The Catholic Church and the popes in particular have wielded influence in Europe over many centuries. This is especially true of over 1000 years of power exercised by the Holy Roman Empire from the crowning of Charlemagne, in 800AD, to the fall of the pope’s temporal power in 1870.

It all began during the time of Constantine, who from 313AD to 325AD had overcome the forces of paganism and turned the religion of the Roman Empire to Christianity. It was in 325AD that he summoned the so-called bishops of the churches to the first Council of Nicea in Asia Minor. Here, 250 bishops, over ve months, formulated the rst creed, de ning the doctrine of the Trinity. e excellent book, When Jesus Became God, by Richard E Rubenstein, demonstrates clearly that Constantine steered the proceedings to conclude that Jesus Christ was “very God of very God”, “begotten before all worlds” and that there was only one catholic and apostolic church. Constantine himself was only baptised as “a Christian” four days before his death.

Here, then, was the visible outworking of the warnings of the apostles. Paul warned Thessalonians that “the mystery of iniquity doth already work” (2 Thess 2:7) and John warned the faithful about the evil of those who had gone “out from us, but they were not of us”because they had denied that “Christ is come in the flesh” (1 John 2:19, 4:3).

Also at Nicea, an alliance between Church and State was forged and this union was going to test the true ecclesia of God as they came under intense persecution; an affliction just as cruel as when they were under the pagan emperors like Nero and Domitian.

This whole scenario is the subject of Revelation 12, where, at the end of the chapter, the true saints are described as fleeing from the apostate woman who had taken upon herself the character of the pagan dragon/ serpent. The “remnant of the woman’s seed” is how the Apocalypse describes them. They are those “which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ”(Rev 12:17). What a beautiful description we have of them; and we are their brethren in Christ, living at ease on the brink of the Lord’s return!

We have been discussing those events in the Eastern section of the Roman Empire concerning Constantine’s shift of the capital of the empire from Rome to Constantinople. At the time, the bishop of Rome was just another bishop, similar to those at Alexandria, Carthage, Antioch etc and had not attained to any degree of prominence and power wielded by the popes in later centuries. In fact, at the Council of Nicea, the bishop of Rome did not even attend and sent two emissaries who were priests! So much for the Catholic fable of papal succession from Peter.

Catholic influence in Europe fell to an all time low when Odoacer, the king of the Heruli, conquered Rome in 473 AD. He was succeeded by Theodoric and, in total, the Goths ruled Rome for 60 years. This dramatic turn of events was described in the Apocalypse as “one of [the beast’s seven] heads wounded to death” (Rev 13:3). As a result of this wound, the Roman sun and moon, that is, the secular and religious power of the Empire, was eclipsed for 240 years (Rev 8:12).

Rome languished as a second rate city until the “wound was healed” (Rev 13:3) and the healing took place when the “dragon” power began to support the rise of the papacy (Rev 13:4). The dragon symbol commenced in Revelation 12:3 and represented the undivided Roman Empire in its pagan constitution. By the time we come to Revelation 13, the dragon power has transformed itself into a Christian power and its influence was centred in the eastern or Byzantine division of the Empire.

The emperors in Constantinople began to issue edicts favourable to the Church and the Roman bishop. For example, in 508AD, Phocas made a decree giving the pope the title of Universal Bishop and Head of the Churches, with the right to pass on the title to all his successors. Between 529-533AD, Justinian revised and codified Roman law, giving the Church of Rome pre-eminence and favour at law. Justinian’s armies then evicted the Goths and settled Italy down by 554AD.

By the eighth century, the Pope had amassed considerable power but, being threatened by one of the kings of the ten horns, the Lombards, he appealed to Pepin, the King of the Franks, for help. Pepin defeated the Lombards in 774AD and on Christmas Day, 800AD, Pope Leo III crowned Pepin’s son, Charlemagne, as Emperor of the Romans. So the healing of the sixth head of the beast was complete and the papal influence in Europe grew until the pope himself wielded more power than the emperors. The popes appointed, approved and crowned the emperors and led a campaign of sustained warfare against all dissidents. They engineered the Inquisition, where those who did not adhere to the Catholic faith, or who read, or possessed a Bible were tortured mercilessly and burnt at the stake, or worse. This dreadful time only ended with the combined effects of the French Revolution, in 1789-1793, and the Italian revolution, in 1866-1870.

The beast symbol in Revelation 13 and 17 is drawn from the description of Daniels’ fourth beast, outlined in Daniel 7. It is a power which contains a religious element (it has eyes and mouth, speaking great words against God), a civil element (it changes times and laws) and a military element (it makes war through force of arms) (Dan 7:19-25). This describes the alliance between the papacy and the emperor, known as the Holy Roman Empire, and this unique alliance will exist in the last days until it is destroyed by Christ (Dan 7:22).

This means that we must expect to see a revival of the papacy in European affairs right to the very end of its existence and this is precisely what we see occurring today.

Before we examine papal influence in Europe today, let us add another dimension to the story. In Revelation 16, under the sixth vial symbol, two important events are described. They are the drying up of the Ottoman Empire and the going forth of three frog-like spirits, which are the cause of disturbance in the balance of the political systems leading the nations to Armageddon and the return of the Lord (Rev 16:13-16).

The frog is a symbol of France; a connection which is understood even in the colloquial language used by people ignorant of the Bible. More specifically, it was the symbol displayed on the shield of Clovis, the first king of the Franks, and on the standard of the later kings of France, where three frogs were placed beneath three lilies. Travellers to Innsbruck in Austria can see it on the statue of Clovis in the cathedral and on the tapestry in Rheims cathedral in France. This “spirit” or teaching or ideology emanated from the French revolution and is expressed in the Revolution’s mantra of “liberty, equality and fraternity” and the “Declaration of Human Rights”. It is championed by the dragon (the east, especially Constantinople), the beast (the earth beast of central Europe) and the false prophet (the papacy). These spirits work “miracles” or signs (Rev 16:14).

One of the most striking examples of these frog spirit influences can be seen in the speeches recently uttered by the “false prophet” in the Vatican. Stripped of the power to make war on the saints, bereft of the “iron teeth” to rip and tear our brethren, he has now transformed himself into a beacon of respectability. He is a left wing socialist, professing to care for the poor and distressed and moves among the people, dispensing blessings and good will. The crowds, Catholic and Protestant alike, line the streets wherever he travels. The present Pope, Francis, is the first Jesuit pope, and the Jesuits are masters of disguise and intrigue, being found in all walks of life. Their work is to influence and promote the image of the church and its teachings. This must be quite a feat in light of the deplorable record of child abuse revealed in the Royal Commission findings.

Since Britain’s exit from the European Union, the Vatican has increased its efforts to influence the politics of Europe. For example, in 2016, in Aachen, Pope Francis was presented with the Charlemagne Prize for “his services to European Unity”.

The Pope has an eloquent Bishop named Olivier Poquillon, who heads up an organisation called COMECE (The Commission of the Bishop’s Conference of the European Community). Under the Pope’s direction, he convened a meeting of 200 Bishops with EU leaders on 27 October, 2017. The theme was “Rethinking Europe.” His keynote speech appeared under the heading: “The Church wants to enter into the heart of public policies” and led with the question: “What do we want to do together today in Europe?”

Earlier in the year, on 25 March, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, Pope Francis addressed all of the EU leaders, minus Britain’s Theresa May, who did not attend. He spoke in the Sala Regia in the Vatican, with Michelangelo’s massive painting of “The Last Judgment” facing him on the wall at the end of the ornate room!

He said, “Europe risks dying” and he called for a return to “the patrimony of ideals and spiritual values as an antidote to the vacuum of values of our time, which provides a fertile terrain for every form of extremism.”

In other words, the EU needs the Catholic Church to be involved in political issues.

Furthermore, his Secretary for the Vatican State, Cardinal Olivier Parolin, visited Moscow on 26 August, 2017, where he had meetings with Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Pope said that he “recognizes the Christian identity Putin has assiduously cultivated” (Politico 27/10/17 article entitled “Rome, Constantinople, Moscow”).

The new vibrant and young President of France, Emmanuel Macron, has expressed similar ideas, saying Europe is doomed unless it reconstructs itself economically and politically. His language matches the frog spirit emanating from Rome.

In summary, the papacy suffered at the hands of the ten-toed/horned kingdoms of Europe during and since the French Revolution, but Revelation 17:17 says that “God has put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled”. This means that we will continue to see a revival of the old Holy Roman Empire arrangement (the beast) with the powers of Europe (the ten horns) ceding their political will to a power-sharing arrangement with the Vatican.

It requires Christ himself to bring an end to this alliance of Catholic Europe and the papacy, which, amazingly, will survive Armageddon for a brief time. The wonderful thing is to appreciate that we will be with Christ in immortal glory when this happens, if we are faithful to the end.

Revelation 19 describes the bride as having “made herself ready” in verses 7-9. The saints follow the great Victor who is called “Faithful and True” who “in righteousness will make war” (v11). This will be the moment of Christ’s great victory over a system which has blasphemed his name and persecuted his brethren in centuries past. The chapter fittingly concludes with the end of the two horned beast and the false prophet (the pope) being cast into the Apocalyptic “lake of fire” (v20).

We must be impressed with the signs of his coming and we must direct our lives in the remaining days, so that we are among those who are “called and chosen and faithful” (Rev 17:14) and who are “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Rev 19:8).