In the Old Testament, there are accounts of people (prophets) who saw God face to face.

Specifically in Genesis 32:30, it says

And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

If God does not vary or change, then my assumption would be that he is still speaking with others face to face, as he did with Jacob.

Are there any modern (last 200 years) accounts of the pope seeing God face to face?

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    Why are you asking specifically about the Pope? Excepting Jesus, are there any accounts of anyone seeing God face-to-face since Moses? (I'm pretty sure most of the prophets saw visions). Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 13:48
  • Interesting read, but not an answer:vultus.stblogs.org/index.php/2013/01/… Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 18:57
  • @TheFreemason Actually, this is the best answer to this question yet. Thank you for the link!
    – user9652
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 20:40
  • Do visions of Jesus count as seeing God "face to face"?
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 2:33

2 Answers 2


No Pope has made such claim, but he wouldn't need to.

As Hebrews says,

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,

Just because one does not have a face to face encounter does not mean that God has not spoken to them. Very few of the prophets claim they saw God's face. Indeed, Elijah perceived him only as a "still small voice." Jeremiah saw the visions God intended for him, but none was a vision of God himself.

Indeed, Penuiel is a time where God deviated from his normal practice, in revealing himself. Later, when Moses sought to seek God's face (Exodus 33), it was understood he could not see God's face and live.

The lesson has less to do with whether or not God changes, then if man's ability to relate to God changes. And, to box God into a place where he cannot relate to people differently runs counter to his nature as a person who is capable of relating.

Futhermore, as God's appointed representative on earth, Catholics (and I am not one) claim on the basis of Matthew 18:18 that:

"Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

This translates into the ability for the Apostolic office (established with Peter to whom Jesus says this) to make heavenly decisions, under God's guidance, in accordance with God's wishes.

  • I am not trying to box God into one nature or another. In fact, but asking this question, I am indeed trying to better understand the true nature of God. I am also confused by your citing of Exodus 33, because verses within that chapter seem to contradict. (vs. 11 states that the Lord spoke to Moses face to face while vs. 20 states that no one can see the face of God and live)--so which is it?
    – user9652
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 20:21
  • @user9652 I apologize that you took the "boxing in" as an attack - it's not. I'm just suggesting that freezing God's ability to relate to people in different ways is boxing him in. The differences in Exodus 33 are at the heart of the issue, which is why I brought it up - and I'd suggest therein lay the answers. Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 16:31

Not God the Father apparently, but perhaps Jesus. In Anatomy of the Vatican, page 20-21, Paul Hoffman says that in 1954, towards the end of his life, Pope Pius XII reported to some Jesuits that Jesus had appeared at his bedside during a recent illness and said to him that his time was not yet up. When the story found its way into the press, the Vatican had to confirm it officially.

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