...I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads....
And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication....
And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains [or hills], on which the woman sitteth.
A woman rides the beast that represents Antichrist and the revived Roman Empire he will rule. She is a city built on seven hills that reigns over the kings of the earth! John equates the readers' acceptance of this revelation with "wisdom." That insight demands our careful and prayerful attention.
Many prophecy teachers insist that the woman is the United States. No, the US is a country. It might justifiably be referred to as Sodom, considering the honor now given to homosexuals, but it is not "Mystery Babylon." She is declared to be a city.
Nor is the woman ancient Babylon now being rebuilt in Iraq, for it is not built on seven hills. Some other cities are, but only Rome meets all the criteria, including being known as Babylon. Even Catholic apologist Karl Keating confirms that Rome was known as Babylon and cites 1 Peter:5:13.1The Catholic Encyclopedia states, "It is within the city of Rome, called the city of seven hills, that the entire area of Vatican State proper is now confined." 2
The woman is called a "whore" (v 1), with whom earthly kings "have committed fornication" (v 2). Against only two cities could such a charge be made: Jerusalem and Rome. Jerusalem was indicted for spiritual fornication by numerous prophets (Isa:1:21, etc.), but does not meet the other criteria. Vatican City claims to have been the worldwide headquarters of Christianity since its beginning. Her pope claims to be the Vicar of Christ, and his Church the true Church and bride of Christ.
Christ said His kingdom was not of this world, otherwise His servants would fight. The popes have fought with armies and navies in the name of Christ to build a worldwide empire. Vatican II states that even today the Roman Catholic Church ceaselessly seeks to bring under its control all mankind and all their goods.3 And in furtherance of these goals it has engaged, exactly as John foresaw, in fornication (unholy alliances) with the kings of the earth.
Cappa Magna - A cloak with a long train and a hooded shoulder cape...[it] was purple wool for bishops; for cardinals, it was scarlet watered silk....
Cassock - The close-fitting, ankle-length robe worn by the Catholic clergy as their official garb....The color for bishops and other prelates is purple, for cardinals scarlet.... (Emphasis added)4
Her incredible wealth next caught John's eye. She was "decked with gold and precious stones and pearls...." (v 4) Even Christ's blood-stained cross has been turned to gold, reflecting her riches. The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "The pectoral cross [suspended by a chain around the neck of abbots, bishops, archbishops, cardinals and the pope] should be made of gold and...decorated with gems...." 5
She had "a golden cup [chalice] in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication" (v 4). The Catholic Encyclopedia calls the gold chalice "the most important of the sacred vessels...."6 That Church is known for its many thousands of gold chalices around the world. A recent newspaper article reported,
The fabulous treasure of Lourdes [France], whose existence was kept secret by the Catholic Church for 120 years, has been unveiled....Rumours have been circulating for decades about a priceless collection of gold chalices, diamond-studded crucifixes, silver and precious stones....
After an indiscreet remark by their press spokesman this week, church authorities agreed to reveal part of the collection... [some] floor-to-ceiling cases were opened to reveal 59 solid gold chalices alongside rings, crucifixes, statues and heavy gold brooches, many encrusted with precious stones.
Almost hidden by the other treasures is the "Crown" of Notre Dame de Lourdes, made by a Paris goldsmith in 1876 and studded with diamonds.
Church authorities say they cannot put a value on the collection. "I have no idea," says Father Pierre-Marie Charriez. ..."It is of inestimable value."
Across the road is a building housing hundreds of [antique] ecclesiastical garments, robes, mitres and sashes––many in heavy gold thread....
"The Church itself is poor," insists Father Charriez. "The Vatican itself is poor." 7 (Emphasis added) [And the treasure described here is only part of that which is kept in one location, the small town of Lourdes, France!]
She has practiced evil to gather her wealth, for the "golden cup" is filled with "abominations and filthiness." Much of the wealth of the Roman Catholic Church was acquired by confiscating property of the Inquisitions' pitiful victims. Even the dead were exhumed to face trial and property was taken from their heirs by the Church. That practice, one historian writes, offered "unlimited opportunities for loot."8
Most of Rome's wealth has been acquired through the sale of salvation. Untold billions of dollars have been paid to her by those who thought they were purchasing heaven on the installment plan for themselves or loved ones. The practice continues to this day—blatantly where Catholicism is in control, less obviously here in the United States where (for example) one pays the Church to have a Mass card placed on the altar in the name of the deceased during Mass to reduce time in purgatory. The wealthy often leave a fortune for masses to be said for their salvation after their death.
In addition to such perversions of the gospel, there are the further abominations (fully documented in police and court records) of corrupt banking practices, laundering of drug money, trading in counterfeit securities and dealings with the Mafia, which the Vatican and her representatives around the world have long employed. Former Business Week correspondent in Rome, Nino LoBello, who because of its incredible wealth calls Rome "the tycoon on the Tiber," says the Vatican is so closely allied with the Mafia in Italy that "many people...believe that Sicily...is nothing more than a Vatican holding." 9
John's attention is next drawn to the inscription on the woman's forehead: "THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH" (v 5). Sadly enough, the Roman Catholic Church fits that description as precisely as she fits the others. Much of the cause is due to the unbiblical doctrine of priestly celibacy.
The great Apostle Paul was a celibate and recommended that life to others who wanted to devote themselves fully to serving Christ. He did not, however, make it a condition for church leadership as the Catholic Church has done, thereby imposing an unnatural burden upon her clergy that very few could bear. On the contrary, he wrote that a bishop should be "the husband of one wife" (1 Tim:3:2) and set the same requirement for elders (Titus:1:5-6).
The doctrine of celibacy has been broken repeatedly by millions of priests and nuns, bishops, archbishops, cardinals and many popes such as Sergius III, John X, John XII, Benedict V, Innocent VIII, Urban VIII, Innocent X, et al. Celibacy has made sinners of the clergy and harlots out of those with whom they secretly cohabit. The Catholic Church has paid about $1 billion in out-of-court settlements in the last few years for sexual sins of its clergy in the USA alone. Rome is indeed "the mother of harlots"!
History is replete with sayings that mocked Romanism's false claim to celibacy: "The holiest hermit has his whore" and "Rome has more prostitutes than any other city because she has the most celibates" are examples. Pope Pius II called Rome "the only city run by bastards," the sons and grandsons of popes and cardinals.
Even Catholic historians admit that among the popes were some of the most degenerate and unconscionable ogres in all history. More than one pope was slain by a husband who found him in bed with his wife. To call such a man "His Holiness, Vicar of Christ" makes a mockery of holiness and of Christ. Yet the name of each of these mass murderers, fornicators, robbers, warmongers––some guilty of the massacre of thousands—is emblazoned in honor on the Church's official list of Peter's alleged successors, the popes.
John next notices that the woman is drunk—and not with alcohol but with "the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus..."(v 6). One thinks immediately of the Inquisitions (Roman, Medieval and Spanish) which for centuries held Europe in their terrible grip. Canon Llorente, who was the Secretary to the Inquisition in Madrid from 1790-92 and had access to the archives of all the tribunals, estimated that in Spain alone the number of condemned exceeded 3 million, with about 300,000 burned at the stake.10 A Catholic historian writes,
When Napoleon conquered Spain in 1808, a Polish officer in his army, Colonel Lemanouski, reported that the Dominicans blockaded themselves in their monastery in Madrid. When Lemanouski's troops forced an entry, the inquisitors denied the existence of any torture chambers.
The soldiers searched the monastery and discovered them under the floors. The chambers were full of prisoners, all naked, many insane. The French troops, used to cruelty and blood, could not stomach the sight. They emptied the torture-chambers, laid gunpowder to the monastery and blew the place up.11
The remnants of some of the chambers of horror remain in Europe and may be visited today. They stand as memorials to the zealous outworking of Roman Catholic dogmas which remain in force, and to a Church which claims to be infallible and to this day justifies such barbarism. They are also memorials to the astonishing accuracy of John's vision in Revelation 17. Do not forget, that Church has not yet officially admitted that these practices were evil, nor apologized to the world or to any of the victims or their descendants. Nor could John Paul II fully apologize today because "the doctrines responsible for those terrible things still underpin his position." 12
"Christian" Rome has slaughtered many times the number of both Christians and Jews that pagan Rome did. Beside those victims of the Inquisitions, there were Huguenots, Albigenses, Waldenses and other Christians, massacred, tortured and burned at the stake by the hundreds of thousands simply because they refused to align themselves with the Roman Catholic Church. Listen to the leading nineteenth-century Catholic professor of church history:
The view of the Church had been...[that] every departure from the teaching of the Church...must be punished with death, and the most cruel of deaths, by fire....
Both the initiation and carrying out of this...must be ascribed to the Popes alone...who compelled bishops and priests to condemn heretics to torture, confiscation of their goods, imprisonment, and death, and to enforce the execution of this sentence on the civil authorities, under pain of excommunication. (Emphasis added)13
Pope Martin V commanded the King of Poland in 1429 to exterminate the Hussites (sympathizers with the martyred Jan Hus). This excerpt from the Pope's letter to the King explains why popes hated independent Christians and wanted them destroyed:
Know that the interests of the Holy See, and those of your crown, make it a duty to exterminate the Hussites. Remember that these impious persons dare proclaim principles of equality; they maintain that all Christians are brethren, and that God has not given to privileged men the right of ruling the nations; they hold that Christ came on earth to abolish slavery; they call the people to liberty, that is to the annihilation of kings and priests....
[T]urn your forces against Bohemia; burn, massacre, make deserts everywhere, for nothing could be more agreeable to God, or more useful to the cause of kings, than the extermination of the Hussites.(Emphasis added)14
Note this excerpt from Pope Nicholas I's (858-67) instructions to the King of Bulgaria, a new convert to what he thought was "Christianity," to force Rome's religion upon his subjects:
I glorify you for having maintained your authority by putting to death those wandering sheep who refuse to enter the fold; and...congratulate you upon having opened the kingdom of heaven to the people submitted to your rule.
A king need not fear to command massacres, when these will retain his subjects in obedience, or cause them to submit to the faith of Christ; and God will reward him in this world, and in eternal life, for these murders.15
Why should Rome apologize for or even admit this holocaust? No one calls her to account today. Protestants have forgotten and evangelical leaders join Rome to evangelize together. They don't want to hear any "negative" reminders of the millions tortured and slain by the Church to which they now pay homage, or the fact that Rome has a false gospel of sacramental works.
The Nazi holocaust was thoroughly known to Pius XII in spite of his complete silence throughout the war on the slaughter of Jews.16 Had the Pope protested, as representatives of Jewish organizations and the Allied Powers begged him to do, he would have condemned his own Church. The facts are inescapable:
In 1936, Bishop Berning of Osnabruch had talked with the Fuhrer for over an hour. Hitler assured his lordship there was no fundamental difference between National Socialism and the Catholic Church. Had not the church, he argued, looked on Jews as parasites...?
"I am only doing," he boasted, "what the Church has done for fifteen hundred years, only more effectively." Being a Catholic himself, he told Berning, he "admired and wanted to promote Christianity [Catholicism]." 17
Finally, the angel reveals to John that the woman "is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth" (v 18). Is there such a city? Yes, and again only one: Vatican City. One eighteenth-century historian counted 95 popes who claimed to have divine power to depose kings and emperors. Historian Walter James wrote that Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) "held all Europe in his net." 18 Gregory IX (1227-41) thundered that the pope was Lord and Master of everyone and everything. Popes crowned and deposed kings and emperors, exacting obedience by threatening excommunication. Pope Nicholas I boasted, "Fear, then, our wrath and the thunders of our vengeance; for Jesus Christ has appointed us [the popes]...absolute judges of all men; and kings...are submitted to our authority." 19 In commanding one king to destroy another, Nicholas wrote,
We order you, in the name of religion, to invade his states, burn his cities, and massacre his people.... 20
Eminent Catholic historian Ignaz von Dollinger writes, "Pope Clement IV, in 1265, after selling millions of South Italians to Charles of Anjou for a yearly tribute of eight hundred ounces of gold, declared that he would be excommunicated if the first payment was deferred...."21Catholic Professor Carrerio boasted that the popes had "put down from their thrones great kings and yet mightier emperors, and set others in their place, to whom the greatest kingdoms have long paid tribute, as they do to no other, and who dispense such riches...that no king or emperor has ever had....22
The qualifying data which John gives us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for identifying this woman/city, is specific, conclusive and irrefutable. There is no city upon earth, past or present, which meets all of these criteria except Catholic Rome and Vatican City. Pray for the 980 million Catholics who are deceived into trusting their Church instead of Christ for salvation. May Christ's love move you to bring the gospel to them! TBC