Father Malachi Martin Dead at 78
Author of 16 Books Mourned by Countless Friends, Associates, Readers
By Father Charles Fiore
July 28,1999 - Father Malachi Brendan Martin, Roman Catholic priest, widely renowned theologian and bestselling author of 16 books, died in New York City on Tuesday, July 27, 1999, following a stroke.
Father Martin was born in Kerry, Ireland on July 23, 1921. He was educated at Belvedere College, and entered the Society of Jesus in 1939. He studied at the National University where he took a bachelor's degree in Semitic languages and Oriental history with parallel studies in Assyriology at Trinity College. He held degrees in Philosophy, Theology, Semitic Languages, Archeology and Oriental History from the University of Louvain, Belgium. He was ordained to the priesthood on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1954.
Father Martin did parallel studies at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and at Oxford University, specializing in intertestamentary studies and knowledge of Jesus as transmitted in Hebrew and Arabic manuscripts. Additional subjects of intense study for him during his formal education included rational psychology, experimental psychology, physics and anthropology.
He did early and seminal work on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and published some two dozen articles on Semitic paleography in learned journals. The first of his 16 books was the two-volume work, The Scribal Character of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
From 1958 until 1964 Malachi Martin served in Rome, where he was a close associate of, and carried out many sensitive missions for, the renowned Jesuit Cardinal Augustin Bea, and for Pope John XXIII.
While in Rome he was also Professor at the Pontifical Biblical Institute of the Vatican, where he taught Hebrew, Aramaic, Paleography and Scripture.
After twenty-five years as a Jesuit, Father Martin was released, at his own request by Paul VI from his vows of poverty and obedience in 1964.
Following a brief stay in Paris, he moved to New York, where until his final illness and death, he continued his apostolic service as a priest to what became a vast and loyal national and international "congregation" of Catholics and non-Catholics. He amassed a decades-long record of critical and commercial success as the author of sixteen bestselling books, many of which have defied trends and fads to remain in print for ten or even twenty years or more.
He wrote many articles and pamphlets, and recorded many audio tapes, and was widely sought after on television and radio as an authoritative commentator on Vatican affairs, and "one of the ten best media guests in the country."
Father Martin proved himself without equal in what The Washington Post called his "uncanny accuracy" with which he not only reported but predicted the hidden, inside geopolitics of the Vatican and its complex global dealings with governments and nations. Among his legacies is a decades-long public record of extraordinary understanding of the meaning and implications of events -- a record of predicting the unthinkable and getting it right every time; of foretelling events over the last thirty years that seemed unbelievable at first, but that in the end changed the lives of generations of men and women in every quarter of the world.
Among Malachi Martin's most famous books are Hostage to the Devil, The Final Conclave, Vatican, The Jesuits and The Keys of This Blood. His most recently published book, Windswept House: A Vatican Novel is widely read as a candid profile of the troubled state of the Roman Catholic Church today, and as a blueprint for its near future as the pontificate of John Paul II nears its end.
At his death, Father Martin was at work on what he said would be his most controversial and important book Entitled Primacy: How the Institutional Roman Catholic Church became a Creature of the New World Order, it was to deal with power and the papacy, and analyzed the revolutionary shift in the ancient dogma of primacy that lies at the heart of what many now see as the first breakdown of papal power in two millennia. It was to be a book about the Vatican's political landscape as we approach a new pontificate, and as a book of predictions about papal power and the world in the first decades of the new millennium.
The many reviews of Malachi Martin's books over the years stand as eloquent testimony to his importance as an author, his talent and candor, his courage and impact — "No spiritual journey is complete without a Vatican page-turner by Malachi Martin," said Forbes. "In biblical times they would have called him a prophet, " said The Dallas Morning News. "He fetches Christianity onto the stage of history," wrote The New York Times. "It is to Martin's credit," wrote the Sacramento Bee, "that his real-live 'fictional' Cardinals have flesh, bone and blood. And sometimes the heart of a South Chicago ward heeler." From The Houston Chronicle: "Whether you are Christian or Muslim or whatever, you will find that the influence of the Vatican can affect your own life." And from Alan Caruba in The Jewish Future: "The battle that concerns Martin is the fundamental survival of belief in God, and the struggle that supersedes our individual faiths is the one between us and those who would destroy all faiths."
Father Malachi Martin is survived by family members in Ireland.