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Catholic Dictionary




One of the prophetesses of classical mythology, of whom there were as many as ten in different places and times. Among them the most famous was the Cumaean Sibyl, described by Vergil in the Aeneid. The Sibylline writings, of unknown origin, were kept at Rome in the Capitol and consulted by the state in times of emergency. They were destroyed in the burning of the Capitol in 82 B.C., and a new collection was made, also burned, in A.D. 405. In the second century B.C., Hellenistic Jews had produced, for propaganda purposes, their own version of the Sibylline Oracles. The Jewish prophecies were freely used by Christian Apologists in the second century, and further oracles from Christian sources were added by the third century. St. Augustine quotes a passage in his City of God (18:23). Other Fathers of the Church, e.g., Theophilus of Antioch and Clement of Alexandria, drew on the Oracles in support of Christ and the Church.