defeat and kill them." Then, after these two have been killed, he will persecute the rest of the faithful, either making them glorious martyrs or returning them to his side as apostates. And whoever believes in him will receive the sign of his letter upon his forehead.

But since we have discussed his beginning, let us consider the end he will have. And so this Antichrist, son of the devil and the most foul master of every malice, after he has tormented the whole world with a great persecution and tortured God's people with various punishments for three and a half years (as was said before), and after he has killed Elijah and Enoch and has crowned the rest of those who remain in the faith with martyrdom, finally the judgment of God will come upon him, as the blessed Paul writes saying: "And the Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of his mouth." Whether the Lord Jesus kills him with the power of His virtue or the Archangel Michael kills him, he will perish through the virtue of our Lord Jesus Christ, not through the virtue of any angel or archangel. Learned men say that Antichrist will perish on Mount Olivet in his tent and on his throne, opposite the place where the Lord ascended into the heavens.

Moreover, you ought to know that, after Antichrist is killed, the day of judgment will not come immediately, the Lord will not come to judgment immediately, but, as we understand from the Book of Daniel, the Lord will allow the elect 40 days to do penance, because they were seduced by Antichrist. But there is no one who knows how much time will pass, after they have fulfilled this penance, until the Lord comes in judgment; this depends on the dispensation of God, who will judge the world in that hour which He preordained for judging before the world ever existed.

There, Lady Queen; I your faithful servant, have faithfully fulfilled your bidding and I am prepared to obey in anything else you deign to command.

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[John Wright, Mediaeval Sources in Translation VII, © Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies ? 1967]