Updated July 16, 2008 (first published April 8, 2003 as part of “In the Footsteps of Bible Translators”) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
[This is an excerpt from “IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BIBLE TRANSLATORS”; for the full report with pictures see the Way of Life web site -- http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/in-thefootsteps-bibletrans/ ]
From March 13 to April 4, 2003, I was in England and Europe doing research pertaining to the history of the Bible. I flew to England from Asia and was joined in London by two friends, Pastor David Brown of First Baptist Church, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, who is a diligent researcher into Bible history, and by Brian Snider, a co-worker who has produced all of our multi-media video presentations and who has a keen interest in exposing Rome’s errors.
The trip began in England and ended in Rome and we saw the Lord’s hand of blessing and guidance at every step. (For the report on the first part of the trip, to England, Wales, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and to the home of the ancient Waldenses in northern Italy, see “In the Footsteps of Bible Translators” at the Way of Life web site http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/in-thefootsteps-bibletrans/)
ROME: THE SEVEN HILLS, THE GOLDEN CUP, THE SCARLET CLOTHING
APRIL 1, 2003
This is a fitting end to our trip researching the history of the Bible, as Rome is where a large portion of the New Testament was written and is also the home of the false “church” that has attempted through the centuries to keep the Bible out of the hands of the people. The prominent person of the churches and religious sites of “holy Rome” is not Jesus Christ but is Mary, with the pope a distant second. This is evident from even the briefest visit.
Our first stop in Rome was the old Coliseum that was built by Roman emperors between 72 and 80 A.D. It was completed by Titus, the great persecutor. It was called “collosseum” (colossal) because of the huge statue of Nero that was erected nearby. It could seat 68,000 and had standing room for another 5,000 and was the site of the vicious martyrdom of many believers.
MARY AND MINERVA
After walking from the Coliseum past the Constantine Arch and through the Roman Forum area, with its many ancient ruins, we visited the Santa Maria sopra Minerva church. As its name indicates, it is dedicated to Mary, and it was built in the 8th century on the ruins of the temple of Minerva, a pagan female deity. This exemplifies how Rome has “Christianized” pagan beliefs and practices. Rome’s Mary is not the Mary of the Bible but is a heathen goddess. In front of the church is an Egyptian obelisk standing on a statue of an elephant. This formerly stood in the Temple of Isis and Serapis, idols that were popular with ancient Romans. The church is the home of the relics of the mystic Catherine of Siena and the tomb of Pope Benedict XIII. In a back room we saw some priests open a cupboard door and one of them genuflected before something inside. Upon further investigation, it was learned that the cupboard contains a picture that is reputed to be a picture of Jesus. Brian was standing behind the priests and took some video of the rather frightful looking face.
There were confessional booths in all of the churches and some were in operation. Pope John Paul II has done much to bring the confessional back into popular usage. Auricular confession, meaning “confession in the ear,” is the Catholic doctrine that the priest has the authority to forgive sin in Christ’s stead. In some cases, the priest merely sat on a chair in a corner of the church and the confessor sat in a chair beside him and whispered his confession. In most cases, the priest sat in confessional booth while the confessor kneeled on the side and spoke his confession through a screen.
A HINDU CATHOLIC PRIEST
At Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Brian interviewed a Catholic priest named Patrick, who was in charge of the religious items sales area. Following is part of the exchange:
Brian: “Do you believe there is a heaven?”
Priest: “Heaven? That is where your soul goes.”
Brian: “Do you believe you will be going there?”
Priest: “That depends upon what is my destination.”
Brian: “How will that be determined?”
Priest: “It depends upon my way of living.”
Brian: “Can you explain?”
Priest: [He is speechless, shaking his head, rocking from foot to foot. Then says,] “If one lives his life honestly, surely God will reward him. Heaven is not a thing that we can touch and see and look at. Heaven is a place where our soul can go.”“
Brian: “Do you believe God will weigh your good works against your bad works?”
Priest: “Sure; it is for me to do good or to do bad.”
Brian: “Do you have to be Roman Catholic to go to heaven?”
Priest: “There is no reason whether he is a Catholic or Hindu or Muslim. God has given to each one his own. ... If a Hindu does good work, like Mahatma Gandhi, surely they can. ... I can be a prophet; you can be a prophet. A Hindu can become a prophet. It doesn’t have to come [through Jesus]. I can remain a Hindu and go to heaven. ... I am also a Hindu. You can be a Hindu living a good life and go to heaven and a Christian living a good life and go to heaven and a Muslim living a good life and go to heaven.”
Next we visited the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus, which is the headquarters of the Jesuits in Rome. It is the only Catholic Church I have seen that is named for Jesus. Most, of course, are named after Mary or some other “saint.” Even though named for Jesus, Mary is just as prominent inside. One large painting depicts the Catholic myth of the ascension of Mary. The building was completed in 1584 on the site that Ignatius Loyola had chosen for his headquarters. The chapel and tomb of Loyola are located here, as is the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier. One of Xavier’s arms is reputed to be located here as a relic, though I don’t know what happened to the other one.
THE MOTHER OF ALL CHURCHES
The final stop for our first day in Rome was the San Giovanni Laterno church and palace. This is the first church of Rome and a Latin inscription on the front says, “SACROSANCTA LATERANENSIS ECCLESIA OMNIUM URBIS ET ORBIS ECCLESIARUM MATER ET CAPUT, meaning, “MOST HOLY LATERAN CHURCH, MOTHER AND MISTRESS OF ALL CHURCHES OF THE CITY AND THE WORLD.”
Here, the Emperor Constantine authorized the bishop of Rome to set up a church, and Catholic popes lived in the Lateran Palace until Clement V (1305-1314) was forced to move the papal headquarters to France. When the pope returned to Rome in 1377, the papal headquarters was moved to the Vatican palace. Five Roman Catholic Church councils were held here. The first was in A.D. 649 under Pope Martin I; the second, in 1139 under Innocent II; the third, 1179 under Alexander III; the fourth, 1215 under Innocent III; and the fifth, 1513-17 under Leo X.
In 897, the Lateran was the scene of the “CADAVER SYNOD,” when Pope Stephen VI (896-897) had the body of his predecessor, Pope Formosus (891-896), exhumed and put on trial. The corpse was convicted of heresy and desecrated.
The tomb of Pope Innocent III, who was a great persecutor of those who refused to accept Roman doctrine and practice and in fact was one of the fathers of the horrible centuries-long inquisition, is located at the Lateran. The tombs of Pope Alexander III, Sergius IV, and Martin V (1417-1431) are also located here. There is also a monument to Pope Leo XIII.
Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, and his companions made their first public vows of obedience to the pope before the Mosaic of Mary in this church. It is located in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
The Baptistery of St. John, which is located in the Lateran in a building separate from the basilica, is said to be the oldest baptistery in Rome. Though it has been rebuilt several times since it was first constructed in the days of Constantine, and it is therefore impossible to know its original dimensions, it is still large in circumference and perhaps three feet deep. A description was given of it in 1869 by R.G. Hatfield, and he said that the baptistery had been three and a half feet deep prior to that (Richard Cook, The Story of the Baptists in All Ages and Countries, 1888, p. 294). There is a similar baptistery in the San Marcello al Corso church near Trevi Fountain. These illustrate a stepping-stone in the apostasy from scriptural immersion toward pedobaptism. These baptisteries were allegedly used for “partial immersions,” whereby the candidate knelt in the water while water was poured on his head. But why this “partial” business? Why not follow the Bible and “bury” or immerse completely! Baptism depicts dying and being buried with Jesus positionally (Romans 6), and He was not partially buried. Thomas Armitage, in his 1890 History of the Baptists, gave many examples of ancient baptisteries that were used for complete immersion.
On one side of the Lateran is an obelisk that once stood before the temple of the Sun at Heliopolis. Pope Sixtus V found the obelisk in a swamp, restored it and placed it at the Lateran church site. Further, the marble and bronze columns over the main Altar of the Blessed Sacrament are from the Temple of Jupiter.
SHRINE OF THE HOLY STAIRS AND THE VENERATED IMAGE
Near the San Giovanni Laterno is the Shrine of the Holy Stairs, which is reputed to contain the steps from Pilate’s judgment hall which Jesus ascended after he was whipped. According to Catholic myth, the steps were brought to Rome by the mother of Constantine in the 4th century. Many Catholics climb the stairs on their knees in pursuit of a blessing from God and a promised papal indulgence. At the top of the stairs is an image of Jesus that, allegedly, was painted miraculously without human intervention. When we stopped by the Shrine, there were several people proceeding slowly up the stairs.
APRIL 2, 2003
On Wednesday, we spent the entire day at the Vatican.
When we got there in the morning, we learned that the pope was giving one of his public papal audiences in the piazza in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, and we were able to obtain tickets and get front row seats by claiming our place an hour early. Right on time, at 10:30 a.m., Pope John Paul II came motoring out in his “popemobile” and was driven around St. Peter’s Square to the excited shouts of the faithful. Many young people near us were repeatedly shouting “long live the pope” in Italian and were waving little papal flags. We got some good photos of the aged pope after he was driven up on the large platform on a ramp that had been constructed for this purpose. After he left the popemobile, he was rolled the few feet to his chair in a little cart, because he is too frail these days to walk.
VATICAN MUSEUM AND SISTINE CHAPEL
Next we went through the Vatican Museum, which is interesting but spiritually dead and therefore depressing. It contains lots of old pagan statues, including heathen gods and goddesses such as the drunken Bacchus, god of wine and debauchery, and the many-breasted Diana, as well as rare paintings, mosaics, ceramics, etc., by some of the world’s greatest masters. There are many paintings and embroideries depicting scenes from the Bible and church history. The Sistine Chapel, a rectangular hall with a barrel vault that gets its name from Pope Sixtus IV, contains the famous painting of Michelangelo from the creation of man to the last judgment. The paintings took nine years to complete in two sessions that were 25 years apart. It has been called “perhaps the greatest artistic achievement of all time.” It was restored between 1981 and 1994 and the original bright colors are again visible.
One thing is entirely absent from the massive complex of Vatican museums, and that is the Bible.
ST. PETER’S BASILICA
After lunch, we went through St. Peter’s Basilica. This massive building houses the alleged tomb of Peter, though there is no biblical evidence that Peter was ever at Rome. Paul wrote letters to Rome and from Rome, and he mentioned many of the believers at Rome but he never mentioned Peter. Rather, Peter was the apostle to the Jews, while Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. On the way into the huge church, we saw the “Porta Santa” or “Holy Door,” which is walled up except during holy years.” The last one of these was in 2000, when Pope John Paul opened the door and countless thousands of Catholic pilgrims walked through them in search of the indulgence that he had promised. A plaque above the doors commemorates that occasion.
The famous Pieta of Michelangelo is located to the right as you enter St. Peter’s, but it is behind bulletproof glass now, after a man attacked it with a hammer in 1971. It depicts an apocryphal scene of Mary holding Jesus after his death. In reality, Jesus’ body was taken down by Joseph of Arimathaea (Matt. 27:57-60) and there is no biblical mention of Mary being present at that scene. Michelangelo’s Pieta depicts Jesus as small and Mary as larger, which is symbolic of the mis-emphasis of the Catholic Church. Mary is also depicted as a young girl, fitting, perhaps, into Rome’s “perpetual virgin” myth, whereas she would have been an older woman at that point in her life.
The bronze monument above the high papal altar is the largest in the world. It is five stories high and weighs about 83,000 pounds.
Underneath St. Peter’s is the crypt containing the alleged tomb of Peter, as well as the tombs of many of the popes, and a museum containing ancient art, vestments, and other items pertaining to the Roman Catholic Church. If I remember correctly, less of the crypt is accessible today than it was when I first visited St. Peter’s in about 1992. Many of the stone papal caskets are no longer accessible to tourists.
POPE JOHN XXIII, VATICAN II ECUMENISM, AND A BAPTIST-CATHOLIC
One of the prominent newer papal tombs in St. Peter’s is that of John XXIII, who called the Vatican II Council in the 1960s and thus opened the doors for the ecumenical movement.
This reminds me of an American woman Brian interviewed prior to the papal audience outside St. Peter’s. She said that her family had given her a 40th birthday gift of a trip to Rome, which she had long desired. She said that she was raised Baptist but that she converted to Catholicism. She explained that 20 years ago she probably wouldn’t have converted, because there was not much freedom in Catholicism in those days, but “since Vatican II,” there is more freedom. She emphasized that her priest is very easy-going about doctrine. We didn’t ask, but it is possible that she is part of the “charismatic renewal” in Catholicism. She is a “Baptist-Catholic” (so to speak), but she knows very little about Catholic doctrine. She claimed to believe that salvation is by the grace of Christ alone, but this is complete confusion, because the Catholic Church solemnly cursed such a belief at the Council of Trent. She said that she believes that the pope is a holy man, which, I assume, would mean that she thinks he is saved; but this current pope is one of the greatest exalters of Mary in all of Rome’s heretical history. He has dedicated himself and his papacy to Mary, glorified Mary for her protection during his assassination attempt, and has the words “all yours” embroidered on his garments in Latin, according to his own autobiography. That is pure blasphemy, in exalting Mary to a position that belongs solely by Jesus Christ; and it is not possible that such a blasphemer could be saved.
Thus in one day in Rome we met a Hindu-Catholic, which represents the merger of Catholicism with the pagan religions today, and a Baptist-Catholic, which represents the merger of Catholicism with the non-Catholic denominations. ROME TODAY IS A BIG STEW OF SYNCRETISM AND ECUMENISM, ADAPTING ITSELF TO AND SWALLOWING UP EVERY FORM OF “SPIRITUALITY” IN THE WORLD. You are free to believe pretty much what you please doctrinally, as long as you will give some credence to papal authority. The one thing that the “Hindu-Catholic” and the “Baptist-Catholic” have in common is their love for the pope. All else is negotiable.
We are therefore observing ecumenical confusion of the highest degree, which is preparing the way for the end time “one world church,” the final form of the age-old “mystery of iniquity.”
The Vatican is filled with Christianized heathenism, which is basically what Roman Catholicism is. We can only give a few of the almost countless examples. Every image of Mary, the very papacy itself, the “saints,” purgatory, the mass, the images, the relics -- all of it is Christianized heathenism. The Vatican Library contains large paintings of various pagan gods and goddesses, such as Isis and Mercury. The “Cathedra Petri” or “Chair of Peter” contains woodcarvings that represent the labors of Hercules. The massive obelisk in the center of St. Peter’s Piazza is a pagan object from Egypt. Near the main altar of St. Peter’s is a bronze statue of Peter sitting in a chair. It is reported that this statue was originally the pagan god Jupiter that was taken from the Pantheon in Rome (when it was still a pagan temple) and moved into St. Peter’s Basilica and renamed Peter! Jupiter was one of the chief gods of ancient Rome and he was called the “pater” (father) in Latin. One foot is made of silver and a constant stream of pilgrims pass by and superstitiously touch or kiss it. In the supposed tomb of Peter, 99 oil lamps are kept burning day and night. For those familiar with pagan religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, the origin of such things is obvious. There is no biblical authority for any of it. Jesus warned the Pharisees, “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:9).
One of the famous sites of Rome is Trevi Fountain, and since Brother Brown flies back to America tomorrow, we decided to go down to the fountain area this evening for our last meal together, because there are many eating establishments near there. The massive marble sculpture (about 60 feet wide and 78 feet high) depicts the pagan sea god Neptune driving a chariot drawn by horses rising out of the sea. There are also mythical tritons emerging from the water to guide the horses. The building of this pagan monument was begun by Pope Urban VIII and completed by Clement XII. At the very top of the monument are the papal coat of arms, the tiara (crown) and the key of “St. Peter.” The popes have thus blessed all of this pagan idolatry.
APRIL 3, 2003
Brother Brown flew out of Rome early to return to Wisconsin, and Brian and I spent the morning and part of the afternoon getting more photographs and doing more research.
PAPAL HEARTS AND ENTRAILS, JOHN’S HEAD, AND MIRACULOUS ICONS
We went back to the Trevi Fountain area, where there are 13 Catholic churches in a small area covering a few blocks.
We first visited SANTA MARIA IN TRIVIO, which is right beside the fountain. A main feature of the church is its copy of the Mary statue from Fatima. The original Fatima statue is the one that Pope John Paul II used as a backdrop for his Rosary for the World that was broadcast a few years ago to millions of people.
SANTA MARIA IN VIA is a short distance away and is the site of the alleged miraculous appearance of an icon of Mary painted on stone which was found floating on water that had overflowed from a well.
We also visited SAINTS VINCENT AND ANASTASIUS, right in front of the fountain, which contains the hearts and entrails of 22 popes who died in the nearby Quirinal Palace up to the time of Leo XIII, who departed his earthly abode in 1903.
When an apologist mentions today that Roman Catholics worship Mary, it is typical for this to be challenged by Catholics. But the Catholic Church itself says that Mary is to be worshiped. For example, a plaque in the Chapel of the Virgin of the Grace at Saints Vincent and Anastasius says, “Cardinal Benedetto Odescalchi, who became the pope with the name of Innocent XI, initiated THE WORSHIP OF THE IMAGE, placed on the altar in 1677, and wanted his heart to be buried here, not in the main chapel.”
TRITON FOUNTAIN, MORE CHRISTIANIZED HEATHENISM
Another example of Christianized paganism is the Triton Fountain, which we passed this morning on the way to the Bone Chapel. It features a statue of a triton, a mythical creature associated with the false god Neptune. The triton is sitting on top of conch shells upheld by four fierce-looking, snake-like sea monsters. Right beneath the Triton is the papal coat of arms with the pope’s crown or tiara and the “key of Saint Peter.”
THE BONE CHAPEL
In late morning we visited the Capuchin Cemetery, which is associated with the Church of the Immaculate Conception. It is popularly called the Chapel of Bones. I must say that this is the strangest place I have ever visited, and that is saying something, since I have spent 13 years in Asia and have seen strange religious things in other parts of the world, as well. The Bone Chapel consists of five rooms featuring the bones of 4,000 Capuchin monks arranged in various artistic patterns. One room is named the “crypt of the skulls.” It contains an arrangement of perhaps 200 skulls interspersed with other bones, with the complete skeletons of two monks dressed in brown friar robes, lying separately on either side of the room. Another room is named, believe it or not, the “crypt of the pelvises,” and features a tasteful arrangement of pelvic bones. (It would seem that this would be a good place for Elvis’ remains!) Another of the rooms, the Mass Chapel, contains more bones plus a special added treat, the heart of Maria Felice Peretti, the grand-niece of Pope Sixtus V. The shriveled heart is visible in a lead casket. The last two rooms at the end of the hall are “the crypt of leg bones and thigh bones” and the “crypt of the three skeletons.” The latter features the complete skeletons of three young children, as well as the complete skeletons of two more monks lying on “cushions” made of bones. While touring the place it was all I could do not to launch forth with a round of “Them Bones, Them Bones”!
In 1797, Pope Pius VI granted a plenary indulgence to those who visit the Bone Chapel on the first Sunday in October. Since our visit was in April, I assume we don’t get in on that benefit.
While this is the most extravagant collection of unburied bones in Rome, there are other Catholic churches in the area that have smaller assortments in their crypts, including the Venerable Confraternity of Devotees of Jesus Christ on Calvary and of Our Lady of Sorrows, the Church of the Archconfraternity of Our Lady of Prayer and Death, the Church of the Stigmata, and the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows at Frascati. Further, bones make up a large part of the relics that are kept at each of the Catholic churches.
PRAYING OVER THE BONE CHAPEL
After going through the weird chapel, Brother Snider and I went upstairs to the Church of the Immaculate Conception. Several people were praying in the main church area, but we found a quiet, unoccupied small back room that is located right over the Bone Chapel, and there we had our own time of prayer. We thanked the Lord for all of His tender mercies during this trip and prayed for our families and our nation. We beseeched the Lord to use the things we have seen to help benighted people to come to the light of the Truth in Jesus Christ.
SAINT PAUL WITHOUT THE WALLS, GOLDEN CUPS AND SCARLET ROBES
In the afternoon Brother Snider made preparations for his return home, and I visited the large basilica of San Paolo Fuori le Mura (Saint Paul Without the Walls). The apostle Paul is supposed to be buried under the main altar here. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel contains a crucifix that St. Bridget of Sweden claimed spoke to her. There is also a Relic Chapel that contains a wide variety of “holy relics,” including many bones and the alleged prison chains of Paul. I stopped by here mainly to see the mosaics of all of the popes. While I was there, I was also able to take some photos of a mass that was led by a group of 10 bishops. Their golden cup and scarlet robes reminded me of Revelation 17:4.
In the gift shop of Saint Paul Without the Walls I bought a card that has a photo of Pope John Paul II and the words, “May the Apostolic Blessing, which I impart to everyone with great affection, be a pledge of my universal favor and the reconciliation of hearts.”
APRIL 4, 2003
Brian flew out in the morning to return to the States, and I have one more day before I fly out on Saturday.
WALDENSIAN CHURCH IN ROME
My first stop was to take photos of the Waldensian Church in Rome. As we have already noted, it is sad that these churches are now apostate and no longer separated to the truth of God’s Word.
MUSEUM OF THE SOULS OF PURGATORY
We tried yesterday to visit the Museum of the Souls of Purgatory located in the Chiesa del Sacro Suore del Suffrago (Church of the Sacred Heart of Sufferance), facing the Tiber River onto the Lungotevere Prati. The church was closed yesterday, and I went down again this morning, but it was still not possible to visit the little museum. There is not a lot about the doctrine of purgatory visible in Rome today, and I wanted to see what was on display here. In case someone gets a chance to visit it, the instructions I found say to enter the church in the front and then walk down the right aisle to a door on the right where you ask to see the “il museo.”
JOHN THE BAPTIST’S HEAD
Next I visited the San Silvestro in Capite church in the Trivi Fountain area. This church is named for its famous relic, which is the purported head of John the Baptist. It is in a glass box on an altar in a special little chapel on the left side of the building. There is indeed a skull in the box, but only the Lord knows whose head it is! In the same room is a large image of Mary holding the dead Jesus. I was in the room for about 10 minutes taking photos and there was a constant stream of people coming through and worshiping before the Mary image.
A MIRACULOUS CRUCIFIX
The San Marcello al Corso church in this same general area contains a purported miraculous crucifix. The almost life-sized crucifix has its own chapel and there is a photo of John Paul II bowing beside it. It is carried through the streets of Rome in procession during special occasions, such as the start of the Vatican II Council in the 1960s. A prayer that is supposed to be prayed “before the miraculous crucifix” ends with these words: “And you, Mary, Mother and Virgin of Sorrows, hear my plea, intercede for me with your divine Son so that I will receive the graces necessary for today and always.” This illustrates the error and confusion of Rome’s gospel. It is a false mixture of faith plus works, grace plus sacraments, Bible plus paganism, Jesus plus Mary.
THE LADY OF GRACE AND THE PROTECTOR FROM MENTAL ILLNESS
The San Marcello al Corso church also has a chapel dedicated to “Our Lady of Graces.” This is a blasphemous exaltation of Mary to the place of God, who is “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10). It is God and God alone who is “able to make all grace abound toward you” (2 Cor. 9:8). This church also has a Chapel of Annunciation, honoring the myth that Mary ascended to heaven and was crowned Queen. A plaque says that this chapel was originally dedicated to Saint Ansano, also called San Sano, the “protector from mental illness.” We met a lot of people on this trip who think that fundamentalists need a good dose of this saint’s help!
MORE CHRISTIANIZED PAGANISM
Across from the Basilica of Saint Mary degli Angeli, located near the main train terminal, is the pagan Naiads Fountain that was built by Pope Pius IX. It depicts a sea god and nymphs, all naked, and a sea horse, a swan, and two snake-like creatures. A Hindu would feel comfortable with such things.
MARY SHARING JESUS’ THRONE AND CROSS
My final stop was Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major), which is one of four “patriarchal basilicas,” meaning they are directly associated with the pope and have papal altars at which only the pope or his authorized representatives can conduct mass. Of all of the countless Catholic churches dedicated to Mary, this is the principal one. This is supposed to be the burial place for Matthias, who was elected to fill Judas’ place, and it is also the burial place of Pope Sixtus V and Pius V. The latter’s body is displayed in a glass case “for veneration.”
A chief feature is the huge mosaic in the apse behind the altar depicting Jesus crowning Mary as Queen of Heaven. Mary is sharing the throne with Jesus, at his right hand, and they are surrounded by a great blue orb that represents the universe. Another image of Mary in this church is titled “Mary Queen of Peace.” In this massive image, Mary is depicted holding the child Jesus with one arm while holding the other out in a sign of blessing. The church also houses an icon of Mary that is titled “Salus Populi Romani,” thus describing Mary as “the health and salvation of the Roman people.”
Through a side exit to the right of the altar, you enter a parking lot that features an amazing sight. I missed this on the trip but was told about it later. There is an ornate cross on top of a pole with Jesus on one side and Mary on the other. Mary is crowned and holding baby Jesus.
Under the main altar of Santa Maria Maggiore is a relic that purports to be pieces of wood from the very manger of baby Jesus. The wood has been encased in an ornate gold container with a gold image of a baby on the top. The entire thing is housed in a glass case. Electric candles are constantly lit in front of it, and even in the few minutes I was there taking photos, many people came by to pray and worship.
It is pure idolatry, and it is a grievous matter to think of the multitudes that are deceived by Rome. Even more grievous is the thought of those duped Protestant and Baptist leaders today who are breaking down the walls of biblical separation so that the people can no longer see the plain distinction between truth and error.
IS ROME THE HARLOT OF REVELATION 17?
A book by Dave Hunt entitled A Woman Rides the Beast (Harvest House Publishers, 1994) identifies the Roman Catholic Church with the religious Harlot of Revelation 17-18. The news is not that a Bible-believing Christian would write such a book, but that such a book would be denounced by those who claim to be Protestant and Evangelical. Hunt's book has been blacklisted by many Christian bookstores and denounced by some key Evangelical leaders and ministries, including the Christian Research Institute (CRI). On its Bible Answer Man radio broadcasts, CRI claimed that it is ludicrous to identify the Roman Catholic Church as the whore in Revelation 17.
If this is the case, the vast majority of Baptists, Protestants, Fundamentalists, and other Independent Christians for the past 1,500 years have been most ludicrous.
For a thousand years and more, separatist, Bible-believing Christians have identified Rome with the Harlot of Revelation 17.
At the end of the NINTH CENTURY, “Tergandus, Bishop of Treves, called the Pope antichrist, yea, a wolf, and Rome, Babylon” (Martyrs Mirror, 5th English edition, p. 240).
In THE TENTH CENTURY, Arnulphus, Bishop of Orleans, called the Pope Antichrist, in a full council at Rheims (Peter Allix, The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont, 1821, p. 229).
In THE ELEVENTH CENTURY, Berenger of Tours denounced Rome's dogmas and maintained that the Roman Church was the See of Satan (George Faber, The History of the Ancient Vallenses and Albigenses, 1838, p. 159).
THE WALDENSIANS, throughout their long history, identified the Pope as the Antichrist. The Waldensian treatise titled the Noble Lesson, dated 1100 A.D., stated: “Antichrist, the predicted murderer of the Saints, hath already appeared in his true character, seated monarchally in the seven-hilled city.” In 1120 or 1160 A.D., A Treatise Concerning Antichrist identified the Pope of Rome as the Antichrist. George Faber identifies this as a production of Peter the Valdo (Faber, pp. 379-384).
In 1206, at the conference of Montreal, the ALBIGENSES made the following confession: “That the Church of Rome was not the spouse of Christ, but the Church of confusion, drunk with the blood of the martyrs. That the polity of the Church of Rome was neither good nor holy, nor established by Jesus Christ” (Peter Allix, The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of the Albigenses, 1821 edition, first published in 1692, p. 178).
The BOHEMIANS, a colony of Waldenses in Bohemia, held the following beliefs, according to the Roman Inquisitor. This description was given in the 14th century but uses material from the 13TH CENTURY: “The first error, saith he, is that the Church of Rome is not the Church of Jesus Christ, but an assembly of wicked men, and the whore that sits upon the beast in the Revelation. ... They declare the Pope to be the head and ringleader of all errors” (Allix, Ancient Churches of Piedmont, pp. 242-259).
The LOLLARDS of the 14TH AND 15TH CENTURIES maintained “that the Church of Rome was not the Church of Christ, but of infidel heathens; and they despised all ecclesiastical laws, together with all the Bishops and Ministers of the Church” (Allix, Ancient Churches of the Albigenses, p. 230).
The Petrobusians judged the Pope to be the Antichrist (Allix, Ancient Churches of the Albigenses, p. 142).
Throughout THE REFORMATION ERA, Rome was considered the Mother of Harlots. On September 9, 1560, Pastor Jean Louis Paschale of Calabria, just before he was burned alive in the presence of Pope Pius IV in Rome, turned to the Pope and “arraigned him as the enemy of Christ, the persecutor of his people, and the Anti-Christ of Scripture, and concluded by summoning him and all his cardinals to answer for their cruelties and murders before the throne of the Lamb” (J.A. Wylie, History of the Waldenses, c1860, p. 120). All of the Reformation leaders considered the Pope the Antichrist, including Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Huss; their successors in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries persisted in this.
Bible translator William Tyndale identified the Pope as the Antichrist in his treatise The Practice of Prelates and in the Preface to the 1534 edition of his New Testament.
Many of the early Protestant Bibles contained dramatic woodcuttings portraying the Scarlet Woman of Revelation 17, plainly identifying the Roman Catholic Church with this apostate religious system.
In fact, it was so common in the 16th century for dissidents to label Rome the antichrist and harlot of Revelation 17 that in 1516 Pope Leo X issued a papal bull which forbade preachers to touch on the subject of the antichrist in their sermons (M’Crie, Reformation in Italy, p. 20)!
This situation continued to exist among Protestants and Baptists generally throughout the 19th century. In his 1893 work titled Union with Rome, Bishop Christopher Wordsworth of the Church of England stated the view which prevailed among Protestants at that time: “... we tremble at the sight, while we read the inscription, emblazoned in large letters, ‘Mystery, Babylon the Great,’ written by the hand of St. John, guided by the Holy Spirit of God, on the forehead of the Church of Rome.”
These examples could be multiplied almost endlessly.
Further, large numbers of old-line Protestants, Baptists, and fundamentalist Christians continue TODAY to identify Rome with Revelation 17. For example, there are hundreds of thousands of fundamental Baptists scattered throughout the world who so identify Rome.
We believe the Roman Catholic Church is the partial fulfillment of the prophecy in Revelation 17 of a one-world religious Harlot. This is not to say that Revelation 17 is entirely fulfilled by Roman Catholicism. This prophecy will not be completed until the reign of the Antichrist just prior to the coming of the Lord, and Rome will be joined by a conglomeration of other apostate churches and organizations, the end result, no doubt, of the present Ecumenical Movement. Even so, every feature of this religious Harlot is found in the Roman Catholic Church: Sitting on seven hills, a worldwide reach, yoked together with secular governments, having great wealth, having a golden cup in her hands, clothed in purple and scarlet, drunken with the blood of the saints.
“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Revelation 18:4
[This is an excerpt from “IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BIBLE TRANSLATORS”; for the full report with pictures see the Way of Life web site -- http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/in-thefootsteps-bibletrans/ ]