A City on Seven Hills
By Dave Hunt
"The woman which thou sawest
is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. ... Here is the
mind which hath wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman
sitteth" (Revelation 17:18,9).
woman rides the beast, and that woman is a city built on seven hills that reigns
over the kings of the earth! Was ever in all of history such a statement made?
John immediately equates the readers' acceptance of this revelation with
"wisdom." We dare not pass over such a disclosure casually. It merits our
careful and prayerful attention. Here is no mystical or allegorical language but
an unambiguous statement in plain words: "The woman...is that great city. There
is no justification for seeking some other hidden meaning. Yet books have been
written and sermons preached insisting that "Mystery Babylon" is the United
States. That is clearly not the case, for the woman is a city.
Furthermore, she is a city built on seven hills.
That specification eliminates ancient Babylon. Only one city has for more than
2000 years been known as the city on seven hills. That city is Rome. The
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" (The Catholic Encyclopedia, Thomas Nelson, 1976, s.v. "Rome").
There are, of course, other cities, such as Rio de Janeiro, that were also built
on seven hills. Therefore, John provides at least more characteristics to limit
the identification to Rome alone. As we shall see, there is only one city on the
earth which in both historical and contemporary perspectives, passes every test
John gives, including its identification as Mystery Babylon. That city is Rome,
and more specifically, Vatican City. Even Catholic apologist Karl Keating admits
that Rome has long been known as Babylon. Keating claims that Peter's statement
"The church here in Babylon, sends you her greeting" (from 1 Peter 5:13) proves
that Peter was writing from Rome. He explains further:
"Babylon is a code word for
Rome. It is used that way six times in the last book of the Bible [four of the
six are in chapters 17 and 18] and in extra-biblical works such as Syblling
Oracles (5, 159f.), and Apocalypse of Baruch (ii, 1), and 4 Esdras (3:1).
"Eusebius Pamphilius, writing
about 303, noted that `it is said that Peter's first epistle ... was composed at
Rome itself; and that he himself indicates this, referring to the city
figuratively as Babylon" (Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The
Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians," Kgnatius Press, 1988, p. 200).
As for "Mystery," that name imprinted on the woman's forehead is the perfect
designation for Vatican City. Mystery is at the very heart of Roman Catholicism,
for the words "Mysterium Fidev pronounced at the alleged transformation of the
bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Christ to the enigmatic
apparitions of Mary around the world. Every sacrament, from baptism to extreme
unction, manifests the mysterious power which the faithful must believe the
priests wield, but for which there is no visible evidence. Rome's new Catechism
explains that liturgy "aims to initiate souls into the mystery of Christ (It is
'mystagogy.')" and that all of the Church's liturgy is a "mystery" (Catechism
of the Catholic Church, The Wanderer Press, 1994).
WHO IS THE WHORE?
The first thing we are told about the woman is
that she is a "whore" (Revelation 17:1), that earthly kings "have committed
fornication" with her (verse 2), and that "all the inhabitants of the earth have
been made drunk with the wine of her fornication" (verse 3). Why would a city be
called a whore and be accused of having committed fornication with kings? Such
an indictment would never be made of London or Moscow or Paris, or any other
ordinary city. It wouldn't make sense.
Fornication and adultery are used in the Bible
in both the physical and the spiritual sense. Of Jerusalem God said, "How is the
faithful city become a harlot!" (Isaiah 1:21). Israel, whom God had set apart
from all other peoples to be holy for His purposes, had entered into unholy,
adulterous alliances with the idols-worshiping nations about her. She had
"committed adultery with stones and with stocks [idols] (Jeremiah 3:9); "and
with their idols have they committed adultery" (Ezekiel 23:37). The entire
chapter of Ezekiel 16 explains Israel's spiritual adultery in detail, both with
heathen nations and with their false gods, as do many other passages. There is
no way that a city could engage in literal, fleshly fornication. Thus we can
only conclude that John, like the prophets in the Old Testament, is using the
term in its spiritual sense. The city, therefore, must claim a spiritual
relationship with God. Otherwise such an allegation would be meaningless. Though
it is built on seven hills, there would be no reason to accuse Rio de Janeiro of
spiritual fornication. It makes no claim of having a special relationship with
God. And though Jerusalem has that relationship, it cannot be the woman riding
on the beast, for it is not built on seven hills. Nor does it meet the other
criteria by which this woman is to be identified.
Against only one other city in history could a
charge of fornication be leveled. That city is Rome, and more specifically
Vatican City. She claims to have been the worldwide headquarters of Christianity
since its beginning and maintains that claim to this day. Her pope enthroned in
Rome claims to be the exclusive representative of God, the Vicar of Christ. Rome
is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, and in that too she is unique.
IN BED WITH RULERS
Not only does Rome's Pope call himself the Vicar of
Christ, but the Church he heads claims to be the one true Church and the bride
of Christ. Christ's Bride, (claims also that outside Catholic Church there is no
salvation) whose hope is to join her Bridegroom in heaven, is to have no earthly
ambitions. Yet the Vatican is obsessed with earthly enterprise, as history
proves; and in furtherance of these goals it has been, exactly as John foresaw
in his vision, engaged in adulterous relationships with the kings of the earth.
Christ said to His disciples, "If ye were of the world, the world would love
his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the
world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:19). The Catholic Church,
however, is very much of this world. Her popes have built an unrivaled worldwide
empire of property, wealth, and influence. Nor is empire-building an abandoned
feature of the past. We have already seen the Vatican II clearly states that the
Roman Catholic Church today still ceaselessly seeks to bring under its control
all mankind and all their goods.
Popes have long claimed dominion over the world and
its peoples. Pope Gregory XI's papal bull or 1372 (In Coena Domini) claimed
papal dominion over the entire Christian world, secular and religious, and
excommunicated all who failed to obey the popes and to pay them taxes. In Coena
was confirmed by subsequent popes and in 1568 Pope Pius V swore that it was to
remain an eternal law.
Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) claimed that all
undiscovered lands belonged to the Roman Pontiff, for him to dispose of as he
pleased in the name of Christ as His vicar. King John II of Portugal was
convinced that in his Bull Romanus Pontifex the pope had granted all that
Columbus discovered exclusively to him and his country. Ferdinand and Isabel of
Spain, however, thought the pope had given the same lands to them. In May 1493
the Spanish-born Alexander VI issued three bulls to settle the dispute.
In the name of Christ, who had no place on this earth that He called his
own, this incredibly evil Borgia pope, claiming to own the world, drew a
north-south line down the global map of that day, giving everything on the east
to Portugal and on the west to Spain. Thus by papal grant, "out of the plenitude
of apostolic power," Africa went to Portugal and the America’s to Spain. When
Portugal "succeeded in reaching India and Malaya, they secured the confirmation
of these discoveries from the Papacy." There was a condition, of course: "to the
intent to bring the inhabitants to profess the Catholic Faith"
As a consequence of this unholy alliance, between
church and state, Central and South America had Roman Catholicism forced upon
them by the sword and remain Catholic to this day. North America (with the
exception of Quebec and Louisiana) was spared the dominance of the Roman
Catholicism because it was settled largely by Protestants. Nor have the
descendants of Aztecs, Incas, and Mayas forgotten that Roman Catholic priests,
backed by the secular sword, gave their ancestors the choice of conversion
(which often meant slavery) or death. They made such an outcry when John Paul II
in a recent visit to Latin America proposed elevating Junipero Serra (a major
eighteenth-century enforcer of Catholicism among the Indians) to sainthood that
the Pope was forced to hold the ceremony in secret.
Christ said, "My kingdom is not of this world; otherwise my servants would
fight." The Popes, however, have fought with armies and navies in the name of
Christ to build a huge kingdom which has engulfed much of this world. And to
amass their earthly empire they have repeatedly engaged in spiritual fornication
with emperors, kings, and princes. Claiming to be the bride of Christ, the
Roman Catholic Church has been in bed with godless rulers down through history,
and these adulterous relationships continue to this day.
ROME EQUALS VATICAN
Some may object that it is Rome, and not that small
part of it known as Vatican City, which is built on seven hills, and that the
Vatican can hardly be called a "great city," Though both objections are true,
the words "Vatican" and "Rome" are universally used interchangeably. Just as one
would refer to Washington and mean the government that runs the United States,
so one refers to Rome and means the hierarchy that rules the Roman Catholic
Church. So closely are Catholicism and Rome linked that the Catholic Church is
known as the Roman Catholic Church, or simply the Roman Church.
Moreover, for more than a thousand years the Roman Catholic Church exercised
both religious and civil control over the entire city of Rome and its
surroundings. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) abolished the secular Roman Senate
and placed the administration of Rome directly under his command. The Roman
Senate that had governed the city under the Caesars had been known as the Curia
Romana (Roman Curia). That name, according to the Pocket Catholic Dictionary,
is now the designation of "the whole ensemble of administrative and judicial
offices through which the Pope directs the operations of the Catholic Church."
The popes' authority even extended to large
territories outside Rome acquired in the eighth century. At that time, with the
help of a deliberately fraudulent document manufactured for the popes known as
“The Donation of Constantine”, Pope Stephen III convinced Pepin, king of the
Franks and father of Charlemagne, that territories recently taken by the
Lombards from the Byzantines actually had been given to the papacy by the
Emperor Constantine. The Donation declared that Constantine had given these
lands, along with Rome and the Lateran Palace, to the popes in perpetuity. Thus
the Papal States were literally stolen by the popes from their rightful owners.
The papacy controlled and taxed these territories and derived great wealth from
them until 1848. At that time the pope, along with the rulers of most of the
other divided territories of Italy, was forced to grant his rebellious subjects
a constitution. In September 1860, over his raging protests, Pius IX lost all of
the papal states to the new, finally united Kingdom of Italy, which left him, at
the time of the First Vatican Council in 1870, still in control of Rome and its
surroundings. The point, exactly as John foresaw in his vision, a spiritual
entity that claimed a special relationship with Christ and with God became
identified with a city that was built on seven hills. That "woman" committed
spiritual fornication with earthly rulers and eventually reigned over them. The
Roman Catholic Church has been continuously identified with that city. As "the
most definitive Catholic encyclopedia since Vatican II" declares:
"...hence one understands the central place of Rome in the
life of the Church today and the significance of the title, Roman Catholic
Church, the Church that is universal, yet focused upon the ministry of the
Bishop of Rome. Since the founding of the Church there by St. Peter, Rome has
been the central of all Christendom" Catholic Encyclopedia, 1991, p.
WEALTH FROM ILL-GOTTEN GAIN
incredible wealth of this woman caught John's attention next. She was dressed
"in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and
pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of
her fornication" (Revelation 17:4). The colors of purple and scarlet once
again identify the woman with both pagan and Christian Rome. These were the
colors of the Roman Caesars with which the soldiers mockingly robed Christ as
"King" (see Matthew 27:28 and John 19:2,5), which the Vatican took to itself.
The woman's colors are literally still the colors of the Catholic clergy!
The "golden cup (chalice) in her hand" again identifies the woman with the
Roman Catholic Church. Broderick's edition of The Catholic Encyclopedia
declared of the chalice: "It is the most important of the sacred vessels. It may
be of gold or silver, and if the latter, then the inside must be surfaced with
gold" (Robert Broderick, ed., The Catholic Encyclopedia). The Roman
Catholic Church possesses many thousands of solid gold chalices kept in its
churches around the world. Even the bloodstained cross of Christ has been turned
to gold and studded with gems in reflection of Rome's great wealth. The
Catholic Encyclopedia says: "The pectoral cross [suspended by a chain around
the neck and worn over the breast by abbots, bishops, archbishops, cardinals,
and the pope] should be made of gold and decorated with gems." (Ibid., p. 466).
Rome has practiced evil to
gather her wealth, for the "golden cup" is filled with "abominations and
filthiness." 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 installation 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. No greater deception or
abomination could be perpetrated. When Cardinal Cajetan, sixteenth-century
Dominican scholar, complained about the sale of dispensations and indulgences,
the Church hierarchy was indignant and accused him of wanting "to turn Rome into
an uninhabited desert, to reduce the Papacy to impotence, to deprive the pope of
the pecuniary resources indispensable for the discharge of his office" (J.H.
Ignaz von Dollinger, The Pope and the Council, London, 1869, pp. 307-08).
The Roman Catholic Church
is by far the wealthiest institution on earth. Yes, one hears from Rome periodic
pleas for money, persuasive appeals claiming that the Vatican cannot maintain
itself on its limited budget and needs monetary assistance. Such pleas are
unconscionable ploys. The value of innumerable sculptures by such masters as
Michelangelo, paintings by the world's greatest artists, and countless other art
treasures and ancient documents which Rome possesses (not only at the Vatican
but in cathedrals around the world) is beyond calculation. There is no church,
no City which is a spiritual entity, no religious institution past or present
which even comes close to possessing the wealth of the Roman Catholic Church.
THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS
The more deeply one probes into the history of the
Roman Catholic Church and its current practices, the more impressed one becomes
with the amazing accuracy of the vision John received centuries before it would
all be lamentable reality. John's attention is drawn to the inscription boldly
emblazoned upon the woman's forehead: 'MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF
HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH" (Revelation 17:5) Sadly enough, the Roman
Catholic Church fits the description "mother of harlots and abominations" as
precisely as she fits the other. Much of the cause can be traced to the
unbiblical demand that her priests be celibates.
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 all clergy
that very few could bear. On the contrary, he wrote that bishop should by "the
husband of one wife" (1 Timothy 3:2) and set the same requirement for elders
Peter, whom the Catholics erroneously claim was the first pope, was married.
So were at least some of the other apostles. This fact was not the chance result
of their having been married before Christ called them, but it was accepted as
an ongoing norm. Paul himself argued that he had the right to marry like the
rest: "Have we not power [Greek exousia, the right or privilege or authority] to
lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles and as the brethren
[half-brothers, sons of Mary and Joseph] of the Lord, and as Cephas [Peter]?" (1
The Roman Catholic Church, however, has insisted
upon celibacy even though many popes, among them Sergius III (904-11), John X
(914-28), John XII (955-63), Benedict V (964), Innocent VIII (1484-92), Urban
VIII (1623-44), and Innocent X (1644-55), as well as millions of cardinals,
bishops, archbishops, monks, and priests throughout history, have repeatedly
violated such vows. Not only has celibacy made sinners of the clergy who engage
in fornication, but makes harlots out of those with whom they secretly cohabit.
Rome is indeed "the mother of harlots"! Her identification as such is
unmistakable. No other city, church, or institution in the history of the world
is her rival in this particular evil.
History is replete with sayings that mocked the
church's false claim to celibacy and revealed the truth: "The holiest hermit has
his whore" and "Rome has more prostitutes than any other city because she has
the most celibates" are examples. Pius II declared that Rome was "the only city
run by bastards" [sons of popes and cardinals].
As for abominations, even Catholic historians admit
that among the popes were some of the most degenerate and unconscionable ogres
in all of history. Their numerous outrageous crimes, many of which almost beyond
belief, have been recited by many historians from preserved documents that
reveal the depths of papal depravity, some of which we will cover in later
chapters. To call any of these men "His Holiness, Vicar of Christ" makes a
mockery of holiness and of Christ. Yet the name of each one of these
unbelievably wicked popes--mass murderers, fornicators, robbers, warmongers,
some guilty of the massacre of thousands--is emblazoned in honor of the Church's
official list of popes.
DRUNK WITH THE MARTYR' BLOOD
John next notices that the woman is drunk--and not with an alcoholic
beverage. She is drunk with "the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the
martyrs of Jesus..." (Revelation 17:6). The picture is a horrible one. It is not
merely her hands that are red with this blood, but she is drunk with it! The
slaughter of innocents who, for conscience' sake, would not yield to her
totalitarian demands has so refused and exhilarated her that she reels in
ecstasy. One thinks immediately of the Inquisitions (Roman, Medieval, and
Spanish) which for centuries held Europe in their terrible grip. In his
History of the Inquisition, Canon Llorente, who was the Secretary to the
Inquisition in Madrid from 1790-1792 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.
During the Inquisition, the Roman Catholic Church
devised ingenious tortures so excruciating and barbarous that one is sickened by
their recital. Church historian Bishop William Shaw Kerr writes:
"The most ghastly abomination
of all was the system of torture. The accounts of its cold-blooded operations
make one shudder at the capacity of human beings for cruelty. And it was decreed
and regulated by the popes who claim to represent Christ on earth.
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 today, 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.
The Roman Catholic Church "was responsible for
persecuting Jews, for the Inquisition, for slaughtering heretics by the
thousand, and for reintroducing torture in to Europe as part of the judicial
process." Yet the Roman Catholic Church has never officially admitted that these
practices were evil, nor has she apologized to the world or to any of the
victims or their descendants. Nor could Pope John Paul II apologize today
because "the doctrines responsible for those terrible things still underpin his
MORE BLOOD THAN THE PAGANS
Pagan Rome made sport of throwing to the lions,
burning and otherwise killing thousands of Christians and not a few Jews. Yet
"Christian" Rome slaughtered many times that number of both Christians and Jews.
Beside those victims of the Inquisition, there were Huguenots, Albigenses,
Waldenses, and other Christians who were massacred, tortured, and burned at the
stake by the hundreds of thousands simply because they refused to align
themselves with the Roman Catholic Church and its corruption and heretical
dogmas and practices. Out of conscience they tried to follow the teachings of
Christ and the apostles independent of Rome, and for that crime they were
maligned, hunted, imprisoned, tortured, and slain.
Why would Rome ever apologize for or even admit
this holocaust? No one calls her to account today. Protestants have now
forgotten the hundreds of thousands of people burned at the stake for embracing
the simple gospel of Christ and refusing to bow to papal authority. Amazingly,
Protestants are now embracing Rome as Christian while she insists that the
"separated brethren" be reconciled to her on her unchangeable terms! Many
evangelical leaders are intent upon working with Roman Catholics to evangelize
the world. They don't want to hear any "negative" reminders of the millions of
people tortured and slain by the Church to which they now pay homage, or the
fact that Rome has a false gospel of sacramental works.
"Holy" Rome slaughtered Jews by the thousands--far
more than pagan Rome ever did. The land of Israel was seen as belonging to the
Roman Catholic Church, not to the Jews. In 1096 Pope Urban I inspired the first
crusade to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims. With the cross on their shields
and armor, the Crusaders massacred Jews across Europe on their way to the Holy
Land. Almost their first act upon taking Jerusalem "for Holy Mother Church" was
to herd all of the Jews into the synagogue and set it ablaze. These facts of
history cannot be swept under the carpet of ecumenical togetherness as though
they never happened.
Nor can the Vatican escape considerable responsibility for the Nazi
Holocaust, which was thoroughly known to Pius XII in spite of his complete
silence throughout the war on the most important of subjects. 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
"In 1936, Bishop Berning of
Osnabruch had talked with the Fuehrer 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 and
shut them in ghettos?
"`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
There is, of course, another reason why the Roman
Catholic Church has neither apologized for nor repented of these crimes. How
could she? The execution of heretics (including Jews) was decreed by
"infallible" popes. The Catholic Church herself claims to be infallible, and
thus her doctrines could not be wrong.
REIGNING OVER THE KINGS OF THE EARTH
Finally, the angel reveals
to John that the woman "is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the
earth" (Revelation 17:18). Is there such a city? Yes, and again only one:
Vatican City. Popes crowned and deposed kings and emperors, exacting obedience
by threatening them with excommunication. At the time of the First Vatican
Council in 1869 J.H. Ignaz von Dollinger, Professor of Church History in Munich,
warned that Pope Pius IX would force the Council make an infallible dogma out of
"that pet theory of the Popes, that they could force kings and magistrates, by
excommunication and its consequences, to carry out their sentences of
confiscation, imprisonment, and death.
Though John Paul II lacks the power to enforce such
brutal claims today, his Church still retains the dogmas which authorize him to
do so. And the practical effects of his power are no less than those of his
predecessors, though exercised quietly behind the scenes. The Vatican is the
only city which exchanges ambassadors with nations, and she does so with every
major country on earth. Ambassadors come to the Vatican from every major
country, including the United States, not out of mere courtesy but because of
the pope is the most powerful ruler on earth today.
Yes, ambassadors of nations come to Washington D.C., to Paris, or to London,
but only because the national government has its capital there. Nor does
Washington, Paris, London, or any other city send ambassadors to other
countries. Only Vatican City does so. Unlike any other city on earth, the
Vatican is acknowledged as a sovereign state in its own right, separate and
distinct from the nation of Italy surrounding it. There is no other city in
history of which this has been true, and such is still the case today.
Only of the Vatican could it be said that a city reigns over the kings of
the earth. The phrase "the worldwide influence of Washington" means the
influence not of that city but of the United States, which has its capital
there. When one speaks, however, of the influence of the Vatican around the
world, that is exactly what is meant--the city and the worldwide power of Roman
Catholicism and its leader the Pope. Vatican City is absolutely unique.
FORGET A REBUILT BABYLON
Some suggest that the Vatican will move to Babylon
in Iraq when it is rebuilt. But why should it? The Vatican has been fulfilling
John's vision from its location in Rome for the past 15 centuries. Moreover, we
have shown the connection to ancient Babylon which the Vatican has maintained
down through history in the paganized Christianity it has promulgated. As for
ancient Babylon itself, it wasn't even in existence during the past 2300 years
to "reign over the kings of the earth." Babylon lay in ruins while pagan Rome
and later Catholic Rome, the new Babylon, was indeed reigning over kings.
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." Gregory IX (1227-41) thundered that the pope was lord and master of
everyone and everything. Historian R.W. Southern declared: "During the whole
medieval period there was in Rome a single spiritual and temporal authority [the
papacy] exercising powers which in the end exceeded those that had ever lain
within the grasp of a Roman emperor." That the popes reigned over kings is an
undisputed fact of history. That in so doing horrible abominations were
committed, as John foresaw, is also indisputable. Pope Nicholas I (858-67)
declared: "We [popes] alone have the power to bind and to loose, to absolve Nero
and to condemn him; and Christians cannot, under penalty of excommunication,
execute other judgment than ours, which alone is infallible
This qualifying information which John gives us under the inspiration of the
Holy Spirit for identifying this woman, who is a 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 now Vatican City, the City on Seven