Rev 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
Rev 13:2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
Rev 13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
Rev 13:4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
Even before the Reformation, students of Bible prophecy had long identified the papal power as the Antichrist, and the beast from the sea of Revelation 13. So the following verse, in conjunction with verse three above, prophesied something of great interest to the diligent student of some 200 years ago:
Rev 13:5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
The 42 two months end with imprisonment and death:
Rev 13:10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
This predicted a limited reign of the papacy, which would be inflicted with a deadly wound, almost to death, after a period of 42 months of rule. This 42 months of prophetic time can be shown from scripture to be an actual period of 1260 years. See my article Time, Times, and Half a Time? for a detailed explanation. See also The 1260 years of Papal Supremacy and the 70 weeks of Daniel Diagram.
After having reached its zenith in the middle ages, the papal power went into a long period of gradual decline, and the French Revolution, which began in 1789, abruptly cast off the Catholic yoke and religion in general. This caught the attention of many Bible scholars, who began to take a hard look at the prophecy and tried to determine just when this "deadly wound" to the papacy might be expected. Here is an extract from The PROPHETIC FAITH OF OUR FATHERS, by Le Roy Edwin Froom, which illustrates one example of just how closely the date of the papal wound was calculated, some two years in advance of the event:
Pope taken Captive by Berthier of France
[pg. 741] ...
By many voices in different lands and through various vehicles the end of the papal period was perceived as due and under way. The sudden shock of the French Revolution sent the Protestant church back to the Scriptures for the meaning. Thus in the Edinburgh Missionary Magazine for 1796 the fact was publicized that the reign of Antichrist was hastening toward its end. Note it:
"By the general consent of prophecy, the reign of Antichrist, is now hastening to an end. The aspect of providence, for some time past, has quickened our expectation of his fall. This will pave the way for the overthrow of every system by which the empire of iniquity and error has been maintained; and this again will be succeeded by the age of righteousness and truth."
VIII. Bell—France Accomplishing the Fall of Antichrist
In the London Evangelical Magazine of 1796 appear two illuminating articles by GEORGE BELL, on the "Downfal of Anti-
20 Missionary Magazine (Edinburgh), vol. 1, p. 185.
christ," written July 24, 1795. He contends first that though man may not presumptuously inquire into God's secrets, it is our duty to seek knowledge of those things He has revealed. Then he asserts that God often overrules the actions of men to bring to pass entirely different objectives. He then comes directly to the time of the rise and fall of Antichrist, based on the internal evidence of the prophecy. First, its rise would not be until after Western Rome's division, and we are therefore "not to look for his appearance before the year 407."
1. BELIEVES ANTICHRIST AROSE ABOUT 537. — Again, he would not appear until after the "subversion of the imperial government of Rome," and "this obstacle was taken out of the way in the year 476." It would appear soon thereafter, but "not instantly." Bell's third point is based on the seven heads or governments, the sixth being the emperors — that form falling in 476 under Augustulus. Then the Gothic kings chose Ravenna as their seat of government, but held Italy from 476 to 553 — but "lost the government of Rome in the year 537." So the papal was to follow the imperial. He concludes:
"If this be a right application of events to the prophecy, then Antichrist arose about the year 537, or at farthest about the year 555. He continues 42 months, or 1260 prophetical days, that is, 1260 years, Rev. xiii.5.; consequently we may expect his fall about the year 1797, or 1813."
2. DATING THE 1260, 1290, AND 1335 PERIODS. — Turning next to the evidence from Daniel, Bell alludes to the oft-repeated 1260 years, or forty-two months, or three and a half times, during which Antichrist will "scatter the power of the holy people." The 1290 years "takes its date from a time of remarkable apostasy." Of this period Bell says:
"The holy city is to be trodden under foot by the Gentiles, or Papists, who, though they are Christians in name, are Gentiles in worship and practice; worshiping angels, saints, and images, and persecuting the followers of Christ. These Gentiles take away the daily sacrifice, and set up the abomination that maketh the visible church of Christ desolate for the space of 1260 years. But this is a longer period by 30 years."
21 The Evangelical Magazine, 1796 (London), vol. 4, p. 54.
23 Ibid., p. 55.
24 Ibid., p. 56.
26 Ibid., p. 57.
Then the 1335 years extend forty-five years beyond the 1290 years and seventy-five years beyond the reign of Antichrist."
3. 1260 YEARS FROM JUSTINIAN TO REVOLUTION. — The second article concentrates on the Justinian date when, after the Ostrogothic withdrawal to Ravenna, the army of Belisarius approached Rome, which opened its gates to the Roman general in December, 537; tracing the transfer of the Roman emperor to Constantinople, and then the shift of the Goths to Ravenna, Bell says the pope is left, "as it were, the governor and principal at Rome." Then, logically coming to the predicted earthquake, which "signifies a revolution," and France as the tenth part of the Babylonian City—when "One of the ten kingdoms under the dominion of Rome would fall off, or revolt from her jurisdiction"—he declares, "Have we not seen, in one of the ten kingdoms, a most astonishing revolution? Have we not also seen that kingdom fall off of the papal jurisdiction?" Bell then concludes, saying, "Have we not good ground to hope that the accomplishment of the prophecies, respecting the rising of the witnesses and the fall of antichrist, is near at hand?" ...
28 Ibid., pp. 98, 99.
29 Ibid., p. 104.
Source: The PROPHETIC FAITH OF OUR FATHERS, The Historical Development of Prophetic Interpretation, by Le Roy Edwin Froom, Volume II, Pre-Reformation and Reformation Restoration, and Second Departure, published by the Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington D.C., Copyright 1948, pages 741-743.
So clear was Bible prophecy, that the fall of the papacy was anticipated by George Bell two years before it occurred, and he very nearly pinpointed the exact year based on his studies. But as impressive as that may be, he was not the first to arrive at that conclusion. Just over a century before, Drue Cressner, D.D., who became a vicar of the Church of England, wrote:
I. Papal Government Supplanted and Pontiff Banished
The immediate problem is to trace the overthrow of the Papacy in Italy in 1798. One of the most interesting accounts, as well as a very trustworthy one, of the overthrow of the papal government is by Richard Duppa, in A Brief Account of the Subversion of the Papal Government, 1798. Of this work Duppa says, "It was written with the strictest attention to truth; the facts were recorded by one who was witness to the events." And he adds, "After a lapse of nine years, no part has been invalidated."
1. NAPOLEON'S GOAL WAS FREEING OF ROME. — In 1796 Napoleon Bonaparte, on his way to overthrow the pope, incited his soldiers with one of his fiery speeches to the effect that they still had one offense to avenge. The hour of vengeance had struck. To restore the Capitol, to awaken the people of Rome, blunted from centuries of slavery, were to be the fruits of their victories; they would mark an epoch in history. Hearing of this, Pius VI (1775-1798)—born in 1717 as Giovanni Angelico Braschi, and died in 1799—attempted to fortify his position and
1 Richard Duppa (1770-1831), English lawyer, writer, and artist, studied art in Rome as a youth. Educated at Trinity College, Oxford, and Middle Temple, he received an L.L.B. from Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He was also an F.S.A. Duppa published a dozen works, besides classical schoolbooks, travels in Europe, and biographies of Michaelangelo, Raphael, and others.
2 Third Edition enlarged and more heavily documented and illustrated, London: Murray, 1807. (2nd ed., 1799).
3 R. Duppa, A Brief Account of the Subversion of the Papal Government, 1798, Preface.
neglected nothing that might prevent the great catastrophe. Meantime he sent an emissary to Napoleon at Milan and proposed an armistice, offering heavy reparations and the surrender of Ancona, Bologna, and Ferrara—the northern portion of the papal territory.
The French Directory demanded that the Papacy revoke, retract, and disannul all bulls, briefs, rescripts, and decrees affecting ecclesiastical affairs in France issued since the beginning of the Revolution in 1787. This Pius VI refused, declaring he would oppose it with force, and broke off the parley. Napoleon took Imola, the Romagna, the duchy of Urbino, routed the papal army, and made new overtures to the pope.
2. TOLENTINO FOLLOWED BY KILLING OF DUPHOT. — The Directory wished Napoleon to destroy the Papacy, and directed that no successor to Pius VI be elected to the papal chair. It hoped as a consequence, to deliver Europe from the papal supremacy. But Bonaparte negotiated the Treaty of Tolentino, on February 19, 1797, by which the Pope was to abandon Avignon, Venaissin, Bologna, Ferrara, and Romagna (Peter's patrimony), in addition to heavy indemnities. The papal treasury was unable to meet the monetary demand, and the populace of Rome was showing increasing hostility to the papal government. The pope could scarcely appear in public without being hissed. Revolution was in the air. Incendiary placards were posted on the one hand, and on the other the French were exposed to increasing insults. A crisis approached.
Joseph Bonaparte was sent to Rome as French ambassador, and sought to quiet the situation. But on December 27, 1797, a riot threatened, and the papal government ordered the mutineers to disperse. Duppa records that some in the mob, "proceeded to make public harangues, and pretended to shew clearly,
4 I. Bertrand, Le Pontificat de Pie VI et l'atheisme revolutionnaire, vol. 2, pp. 340 ff. The population of the Ecclesiastical State was given as 2,200,000.
5 George Trevor, Rome: From the Fall of the Western Empire, p. 439; Duppa, op. cit., p. 14.
6 Alison, op. cit., vol. 3, p. 551n.
7 Duppa, op. cit., p. 3.
8 Pius VI, Historical and Philosophical Memoirs of Pius the Sixth and of His Pontificate (translated from the French), vol. 2, pp. 314 ff.
by several texts of scripture, that the time was at hand to overthrow the existing government." The papal troops advanced, and the revolutionists sought refuge at the French embassy. The pontifical soldiers followed and opened fire. Then the French general Duphot sought to quiet the melee, but was shot, and dispatched with papal bayonets.
3. BERTHIER'S TROOPS ENTER ROME BY INVITATION. — The killing of General Duphot brought on the crisis. The ambassador left Rome in indignation. Reparations were refused, and the Directory, on January 1, 1798, ordered General Berthier, then in Milan, to march upon Rome and conquer it, and to establish a Roman republic.
General Berthier advanced, but stopped outside of Rome, awaiting an invitation to enter. Patriots invited him to do so. Thus the French troops entered Rome on February 10, 1798. Berthier immediately pledged by proclamation that the Catholic "cult" should remain untouched.
4. PROCESSIONAL LAUNCHED TO STAY EVIL DAY. — As a last resort the church had had recourse to a vast religious processional through the streets of Rome, with venerated relics, in the hope of staving off the evil day. An elaborate proclamation was issued January 15, 1798, in the form of a printed poster signed by the papal secretary. The three special relics paraded were a portrait of the Saviour supposed to have been painted by supernatural agency, a miraculous picture of the Virgin Mary and the child, and the supposed chains by which St. Peter was fettered. These
9 Duppa, op. cit., p. 9.
10 Historical and Philosophical Memoirs, vol. 2, p. 328; The London Packet, Jan. 19-22, 1798, p. 2.
11 LOUIS ALEXANDRE BERTHIER (1753-1815) prince of Wagram and confidant and associate of Napoleon, was born at Versailles. He served under Lafayette in the United States from 1778 to 1782, and at the outbreak of the French Revolution was appointed major general of the national guard at Versailles. By 1795 he had risen to chief of staff of the Army of Italy, and as Napoleon's representative, proclaimed the Republic of Rome and effected the captivitv of the pope in 1798. Berthier accompanied Napoleon into Egypt as chief of staff, and aided in victory over the Directory in 1799, becoming minister of war (1799-1808). Made marshall of France in 1804, he was constantly at Napoleon's side until 1814. In 1809 he became chief of the general staff of the grand armée, and was created prince of Wagram in the same year.
12 The London Packet, Jan. 19-22, 1798, p. 2.
13 Duppa, op. cit., pp. 34, 35, 91.
14 Invito Sagro e Notificazione (Sacred Invitation and Proclamation); see also English translation in Duppa, op. cit., pp. 17-24.
15 Pictured in Duppa, op,. cit., p. 18.
were then placed on exhibition on the high altar of St. Peter's, and visited by the people of Rome and the surrounding country. Prayer, fasting, and penitence were urged, and liberal indulgences promised. But the French Army came on. Priests went throughout the city preaching the end of the world and, as customary, calling on miracles to sustain their prophecies. They little dreamed that they were so near the close of their power.
5. ROMAN REPUBLIC IS RE-ESTABLISHED. — Berthier called upon the commander of St. Angelo to open the fort. He asked two days for decision, but Berthier gave only four hours. So the fort was evacuated, three thousand French troops taking possession, and taking over the city, with certain cardinals, princes, and prelates as hostages to ensure quiet. From that moment onward Pius VI confined himself to the Vatican. Heavy reparations were exacted for the assassination of General Duphot. Then a petition, drawn up and signed by the French partisans in Rome, demanding a change of government and regime of liberty, was followed by an imposing public demonstration. The Tree of Liberty was planted on the capitol hill, and the new government was established on Pluviose 27 (February 15), when the sovereignty of the people was proclaimed and the re-establishment of the Roman Republic was effected.
6. PAPAL ARMS AND INSIGNIA REMOVED. — Berthier came to the capitol escorted by a military band, received the acclaim of the great concourse, and gave formal recognition to the Roman Republic and its provisional government. He then ordered the papal arms and insignia everywhere removed. Thus the change was effected without bloodshed. Later when the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda was suppressed, their College at
16 Historical and Philosophical Memoirs, vol. 2, p. 326
17 Duppa, op. cit., pp. 34, 35.
18 Ibid., pp. 37-39; The Times [London], no. 4141, March 12, 1798, p. 3; The London Packet, March 5-7, 1798, p. 2; The London Chronicle, March 10-13, 1798 (vol. 83, no. 6089); Duppa, op. cit., pp. 185-188. The 75 page Constitution of the Roman Republic, Translated From the Authentic Italian Edition (1798) is a "Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and of Citizens," with a tabulated series of Articles of (1) Rights and (2) Duties, followed by the text of the Roman Constitution. (Original Title: Constituzione della Repubblica Italiana, adottata per acclamazione nei comizj nazionali in Lione. Anno I., 26 Gennajo 1802.)
19 Duppa, op.cit., pp. 36, 37, 40.
Rome was closed and the building used as a warehouse for confiscated property, and their printing presses and type were sent to France. Vatican Palace was stripped of its valuables, and the sacerdotal vestments of the pontifical chapels were burned for the gold and silver of the embroidery.
7. PIUS VI DETHRONED ON ANNIVERSARY IN SISTINE CHAPEL. — Meantime, on this very same day — February 15 — on the anniversary of his elevation to the pontificate, Pius VI repaired to the Sistine Chapel, and was receiving the felicitations of the Sacred College of cardinals, when, in the midst of the ceremony, shouts penetrated the conclave, intermingled with the strokes of axes on the doors. Soon General Haller, a Swiss Calvinist, with a band of his soldiers, broke into the chapel, and declared that the pope's reign was at an end. (Painting appears on page 754.) His Swiss guards were dismissed, and republican soldiers substituted. Ferrara, Bologna, and Romagna (Peter's patrimony) were taken over, and the cardinals were stripped of authority and possessions. Eight were arrested and sent to the Civita Castellana. The glory, honor, and power had vanished. Soldiers were quartered in the papal palace. Such was the stroke of the sword at Rome. It was the end of an epoch in papal history long before predicted in the prophecies of Holy Writ. Trevor goes so far as to say:
"The territorial possessions of the clergy and monks were declared national property, and their former owners cast into prison. The papacy was extinct: not a vestige of its existence remained; and among all the Roman Catholic powers not a finger was stirred in its defence. The Eternal City had no longer prince or pontiff; its bishop was a dying captive in foreign lands; and the decree was already announced that no successor would be allowed in his place."
8. TREASURES DEMANDED AND BANISHMENT DECREED.—The pope's banishment from Rome was then decreed, and Haller was again chosen to inform him. Appearing on the afternoon of
20 Ibid., p. 92.
21 Ibid., pp. 59, 60; Alison, op. cit., vol. 3, p. 558; Historical and Philosophical Memoirs, vol. 2, p. 343.
22 Duppa, op. cit., pp. 43-47; The European Magazine, July, 1798, vol. 34, p. 7.
23 Alison, op. cit., vol. 3, p. 559.
24 Trevor, op. cit., p. 440.
FRENCH ULTIMATUM RESTRICTS PAPAL AUTHORITY IN 1798
General Haller Presenting Berthier's Ultimatum to Pope Pius VI, in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, on February 15, 1798 (Upper); The Declaration of the End of the former Papal Authority, with French original at Left and Italian Translation at Right (Center), and Inset of Berthier, who signed the
Declaration; and Pius VI, Sent from Rome to Valence, France, where he Died in 1799 (Lower).
February 18, he demanded the pope's treasures. When the pope protested that the Tolentino Treaty had left him nothing, Haller demanded and took the two rings on his fingers, including the Fisherman's ring — though only by threat. (This was returned the following day.) Haller told the prelate to be ready to leave the next morning at six. He protested his age—of eighty-one—and illness, Haller nevertheless insisted, and threatened force. Given forty-eight hours to settle the affairs of the church, he was to leave before daybreak. (Painting of departure appears on page 754.)
It was still night, February 20, 1798, and stormy with lightning and thunder, when the carriage crossed the city, preceded by two men with torches — the guards pointing out the dome of St. Peter's. Both hisses and prayers came from the crowd that had assembled. Within ten days Pius VI had been dethroned. imprisoned, exiled, his private library confiscated, his state given up to plunder, and his subjects to military control. Reaching Sienna, Pius and his party stopped at an Augustinian convent. But while they were there, an earthquake destroyed several buildings. The Pontiff was therefore housed outside the city in a country home called Hell, a fact that elicited the sarcasm of the unbelieving.
9. DIES AT VALENCE, FRANCE, IN 1799. — But the pope was still in the heart of Italy. So Pius VI was transferred to Florence, constantly under guard of French dragoons. Next his transfer to Parma was decided upon, the departure to take place at 2 A.M. As the pope was suffering from partial paralysis, his guards had great difficulty in effecting the transfer. From here he was taken to Turin, and finally to the French fortress at Valence, in Dauphiny, arriving there July 14, 1799, broken with fatigue and sorrow. He died there on the 28th.
25 The European Magazine, July, 1798, vol. 34, pp. 7, 8.
26 Bertrand, op. cit.
27 Pennington, op. cit., pp. 449, 450.
28 In the Gallery Room of Pius VI, in the Vatican Museum, his life is portrayed in a series of sixteen pictures, the last in the series showing his expulsion, the coach by which he was escorted to France, his arrival at the destination, and his demise.
II. Official Handbills Reveal Facts of Overthrow
About fifty official handbills and circulars, many in paralleling French and Italian columns, were printed and posted in Rome during the papal overthrow and the establishment of the republic under Berthier in 1798. These constitute about the highest source evidence obtainable, and are not commonly accessible. They are therefore summarized here, the more important being quoted from. Nos.1 and 2 assure respect for public worship and its ministers and for ambassadors, and warn French officers of violation. No. 5, dated Year 1, Pluviose 27 (Feb. 15, 1798), announces that Berthier has appointed civil authorities in the six territories of the republic. No. 7 gives a pompous speech of Berthier in which he says that at the capitol, bearing an olive branch, free Frenchmen have re-established the altars of liberty, erected by the first Brutus.
1. PAPAL GOVERNMENT SUPPRESSED, REVERTING TO PEOPLE. — The famous Bill No. 8, in parallel French and Italian, dated Pluviose 27 (February 15), is a formal declaration by "Citizen Alexander Berthier, General in Chief." In this he makes the announcement:
"The Roman people are now again entered into the rights of sovereignty, declaring their independence, possessing the government of ancient Rome, constituting a Roman Republic.
"The General-in-chief of the French army in Italy declares, in the name of the French Republic, that he acknowledges the Roman Republic independent, and that the same is under the special protection of the French army.
"The General-in-chief of the army acknowledges, in the name of the French Republic, the provisional government which has been proposed by the sovereign people.
"In consequence, every other temporal authority emanating from the old government of the Pope, is suppressed, and it shall no more exercise any function....
"The Roman Republic, acknowledged by the French Republic, comprehends all the country that remained under the temporal authority of the Pope, after the treaty of Campo-Formio.