As I was shaking off sleep this morning, the first of the year in the city of man, an image came to my mind of a dragon’s mouth, open, black, evil, and drawing living men inside itself. The dragon’s head was raised above the globe of the earth, whence it could bend down and consume any man or city on the world’s surface. And it seemed to me that the dragon was not sitting upon the earth, but rather was coiled around it like a great serpent, as some sailors swear that monsters of the deep will coil themselves around a sailing ship at sea. And even as such serpents are said to crack a ship in two by tightening their coils ever more, so it seemed to me that the serpent with the dragon’s head that I saw coiled around the earth might by tightening itself a little crack the earth in two, and that those who dwelt upon it would fall I knew not where.

And as I pondered on the image, some words came to my mind, spoken a long, very long, life-time ago by a holy pope when first he sat upon the throne of Peter and looked out across the world:

We find extinguished among the majority of men all respect for the eternal God, and no regard paid in the manifestations of public and private life to the supreme Will – indeed, every effort and every artifice is used to destroy utterly the memory and knowledge of God. When all this is considered there is good reason to fear lest this great perversity may be as it were a foretaste, and perhaps the beginning of those evils which are reserved for the last days; and that there may be already in the world the ‘son of perdition’ of whom the Apostle speaks.