666, The Number of the Beast

Rev 13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
Rev 13:17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Rev 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

Note that according to verse 17, there are three different characteristics that distinguish the beast:

It might be argued by some that 666 must be applied to one man's name, and that this will then help identify him as the antichrist. I would offer the following verse to show that 666 need not apply solely to a man's name:

Rev 19:16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

The same Greek word translated as name (onoma: G3686) that appears in Revelation 13:17-18 is also used in chapter 19:16, so clearly the word can also apply to a title, and not just one man's name. Now, we are told that it takes a certain understanding and wisdom to discern just how this number is actually applied. Based on the fact that 666 can apply to a title, below are several words and phrases that have been put forth over the centuries as probable solutions to the enigma of 666.


the numeric equivalents of Greek letters can also be found in the Encyclopedia Britannica under "Languages of the World", Table 8.

The ancient Greek word for "the Latin speaking man" is LATEINOS

L =   30  lambda 
A =     1  alpha 
T = 300  tau
E =     5  epsilon 
I =     10  iota 
N =   50  nu 
O =   70  omicron 
S = 200  sigma 

NOTE: Latin is the official language of the Roman Catholic Church. Church Documents are usually published first in Latin, and then translated from the Latin into other languages. The association of "Lateinos" with 666 was first suggested by Irenćus (ca. 130-202 A.D.) who proposed in his Against Heresies that it might be the name of the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7:7.

Then also Lateinos has the number six hundred and sixty-six; and it is a very probable [solution], this being the name of the last kingdom [of the four seen by Daniel]. For the Latins are they who at present bear rule: I will not, however, make any boast over this [coincidence].

Source: Against Heresies, by Irenćus, Book 5, chapter 30, paragraph 3.
St. Irenaeus biography online at the New Advent Catholic web site.

The ancient Greek for
"The Latin Kingdom" is
 BASILEIA is Strong's # G932
The ancient Greek for
"Italian Church" is

 EKKLESIA is Strong's # G1577 
And in ancient Greek
the word APOSTATES   
And in ancient Greek
the word for "tradition"
Strong's # G3862
H =      0 (transliterated) 
E =      8 eta 

L =    30 lambda 
A =     1 alpha 
T =  300 tau 
I =     10 iota 
N =   50 nu 
E =     8 eta 

B =     2 beta 
A =     1 alpha 
S =  200 sigma 
I =     10 iota 
L =    30 lambda 
E =      5 epsilon 
I =     10 iota 
A =      1 alpha 


I =    10 iota 
T = 300  tau 
A =     1 alpha 
L =   30 lambda 
I =     10 iota 
K =   20 kappa 
A =     1 alpha 

E =     5 epsilon 
K =   20 kappa 
K =   20 kappa 
L =   30 lambda 
E =     8 eta 
S =  200 sigma 
I =     10 iota 
A =     1 alpha 


A =     1  alpha 
P =   80 pi
O =   70  omicron 
ST =   6 stigma*
A =     1  alpha 
T = 300  tau 
E =     8  eta 
S =  200  sigma 



* Stigma is a now obsolete Greek  character, but it appears in the New Testament in Rev 13:18 to give the value 666 (chi xi stigma - See Strong's Concordance, # G5516).

P =   80 pi
A =     1  alpha 
R = 100 rho
A =     1 alpha
D =     4 delta
O =   70  omicron 
S =  200  sigma
I =     10 iota
S =  200  sigma 




I unus 1
V quinque 5
X decem 10
L quinquaginta 50
C centum 100
D quingenti 500
M mille 1000


THE LITERAL MEANING:  VICARIUS - substituting for, or in place of 

FILII - means son 

DEI - means GOD

V = 5        

 F  = no value       D = 500
I = 1 I = 1
E = no value
C = 100 L = 50
I =  1
A = no value I = 1
R = no value I = 1
I = 1     --------

U/V = 5     53

S = no value


    112 + 53 + 501 = 666


translated means Captain of the Clergy
translated means Vicar of the Court
D = 500 
U =     5 
X =   10 

C = 100 
L =   50 
E = no value 
R = no value 
I =       1 
L =   50 
U =     5 
D = 500 
O = no value 
V =     5 
I =       1 
C = 100 
U =     5 
S = no value 


The numeric equivalents of Hebrew letters can be found in the Encyclopedia Britannica under "Languages of the World", Table 50.

means the Roman Kingdom  

R =   200  resh 
O =       6  waw (vav) 
M =     40  mem 
I =       10  yod 
I =       10  yod 
TH = 400  taw 


means the Roman Man

R = 200  resh 
O =     6  waw (vav) 
M =   40  mem 
I =     10  yod 
T = 400  taw 
I =     10  yod 



See The PROPHETIC FAITH OF OUR FATHERS, The Historical Development of Prophetic Interpretation, by Le Roy Edwin Froom, Volumes II and IV, published by the Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington D.C., Copyright 1948.

This relationship of 666 in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew is only one relatively small, yet important indicator that the Papacy is the Antichrist and the beast from the sea of Revelation 13. This association by itself proves little, as 666 can fit other people using the same methods. All the other biblical characteristics of the Antichrist must be considered and met as well, then this association becomes significant. 

  666 and CĆSAR NERO

Some will suggest that the book of Revelation was written only for those living at the time, and that 666 most probably applies to Cćsar Nero, who ruled Rome from 54 to 68 A.D., rather than someone from latter centuries. This point of view, which suggests Revelation had an immediate application to the first century, rather than being prophetic, is known as preterism, and is commonly held by the Catholic Church. So, just how is Nero linked to 666?

The preterist takes a relatively uncommon form of Nero's name, Nero Cćsar or Cćsar Nero, and adds an "n", resulting in Neron Cćsar. Next the Latin is transliterated into Aramaic, resulting in nrwn qsr, which when using the numeric equivalent of the letters, then adds up to 666 as follows:

Nun  50 
Resh  = 200 
Waw  =
Nun  50 

Qoph  100 
Samech  60 
Resh  200 

An example of this spelling has apparently been recently discovered in one of the Dead Sea scrolls. If you use the same process, but without the added "n" the result is 616. Interestingly, some early manuscripts have 616 rather than 666, but even scholars such as Irenćus [A.D. 120-202] attribute the 616 to only a copyist error (Against Heresies: Book V Chapter XXX.), "this number [666] being found in all the most approved and ancient copies" [of the Apocalypse] and asserts that "men who saw John face to face bearing their testimony" [to it - 666].

There is a problem though with the above calculation. According to the rules of Jewish numerology, known as gematria, when the letter Nun appears a second time in a word, it is known as a "Final", and takes the value of 700.* So to be precise, NRWN QSR actually adds up to 1316 and not 666.

*Source: Behind Numerology, by Shirley Blackwell Lawrence, copyright 1989, published by Newcastle Publishing Co., Inc., North Hollywood, California, ISBN 0-87877-145-X, page 41.

So the preterist calculation which attributes 666 to Nero, however, is nothing more than a rather desperate attempt to find some likely candidate for the Antichrist other than the Papacy.


Look up in Strong's Concordance word 473 in the Greek dictionary. You will find the the word anti is often used to denote substitution-

473. anti, an-tee'; a prim. particle; opposite, i.e. instead or because of (rarely in addition to):--for, in the room of. Often used in composition to denote contrast, requital, *substitution*, correspondence, etc.

An example of how anti is used this way can be found in the words type and antitype, which are used with respect to Bible prophecy. The "type" is the pattern or symbol, and the antitype is the fulfillment. The Jewish Passover was a "type" and the crucifixion of Jesus is the "antitype" or fulfillment of the example of the type. You substitute the antitype into the symbolism of the type to arrive at the complete meaning.

The Catholic Church has essentially confirmed this usage of the word anti. In the 1994 Catholic Almanac on page 158 there is "the list of men who claimed or exercised the papal office in an uncanonical manner." So these men tried to substitute themselves for the true Pope, and usurp that office, so to speak. The Catholic church denies the papal authority of the men on that list because they attempted a substitute (false) claim on the Papacy. That list is a list of ANTI-POPES! So the word anti can clearly mean a substitute for something.


Antichrist (word 500 in Strong's Greek dictionary) can be correctly interpreted then, as someone who substitutes himself for Jesus Christ, the Son of God, just as an antipope substituted himself into the office of the Papacy.

The Vicar of Christ (Vicarius Christi)

"Vicar of Christ . . . Title used almost exclusively of the Bishop of Rome as successor of Peter and, therefore, the one in the Church who particularly takes the place of Christ; but used also of bishops in general and even of priests. First used by the Roman Synod of A.D. 495 to refer to Pope Gelasius; more commonly in Roman curial usage to refer to the Bishop of Rome during the pontificate of Pope Eugene III (1145-1153). Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) asserted explicitly that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ; further defined at the Council of Florence in the Decree for the Greeks (1439) and Vatican Council I in Pastor Aerternus (1870). The Second Vatican Council, in Lumen Gentium , n.27, calls bishops in general "vicars and legates of Christ." All bishops are vicars of Christ for their local churches in their ministerial functions as priest, prophet, and king, as the Pope is for the universal church; the title further denotes they exercise their authority in the Church not by delegation from any other person, but from Christ Himself."

Source: Catholic Dictionary, Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Editor, published by Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, 1993, pp. 484-485.


Now look up the word vicarious in almost any common dictionary. Here is what you would find in the Webster Handy College Dictionary: "substituting for or, feeling in place of another."

Also in the Webster's II New Riverside Desk Dictionary for the definition of Vicar-

1. A parish priest in the Church of England.
2. A cleric in the Episcopal Church in charge of a chapel.
3. One who serves as a *substitute* for another.

A Vicar General is defined in the 1994 Catholic Almanac on page 330 as "a priest or bishop appointed by the bishop of a diocese to serve as his deputy, with ordinary executive power, in the administration of the diocese." So a vicar serves in the place of (substituting for) the bishop, and assumes his power of office for certain duties.

So the Papal title of VICAR OF CHRIST which in Latin is VICARIUS CHRISTI, means a SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRIST, which is synonymous with Antichrist, i.e., assuming the power of God on earth! This blasphemous claim is made repeatedly by various Popes and is the very foundation of Roman Catholicism and it's Papacy.

Some Catholics may protest that the Pope represents, but does not substitute for Jesus Christ, to avoid the association.

 Now, from the Webster Hand College Dictionary, the definition of the word represent:

1. portray; depict; describe.
2. play the role of; impersonate.
3. denote; symbolize; stand for.
4. speak and act for; *be a substitute for*.
5. set forth; assert.
6. be composed of; consist in.

Clearly then, Vicar of Christ (Vicarius Christi) and Antichrist have exactly the same meaning. The Pope substitutes himself in place of God on earth, and that is *exactly* the meaning of Antichrist.


Some Catholics will claim that the title VICARIUS FILII DEI is an anti-catholic fabrication, a complete fake, never used by the Catholic church. One example of this is online at the Catholic Envoy Magazine in the article titled Pope Fiction by Patrick Madrid (See Fiction 5). My complete discussion with Patrick Madrid.

Another Catholic apologist, Karl Keating of the organization Catholic Answers, in a debate in the fall of 1989 with Jose Ventilacion of Iglesia ni Cristo, stated the following:

The whole Iglesia argument against the Catholic Church is a big fraud, and let me prove it to you, from Pasugo [God's Message]. I mentioned in my opening remarks, Iglesia is so fond of claiming that the Pope is the beast of Revelation. We know that the beast of Revelation has the number 666, right?

Now here is the argument, follow this carefully. The Pope's have what is known as a tiara, that means a triple crown, a triply high crown, three levels. The beast can be identified. You find a man whose name, when added up adds up to 666, or a man whose title adds up to 666. Now, Iglesia ni Cristo says two things. One, that the title of the Pope, in Latin, is Vicarius Filii Dei, and second, that that title appears on the three bands of the tiara. I have in front of me a photo copy of the September 1976 issue of Pasugo. Here is a drawing made by the staff showing the tiara with those words on it. This is just a pen drawing. Two things to say. Does the title Vicarius Filii Dei add up to 666? Yes it does. But, is that a title of the Popes? Have they ever used it? No.

Do you know what Vicarius Filii Dei means? It means vicar, or representative, or agent, Vicar of the Son of God. The Pope has never used that title. No Pope ever. The official title of the pope, one of several, is Vicar of Christ, not Vicar of the Son of God. We Catholics claim he is the representative on earth of the God-man the Messiah, not of the second person of the Trinity as such. But you see, the Vicar of Christ, in Latin, is Vicarius Christi, and when you add up the letters, they don't add up to 666.

So the first thing, the first thing, that the Iglesia ni Cristo has done, and as I say, it repeats this story every four issues or so in its magazine. The first thing is to claim that the title of the Pope is Vicarius Filii Dei. That's a lie. It's not at all. Why does it claim that? Because it wants to find a title that adds up to 666. It doesn't care about the truth!

For those with high speed internet, see beginning at 38:50 minutes into this video of the debate at Google Videos. For those with dialup, here is audio of the above quote (mp3). Mr. Keating also stated this in print: "Vicarius Filii Dei never has been used as a title by any Pope.", Catholicism and Fundamentalism, by Karl Keating, Ignatius Press, 1988, pg 221.

The following evidence is offered to prove that VICARIUS FILII DEI is indeed genuine.

Vicarius Filii Dei translated in English is Vicar of the Son of God, a phrase that has been used by Catholics:

[pg. 140]

... there are Catholics who talk against the temporal power of the Pope, either because they have been stunned by the clamours of a Protestant people, or because they are white-hearted, and have not courage to stand in the face of popular falsehood for an unpopular truth. The spirit of Protestant England?its lawlessness, its pride, its contempt, and its enmity to the Church of God?has made Catholics too to be cold-hearted, even when the Vicar of Jesus Christ is insulted. We have need, then, to be upon our guard. It shall happen once more with some, as it did when the Son of God was in His Passion?they saw Him betrayed, bound, carried away, buffeted, blindfolded, and scourged; they saw Him carry His Cross to Calvary, then nailed upon it, and lifted up to the scorn of the world; and they said, "If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him."* So in like manner they say now, "See this Catholic Church, this Church of God, feeble and weak, rejected even by the very nations called Catholic. There is Catholic France, and Catholic Germany, and Catholic Italy, giving up this exploded figment of the temporal power of the Vicar of Jesus Christ." And

* St. Matt. xxvii. 42.

[pg. 141]

so, because the Church seems weak, and the Vicar of the Son of God is renewing the Passion of his Master upon earth, therefore we are scandalized, therefore we turn our faces from him. Where, then, is our faith? But the Son of God foretold these things when He said, "And now I have told you, before it come to pass; that when it shall come to pass, you may believe."*

* St. John xiv. 29.

[pg. 230]

... Lastly, the only other point upon which I shall speak to is this. We have already seen how the powers and glories of the Holy See have been progressively unfolding; how the time of St. Gregory I. was a period of apostolic missions, converting the nations to the faith; how the time of St. Leo III. was a period

[pg. 231]

of creating the Christian world; how the time of St. Gregory VII. was a period of purifying the sanctuary of the Church; and how the time of Alexander III. was a period of royalty of government and of ecclesiastical order, when the divine power of the church directed, by a firm and sacred authority, the civil powers of the world within the sphere of the law of God and of obedience to the faith. Now I observe these powers of the Holy See have been always rising, always culminating. The temporal power in the hand of St. Gregory I. was a fatherly and patriarchal rule over nations not as yet reduced to civil order. In the hands of St. Leo III. it became a power of building empires. In the hands of St. Gregory VII. it was a scourge to chasten them. In the hands of Alexander III. it was a dynasty, ruling supremely, in the name of God, over the powers of the world. And now in these later times the temporal sovereignty has become a law of the conscience, an axiom of the reason. Through long contests and denials it has passed into consciences, intellects, and hearts of men. Like the great dogmas of the Church, through controversy it has reached its analysis and expression. It stands by the side of the Immaculate Conception a theological certainty, if not a definition. So that I may say there never was a time when the temporal power of the Vicar of the Son of God, though assailed as we see it, was more firmly rooted through-

[pg. 232]

out the whole unity of the Catholic Church in the hearts and convictions of its members; and that by a double process, not only by its own proper evidence, not only by the light of God's dealing with the world, but by contrast. For the nations of Europe have already seen that the society of the world, without the guidance and preservation of the Church of God, resolves itself into confusion. They have seen every form of political society, and the confederations of kingdoms and nations, dissolve and pass away. While all the floating societies of the world have drifted down the stream, the centre of obedience has become more stable. Men have learned from the history of modern Europe that the law which is called the law of nations—that is, the rule of justice which regulates the relations of people with people—has become weak and powerless. And why? Because the nations have broken the bonds which bound them to the centre of obedience, and have shaken off the noble submission to a tribunal higher than man, from which came forth, in other days, the judgments of equity and of justice. It was a dignified obedience to bow to the Vicar of the Son of God, and to remit the arbitration of their griefs to one whom all wills consented to obey.

Source: The Temporal Power of the Vicar of Jesus Christ, by Henry Edward Manning, D.D. (appointed Archbishop of Westminster in 1865 and Cardinal in 1875), second edition with a preface, published in 1862 in London by Burns & Lambert, 17 &18 Portman Street.

For what is the temporal power, but the condition of peaceful independence and supreme direction over all Christians, and all Christian so- [p. 166] cieties, inherent in the office of Vicar of Christ, and head of the Christian Church? When the Civil powers became Christian, faith and obedience restrained them from casting so much as a shadow of human sovereignty over the Vicar of the Son of God. They who attempt it now will do it at their peril.

The Vatican Council And Its Definitions: Pastoral Letter to the Clergy, By Henry Edward Manning, Archbishop of Westminster, Second Edition, New York, 1871, p. 166.


What Rome is to the world, St. Peter's is to Rome.
    Rome is the holy city, the centre of the Catholic faith, the citadel of truth, the very sanctuary of the Catholic religion. And of all the temples that are enclosed within this one vast temple, St. Peter's is the chief; it is the central point of religious faith in Rome, and her most magnificent crown. Every one can understand why. Within these sacred walls repose the relics of the Prince of the Apostles, the first Bishop of Rome, the first of the long line of Pontiffs, the first Vicar of Jesus Christ. And close by, in an immense palace near to the church, the Pontiff lives, — the successor of St. Peter, the Vicar of the Son of God, and Sovereign Pastor of all the Christians upon the face of the whole earth.

Familiar Instructions And Evening Lectures On All The Truths Of Religion, by Monseigneur Louis Gaston A. de Sčgur, translated from the French, Vol. II.; London: Burns & Oates, 1881, p. 204.

    Malgré ces pénibles travaux, le vicaire du Fils de Dieu menait une vie extręmement frugale.  [In spite of this painful work, the vicar of the Son of God (Peter) carried out an extremely frugal life.]

Catéchisme de Persévérance, L'Abbe J. Guame, Cinquieme Edition, Tome Cinquičme, Paris, 1845, p. 25

From Crossing The Threshold of Hope, by Pope John Paul II:
First Chapter: "The Pope": A Scandal and a Mystery (bold emphasis is mine):

[pg. 3] The leader of the Catholic Church is defined by the faith as the Vicar of Jesus Christ (and is accepted as such by believers). The Pope is considered the man on earth who represents the Son of God, who "takes the place" of the Second Person of the omnipotent God of the Trinity.

[pg. 6] Have no fear when people call me the "Vicar of Christ," when they say to me "Holy Father," or "Your Holiness," or use titles similar to these, which seem even inimical [hostile] to the Gospel. Christ himself declared: "Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Messiah" (Mt 23:9-10). These expressions, nevertheless, have evolved out of a long tradition, becoming part of common usage. One must not be afraid of these words either.

[pg. 13] The Pope is not the only one who holds this title. With regard to the Church entrusted to him, each bishop is Vicarius Christi.

Note that on page three of the Pope's book, "represents the Son of God" is synonymous with "Vicar of Jesus Christ". A vicar clearly represents, substitutes for, or "takes the place" of another, as stated. Consequently "represents the Son of God" can be translated in Latin as Vicarius Filii Dei, which in Roman Numerals will add up to 666. The title Vicarius Christi, translated into English, means a substitute for Christ, i.e., Antichrist, as demonstrated above, which is applied by the Pope to every bishop of the Catholic Church!

The Historical Proof.

The Donation of Constantine is the most famous forgery in European history, and was discovered in the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals in the 9th century (c. 847-853). The forger is thought to have been Johannes Hymonides (John the Deacon of the 9th century). The Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals are fictitious letters alleged to be from early popes [Clement (A.D. 100) to Gregory the Great (A.D. 600)], collected by Isidore Mercator in the 9th century. Since the scholarly criticism of the fifteenth century they have been known to be forgeries and have been called "Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals" or False Decretals, to acknowledge that they are fraudulent.

The donation reads in part as follows in Latin: (caps added for emphasis) -

... ut sicut B. Petrus in terris VICARIUS FILII DEI esse videtur constitutus, ita et Pontifices, qui ipsius principis apostolorum gerunt vices, principatus potestatem amplius quam terrena imperialis nostrae serenitatis mansuetudo habere videtur, conscessam a nobis nostroque imperio obtineant...

In English that is-

... as the Blessed Peter is seen to have been constituted vicar of the Son of God on the earth, so the Pontiffs who are the representatives of that same chief of the apostles, should obtain from us and our empire the power of a supremacy greater than the clemency of our earthly imperial serenity is seen to have conceded to it,
(continuing beyond the Latin above)
choosing that same chief of the apostles and his vicars to be our constant intercessors with God. And to the extent of our earthly Imperial power, we have decreed that his holy Roman Church shall be honored with veneration, and that more than our empire and earthly throne the most sacred seat of the Blessed Peter shall be gloriously exalted, we giving to it power, and dignity of glory, and vigor, and honor imperial. And we ordain and decree that he shall have the supremacy as well over the four principal seats, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Constantinople, as also over all the churches of God in the whole earth. And the Pontiff, who at the time shall be at the head of the holy Roman church itself, shall be more exalted than, and chief over, all the priests of the whole world, and according to his judgment everything which is provided for the service of God and for the stability of the faith of Christians is to be administered.

Source: Christopher B. Coleman's The Treatise of Lorenzo Valla on the Donation of Constantine, pp. 12,13 Copyright 1922 by Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.

Photos of a 16th century copy of the Donation are online at the Vatican Secret Archive web site. The phrase vicarius filli Dei appears at the end of the 5th line down of the left page of the 7th photo. The image below is enlarged by 100% and sharpened to make it readable. See also this page, #11.

rime  sanitati  comperi  me restitutum, utile
judicauimus   una  cum   nostris  satrapibus
omnibus  et  universo Senatu optimatibus It
et  cuncto populo Romanae gloriae imperij
subiacenti, ut  sicut in terris vicarius filii Dei
esse  videtur  constitutus etiam et pontifices,
qui   ipsius  principes  Apostolorum  gerunt

The Donation of Constantine has two parts, the first relates the alleged conversion story of Constantine to the Christian faith, and is called the "Confessio". The second part, called the "Donatio", lists the authority, privileges and property bestowed on the papacy by the emperor. It was later incorporated into most of the medieval collections of Catholic canon law (Anselm's, Cardinal Deusdedit's (c. 1087), and Gratian's Decretum (c. 1148) also known as Concordia Discordantium Canonum).

University of Zaragosa Library Catalogue Entry Corpus Iuris Canonici. Decretum Gratiani, cum apparatu Bartholomaei Brixiensis et Johannis Semecae, Basileae : Johannes Froben , 13 junio 1493. (Has full document download, .djvu format)

  • Scanned page (.gif) - Distinctio 96 vicarius filii Dei (Quote of Donation of Constantine)

At right is the page of Gratian's Decretum printed in 1512 with the title vicarius filii dei indicated by the arrow.  The entire volume is online at Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, the title appears on photo 201.

The Donation of Constantine was cited in writing by no less than 10 Popes as proof of their civil authority and sovereignty over Rome, and what came to be known as the Papal States, which included a large portion of Italy. It was also eventually exposed as a pious fraud in 1440 by Laurentius Valla who proved the donation had to have been written several centuries after the death of Constantine (337 A.D.) The Vatican condemned Valla's scholarly work by listing it in the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, the Index of Prohibited Books of 1559 (a 1569 printing at Google books), and as late as 1580 the official edition of the Corpus Juris upheld the genuineness of the False Decretals. So the Donation of Constantine was held to be genuine for centuries.

Catholics finally abandoned the defense of the authenticity of the Donation of Constantine shortly after Cesare Baronius published his Annales Ecclesiastici in 1592, which admitted the fraud, although the Donation and title Vicarius Filii Dei continued to appear in Canon law and other Catholic publications well into the 19th century.

In his Annales Ecclesiastici (published 1588-1607) written in advocacy of the papacy and the Catholic Church, he [Baronius] took the position that the falsity of the Donation had been proven and, abandoning its defence, discussed it as a forgery. 2

2 Under the year 324, nos. 117-123.  Cf. also A. D. 1191, no 51.  (pg. 206.)

Starting with his apologetic attitude on behalf of the papacy, and the existence of Greek texts of the Donation, he advanced the theory that Greeks had perpetrated the forgery and used it to establish the antiquity of the See of Constantinople. (pg. 207.)

Source: Constantine the Great and Christianity, by Christopher Bush Coleman, New York, The Columbia University Press; Longmans, Green & Co., Agents, 1914, pgs. 206, 207.

Vicarius Filii Dei in the text of the Donation of Constantine in an 1869 Vatican printing of Cardinal Deusdedit's Canon Law (compiled in 1087 A.D.) online at Google books. Deusdedit's bio.

Below is a copy of the cover page of Catholic Canon Law (Corpus Iuris Canonici) and Gratian's Decretals published in 1879 in Germany by Emil Friedberg:


The Donation of Constantine is quoted in column 342, part of which is shown below. The phrase "vicarius filii dei" is found near the center of the paragraph. (Note that a "u" is used in place of a "v".)


The Bavarian State Library of Germany has a digitized 1879 version of Corpus Iuris Canonici available online, with full document download in .pdf format.  The title appears in column 342 (image 223). The relevant section is found under the following headings:

        - C. XIV. De eodem.

In the many hundreds of years that the Donation of Constantine appeared in Catholic Canon Law, it was apparently always presented as a genuine historical document legally granting the papacy temporal power and authority, for to acknowledge it as a fraud would have been to admit that power and authority of the papacy to be likewise fraudulent. With the forced loss of the papal states from 1798 to 1870, the territorial sovereignty that the papacy had acquired via the donation was gone, until 1929, when Mussolini in the Lateran Pact granted it sovereignty over the Vatican City State.


Vicarius Filii Dei was used twice by Pope Paul VI in documents found on the Vatican's web site. These are Apostolic Constitutions, which are the highest form of official Papal decree in the Roman Catholic Church and are issued with binding legal authority. Historically these decrees were known as papal bulls, the name referring to the lead metal seal (bulla) attached to authenticate the document. As a general rule, the superscription that opens papal bulls typically reads:

So, the following Apostolic Constitutions begin:

Bafianae (January 11, 1968), Decree of Paul VI elevating the Prefecture Apostolic of Bafia, Cameroon, to a Diocese:
Acta Apostolicae Sedis
, Commentarium Officiale, vol. LX (1968), n. 6, pp. 317-319. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. ISBN 8820960680, 9788820960681.
Scans: Title page - 317 - 318 - 319.

Adorandi Dei Filii Vicarius et Procurator, quibus numen aeternum summam Ecclesiae sanctae dedit, ...
As the worshipful Son of God's Vicar and Caretaker, to whom the eternal divine will has given the highest rank of the holy Church, ...

Rivi Muniensis (August 9, 1965), Decree of Paul VI creating the Vicariate Apostolic of Río Muni, Equatorial Guinea:
Acta Apostolicae Sedis
, Commentarium Officiale, vol. LVIII (1966), n. 6, pp. 421-422. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, ISBN 8820960664, 9788820960667.
Scans: Title page - 421 - 422.

Qui summi Dei numine et voluntate principem locum in Christi Ecclesia, obtinemus, adorandi Filii Dei hic in terris Vicarii Petrique successores, ...
We who the supreme God providentially wills, and maintains, in the principle position over Christ's Church, the worshipful Son of God's Vicar(s) upon the earth, Peter's successor(s), ...

Acta Apostolicae Sedis (Acts of the Apostolic See) is the official publication of the Holy See, and documents published in it are considered authentic and officially promulgated. The Vatican's web site for their Secret Archives estimates the total number of papal documents to be above 30 million. This is a staggering number of documents, and makes it a virtual certainty that Vicarius Filii Dei was used in other official documents that have yet to be discovered.

English translations of the above Apostolic Constitutions are not available on the Vatican web site. However, regarding the translation of Rivi Muniensis, a similar wording in Latin was used by Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) that can act as a guide. Here is one example in his De Ecclesia militante:

As thus understood, the definition of the Church given by Bellarmine is that usually adopted by Catholic theologians: "A body of men united together by the profession of the same Christian Faith, and by participation in the same sacraments, under the governance of lawful pastors, more especially of the Roman Pontiff, the sole vicar of Christ on earth" (Cœtus hominum ejusdem christianse fidei professione, et eorumdem sacramentorum communione colligatus, sub regimine legitimorum pastorum et praecipue unius Christi in Terris vicarii Romani Pontificis.—Bellarmine, De Eccl., III, ii, 9).

Source: The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume Three, copyright 1908 by Robert Appleton Co., and 1913 by The Encyclopedia Press, entry on The Church, page 745.

Note that in the above translation of the Latin: "unius Christi in Terris vicarii Romani Pontificis", "vicarii" does not apply to "Romani Pontificis" (i.e., vicar of the Roman Pontiff), but rather it applies to the preceding "Christi" (vicar of Christ on earth). This indicates that in the similarly worded Rivi Muniensis, "Vicarii" applies to "Filii Dei" (Son of God's vicar upon the earth), not "Petrique Successores" (vicar of Peter's successor, or vicar and successor of Peter) as an English speaker might presume. It is also worth noting that Cardinal Bellarmine's definition of the Christian Church excludes those who do not consider themselves subject to the authority of the Roman Pontiff, which is to say that Protestants are not part of the Church.



According to the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia entry on the Donation of Constantine:

The first pope who used it in an official act and relied upon it, was Leo IX; in a letter of 1054 to Michael Cćrularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, he cites the "Donatio" to show that the Holy See possessed both an earthly and a heavenly imperium, the royal priesthood. ... Gregory VII himself never quoted this document in his long warfare for ecclesiastical liberty against the secular power. But Urban II made use of it in 1091 to support his claims on the island of Corsica. Later popes (Innocent III, Gregory IX, Innocent IV) took its authority for granted (Innocent III, Sermo de sancto Silvestro, in P.L., CCXVII, 481 sqq.; Raynaldus, Annales, ad an. 1236, n. 24; Potthast, Regesta, no. 11,848), and ecclesiastical writers often adduced its evidence in favour of the papacy. The medieval adversaries of the popes, on the other hand, never denied the validity of this appeal to the pretended donation of Constantine ... The authenticity of the document, as already stated, was doubted by no one before the fifteenth century.

Source: The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia online at the New Advent web site. Scanned page of Volume 5, entry on Donation of Constantine, page 120.

The text of the letter of Leo IX to Michael Cćrularius, "In terra pax hominibus", is cited in the following work: Several Tracts Against Popery, by Michael Geddes, LL.D., London, 1715. See pages 11 - 20.

In this letter, which the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia deems an official act, Pope Leo IX was asserting his primacy as the Bishop of Rome, and to that end he reproduced that portion of the donation containing vicarius filii Dei (see page 12 at left below) for the edification of the Greek Patriarch. In the prologue of his citation of the donation, Leo IX said, in affirming the donation as genuine:page

"But lest perhaps", saith Leo, "some Scruple may still remain with you concerning it's earthly Domination, (that is the Papacy's) and that you may not so much as lightly suspect, that the holy Roman See seeks to vindicate and defend its unshaken Honour with foolish and old Wives Fables, we will here produce a few Privileges which were confirmed by the Hand of the said Constantine, ... by which Truth will be confirmed, ... we do not follow learned Fables, but do manifest unto you the Power of Our Lord Jesus Christ [2 Pet. 1:16], ... Know ye that the same glorious Prince in the aforesaid Privilege, did, ... thus promulgate the special Dignity of the Roman Church". (pgs. 18, 19)

As Geddes says:

    "Was there ever any Truth spoke of with more Assurance, or with a greater Air of Devotion, than Constantine's Donation, and the Roman Church's never having made use of Fables, as spoke of here by Leo." 
    "As Leo is, you see, in his Prologue to this Donation, very peremptory that it is authentick, so he triumphs in his Epilogue to it, as if its being so were made indubitable by him, saying," ... 'Wherefore Truth being supported by these and many more such Testimonies, does not blush, but impudent Vanity is confounded.'  "If this Pope had any Shame in him, he would never have ventured on this Occasion to have spoke either of Blushing or of Impudence; or if he had had any Religion, would he have dared to have made such a Grimace as this."
    "For as if he himself believed all that he saith here so positively, and with so great an Air of Religion, concerning these Donations being indubitably authentick, he was certainly the simplest and most credulous Man that ever put Pen to Paper: So if he did not believe it himself, as it is more than probable he did not, he was a most profane and vile Hypocrite to cant about it, as he does. However, what this Pope saith here so dogmatically of the Instrument of Constantine's Donation, and its being authentick, ought to be remembered." (pgs. 19, 20)

The letter begins with the Intitulatio: "Leo episcopus, servus servorum Dei", which is characteristic of official papal bulls. It was addressed to Michael Cćrularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Leo, Metropolitan of Achrida, and was in response to a letter sent by Leo, Metropolitan of Achrida to John, Bishop of Tranum (Bulgaria), that categorically attacked the customs of the Latin Church that differed from those of the Greeks. Especially criticized were the Roman traditions of fasting on the Saturday Sabbath and consecration of unleavened bread. Leo IX in his letter accused Constantinople of historically being the source of heresy and claimed in emphatic terms the primacy of the Bishop of Rome over even the Patriarch of Constantinople*, who would have none of it. After Leo's assertion of primacy was summarily rejected, Patriarch Cćrularius was excommunicated by papal legates who entered Constantinople's St. Sophia during the liturgy on July 16, 1054, and publicly threw down the Bull that anathematized Cerularius on the altar table. By that dramatic act, the Church was split in two in the Great Schism that has ever since divided East and West.

* "Pope Leo IX. cites long extracts of it [the Donation] in his letter to Michael Cerularius, patriarch of Constantinople, in 1054, in order to establish against the Greeks the spiritual and temporal jurisdiction of the Holy See.2" —  The Power of the Pope During the Middle Ages, by M. Gosselin, Vol. 1., Translated by Rev. Matthew Kelly, London, pg. 318.

The full Latin text of the epistle of Pope Leo IX is online:

The full Latin text of the Donation of Constantine is online:

Vicar of Jesus Christ - Pope Innocent III (1198-1216)

Pope Innocent III popularized the title "Vicar of Jesus Christ". In Inter corporalia, he claimed that as the Vicar of Jesus Christ, only the Roman Pontiff could remove or transfer bishops, because he acted not with human, but with divine power and authority reserved for the Roman Pontiff alone:

Non enim humana sed potius divina potestate conjugium spirituale dissolvitur, cum per translationem, vel depositionem auctoritate Romani Pontificis (quem constat esse vicarium Jesu Christi), episcopus ab ecclesia removetur: et ideo tria haec, quae praemisimus, non tam constitutione canonica, quam institutione divina soli sunt Romano Pontifici reservata. Official 1582 "In Aedibus Populi Romani" edition of Corpus Juris Canonici, Decretal. Greg. IX., de Transl., lib. i. tit. 7, c. 2, Inter corporalia, col 213, pg. 107.

In Licit in tantum, Pope Innocent III stated that he was the successor of Peter and Vicar of Jesus Christ:

Sicut legitimi matrimonii vinculum, quod est virum est et uxorem, homo dissolvere nequit, Domino dicente in Evangelio, Quod Deus conjunxit, homo non separet (Matth. xix,6) : sic et spirituale foedus conjugii, quod est inter episcopum et Ecciesiam, quod in electione initiatum, ratum in confirmatione et in consecratione intelligitur consummatum, sine illius auctoritate solvi non potest, qui successor est Petri et vicarius Jesu Christi. Official 1582 "In Aedibus Populi Romani" edition of Corpus Juris Canonici, Decretal. Greg. IX., de Transl., lib. i. tit. 7, c. 4, Licit in tantum, col 218, pg. 109.

In the 12th century, the canonist John the Deacon of the Lateran wrote Liber de ecclesia Lateranensi (On the Lateran Church) in which the text of the Donation of Constantine appeared, including Vicarius Filii Dei.

St. John Lateran Cathedral figures prominently in Bible prophecy as it has the official "cathedra" or throne of the Bishop of Rome, it is the oldest or "Mother" church of Christendom, and it was in fact formerly the palace of the emperor, bequeathed to the Pope when Constantine vacated Rome for Constantinople, leaving the Bishop of Rome to fill the vacuum. This is mentioned in both the Donation and in the book of Revelation:

Rev 13:2 And the beast [papal Rome] which I saw was like unto a leopard [Greece], and his feet were as the feet of a bear [Medo-Persia], and his mouth as the mouth of a lion [Babylon]: and the dragon [pagan Rome / Satan] gave him [the papacy] his power, and his seat [cathedra, St. John Lateran], and great authority.

At left is Pope Benedict XVI on the throne in the apse of St. John Lateran Cathedral, formerly the palace of Emperor Constantine the Great, now the official cathedra of the Bishop of Rome. St. John Lateran is located on one of the seven hills of Rome. See: What Does The Word Vatican Mean?

Vicar of God - Pope Nicholas III, 1278

"Vicar of Christ (Lat. Vicarius Christi), a title of the pope implying his supreme and universal primacy, both of honour and of jurisdiction, over the Church of Christ. ... The title Vicar of God used for the pope by Nicholas III is employed as an equivalent for Vicar of Christ." Vicar of Christ entry, Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913, Volume 15, pg. 403.

In Fundamenta Militantis Ecclesiae, a papal constitution issued on July 18, 1278, Pope Nicholas III decreed that the city of Rome was to be governed by a senate composed of Roman citizens, but only with his express papal approval. (see this book)

Decet ipsius nullo modo vacillare iudicia: ut fratres ipsos nullus saecularis potestatis metus exterreat, nullus temporalis favor absorbeat, nullus eis terror immineat, nihil eosa veri consilii soliditate removeat: quin, per ipsum Romanum Pontificem in quibuscumque negotiis contingeret eorum peti consilia, in consulendo per omnia liberi, eidem Romano Pontifici in omnibus, quae pro tempore imminent, libere consulant, et assistant: ipsaque Romani Pontificis Vicarii Dei, quae suis temporibus occurrerit, electio, et eorundem cardinalium, (cum expedierit) facienda promotio, in omni libertate procedant. Official 1582 "In Aedibus Populi Romani" edition of Corpus Juris Canonici, Liber Sextus, Book 1, tit. vi - De electione, cap. 17 - Fundamenta Militantis Ecclesiae, col. 129, (Romani Pontificis vicarij Dei occurs at bottom of column 132), pg. 68. Also see footnote z - sed Dei vicarius, and footnote t  - vicarij Dei, at the bottom of the page.

Vicar of Jesus Christ Son of God - Pope Nicholas IV, 1289

Pope Nicolaus IV in a letter dated July 13th, 1289, inviting Caydonius the Tatar to embrace the Christian faith, assured him that the Roman Pontiff's office of Vicar of Jesus Christ the Son of God was in fact a divine appointment:

Prudentia, magnificentia, auctoritate eminebat inter Tartaros Caydonius Princeps.
    Hunc ad fidem pertrahere conatur Nicolaus ratus multos alios Tartariae; principes movendos esse ad eam amplectendam ejus principis auctoritate.
    Ne miretur Caydonius, si a Romano Pontifice per litteras invitatur ad Christianam fidem amplectendam. Ex munere enim sibi divinitus imposito ita agit, et ita illi est agendum; Vicarius enim Jesu Christi Filii Dei est.
    Hic illi explanat Mysterium Incarnationis, vitam, mortemque Chrifti pro hominum salute latam.
    Quare quam maxime potest eum orat, obtestaturque, si quicquam aeternam salutem suam cordi habet, ut Chriftianae fidei nomen det.
    D. Reate III. Id. Jul. P. a. II. a. D. 1289.

14th Century Canon Lawyer Applies Vicarius Filii Dei To The Pope

Agostino Trionfo of Ancona (Augustinus Triumphus) 1243-1328 A.D.
Summa de potestate ecclesiastica (Summary On The Power Of The Church)

Trionfo was expressly commissioned by Pope John XXII to produce a book that would set forth and defend the ecclesiastical and temporal authority of the papacy. The result was Summa de potestate ecclesiastica, which was completed in the year 1320 and dedicated to the same Pope, and is considered the high water mark of papal pretentions.

The Summa de potestate ecclesiastica of Augustinus Triumphus has been described as 'one of the half dozen most influential and most important books ever written' on the nature of the papal supremacy in the Middle ages, 1...
C. H. McIlwain, The Growth of Political Thought in the West (London, 1932), p. 278.  The Problem of Sovereignty in the Later Middle Ages: The Papal Monarchy with Augustinus Triumphus and the Publicists by Michael Wilks, Cambridge University Press, 2008, ISBN 052107018X, 9780521070188, p. 2

Augustinus' Summa de potestate ecclesiastica is an extensive treatise, counting over 600 double column pages in the early printed editions. It consists of 112 questions, divided into three major parts. There are at least twenty-four extant manuscripts of the complete work, and another fifteen containing fragments. The Summa received five editions in the fifteenth century, and the four successive editions in Rome, beginning in 1582 and ending in 1585, which was the last edition of Augustinus' work. High Way To Heaven, The Augustinian Platform Between Reform and Reformation, 1292-1524, by Eric Leland Saak, Leiden; Boston, MA: Brill, 2002, page 50.

The University of Maryland claims 29 editions of Summa were published between 1320 and 1584 in Latin, and it is held by 55 libraries worldwide.

Note that Summa was coming off the presses of Rome during the early years of the Catholic Church's enforcement of the Tridentine Index of Forbidden Books (Index Librorum Prohibitorum), which began in 1546 under Pope Pius IV and the Council of Trent, and remained in effect for over 300 years. The 1582 printing is prefaced by an endorsement by F. Augustinus Fiuizanius Romanus, Sacrista, Et Ordinis Augustiniani, Vicarius Generalis, under the name of Pope Gregory XIII. The crest of Pope Gregory XIII, with the winged dragon, appears on the title page, as shown below. In Summa, Agostino applied Vicarius Filii Dei to the papacy.

Refer to the following guide for the Latin and corresponding English for each edition of Summa. The Latin spelling varies slightly depending on abbreviations used.

  • Question 6 Ad 1, solus enim Papa dicitur esse Vicarius Dei: ... [Only the Pope is said to be the Vicar of God: ...]
  • Question 22 Ad 2, Sed Papa est vicarius Dei in terris. [Indeed the Pope is the vicar of God on the earth.]
  • Question 35 Ad 5, Sed Papa est vicarius Dei. [Indeed the Pope is the vicar of God.]
  • Question 36 Ad 7, ... ut sicut beatus Petrus in terris vicarius filii Dei esse videtur constitutus, ... [... as the Blessed Peter is seen to have been constituted vicar of the Son of God on the earth, ...] (Quote of Donation of Constantine)
  • Question 37 Ad 3, Constantinus huiusmodi translationem fecit auctoritate summi pontificis, qui tamquam vicarius Dei filii [filius] coelestis imperatoris iurisdictionem habet universalem super omnia regna et imperia. [Constantine transferred authority to the supreme pontiff, who is the vicar of God's son, heaven's commander in chief, with universal governmental jurisdiction over all kingdoms and empires.]
  • Question 37 Ad 5, Qualitercunque tamen institutio Imperii sit variata: nulli tamen dubium esse debet quin summa pontifex, quem Constantinus vicarium esse dei filii firmiter confessus est imperatorem possit eligere quemcumque et undecumque sibi placet in auxilium et defensionem ecclesiae. [Yet never the less in instituting changes of rulers: there can be no doubt that the supreme pontiff whom Constantine enduringly confesses to be the vicar of God's son, the commander in chief, is able to select whomever from wherever he pleases to aid and defend the church.]
  • Question 43 Ad 3, ... ut sicut beatus Petrus in terris vicarius filii Dei esse videtur constitutus, ... [... as the Blessed Peter is seen to have been constituted vicar of the Son of God on the earth, ...] (Quote of Donation of Constantine)
  • Question 44 Ad 8, Papa est Vicarius Christi. [The Pope is the Vicar of Christ.]
  • Question 45 Ad 2, ... quňd Papa vicarius lesu Christi, vice Dei viventis, in toto orbe terrarum spiritualium, & temporalium habet universalum iurisdictionem: ..." [... the fact is the Pope is the vicar of Jesus Christ, in the place of the living God, has universal spiritual and temporal jurisdiction of the entire globe of the earth: ...]
  • Question 50 Ad 2 addresses the Pope changing the Sabbath commandment (see below).
  • Question 61 Ad 1, Est enim ipse papa Dei filii vicarius. [The pope is in fact himself the vicar of the son of God.]
  • Question 61 Ad 4, Unde in persona Summi Pontificis vicar? Iesu Christi scribitur Ezec. 34. [Therefore the role of the Supreme Pontiffs is vicars of Jesus Christ as written in Ezek. 34:10-12.]
  • Question 101 Ad 7, Sed Papa Christi vicarius est. [Indeed the Pope is Christ's vicar.]

1473 edition of Summa de potestate ecclesiastica, Augustinus Triumphus
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek - High Resolution Color Photos   (Has full document download, .pdf format - 328 Mb).

1475 edition of Summa de potestate ecclesiastica, Agostino Trionfo, Arnold Ther Hoernen, Cologne.
Die Inkunabelsammlung der Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek Köln - High Resolution Color Photos

1476 edition of Summa de potestate ecclesiastica, Agostino Trionfo, Antonio Bartolomei Miscomini, Venezia.
Access document online at Gallica. (Has full document download, .pdf format - 92 Mb).

1479 edition of Summa de potestate ecclesiastica, Agostino Trionfo, impr. Francisci de Cinquinis, Rome.
Access document online at Gallica. (Has full document download, .pdf format -  79 Mb).

1484 edition of Summa de potestate ecclesiastica, Agostino Trionfo, Petrus Ungarus, Lugduni.
University of Zaragosa Library Catalogue Entry  (Has full document download, .djvu format - 27 Mb)

1487 edition of Summa de potestate ecclesiastica, Agostino Trionfo, Johannes Leoviller, Venezia.
Biblioteca Digital Hispanica  (Has full document download, .pdf format - 20 Mb)

1582 edition of Summa de potestate ecclesiastica, Augustini Triumphi, Vincentium Accoltum, Romae.
Universidad de Granada (Has full document download, pages 1-318 .tif, 69 Mb)

1584 edition of Summa de potestate ecclesiastica, Augustini Triumphi, Georgij Ferrarij, Romae.
Google Books. (Has full document download, 76 Mb.)

Dr. Johannes Quasten (1900-1987), a renowned Catholic patristics scholar, considered perhaps the greatest authority in this field, when questioned in 1943 about Vicarius Filii Dei, freely admitted in writing that "The title Vicarius Filii Dei as well as the title Vicarius Christi is very common as the title for the Pope." So, it is reasonable to assume that Dr. Quasten was indeed aware of the title appearing in Summa, and in Leo IX's letter, thus his concession that it is very common. See The Search to Document and Authenticate Vicarius Filii Dei.

These extraordinary and blasphemous claims in Summa deserve special attention:

Question 6 Ad 1:

    Secunda ratio accipitur ex parte Papae. solus Papa dicitur esse Vicarius Dei: quia solum quod ligatur vel solvitur per eum, habetur solutum et ligatum per ipsum Deum. Sententia igitur Papae et sententia Dei vna sententia est: sicut una sententia est Papae, et auditoris eius. Cum igitur appellatio semper fiat a minori iudice ad superiorem, sicut nullus est major seipso: ita nulla appellatio tenet, facta a Papa ad Deum: quia unum consistorium est ipsius Papae et ipsius Dei: cuius consistorij clauiger et ostiarius est ipse Papa. Nullus ergo potest appellare a Papa ad Deum. Nullus ergo potest appellare a Papa ad Deum, sicut nulla potest intrare ad consistorium Dei, nisi mediante Papa, qui est aeternae vitae cónsistorij clauiger, et ostiarius et sicut nullus pot appellare ad se ipsum: ita nullas pót appellare ŕ Papa ad Deu. quia vna sententia est, et vna curia Dei, et Pape.

    Second reason considering the role of the Pope. Only the Pope is said to be the Vicar of God: because he alone is able to bind and loose, possessing alone loosing and binding given to him by God. The decision of the Pope and the decision of God constitute one decision, just as the decision of the Pope and his disciple are the same. Since, therefore, an appeal is always taken from an inferior judge to a superior, as no one is greater than himself, so no appeal holds when made from the Pope to God, because there is one consistory of the Pope himself and of God Himself, of which consistory the Pope himself is the key-bearer and the doorkeeper. Therefore no one can appeal from the Pope to God, as no one can enter into the consistory of God without the mediation of the Pope, who is the key-bearer and the doorkeeper of the consistory of eternal life; and as no one can appeal to himself, so no one can appeal from the Pope to God, because there is one decision and one court of God, and the Pope.

Question 9: De Exhibitione Honoris Papae. (pg. 71, 1582 edition.)
Displaying honor to the Pope.

Articulus 1:
Utrum honor, qui debetur Christo secundum quod Deus, debeatur Papae.
Whether the honor due Christ as God is due the Pope.

Ad Primum sic proceditur. Videtur enim, quod honor, qui debetur Christo secundum, quod Deus debeatur Papae. Quia honor debetur potestati: sed una est potestas Christi secundum quod Deus, et Papae. quod probatur.

So proceeding on the first point. It is to be seen as fact that the honor that is due Christ as God is due also to the Pope: because the honor is due the power, and the power of Christ as God and the [power of the] Pope are one, which is shown to be true.

So, from the first apparent use of Vicarius Filii Dei by a Pope in an official act in 1054 A.D., to the last printed edition of Trionfo's Summa de potestate ecclesiastica in 1585 in Rome, is a span of 531 years.


Satan's policy in this final conflict with God's people is the same that he employed in the opening of the great controversy in heaven. He professed to be seeking to promote the stability of the divine government, while secretly bending every effort to secure its overthrow. And the very work which he was thus endeavoring to accomplish he charged upon the loyal angels. The same policy of deception has marked the history of the Roman Church. It has professed to act as the vicegerent of Heaven, while seeking to exalt itself above God and to change His law. (Great Controversy, 591)

Below is Question 50 (L) of Summa regarding the Third Commandment ( TERTII PRAECEPTI ) from the 1582 edition:

These 6 points regarding papal ability to grant dispensation, are proposing that Pope's innately possess the authority to overrule the Sabbath commandment of God as written in the Bible, and so are able to change it in any aspect, however they should decree.

Nunc considerandum est de dispesatione tertij praecepti.
Now we must consider dispensation of the third commandment.

Circa quod queruntur sex.
In regard to six arguments.

Primo, Utrum Papa possit dispensare, quňd dies Sabbati servetur secundum sensum spiritualem, non litteralem.
First, whether the pope can grant dispensation, that the Sabbath day should be observed in a spiritual sense, not literal [according to the Bible].

Secundo, Utrum Papa possit dispensare, quňd dies Sabbati in diem Dominicam sit mutata.
Secondly, whether the pope can grant dispensation, changing the sabbath day to the Lord 's day.

Tertio, Utrum Papa possit dispensare, quňd dies Dominica fiant servilia opera.
Third, whether the Pope can grant dispensation, permitting servile work on the Lord's day.

Quarto, Utrum Papa debeat prohibere strictius opera servilia fieri in die Dominica, quŕm fuerint prohibita in die Sabbati.
Fourth, whether the Pope may strictly prohibit servile work on the Lord's day, as it was prohibited on the Sabbath.

Quinto, Utrum Papa possit dispensare, quňd in dies Dominica fiat forum rerum emptionis, & venditionis.
Fifth, whether the Pope can grant dispensation, permitting market buying and selling on the Lord's day.

Sexto, Utrum Papa possit dispensare, quňd in dies Dominica committatur bellum.
Sixth, whether the Pope can grant dispensation, so that war may be waged on the Lord's day.

The resolution of the point under Article 2 (shown above) reads:

Dies Sabbati, in Diem Dominicam iure ŕ Papa mutata est, propter significatorum preeminentiam, factorum excellentiam, temporumque convenientiam.

The Sabbath day law has been changed by the Pope to the Lord's day, due to the preeminence of things signified, and the excellent factors in agreement with time and circumstance.

So, the same document that applies Vicarius Filii Dei to the Pope, credits the papacy with changing God's Commandment from the seventh-day Sabbath to the first day of the week, Sunday!

The full Third Commandment pages (Question 50) from the 1582 edition of Summa:
Pages are reduced 50% to only 200k for dialup users.

History identifies the Pope that decreed the change from the Sabbath to Sunday as Sylvester I.

Augustinus Triumphus is also described as "a major canon lawyer of the 13th century, and a simply rabid defender of extreme papal supremacy." See also Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages entry on Augustine of Ancona. Here is some additional information regarding him:

The Problem of Sovereignty in the Later Middle Ages: The Papal Monarchy with Augustinus Triumphus and the Publicists
By Michael Wilks
Published by Cambridge University Press, 2008
ISBN 052107018X, 9780521070188

p. 2

The Summa de potestate ecclesiastica of Augustinus Triumphus has been described as 'one of the half dozen most influential and most important books ever written' on the nature of the papal supremacy in the Middle ages, 1...

C. H. McIlwain, The Growth of Political Thought in the West (London, 1932), p. 278.

p. 272

Est enim ipse papa Dei Filii vicarius. Augustinus Triumphus, (Agostino Trionfo of Ancona, 1243-1328) Summa de potestate ecclesiastica (The Power of the Church), lxi. I, p. 321.

p. 543

... quem Constantinus vicarium esse dei filii firmiter confessus est ... Augustinus Triumphus, Summa de potestate ecclesiastica (The Power of the Church), xxxvii, 5, p. 222.

p. 545

Constantinus huiusmodi translationem fecit auctoritate summi pontificis, qui tamquam vicarius Dei Filii [filius] coelestis imperatoris iurisdictionem habet universalem super omnia regna et imperia  — Augustinus Triumphus, Summa de potestate ecclesiastica (The Power of the Church) xxxvii. 3 and 3 ad I, p. 221.




p. 80

Triumphus, an Italian, born in Ancona, 1243, made archbishop of Nazareth and died at Naples, 1328, was a zealous advocate of Boniface VIII. His leading treatise, The Power of the Church,—Summa de potestate ecclesiastica, — vindicates John XXII. for his decision on the question of evangelical poverty and for his opposition to the emperor’s dominion in Italy.155  The pope has unrestricted power on the earth. It is so vast that even he himself cannot know fully what he is able to do.156  His judgment is the judgment of God. Their tribunals are one.157  His power of granting indulgences is so great that, if he so wished, he could empty purgatory of its denizens provided that conditions were complied with.158

155 For edd. of Triumphus’ tract, see Potthast, Bibl. Hist. under Triumphus. Riezler, p. 286, dates the tract 1324-1328, Haller, p. 83, 1322, Scholz, p. 172, 1320. See Poole, 252 sq.
156 Nec credo, quod papa possit scire totum quod potest facere per potentiam suam, 32. 3, quoted by Döllinger, Papstthum, p. 433.
157 This famous passage runs sententia papae sententia Dei una sententia est, quia unum consistorium est ipsius papal et ipsius Dei ... cujus consistorii claviger et ostiarius est ipse papa. See Schwab, Gerson, p. 24.
158 Totum purgatorium evacuare potest, 3. 28. Döllinger, p. 451, says of Triumphus’ tract that on almost every page the Church is represented as a dwarf with the head of a giant, that is, the pope.

Session 7—4 September 1439

Pope Eugenius IV

Decree of the council of Florence against the synod at Basel
Decretum concilii Florentini contra synodum Basiliensem

Sic et nos quibus, licet immeritis, Dominus noster Jesus Christus populum suum committere dignatus est, audientes illud execrabile scelus, quod quidam perditi homines Basileae commorantes ad scindendam sancte Ecclesiae unitatem proximis diebus machinati fuerunt: metuentes ne quos incautos seducant fraudibus et venenis inficiant, ad ipsum Domini nostri Jesu Christi populum nobis creditum clamare pari voce compellimur: recedite a tabernaculis hominum impiorum, maxime cum longe amplior sit plebs Christiana quam illa tunc Judaeorum, Ecclesia sanctior quam synagoga et Christi vicarius ipso Moyse auctoritate et dignitate superior. (Source)

Similarly we too to whom, though unworthy, the lord Jesus Christ has deigned to entrust his people, as we hear of the abominable crime that certain wicked men dwelling in Basel have plotted in these days so as to breach the unity of holy church, and since we fear that they may seduce some of the unwary by their deceits and inject them with their poisons, are forced to proclaim in like words to the people of our lord Jesus Christ entrusted to us, depart from the tents of these wicked men, particularly since the Christian people is far more numerous than the Jewish people of those days, the church is holier than the synagogue, and the vicar of Christ is superior in authority and status even to Moses. (Source)

 Execrabilis Jan. 18, 1459 Pope Pius II

Execrabilis, et pristinis temporibus inauditus tempestate nostra inolevit abusus, ut a Romano Pontifice, Jesu Christi Vicario, (cui dictum est in persona Beati Petri) "Pasce oves meas," et "Quodcumque ligaveris super terram, erit ligatum et in caelis," nonnulli spiritu rebellionis imbuti, non sanioris cupiditate judicii, commissi evasione peccati, ad futurum Concilium provocare praesumant, quod quantum sacris canonibus adversetur, quantumque Reipublicae Christianae noxium sit, quisquis non ignarus jurium intelligere potest. (Source)

An execrable, and in former ages unheard-of abuse, has sprung up in our time, namely that some people, imbued with the spirit of rebellion, presume to appeal to a future Council, from the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, to whom it was said in the person of blessed Peter: "Feed my sheep" and "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in Heaven"; they do not do so because they are anxious to obtain sounder judgment, but in order to escape the consequences of their sins, and anyone who is not ignorant of the laws can realize how contrary this is to the sacred canons and how detrimental to the Christian community. (Source)

Thesaurus Christianae Religiones 1559 Alphonsus Alvarez Guerrero

In 1559 in Venice, Alphonsus Alvarez Guerrero, a Spanish civil and canon lawyer noted for his expertise (bene peritus) in antiquities of the church, and advisor to King Philip II of Spain in Naples Italy, published his Thesaurus Christianae Religiones (Treasure store of the Christian Religion), a detailed exposition of the powers, rights and duties of Christian authorities, civil and spiritual. He twice applied the title Vicarius Filii Dei to the Pope, asserting the authority of the Pope over the Holy Roman Emperor (Imperator Romanorum), a title granted by the Pope, at his discretion, to the German kings via a formal ceremonial crowning. The first such crowning of the German king Otto I by Pope Johannes XII in 962 was referred to as the translatio imperii. Based on that papal sanctioned transfer of power to the Germans, Pope Innocent III in 1202 claimed continuing authority to examine, anoint, consecrate and crown each German king as he saw fit, in the bull Venerabilem fratrem nostrum (Our brother worthy of respect). The text of the bull in Latin.

Thesaurus Christianae Religiones, chapter LV (55), De Imperatore et eius authoritate, pg. 305, line 30, a second copy pg. 305, line 30:

Et post Deum Imperator Apostolicus hoc approbat, (ut in ca. venerabilem. de electione. et ibi docto.) Ex quibus apparet, quňd Imperator Romanorum est dominus seu protector universŕlis Christianorum. (et vide Abba. in c. novit de judi.* qui dicit communem esse opinionem), quňd Imperium ŕ Deo sit; et ŕ papa immediate, qui est Vicarius filii Dei.

After God's Chief Apostle has given his approbation, ... with which it is evident the Roman Emperor is lord or universal protector of Christians, etc., ... supreme power is from God, and next the pope, who is the Vicar of the Son of God.

* Relectio c. novit de Judiciis non minus sublimis quam celebris; commentum novum et utile in rubr. de iudiciis ... 1548, by Martino de Azpilcueta - Martin ab Azpilcueta Doctorum Navarrum, 1492-1586.

References to the bull Venerabilem.

Chapter LVI (56), De Imperio et de translatione Imperij ad Germanos, pg. 310, line 7, a second copy pg. 310, line 7:

Cum hoc tamen semper potestas confirmandi fuit apud Dominum papam, qui est vicarius filii Dei: verumtamen quoniam Imperatores illi priores infideles fuerunt, id non cognoscebant.

With this notwithstanding, the power of confirmation has always been accorded to the Lord pope, who is the Vicar of the Son of God: notwithstanding because this (papal confirmation) is not known when Emperors have previously been faithless.

Thesaurus was also printed in 1563 in Florence, and 1581 in Koln (pgs. 738, line 1, and 749, line 16). Guerrero became president of the supreme court in Naples, a priest, and was appointed Bishop of Monopoli by Philip II.

Rev 17:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

Consiliorum Seu Responsorum — 1577 — Giovanni Battista Ziletti

Et si non potest Papa disponere, nec dispensare contra legem Dei, veteris, et noui Testamenti, licet sit Christi, Omnipotentis Dei filii Vicarius, iuxta illud: Tu es Petrus, etc. tibi dabo claues Regni coelorum, ...

And if the Pope can not order, nor dispense contrary to the law of God, of the Old and New Testament, even though he is of Christ, Vicar of the Almighty Son of God, according to this: Thou art Peter, etc., I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, ...

Consiliorum Seu Responsorum, Ad Causas Criminales, Recens Editorum, ... Tomus Secundus, Giovanni Battista Ziletti, Francoforti, 1577, pg. 182, right column, 4th line.

Summa Sacrae Theologiae — 1581 — B. Antonini Archiepiscopi Florentini

In 1581, Volume 3 of Summa Theologicae by the Archbishop of Florence, Saint Anthony (1389 - 1459), was published in Venice.  Title 22, chapter 5, section 16 deals with the Donation of Constantine and quotes it, to include Vicarius Filii Dei, on the page numbered 401. Then in section 22 on page 403, the title is applied to the pope as follows:

Et quantum ad primum, cum papa sit vicarius filii Dei, sicut quod Deus fecit mediantibus creaturis tanquam mediantibus causis secundis, totus potus facere immediate per seipsum, ita papa saltem quantum ad potestatem jurisdictionis. Sicut omnes fideles regit mediantibus ecclesiae ministris, ita potest immediate per seipsum regere.

And as much as to the first, since the pope is vicar of the Son of God, as that God made ??the creatures as if by means of the mediation of secondary causes, the whole he could do directly by himself, so the pope has at least as much power of jurisdiction. Similarly, he can govern directly all the faithful, or by means of the ministers of the Church.

Eximij doctoris B. Antonini Archiepiscopi Florentini, Ordinis Praedicatorum, Summa Sacrae Theologiae, Juris Pontificii, Et Caesarei, Tertia Pars. Venetiis, Apud Juntas, 1581, Titulus XXII, Vigesimus Secundus, De statu summorum pontificis, Cap. V., De potstate papae quae est maior omnia potestate creata.,§ 16, and § 22., pgs. 401, 403. The beginning of section 16 refers to question 43 (Ad 3) of Aug. de Ancho. (Augustinus Triumphus' Summa de potestate ecclesiastica), which also cites the Donation (see above).

Andreas Helwig — 1600 — Quaestionis anne certum aliquod Antichristi nomen extet

The first known association of Vicarius Filii Dei with 666 appeared in Quaestionis anne certum aliquod Antichristi nomen extet, cui numerus ille apocalypticum 666 exacte congruentesque insit; apodictica tractatio (Investigating proof that a name of Antichrist exists that exactly corresponds to the apocalyptic number 666; incontrovertibly handled), authore Carolo Aglaeonio Irenochoraeo (believed to be a pseudonym for Andreas Helwig [or Helwich] the rector of Berlin), Davidi Chytraeo dedicata, Gryphosylae. 1600.

Download: 2.6 Mb.
Original in the Staatsbibliothek Zu Berlin.

Andreas Helwig — 1612 — Antichristus Romanus

In 1612 he also published Antichristus Romanus, in proprio suo nomine, numerum illum Apocalypticum (DCLXVI) continente proditus,Roman Antichrist, particular names that total the Apocalyptic Number 666, that contain treachery, in Wittenberg, which also identified Vicarius Filii Dei. The contribution of British writers between 1560 and 1830 to the Interpretation of Revelation 13:16-18, By David Brady, J.C.B Mohr, Tubingen, 1983, pgs. 84-85.

   "Helwig shows that the mystic name (1) must yield the required number; (2) must agree with the papal order; (3) must not be a vile name applied by enemies, but acceptable to Antichrist himself; and (4) must be one of which he can boast. Helwig takes Vicarius Filii Dei as an expansion or equivalent of the officially used shorter papal title Vicarius Christi, and shows that it conforms to these four requirements, citing Sleidanus in his Commentariis Suis Historicis, lib. 2, for the decretal of Aeneas Sylvias, which employs the title Vicarius Christi only.

 3. EXPLAINS CHOICE OF VICARIUS FILII DEI.—Explaining his emphasis of Vicarius Filii Dei, Helwig checks it by his four rules: "

Original online at the Staatsbibliothek Zu Berlin.

    "But behold this present [name] (Vicarius Filii Dei) in every way is such as is required. For first, it is a Latin name, and most exactly renders with significant letters that Apocalyptic number; then it harmonizes wholly and always with the papal order in itself (even though by hypothesis [ex hypothesi]), as no pontiff denies; then it is not offensive or vile as imposed upon him by adversaries, but is especially honorable to this very one, venerable, and formidable to others: which all the pontiffs have now already ascribed to themselves for more than 600 years (as is apparent), and do ascribe today, and wish to be ascribed: on which account they vehemently glory and boast with an execrable voice that they hold, shared as it were with the omnipotent God, the rule throughout the earth in human affairs. This [is] what, among other things (for who may investigate all the swelling words of papal bulls?), that decretal of Pope Aeneas Sylvius (who wished later to be called Pius) makes clearly evident—[that decretal] published in the year 1459 at Mantua which John Sleidan notes in his historical commentaries, vol. 2—in which he [the pope] took care that nobody should appeal from the pope to a Council because he said that, in the nature of things, nothing greater could be found above the Vicar of Christ." [See Execrabilis above] —  Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 02, by Le Roy Edwin Froom, 1948, Review and Herald, pg. 607. See 605-608, for more quotes of Helwig.

Andreas Helwig — 1630— Antichristus Romanus

In 1630, Helwig published Antichristus Romanus ex proprio suo nomine proditus: et in gloriam Domini nostri Jesu Christi summi et unici ecclesiae pontificis, cujus honorem et cathedram iste oppositus VICarIVs fILII DeI sibi vendicans toti Orbi imponit, publicatus, et S. ecclesiae catholicae judicio subjectus, Roman Antichrist, particular names of treachery: opposing the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ the only high priest of the church, whose official dignity and authority this Vicar of the Son of God usurps, and sells deceitfully to the whole world, subjecting the Holy universal church to his judgment, per M. Andream Helvigium, Rectorem Gymnasii Stralsund. StralsundI. Vna sit aVXILIVM gloria nostra, DeI. Literis Ferberianis. 4. (The capitalized letters of the phrase VICarIVs fILII DeI in Roman Numerals equal 666.)

Helwig's association of Vicarius Filii Dei with 666 and the role that title has played in history is documented and discussed in depth (over 850 pages) in: The Truth About 666 and the Story of the Great Apostasy, Three Volumes in One, by Edwin de Kock, Copyright © 2011 Edwin de Kock.

Download: 7.7 Mb.

Original in the Västerĺs City Library, Sweden.

That's 546 years from Pope Leo IX's letter to the first public revelation in 1600 that the phrase equaled 666, 546 years that Vicarius Filii Dei would not have been denied as applying to the Pope by anyone in the Roman Catholic Church, and even so, it continued to appear in Catholic canon law and other Catholic publications for additional centuries.

The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary for Revelation 13:18 states: 

    18. Here is wisdom. Compare the phrase, “here is the mind which hath wisdom” (ch. 17:9). The wisdom here commended is doubtless that to which Paul refers in Eph. 1:17. Only by divine enlightenment will men understand the mysteries of the Word of God (see on 1 Cor. 2:14).
    Understanding. Or, “intelligence.” Those who wish to know the meaning of the cryptic number may understand. 
    Count. Or, “calculate.” 
    Number of the beast. It should be noted that the beast has already been conclusively identified (see on vs. 1–10). The number provides confirmatory evidence of this. 
    Since the early days of Christianity there has been much discussion as to the significance of 666. One of the earliest to write on the subject was Irenaeus (c. a.d. 130–c. 202). He identified the beast as the Antichrist, and believed that the numerical values of the letters of his name would add up to 666. He suggested the name Teitan, a name sometimes accounted divine, as having great probability. He also suggested, but as much less probable, the name Lateinos, this being the name of the last kingdom of the four seen by Daniel. At the same time he warned that “it is therefore more certain, and less hazardous, to await the fulfillment of the prophecy, than to be making surmises, and casting about for any names that may present themselves, inasmuch as many names can be found possessing the number mentioned” (Against Heresies v. 30. 3; ANF, vol. 1, p. 559).  Since Irenaeus’ day 666 has been applied to many names. The number alone cannot identify the beast since numerous names can add up to 666. However, inasmuch as the beast has already been identified, the number 666 must have a relationship to this power. Otherwise there would be no valid reason for the angel giving John the information contained in v. 18, at this point in the prophetic narrative. An interpretation that gained currency in the period following the Reformation was that 666 stood for Vicarius Filii Dei, meaning “vicar of the Son of God,” one of the titles for the pope of Rome. The numerical value of the component letters of this title totals 666 as follows:

V   5
I   1
C   100
A   .....
R   .....
I   1
V (U=V) 5
S   .....
F   .....
I   1
L   50
I   1
I   1
D   500
E   .....
I   1

This interpretation was based on the identification of the pope as Antichrist, the historic Reformation concept. The principal exponent of this interpretation was Andreas Helwig (c. 1572–1643; see L. E. Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2, pp. 605–608). Many since his day have adopted this interpretation. Inasmuch as this commentary identifies the beast as the papacy, it also accepts this view as being the beast thus far presented, though recognizing that there may be more implied in the cryptogram than this interpretation provides.
    Regarding the title Vicarius Filii Dei, the Catholic journal Our Sunday Visitor, of April 18, 1915, reported in answer to a query, “What are the letters supposed to be in the Pope’s crown, and what do they signify, if anything?” “The letters inscribed in the Pope’s mitre are these: Vicarius Filii Dei, which is the Latin for Vicar of the Son of God. Catholics hold that the Church which is a visible society must have a visible head” (p. 3). The issue of November 15, 1914, admitted that the Latin numerals added together total 666, but went on to declare that many other names also yield this total. In the issue of August 3, 1941, page 7, the subject of Vicarius Filii Dei again came up for discussion, and the statement was made that this title is not inscribed on the pope’s tiara. The tiara, it averred, bears no inscription whatsoever (p. 7). The Catholic Encyclopedia distinguishes between the mitre and the tiara by describing the tiara as a non-liturgical ornament and the mitre as one worn for liturgical functions. Whether the inscription Vicarius Filii Dei appears on the tiara or the mitre is really beside the point. The title is admittedly applied to the pope, and that is sufficient for the purposes of prophecy.

Nichol, Francis D., Commentary on Daniel and Revelation, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association), 2008, ISBN: 9780828011709, pgs. 823-824 (from Vol. 7, Philippians to Revelation).

In the Chapel of St. Sylvester (part of the Basilica of Santi Quattro Coronati, located in Rome on Coelian hill, between St. John Lateran and the Coliseum), a series of frescoes commissioned by Pope Innocent IV, and completed in 1246, depict various events in the life of Pope Sylvester I.

The Donation of Constantine, Santi Quattro Coronati, Rome.

In the fresco panels, shown above, Emperor Constantine is offering his crown to the Pope, illustrating the Donation of Constantine, and in the following panel, the triumphal Pope riding on horseback and wearing Constantine's tiara, is led through Rome by the humbled Emperor, who is on foot.

Another painting representing the Donation of Constantine, shown below, is in the Vatican, in the Sala di Costantino. It was painted by Raphael and his workshop from 1519 to 1525, along with depictions of Constantine's baptism, his vision of the cross, and his victory at the battle at Milvian bridge, so at the time it would seem the Donation of Constantine was still considered to be genuine.

Detail of the Donation of Constantine as depicted in a painting by
Gianfrancesco Penni, in the Sala di Costantino, the Vatican. 
For the whole painting, see The Art of Renaissance Rome, by Loren Partridge,
published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, A Times Mirror Company,
Copyright 1996 by Calmann & King, Ltd., ISBN 0-8109-2718-7, page 158.

The kneeling Constantine is handing Pope Sylvester I a statuette of Roma Aeterna (eternal Rome) symbolizing the transfer of power from the emperor to the papacy. On February 23, 1520, about four years before the Raphael's painting of the Donation was completed, Martin Luther, in a letter to Spalatin, wrote:

I have at hand Lorenzo Valla's proof that the Donation of Constantine is a forgery. Good heavens, what darkness and wickedness is at Rome. You wonder at the judgment of God that such unauthentic, crass, imprudent lies not only lived, but prevailed for so many centuries, that they were incorporated in the canon law ... and became as articles of faith. I am in such a passion that I scarcely doubt that the pope is the Antichrist expected by the world, so closely do their acts, lives, sayings, and laws agree.

Source: The Art of Renaissance Rome, by Loren Partridge, published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, A Times Mirror Company, Copyright 1996 by Calmann & King, Ltd., ISBN 0-8109-2718-7, page 159.

9. ... All these excessive, over-presumptuous, and most wicked claims of the Pope are the invention of the devil, with the object of bringing in antichrist in due course and of raising the Pope above God, as indeed many have done and are now doing. It is not meet that the Pope should exalt himself above temporal authority, except in spiritual matters, such as preaching and absolution; in other matters he should be subject to it, according to the teaching of St. Paul (Rom. xiii.) and St. Peter (I Peter iii.), as I have said above. He is not the vicar of Christ in heaven, but only of Christ upon earth. For Christ in heaven, in the form of a ruler, requires no vicar, but there sits, sees, does, knows, and commands all things. But He requires him "in the form of a servant" to represent Him as He walked upon earth, working, preaching, suffering, and dying. But they reverse this: they take from Christ His power as a heavenly Ruler, and give it to the Pope, and allow "the form of a servant" to be entirely forgotten (Phil. ii. 7). He should properly be called the counter-Christ, whom the Scriptures call antichrist; for his whole existence, work, and proceedings are directed against Christ, to ruin and destroy the existence and will of Christ.

It is also absurd and puerile for the Pope to boast for such blind, foolish reasons, in his decretal Pastoralis, that he is the rightful heir to the empire, if the throne be vacant. Who gave it to him? Did Christ do so when He said, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, but ye shall not do so" (Luke xxii. 25, 26)? Did St. Peter bequeath it to him? It disgusts me that we have to read and teach such impudent, clumsy, foolish lies in the canon law, and, moreover, to take them for Christian doctrine, while in reality they are mere devilish lies. Of this kind also is the unheard-of lie touching the "donation of Constantine." It must have been a plague sent by God that induced so many wise people to accept such lies, though they are so gross and clumsy that one would think a drunken boor could lie more skillfully. How could preaching, prayer, study, and the care of the poor consist with the government of the empire? These are the true offices of the Pope, which Christ imposed with such insistence that He forbade them to take either coat or scrip (Matt. x. 10), for he that has to govern a single house can hardly perform these duties. Yet the Pope wishes to rule an empire and to remain a pope. This is the invention of the knaves that would fain become lords of the world in the Pope's name, and set up again the old Roman empire, as it was formerly, by means of the Pope and name of Christ, in its former condition.

Source: Luther's Address To The Nobility of the German Nation, 1520.

The Vatican's Salone Sistino

Named for Pope Sixtus V (1585-1590) who commissioned its construction, the Salone Sistino (or Apostolic Library) is on the top floor of the building that spans the north end of the Cortile del Belvedere from east to west, connecting the Belvedere and the Vatican Palace. Richly decorated by Giovani Guerra, Cesare Nebbia, and assistants, there are several frescoes of note. On the east end of the grand hall, there is a fresco of the First Nicean Council of 325 A.D. Beneath the fresco is the inscription:


        Without the abbreviations the first line reads:


The inscription states that Pope Silvester I and Emperor Flavius Constantine declare Christ the Son and God the Father consubstantial, condemning the Arian heresy. In the fresco, Bishop Hosius of Cordoba is presiding and is seated at top center. He is flanked by Pope Sylvester's legates, Victor and Vincentius. The crowned emperor Constantine, who convened the council, is seated in the left center foreground, and Christ and God the Father are seated in a cloud at top left.

At the opposite, or west end of the Salone Sistino, is another set of 3 related frescoes on the center pilaster between the arched doorways. On the left side of the pilaster (Christ's right hand) is a Pope standing with triple cross and tiara, with the inscription:


The center fresco depicts Christ seated. Over His head is A[lpha] ET ?[mega], in His hand is an open book that reads EGO SVM A ET ? - PRINCIPIVM ET FINIS, and at His feet is the inscription:


See the illustration in Orazio Gentileschi and the Poetic Tradition in Caravaggesque Painting, by  R. Ward Bissell, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1981, pg. 133.

The fresco on the right side of the pilaster (Christ's left hand) depicts an Emperor standing, with crown, sword, and blue mantle. The inscription reads:


Photo by Notre Dame Architecture Library

Screen capture from CBS News 60 Minutes, Tour of the Salone Sistino.

See also:

The Sistine hall suffered severe damage December 22, 1931, when central support columns and a large portion of the roof totally collapsed and plunged through two floors, but it was completely rebuilt and restored.

In 1793, and later editions, the book Apocalyptical Key. An Extraordinary Discourse on the Rise and Fall of the Papacy; ... by Robert Fleming (1660-1716), was reprinted with the assertion by the editor that VICARIVS FILII DEI was inscribed over a door of the Vatican (see pg. 48). The fresco of a Pope on the pilaster between the Vatican Library and the Salone Sistino, while admittedly not having the exact wording, and on a pilaster rather than over the door, is the closest known example that may be the inscription referred to in this and other books.

Lucius Ferraris, about 1755, wrote an elaborate multi-volume theological reference work or encyclopedia titled Prompta Bibliotheca in which he quoted the Donation of Constantine, including the phrase Vicarius Filii Dei, in article 2 of the entry "Papa" (Pope). He cited the revised canon law as his authority. Here is the cover page of volume 5, of an edition published in 1858, note that it carries the blessing of Pope Gregory XVI -  (SANCTISSIMI D. N. GREGORII XVI P.M.)


Below is part of column 1828 from volume 5 of Prompta Bibliotheca, 1858 Paris edition, where the title of Vicarius Filii Dei appears in #20 of article 2 of the entry "Papa" (Pope), which I have indicated with an arrow. Again, this is a quote from the Donation of Constantine:

Full scanned pages from Prompta Bibliotheca.

Ferraris' work was later revised, enlarged, and once again published in Rome by the Sacred Congregation de Propaganda Fide in 1890. In that edition, the document and papal title Vicarius Filii Dei were still retained. (Lucius Ferraris, Prompta Bibliotheca (Rome, 1890), Vol. VI, p. 43, col. 2.)

According the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, a further revised edition of Prompta Bibliotheca was published in Rome by the presses of the Vatican's Office of Propaganda in 1899.

Vincent Houdry, Society of Jesus

When Honorius II died in 1130, two rival groups of Cardinals elected 2 popes, Innocent II and Anacletus II, which took 8 years to resolve. In the end, Innocent II was declared the valid pope by St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Ad magnam, quam S. Bernardus habuit in Ecclesia, auctoritatem cognoscendam sciendum est, Honorio Papa e vivas sublato, pro Successoris electione suffragia mirum in modum abiisse in diversa. Tune visa sunt super idem corpus duo capita, super eumdem thronum duo Principes, super eosdem subditos duo Domini; in eodem ovili Pastores duo; alter subreptitius, alter legitimus; ille usurpator, hic verus Filii Dei Vicarius.

As to great authority which Saint Bernard had in the Church, and the knowledge of it should be noted, when Pope Honorius died, the votes in the election of a successor had in an amazing way gone two different directions. Then there was to be seen on the same body two heads, upon the same throne two Princes over the same subjects of the Lord; in the same fold two Shepherds; one surreptitious, the other legitimate; there a usurper, here the true Vicar of the Son of God.

Bibliotheca Concionatoria Complectens Panegyricas Orationes Sanctorum. Tomus Secundus, ... by R. P. Vincentii Houdry, E Societate Jesu, Venetiis, 1767, pg. 102.  1779 printing, pg. 96.

So, for well over 600 years, the Donation of Constantine was held by the Roman Catholic Church to be a valid document transferring authority from Emperor Constantine and it does contain the Latin title Vicarius Filii Dei. This is irrefutable proof that it is not a Protestant invention. The title continued to appear in Catholic publications even into the 20th century.

Our Sunday Visitor, Nov. 15, 1914.

In the Nov 15, 1914 Edition of Our Sunday Visitor, (a Catholic publication), the following question was addressed on page 3 in the section titled Bureau of Information:

Is it true that the words of the Apocalypse in the 13th Chapter, 18th verse refer to the Pope?

    The words referred to are these "Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast. For it is a the number of a man: and the number of him is six hundred sixty-six." The title of the Pope in Rome is Vicarius Filii Dei. This is inscribed on his mitre[*]; and if you take the letters of his title which represent Latin numerals (printed large) and add them together they come to 666.

5 1 100

1 5

1 50 1 1

    Add these together and the result will be 666.
    This "argument" was submitted to Rev. Ernest R. Hull, and answered in the following manner: "Almost every eminent man in Christendom, who has enjoyed the privilege of possessing enemies, has had his name turned and twisted till they could get the number 666 out of it. In past history there have been numberless beasts or Anti-Christs, all of whose names counted up to 666. I fancy that my own name, especially in Latin form, might give the number of the beast:




50 500 5

5 50 50 =666

Quod erat demonstrandum, namely, that Rev. Ernest R. Hull is Anti-Christ, or the Beast of the Apocalypse!"
    Perhaps a little ingenuity with your name will show that you are the beast of the Apocalypse too.

View a facsimile copy of the above item online.
The top of page one.
Editorial information from page 2.  Contains sanctions for the editor from Pope Pius X, dated May 17, 1914; from Archbishop John Bonzano of Melitene, the Apostolic Delegate to the U.S., dated April 27, 1913; and from H. J. Alerding, Bishop of Fort Wayne, Indiana., dated March 29, 1912.

Rev. Ernest R. Hull S. J. was editor of The Examiner of Bombay, India, a Catholic newsweekly.

*[The Vatican's Papal Sacristy has more than a dozen papal triple (triregno) crowns, which are properly called tiaras. The papal mitre, of which there have been very many, is quite different. A mitre is shown below on the right.]

Pope John XXIII
wearing a triple tiara.
Pope John Paul II
wearing a papal mitre.

Our Sunday Visitor, Apr. 18, 1915.

Again in the April 18th, 1915 edition of Our Sunday Visitor, Rev. John F. Noll, editor, the following question was addressed on page 3, in the section titled Bureau of Information:

What are the letters supposed to be in the Pope's crown, and what do they signify, if anything?

The letters inscribed in the Pope's mitre are these: Vicarius Filii Dei, which is the Latin for the Vicar of the Son of God. Catholics hold that the church which is a visible society must have a visible head. Christ, before His ascension into heaven, appointed St. Peter to act as His representative. Upon the death of Peter the man who succeeded to the office of Peter as Bishop of Rome, was recognized as the head of the Church. Hence to the Bishop of Rome, as head of the Church, was given the title "Vicar of Christ."

Enemies of the Papacy denounce this title as a malicious assumption. But the Bible informs us that Christ did not only give His Church authority to teach, but also to rule. Laying claim to the authority to rule in Christ's spiritual kingdom, in Christ's stead, is not a whit more malicious than laying claim to the authority to teach in Christ's name. And this every Christian minister does.

View a facsimile copy of the above item online.
The top of page one.
Editorial information from page 2.  Contains sanctions for the editor from Pope Pius X, dated May 17, 1914; from Archbishop John Bonzano of Melitene, the Apostolic Delegate to the U.S., dated April 27, 1913; and from H. J. Alerding, Bishop of Fort Wayne, Indiana., dated March 29, 1912.

Our Sunday Visitor, Sept. 16, 1917.

Our Sunday Visitor had the following denial in the Bureau of Information section of the September 16, 1917 edition:

What application has the number 666 to Pope Benedict XV?
None whatever. Such an interpretation of Chapter XIII, Verse 18 of the Apocalypse is entirely unfounded and is nothing more than a display of malignant hatred. It is the effervescense of vacuous minds. Earlier commentators spent considerable time in trying to determine the personality of the beast, and they referred it to Nero Caesar; for by supplying the numerals for the Hebrew characters in his name, the number 666 was obtained. During the period of the Reformation and for years after, the Apocalypse furnished the basis of much political and religious incrimination. In later years, really reliable commentators have ceased the silly prattle about the Popes, Napoleon, Rome and subjecting the Book to the Rules of exegesis see a reference to conditions existing at the time of St. John. (This interpretation, of course, does not include the Resurrection, the millennium, and the plagues preceding the consummation of the world, as referring to principle events in the first century). In a "Dictionary of the Bible" edited by William Schmidt, a Protestant author, page 1038, will be found the following; "Ebrard reckons that not less than eighty systematic commentaries are worthy of note, and states the less valuable writings on this inexhaustible subject are unnumbered if not innumerable. Fanaticism, theological hatred, and vain curiosity may have largely influenced their composition." Also on page 1039 we find the following: "Against the Historical scheme it is urged, that its advocates differ very widely among themselves; that they assume without any authority that the 1260 days are so many years; that several of its applicationse.g., of the symbol of the ten-horned beast to be the Popes, and the sixth seal to the conversion of Constantineare inconsistent with the context; that attempts by some of this school to predict future events by the help of Revelation have ended in repeated failures."
   Besides, if present-day writers are so anxious to see the fulfillment in the person of the Pope, why not be consistent? Such interpreters have never shown that the title "Vicarius Filii Dei" is really inscribed upon the Pope's tiara. Moreover, the passage states that the number refers to a man, in other words the numerals represented by the letters in his name, which total the sum 666. The words Vicarius Filii Dei are not the name of the Pope, they do not even constitute his official title. The name of our President is Woodrow Wilson. His title is President of the United States. If we take the name Benedict XV and follow out the same numerical addition, we find that his number instead of being 666 would be 1123.
   This question was submitted to Rev. Earnest R. Hull and answered in the following manner: "Almost every eminent man in Christendom, who has enjoyed the privilege of possessing enemies, has had his name turned and twisted till they could get the number 666 out of it. In past history there have been numberless beasts or Anti-Christs, all of whose names counted up to 666. I fancy that my own name, especially in Latin form, might give the number of the beast:




50 500 5

5 50 50 =666

   Add these together and the result will be 666.
Quod erat demonstrandum
, namely, that Rev. Ernest R. Hull is Anti-Christ, or the Beast of the Apocalypse!"
    Since the war fanatical "private interpreters" have made the number 666 refer to the Kaiser; others even to President Wilson.

View a facsimile copy of the above item online.

Several years later, again on page 3 in the section titled Bureau of Information, the title was affirmed, though it was denied that the title appeared on a tiara:

The Pope claims to be the vicar of the Son of God, while the Latin words for this designation are not inscribed, as anti-Catholics maintain, on the Pope's tiara. Our Sunday Visitor, 11, No. 14, July 23, 1922.

The University of Notre Dame has the above editions of Our Sunday Visitor on microfilm.

Our Sunday Visitor is still in business:

Our Sunday Visitor
200 Noll Plaza
Huntington, Indiana 46750
Phone: (800) 348-2440

Sightings on The Papal Tiara and Mitre

    The most plausible name we have ever seen suggested as containing the number of the beast, is the blasphemous title which the pope applies to himself, and wears in jeweled letters upon his miter or pontifical crown. That title is this: Vicarious filii Dei: "Vicegerent of the Son of God." Taking the letters out of this title which the Latins use as numerals, and giving them their numerical value, we have just 666. Thus we have V, 5; I, 1; C, 100; (a and r not used as numerals;) I, 1; U (formerly the same as V) 5; (s and f not used as numerals;) I, 1; L, 50; I, 1; I, 1; D, 500; (e not used as a numeral;) I, 1. Adding these numbers together, we have just 666.
    The following extract on this point is from a work entitled "The Reformation,"[*] bearing the date of 1832:?
    "Mrs. A., said Miss. Emmons, I saw a very curious fact the other day; I have dwelt upon it much and will mention it. A person, lately, was witnessing a ceremony of the Romish church. As [pg. 226] the Pope passed him in the procession, splendidly dressed in his pontifical robes, the gentleman's eye rested on these full, blazing, letters in front of his miter: "VICARIOUS FILII DEI," The Vicar of the Son of God." His thoughts, with the rapidity of lightning, reverted to Rev. xiii, 18. Will you turn to it? said Mrs. A. Alice opened the New Testament and read: 'Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred three score and six.' She paused, and Miss. Emmons said, He took out his pencil, and, marking the numerical letters of the inscription on his tablet, it stood 666."
    Here we have indeed the number of a man, even the "man of sin;" and it is a little singular, perhaps providential, that he should select a title which shows the blasphemous character of the beast, and then cause it to be inscribed upon his miter, as if to brand himself with the number 666.

[*] The Reformation: A True Tale of the Sixteenth Century, by Anne Tuttle Jones Bullard, published in 1832 by the Massachusetts Sabbath School Society, Boston, Massachusetts, pgs. 247-248. Identification by Jerry A. Stevens, October 9, 2006.

Source: Thoughts, Critical and Practical, on the Book of Revelation, by Uriah Smith, published in 1865 by the Steam Press of the Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, Battle Creek, Michigan, pgs. 225-226.

Note that Anne Bullard, on page 247, presents the title with the word VICARIVS, the old Latin spelling that uses a "V" for a "U". This is likely to be the form of the word used if it appeared on a papal tiara or mitre. Uriah Smith on the other hand, misquotes Bullard, using the unlikely English spelling, VICARIOUS, which has "OU". Smith in his later publications changes this to the more modern Latin, VICARIUS, using only a "U", as shown below, which also may be the way it was inscribed with jewels on the papal mitre or tiara.

. . . The most plausible expression we have seen suggested as containing the number of the beast, is the title which the pope takes to himself, and allows others to apply to him. That title is this: Vicarius Filii Dei, "Vicegerent of the Son of God." Taking the letters out of this title which the Latins used as numerals, and giving them their numerical value, we have just 666. Thus we have V, 5; I, 1; C, 100; (a and r not used as numerals); I, 1; U (formerly the same as V), 5; (s and f not used as numerals); I, 1; L, 50; I, 1; I, 1; D, 500 (e not used as a numeral); I, 1. Adding these numbers together, we have just 666.
    This title, there is reason to believe, was formerly inscribed upon the pope's crown. The following testimony on this point is given by the late Elder D. E. Scoles, of Washburn, Mo.:—
    "I have met two men who declare that they have seen this specific crown; and their testimony is so perfectly in agreement that I am convinced that what they saw is true. The first man was M. De Latti, a Sabbath-keeper who had previously been a Catholic priest, and had spent four years in Rome. He visited me when I was pastor in St. Paul, Minn., several years ago. I showed him my tract,  'The Seal of God and the Mark of the Beast.' He at once told me that the inscription was not correctly placed in my illustration. He stated that he had often seen it in the museum at the Vatican, and [pg. 625] gave a detailed and accurate description of the whole crown. When my tract was published [Feb. of 1895], I was ignorant of the arrangement of the words of the Latin inscriptions, hence, in the illustration of the crown, placed them in one line. Brother De Latti at once pointed out the mistake, and said the first word of the sentence was on the first crown of the triple arrangement, the second word on the second part of the crown, while the word Dei was on the lower division of the triple crown. He also explained that the first two words were in dark-colored jewels, while the Dei was composed entirely of diamonds.
    "During a tent-meeting which I held in Webb City, Mo., I presented the subject, 'The Seal of God and the Mark of the Beast.' I used charts to illustrate it, one being a reproduction of the crown as Brother De Latti had described it. A Presbyterian minister was present, Rev. B. Hoffman, and when I described the crown, he spoke out publicly and made a statement to the congregation, saying that while in Rome studying for the priesthood, he had seen this very crown, and noted its inscription, and that the word Dei was composed of one hundred diamonds. I met him and learned his name, and visited him at his home, and was convinced from his description that this was the identical crown that Brother De Latti had seen, but which has been denied by many. I then asked him for a written statement, and he gave me the following:—
    " ' To Whom It May Concern: This is to certify that I was born in Bavaria in 1828, was educated in Munich, and was reared a Roman Catholic. In 1844 and 1845 I was a student for the priesthood in the Jesuit College in Rome. During the Easter service of 1845, Pope Gregory XVI wore a triple crown upon which was the inscription, in jewels, Vicarius Filii Dei. We were told that there were one hundred diamonds in the word Dei; the other words were of some other kind of precious stones of a darker color. There was one word upon each crown, and not all on the same line. I was present at the service, and saw the crown distinctly, and noted it carefully.
    " ' In 1850 I was converted to God and to Protestantism. Two years later I entered the Evangelical Church ministry, but later in life I united with the Presbyterian Church, of [pg. 626] which I am now a retired pastor, having been in the ministry for fifty years.
    " ' I have made the above statement at the request of Elder D. E. Scoles, as he states that some deny that the pope ever wore this tiara. But I know that he did, for I saw it upon his head.

" ' Sincerely yours in Christian service,
                     (Signed)          " ' B. HOFFMAN.
[Balthazer Hoffmann]

    " ' Webb City, Mo., Oct. 29, 1906.' "

    The following extract is from a work entitled The Reformation,[*] bearing the date of 1832:—
    " ' Mrs. A.,' said Miss Emmons, ' I saw a very curious fact the other day; I have dwelt upon it much, and will mention it. A person, lately, was witnessing a ceremony of the Romish Church. As the pope passed him in procession, splendidly dressed in his pontifical robes, the gentleman's eye rested on these full, blazing letters in front of his miter: "VICARIUS FILII DEI," the Vicar of the Son of God. His thoughts, with the rapidity of lightning, reverted to Rev. 13:18.' 'Will you turn to it?' said Mrs. A. Alice opened the New Testament and read: 'Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.' She paused, and Miss Emmons said, 'He took out his pencil, and marking the numerical letters of the inscription on his tablet, it stood 666.' "
    Here we have indeed the number of a man, even the "man of sin;" and it is a little singular, perhaps providential, that he should select a title which shows the blasphemous character of the beast, and then cause it to be inscribed upon his miter, as if to brand himself with the number 666.

[*] The Reformation: A True Tale of the Sixteenth Century, by Anne Tuttle Jones Bullard, published in 1832 by the Massachusetts Sabbath School Society, Boston, Massachusetts, pgs. 247-248. Identification by Jerry A. Stevens, October 9, 2006.

Source: Daniel  and the Revelation. The Response of History to the Voice of Prophecy: A Verse by Verse Study of These Important Books of the Bible, by Uriah Smith, Southern Publishing Association, Nashville, Tennessee, copyright 1907 by Mrs. Uriah Smith, (published sometime after May of 1911), pgs.  624-626.

Elder D. E. Scoles' account was also published in the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Dec, 20, 1906, page 10.

Easter Mass 1843

A Rev. Joel Tyler Headley, in the April 1845 edition of the Christian Parlor magazine, wrote that he had visited Rome and witnessed the spectacle of the Easter service in St. Peter's, and mentioned that the Pope wore a triple tiara to and from the service, though he did not take note of any inscription. He also published his account in his Letters From Italy, published in 1845 & 1847 in New York, Wiley and Putnam, 161 Broadway, (Revised, 1848, New York, Baker & Scribner), pages 115-121, in which he dates his visit to St. Peter's as Easter of 1843.

I have received what seems to be reliable information that a photo may exist (similar to the one below) of a papal funeral in St. Peter's Basilica near the beginning of the 20th century, in which the tiara inscribed with Vicarius Filii Dei can be seen. Combined with the above claims of Our Sunday Visitor, this would indicate that it was the funeral of either Leo XIII (1878-1903), or Pius X (1903-1914), and that previous popes probably wore the tiara in question. If anyone can turn up any photos and make them available to me, I will post them in this article.


Catafalque in the Sistine chapel for the requiem Masses for Pope Leo XIII.
A triple tiara can be seen at the top.


The body of Pope Pius X (who died in 1914) on display in front of St. Peter's high altar during a Pontifical Mass on May 30th, 1954, celebrating his canonization as a Saint the prior evening.  A papal tiara can be seen above the glass-sided casket.

That the papal tiara was routinely worn both before and after a pontifical Mass at the Vatican, is demonstrated by the following 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia entry:


Pontifical Mass

The solemn pontifical Mass celebrated by the pope in St. Peter's has some peculiar ceremonies. ... The pope, wearing the falda, amice, alb, cincture, pectoral cross, stola, cope (mantum), and tiara is carried into the basilica on the sedia gestatoria under the canopy and with the two flabella borne on either side. ... The pope returns to the altar to finish the Mass. After the blessing the assistant priest publishes the plenary indulgence. At the end of the last Gospel the pope goes to the sedia gestatoria, puts on the tiara, and returns in procession as he had entered.

Source: The 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia Online, volume 12.

Crowned Pope Pius XII on the Sedia Gestatoria

 Pope John XXIII celebrating Mass at St. Peter's.
 Two triple tiaras can be seen on the altar to the Pope's right and a mitre to his left.

Note the following item in a widely circulated Catholic publication from 1938. In it the title Vicarius Filii Dei and 666 is discussed, but the validity of Vicarius Filii Dei as a papal title is not denied:

345.   I have heard that he [the pope] is Anti-Christ, and that he was described by St. John as 666, the numerical equivalent of the Latin words of the Pope's title, Vicarius Filii Dei.

That interpretation is absurd, and rejected by all reputable scholars, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. In any case, St. John wrote in Greek, and there is no warrant whatever for the translation to the Latin language. Moreover, whatever be the true interpretation of this mystical number, it certainly refers to some one individual being. If it referred to one particular Pope, it could refer to none of the others. To which Pope will people refer it? To a past Pope? Then he is dead and gone, and we need not worry about him. To the present Pope? He is the very antithesis of all the conditions of the Beast as described by St. John. However, the number does not refer to any of the Popes at all.

Source: Radio Replies, First Volume, by Rev. Dr. Leslie Rumble, M.S.C. and Rev. Charles Mortimer Carty, Copyright 1938, printed by Radio Replies Press, St. Paul 1, Minn., U.S.A., #345, page 80.


Some Catholics will respond to the Seventh-day Adventist that the number 666 can similarly be derived from the name of Ellen Gould White, a prominent figure in the Adventist church (see the article at New Advent). The calculation is made as follows:


50 50

5 50 500

The letter "w" is asserted to be the equivalent of a double "v" or "u", which has a value of 5 and is therefore 10 when doubled.. However, in Latin and Roman numerals there was no "w" with a value of 10. A single "v" was used to represent the "w", "v" and "u" sound, The double-u (w) apparently evolved many centuries later in other languages, but not Roman numerals. The valid Roman numerals are:

Letter Value
I 1
V 5
X 10
L 50
C 100
D 500
M 1,000

So, ELLEN GOVLD WHITE does not, in fact, add up to 666. Be that as it may, for the moment, lets accept the application to Ellen White. Does this indicate that she is a likely candidate for the Antichrist or beast described in Revelation 13? Even the Catholics that raised this issue do not seriously consider Ellen White to be the Antichrist that scripture warns about. She will simply not fit the many other characteristics attributed to the Antichrist. Using this random method of application to individuals, it is apparent that there might be literally thousands of names that add up to 666, particularly if they are manipulated and Latinized as Rev. Ernest R. Hull demonstrated in the Our Sunday Visitor article above. Clearly this approach is sheer foolishness, and proves nothing, but this deliberate attempt at obscurantism by Catholics in no way invalidates Roman numeral gematria as the solution to 666.

Logically, all the other characteristics of "the Antichrist" must be considered and successfully met first. Only then should solving the mystery of 666 be attempted, after all the other biblical criteria have been solved satisfactorily, eliminating all who do not qualify. Then applying 666 will surely result in a unique, unambiguous, and extraordinarily powerful validation that will prove impossible to duplicate with any other entity. See the series of articles beginning at The 3 Angel's Messages and also The Contextual Biblical Exegesis Of 666 In Revelation 13:18 for this methodology in practice.

2 August, 2009
An open email to Patrick Madrid and Karl Keating,

I quote both of you:

"If the person making this claim disputes these facts, ask him to furnish an example of the alleged title, Vicarius Filii Dei, being used officially by a pope. You won't encounter papal decrees, conciliar statements, or other authentic, official Catholic documents in which the pope calls himself the 'Vicar of the Son of God.' Why? Because no such examples exist. Vicarius Filii Dei has never been an official title of the pope." (Pope Fiction, by Patrick Madrid, 1999, pg. 91.)

"Vicarius Filii Dei never has been used as a title by any Pope." (Catholicism and Fundamentalism, by Karl Keating, 1988, pg 221.)

Pope Paul VI used the title twice, in 1965 and 1968, in Apostolic Constitutions, applying the title to himself, and in plural form to all Peter's successors. See
I invite the two of you to respond to this papal use of the title, and I will also append your response to my web page.

Michael Scheifler

On Sept. 10th, 2009, former Seventh Day Adventist now Roman Catholic, Hugo Mendez, posted a response to this article on his blog.
Here is my reply.

See also:

Can the word antichrist as defined in the epistles of John be applied biblically to the Papacy?
Denying Jesus Christ is Come in the Flesh

NOTE: 666 is the number of the beast, not the mark.
Please see  The Seal of God and Mark of the Beast.

VICARIUS FILII DEI and 666 Response to a Challenge by Patrick Madrid of Envoy Magazine.
A Challenge to Catholic Apologist Karl Keating.
Correcting Samuele Bacchiocchi.
Seventh-Day Adventists and 666
by Bob Stanley.
Sunday, the Sabbath, and the Mark of the Beast by James Aiken.
Vicarius Filii Dei & 666 Debunked  by Stephen P. Haws

See also: The Search to Document and Authenticate Vicarius Filii Dei