The basis of the claims come from the predictions of Saint Malachy, the Archbishop of Armagh, to whom several miracles were attributed to in the 12th-century. In 1139, Malachy went to Rome from Ireland to give an account of his affairs, when he reportedly received a strange vision about the future, including the names of 112 future popes.

His prediction for the 112th and current pope – Francis – is rather shocking, it reads: “In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End.”