Soon after his elevation to the Chair of St. Peter, Pope Francis warned that the world was entering a time when Satan would increasingly show his power, especially in lands in which believers were being crushed.
Looking toward a rising storm in the Middle East, he warned that the persecution of religious minorities is a sign of the end times.
"It will be like the triumph of the prince of this world: the defeat of God. It seems that in that final moment of calamity, he will take possession of this world, that he will be the master of this world," said Pope Francis. "Religion cannot be spoken of, it is something private, no?"
A year later, the pope was even more specific in a letter to churches in the ancient lands of the Bible.
"I write to you just before Christmas, knowing that for many of you the music of your Christmas hymns will also be accompanied by tears and sighs. Nonetheless, the birth of the Son of God in our human flesh is an indescribable mystery of consolation," said Pope Francis.