Doomsday fanatics have claimed that a 12th century prophecy states the successor to Benedict XVI will be the last pope before the end of the world.
After the Mayan 2012 prophecies failed to materialise, apocalypse aficionados have turned their attention to the purported writings of St Malachy, an Irish saint and Archbishop of Armagh, who lived between 1094 and 1148, the Daily Mail reported.
St Malachy is said to have travelled to Rome in 1139, where he experienced a vision of future popes, writing down a series of 112 cryptic phrases that described each one in turn.
The saint's final prediction 'Petrus Romanus' is now being linked to leading contender Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson.
According to Malachy's visions, 'Petrus Romanus' will be the 112th and final pope after whom it is stated that the "the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people."
Although not part of official Catholic teaching, the Prophecy of the Popes is well known by Vatican officials and Catholic scholars.
Naysayers have found ways to successfully link each of the phrases to a corresponding pope throughout the centuries.
Pope John Paul II, for instance is associated with phrase No. 110, 'From the labour of the sun,' because he was both born and entombed on the day of a solar eclipse.
And current pope Benedict XVI, is linked to phrase No 111, 'glory of the olive' due to the fact that some members of the monastic order founded by St. Benedict are known as Olivetans.
The ominous phrase No 112, reads: "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Petrus Romanus (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."
However many experts believe the so-called 'Prophecy of Popes' is a fake and was made up in an attempt to increase a 16th-century cardinal's chances of becoming pope.