​Almanac: Nostradamus

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A 19th century engraving by Hippolyte Bonnelier of French pharmacist, astrologer and writer Michel de Nostredame, known as Nostradamus.

De Agostini Picture Library, De Agostini/Getty Images

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: December 14th, 1503, 511 years ago today . . . widely believed to be the birthday in a small French town of Michel de Nostredame, known to us today as Nostradamus.

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CBS News

Nostradamus received some university training and practiced medicine for a time before branching out into prophecy.

He published his first book of prophecies in 1555, and not even he could have foreseen the long-lasting impact it would have:

Orson Welles narrated the 1981 film, "The Man Who Saw Tomorrow," which dramatized some of his most startling prophecies: "Was he a quack, this Nostradamus? A charlatan? Or was he a true prophet, a man with a gift to see what others cannot see?"

Written in brief verses called quatrains, they mostly bore tidings of gloom and doom, including wars and earthquakes and cataclysms of every description.

He predicted, among other things, the coming of three Anti-Christs, which true believers say were Napoleon and Hitler . . . with Anti-Christ #3 still TBD.

His modern-day followers insist his prophecies are largely coming true. Skeptics counter that they were written so vaguely that they can be read as predicting just about anything.

Believe them or not, the prophecies of Nostradamus have a secure place in our popular culture.

And it takes no crystal ball to predict that they'll be with us for a long, long time to come.


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