By Peter Bannister, MTh, MPhil
FR MICHEL RODRIGUE AND THE “APOSTLES OF THE END TIMES”
In this article I would like to attempt to offer some clarifications and hopefully lower the temperature somewhat with respect to the ongoing controversy surrounding Fr Michel Rodrigue and his alleged revelations. I will be particularly focusing on a specific term which seems to have created much confusion, and to which two Canadian bishops, Mgr Gilles Lemay http://www.diocese-amos.org/sn_uploads/fck/FABL/2020-09-03-Open-letter-from-Bishop Gilles-Lemay-about-Father-Michel-Rodrigue.pdf and Bp Robert Bourgon http://hearstdiocese.com/diocese/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/2020-09-9-Letter-to-the faithful-from-Bishop-Bourgon.pdf, have recently objected in print, at least as it has been employed in the purported messages to and presentations by Fr Rodrigue. This is the expression “apostle of the end times” which, for those unfamiliar with Catholic mystical literature, may strike some readers as grandiose, sensationalist or even “millenarian” in tone. The term is certainly one with definite eschatological overtones that may make some readers – and some churchmen – understandably nervous, but it is my conviction that when properly interpreted in the light of approved mystical Tradition, the words “apostle(s) of the end times” take on both a conceptual coherence and a theological solidity which ought to relativize fears regarding the essential message of Fr Michel. In saying this, it ought nonetheless to be emphasized that none of the following constitutes irrefutable proof of any supernatural inspiration behind his supposed revelations, which is a separate question that cannot be conclusively answered here.
“THE APOSTLE OF THE END TIMES”?
Contrary to what some may think, in appropriating the term “apostle of the end times”, Fr Michel Rodrigue should not be taken as arrogating any kind of special status or honour to himself, and still less should any implications of exclusivity be read into its use. To my knowledge, the only occasion on which the Canadian priest has ever referred to himself as “the apostle of the end times” (to quote Bishop Bourgon’s letter, which seems to accuse Fr Michel of self-aggrandizement on this point) was when describing his investiture as abbot of the Fraternité Apostolique St Benoit-Joseph Labre. During the ceremony, Fr Rodrigue claims to have heard the Virgin say “I call the apostle of the end times”. Regardless of whether this claim is grounded in a genuine mystical communication, the wording itself is not necessarily problematic in context. It can justifiably be interpreted as nothing more than an indication of a particular apostolic role among a small community of people and with respect to a function in leadership (just as if, in the presence of a number of individuals including just one member of the clergy, someone said “I call on the priest”). Perhaps more importantly, the clear sense that emerges from the broad sweep of Fr Rodrigue’s teachings, as opposed to isolated remarks, is that the apostles of the end-times are a group of believers, a groundswell arising within the Church. For example, a message dated January 3, 2019 said to have been communicated to him by the Archangel Michael finishes with the words “we pray with the Mother of God for the apostles [plural] of the last days to rise.”
THE ORIGINS OF THE TERM “APOSTLES OF THE END TIMES” AND ITS USE IN CATHOLIC MYSTICAL TRADITION
ST LOUIS-MARIE GRIGNION DE MONTFORT, MELANIE CALVAT AND ST HANNIBAL DI FRANCIA
For those unfamiliar with the term itself, the expression “apostles of the end [or latter] times” (apôtres des derniers temps) originated in the Treatise of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin by the Breton evangelist St Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716), whose thought exerted a decisive influence on the pontificate of Pope St John Paul II, as emblematized by his appropriation of the apostolic motto Totus tuus: “I am all yours, and all that I have is yours, O most loving Jesus, through Mary, your most holy Mother” (Treatise n° 233). St Louis-Marie’s fiery description of the apostles of the latter times, arising in the period prior to the Lord’s Second Coming, when Mary’s role in the history of redemption will be especially honoured, remains one of his most well-known passages:
They will be ministers of the Lord who, like a flaming fire, will enkindle everywhere the fires of divine love. They will become, in Mary’s powerful hands, like sharp arrows, with which she will transfix her enemies. They will be as the children of Levi, thoroughly purified by the fire of great tribulations and closely joined to God. […] They will be like thunder-clouds flying through the air at the slightest breath of the Holy Spirit. […] They will be true apostles of the latter times to whom the Lord of Hosts will give eloquence and strength to work wonders and carry off glorious spoils from his enemies […] [T]hey will be true disciples of Jesus Christ, imitating his poverty, his humility, his contempt of the world and his love. […] They will have the two edged sword of the word of God in their mouths and the blood-stained standard of the Cross on their shoulders. They will carry the crucifix in their right hand and the rosary in their left, and the holy names of Jesus and Mary on their heart. The simplicity and self-sacrifice of Jesus will be reflected in their whole behaviour. Such are the great men who are to come. By the will of God Mary is to prepare them to extend his rule over the impious and unbelievers. But when and how will this come about? Only God knows. For our part we must yearn and wait for it in silence and in prayer: “I have waited and waited.” ((St Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Treatise, ch. 1, nos. 56-59) )
The manuscript of this extraordinary and prophetic work remained hidden for over a century after de Montfort’s death, with the expression “apostles of the end-times” first re-appearing in the writings of Mélanie Calvat, visionary of the approved apparitions of La Salette on September 19, 1846, four years after the discovery of the manuscript of St Louis-Marie in 1842.
When discussing Mélanie Calvat it should be acknowledged that we need to proceed with caution. It is true that the Catholic Church has never accepted the “secret” of La Salette – in which the words “apostles of the end times” appear – as Mélanie published it in Lecce in Italy in 1878-1879, over 30 years after the church-ratified events of 1846. When not only Fr Michel Rodrigue but also other well-known Catholic speakers frequently quote from the secret as if it were fully approved, a certain degree of nuance is therefore undoubtedly required. Even the eminent philosopher Jacques Maritain, who argued (unsuccessfully) in favour of the literal authenticity of Mélanie’s “secret” in a personal meeting with Pope Benedict XV in 1918, recognized in later life that the translation of a transcendental message into human language is a complex and mysterious matter in which the recipient’s mental faculties and subjectivity are inevitably involved.
This having been said, however, three things pertaining to the notion of the “apostles of the end times” are a matter of historical fact rather than theological speculation as to the extent of Mélanie Calvat’s supernatural inspiration. Firstly, writing in 1876, Mélanie certainly claimed that the Mother of God had given her instructions in 1846 for the creation of a new religious order called the apostles of the end times. Secondly, at a private audience with Pope Leo XIII in 1878, the Pontiff encouraged Mélanie to pursue the creation of the order according to the rule supposedly given to her by the Virgin Mary. Thirdly, St Hannibal Mary di Francia (1851-1927) St Hannibal was also responsible for disseminating the writings of Italian mystic Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta (1865-1947). It was his canonization in 1994 which opened the way for a renewed investigation into her voluminous writings after nearly six decades of Vatican imposed silence concerning them. was assisted by Mélanie in the foundation of the Rogationist order in Sicily in 1897 and its female counterpart, the Daughters of the Divine Zeal of the Heart of Jesus, one of the congregations’ aims being to call forth, through prayer, the apostles of the end times.
REFERENCES TO THE “APOSTLES OF THE END-TIMES ” BY MYSTICS OF RECENT DECADES
Turning to our own times, it is important to note that Fr Michel Rodrigue is far from being the only alleged mystic to have used the term in recent decades; at least seven others can be identified as having attributed it to Jesus and/or the Virgin in their alleged messages.
The first appears to have been the Italian mystic Giuliana Buttini Crescio (1921-2003), virtually unknown outside specialist circles but the author of a vast corpus of an estimated 38 000 manuscript pages of supposed locutions, with the expression apostoli degli ultimi tempi appearing in a series of messages received 1973 in 1974.  http://www.amicidigiuliana.org/volume-i/messaggi-106-222Far better-known is Don Stefano Gobbi, founder of the Marian Movement of Priests, who was regularly invited by Pope St John Paul II to con-celebrate Mass in the Pontiff’s private chapel; the term appears initially in Don Gobbi’s writings on November 1, 1981 in a locution attributed to Our Lady, addressed to members of the MMP gathered in Puebla in Mexico (n° 236):
By your prayer, your suffering and your personal immolation, I will bring my plan to completion. I will hasten the time of the triumph of my Immaculate Heart in the Reign of Jesus, who will come to you in glory. Thus a new era of peace will begin and you will at last see new heavens and a new earth. (…) I have great designs -on you: respond, each and all, with generosity! In this extraordinary Cenacle, I have obtained for you from the Father, through Jesus, the gift of the Holy Spirit. He will transform you into ‘apostles of these last times.’[…]
While Mélanie Calvat remains to some extent a controversial figure, much light has been shed on her life and times in recent decades following the 1999 re-discovery by French researcher Michel Corteville of the original written depositions of the “secret” of La Salette by Mélanie and her fellow seer Maximin Giraud in 1851 for Pope Pius IX. Copious historical documentation, including Mélanie’s proposed rule for the order of the Apostles of the End Times, can be found in the book Découverte du secret de La Salette by Corteville and René Laurentin (Paris: Fayard, 2002). A recent attempt by Paul-Etienne Pierrecourt in the book De la Salette à Diana Vaughan (Editions Rémi, 2020) to discredit Corteville’s work appears to have gained a certain traction in French traditionalist circles, but belongs more to the genre of conspiracy theory than to serious scholarship (Pierrecourt is for example convinced that “Diana Vaughan”, famously held up by the Church at the end of the 19th century as a prize convert from Freemasonry, actually existed, whereas it has been long known that she was the fictional creation of the author Léo Taxil).
A message (n° 533) received on December 8, 1994, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Don Gobbi in Santiago in the Dominican Republic strikingly develops and contextualizes the notion of these “apostles ”:
Precisely on this day, you are celebrating here the five hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the evangelization of all this great continent of America. After nearly two thousand years since the first announcing of the Gospel, humanity has again become pagan. I am the Mother of the second evangelization. Mine is the task of forming the apostles of the second evangelization. During these years, I have formed you with particular care and through the gift of my words, to be the apostles of these last times. Apostles of the last times, because you must announce to all, to the very ends of the earth, the Gospel of Jesus, in these days of the great apostasy. In the great darkness which has descended upon the world, spread the Light of Christ and of his divine Truth. Apostles of the last times, because you must give to all the very life of God, by means of grace which you communicate with the sacraments of which you are the ministers. And thus you spread the fragrance of purity and of holiness in these times of great perversion. Apostles of the last times, because you are being called to bring down the dew of the merciful love of Jesus upon a world parched by the inability to love and menaced more and more with hatred, violence and war. Apostles of the last times, because you must announce the closely approaching return of Jesus in glory, who will lead humanity into the new times, when at last there will be seen new heavens and a new earth. Proclaim to all his forthcoming return: ‘Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!’
To anyone familiar with the themes emphasized by Fr Michel Rodrigue in his presentations, the continuity with this message of Don Gobbi ought to be self evident. The same is true for at least five other alleged mystics having used the term “apostles of the end times”:
– Luz Amparo Cuevas (1986), seer of the apparitions of El Escorial near Madrid in Spain where, although the apparitions are not formally approved by the Church, public worship is authorized.
– Agustín del Divino Corazón (Colombia), co-founder of the accredited congregation of the Servants of Reparation of the Sacred Hearts, whose writings have received the Imprimatur from the diocese of Lurin, and who has authored a whole book of alleged locutions entitled “Mary, teacher of the Apostles of the End Times”. Agustín is on record as saying that when he first “heard” (in the sense of a locution) the words “apostles of the end times”, they struck him as suspiciously reminiscent of New Age spirituality, presumably because he was unaware of the completely orthodox Catholic tradition underpinning the concept.
– Luz de Maria de Bonilla (Costa Rica, living in Argentina), Augustinian Tertiary, whose writings between 2009 and 2019 have received the Imprimatur from Bishop Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara of Esteril, and who is featured on this website.
– Sulema (El Salvador, living in Quebec), author of three volumes of locutions published by Swiss specialists in private revelation Editions Parvis, written/dictated to her in elegant literary French, a language that Sulema, a first-language Hispanophone, only speaks at a rudimentary level. Interestingly, the primary reference to the “apostles of the end times” (August 24, 2012) reproduces several exact expressions from Don Gobbi’s message n° 533, but in more developed form that does not suggest plagiarism.
– Greek Orthodox visionary Vassula Rydén in a 1996 message in the book True Life in God, subject to a Vatican Notification in 1995 but granted the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur in 2005 following the clarification of points of theological contention during extended individual dialogue between Vassula and Cardinal Ratzinger of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
“END-TIME APOSTLE” BY AUTO-SUGGESTION?
The way in which the “apostles of the end times” are described is remarkably consistent in all these purported messages, despite the fact that the mystics concerned, including Fr Michel Rodrigue, demonstrably have little if any idea of the contents of one another’s supposed revelations. How are we to explain this convergence? Is it possible that, given his own knowledge of the mystical tradition, Fr Michel is seeing himself as an “apostle of the end times” and generating his revelations by auto-suggestion due to an unconscious mechanism of wish-fulfillment in relation to the spiritual figures whom he admires? In a slightly different form, we can see a similar mechanism in operation in the attempts of certain schismatic groups, such as the SSPX and Archbishop Lefebvre in person to appropriate certain Marian apparitions (notably those of Quito, Ecuardor to Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres (1563-1635), seeing themselves as the fulfillers of the prophecies associated with the apparitions in question. Put somewhat crudely, is he simply trying to become another Don Gobbi and generating the requisite material for the role out of his religious imagination? This is certainly a psychologically plausible mechanism to which some self-appointed seers (without naming names…) currently active on the internet may well have succumbed, but there is no reason why this must be true in Fr Rodrigue’s case. The logical question would therefore seem to be this: how are we to judge whether he has fallen into the trap of self-delusion or is having authentic mystical experience?
One (provisional) answer would appear to lie in trying to identify elements in his case that cannot be explained by psychological reductionism. One such element is arguably the simultaneous appearance of alleged revelations virtually identical to his in sources to which he is evidently unconnected, especially when these revelations cannot simply be traced back to a common source in Scripture or Tradition.
An example of this is a message to Gisella Cardia in Trevignano Romano dated August 18, 2020 https://www.lareginadelrosario.com/2020/08/messsaggi-agosto-2020.html English translation: https://www.countdowntothekingdom.com/gisella-cardia-do-not-be-far-from-god – calling the faithful to prepare 3 months of food reserves, the precise duration mentioned by Fr Michel on a different continent and in a different language. Given that this message appeared in Italy months after Fr Michel made a similar appeal, if plagiarism is the explanation for the convergence, it would logically be the Italian visionary who would be the suspect. However, in Trevignano Romano the seer’s locutions are backed up by multiple scientifically unexplained phenomena documented on film including the “Dance of the Sun” at the apparition site, in principle impossible to fake; this would seem to diminish the likelihood of plagiarism on Gisella Cardia’s side. This particular instance of convergence (and there are several others) therefore remains an unresolved enigma: if copying is eliminated as an explanation, we are basically left with chance or common supernatural inspiration as the alternatives between which the reader must judge.
A second objective criterion obviously concerns the fulfilment (or lack of it) of various predictions made by Fr Michel Rodrigue, especially those where he has mentioned specific dates, Autumn 2020 being the most obvious example. This is admittedly an extremely bold – or possibly foolhardy – move on his part, as if the predicted events do not materialize this will surely reveal him to be unreliable as a prophetic voice (unless there is some credible evidence that the events have been staved off by concerted prayer on a major scale).  It should however be remembered that all prophecies dealing with scenarios in which human free will plays a part are by definition conditional. However, to those who have been following his words for any length of time, certain time-dependent statements made by him in the past – notably the prediction towards the end of last year that Christmas 2019 would be the last in normal conditions, and that world events would accelerate after December 25, have proved uncannily accurate. The resurgence of covid-19 after a summer lull also corresponds closely to a prediction made by Fr Rodrigue several months ago. Only time will tell whether these should simply be regarded as “random hits”, the result of astute guesswork, or the fruit of genuine supernatural inspiration, but given the timeline that Fr Michel has outlined, events will at least tell us sooner rather than later. One possible strategy for those readers uncertain as to how to evaluate his words might therefore be to suspend judgment at this point, returning to them in early 2021 when things ought logically to be clearer.
Bishop Bourgon’s letter concerning Fr Michel concludes with the words “I pray for all the faithful who may have experienced moments of anguish in the face of Father Rodrigue’s words and presentations.” Such a prayer is of course understandable, and to be echoed on a pastoral level, but it does beg at least two questions.
Firstly, it has to be asked as to whether the anguish is the direct result of Fr Michel’s communications or whether the latter have simply struck a raw nerve in already vulnerable individuals whose reading of private revelation is at least partially motivated by existing personal insecurity or fear of the future. Particularly as he and many other seers in the “international prophetic consensus” have consistently reminded us that, in the words of Psalm 91, God is our “refuge and fortress”.
Secondly, at the risk of sounding blunt, which is objectively more anxiety inducing: the eschatological presentations of Fr Michel Rodrigue or the desperate reality faced every day by thousands of millions of people in the world, particularly outside the industrialized nations? A reality marked both by the “cry of the poor” and the “cry of the earth”, by spiralling violence of all kinds, increasing totalitarianism, religious persecution on a massive scale, family breakdown, crippling inequality, major population displacement and ecological catastrophe, all steadily worsening without any obvious indication of an improvement on the horizon.
The irony, it would seem, is this: ultimately, as the quotation from Don Stefano Gobbi’s message n° 533 tells us, it is against this bleak backdrop that the vocation of the “Apostles of the End Times” (a vocation open to anyone who chooses it) is to be messengers of hope and healing, “called to bring down the dew of the merciful love of Jesus upon a world parched by the inability to love and menaced more and more with hatred, violence and war.” Their apostolic role is to “announce the closely approaching return of Jesus in glory, who will lead humanity into the new times, when at last there will be seen new heavens and a new earth.” This, it seems to me, is precisely what the likes of Fr Michel Rodrigue aspire to do, all their human limitations notwithstanding. Their aim is not to create anguish but to inspire Biblically-grounded faith in God’s promises for his Creation. But to hear the contemporary prophets this way requires a certain effort and spiritual discipline on the part of the listener, whose prime concern needs to be the overarching message, not the short-term details, however shocking they may appear. And that message is ultimately nothing other than an unpacking of Scripture’s account of salvation history. We cannot say for certain at this point whether Fr Michel will ultimately be vindicated as an authentic prophet or join the ranks of many well-meaning but misguided individuals throughout Christian history who have confused genuine inspiration with the workings of their own religious imagination. But surely the appropriate response not only to his words but also to the manifest turbulence of our times is neither to seek other-worldly escape nor self protection at any cost, but to follow the recommendation of Our Lord himself, while always remembering that Heaven’s timing is not our own:
“stand up and raise your heads, for your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28)
September 19, 2020 (anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady to Mélanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud in La Salette, September 19, 1846)
|↑3||St Hannibal was also responsible for disseminating the writings of Italian mystic Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta (1865-1947). It was his canonization in 1994 which opened the way for a renewed investigation into her voluminous writings after nearly six decades of Vatican imposed silence concerning them.|
|↑5||In a slightly different form, we can see a similar mechanism in operation in the attempts of certain schismatic groups, such as the SSPX and Archbishop Lefebvre in person to appropriate certain Marian apparitions (notably those of Quito, Ecuardor to Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres (1563-1635), seeing themselves as the fulfillers of the prophecies associated with the apparitions in question.|
|↑6||https://www.lareginadelrosario.com/2020/08/messsaggi-agosto-2020.html English translation: https://www.countdowntothekingdom.com/gisella-cardia-do-not-be-far-from-god|
|↑7||It should however be remembered that all prophecies dealing with scenarios in which human free will plays a part are by definition conditional.|