In the Vatican's St. Peter's basilica in Rome, there is a rather remarkable sculpture that probably goes mostly unnoticed by those who visit there. It is a part of a sculpture group by Gian Lorenzo Bernini decorating the tomb of Pope Alexander VII. At the four corners surrounding the kneeling Pope, are the four virtues, Charity, Prudence, Justice and Truth. Charity is on the front left side and "La Verita", which means "The Truth" is on the right front side of the overview below.

Above scene from the video "Israel of the Alps"
Copyright © 1993 LLT Productions — Used by Permission
The first thing you might notice is that "Truth" stands with her foot on a globe of the earth, symbolizing her power over the globe. Then looking closer you will see that she clutches in her arms the sun, probably symbolizing Truth's love for the light rather than darkness, and that the Truth will be revealed in time, by the light of day.
Photo by Scala/Art Resource, New York

Historically, pagan Babylon worshipped the sun as a deity, and pagan Rome also worshipped the invincible sun. The Roman Catholic Church, with the assistance of Caesar's civil Sunday law (Constantine), transferred the Sabbath rest to the Sun Day, and commonly uses images and symbols of the sun. In the following articles we will examine the many pagan sunburst images used by the Catholic Church in various forms of art.

Scripture Testifies That Stars Depicted Pagan Gods

Amos 5:26 But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.

Acts 7:43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

The Stones Give Their Testimony

On the right is an artifact unearthed in the holy of holies of the pagan temple in the Canaanite city of Hazor / Hatzor, in northern Israel, that dates to 1400 years before the time of Christ.  It is described as follows:

"a basalt offering table, pillar-shaped, with a carved symbol of the storm god Baal on its side. That symbol was a circle with a cross in the center"

Source: University of Illinois, Religious Studies, Hazor (archived page)

The restoration of the Sun-god's image and temple
The British Museum

Above is a tablet from the early 9th century B.C. which depicts the Babylonian sun-god Shamash seated on the right, holding emblems of his authority, a staff and ring, and the king with two attendants on the left. In the center, on an altar, is a large 4-point sun image, with additional small wavy rays between the points.  In Hebrew, the word for sun is:

8121. shemesh, sheh'-mesh; from an unused root mean. to be brilliant; the sun; by impl. the east; fig. a ray, i.e. (arch.) a notched battlement:-- + east side (-ward), sun ([rising]), + west (-ward), window. See also H1053 in Strong's Hebrew Dictionary.

Altar diagram from Ceremonial for the use of the Catholic Churches in the United States of America,
Ninth Edition, revised by Rev. W. Carroll Milholland, S.S., published by H. L. Kilner & Co., 1926.

The above diagram of the Catholic altar shows the same general Babylonian sun symbol. In the photo below, behind Pope John Paul II, on the front of the altar of St. Peter's Basilica, you see a tapestry with a sunburst design nearly identical to the pagan sun-god symbol of Baal / Shamash. This tapestry is called the altar frontal, antipendium (antependium), or pallium altaris.

Below: Christmas Eve Mass at the Vatican
Copyright 1996, NBC News.

Symbol for Baal
Above: Pope John Paul II celebrates Pentecost, June 3rd 2001
Detail of a Photo Copyright © by "L'Osservatore Romano" Photographic Service
Below: Christmas Eve Mass at the Vatican
Copyright 2000, NBC News.

Symbol of Babylonian sun-god Shamash

The Pope conducting Midnight Mass on the steps
of St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas Eve of 2000.

Below on the left is a picture from the coronation of Pope Pius XI in 1922. On the tapestry hung from the balcony, there are three symbols of Baal / Shamash evident. On the right is Pope John XXIII waving to the crowd in St. Peter's square from above another similar banner, after an Urbi Et Orbi speech.

Copyright 1922 by Underwood

Photo by Dmitri Kessel

Below on the left is a similar photo of John Paul II, making his first public appearance as Pope, in 1978.

Photo by Fabian / Sygma


Above on the right is a photo from early in the papacy of John Paul II, and the symbol of Baal / Shamash appears on the front of his fish head shaped mitre. Note also the small black cross on his shoulder (compare below), on what is called a Pallium:

The modern pallium is a circular band about two inches wide, worn about the neck, breast, and shoulders, and having two pendants, one hanging down in front and one behind. ... The ornamentation of the pallium consists of six small black crosses -- one each on the breast and back, one on each shoulder, and one on each pendant.

Below on the left is a Neo-Assyrian standing stone (stele/stela) dating from about 824-811 B.C., which depicts King Shamshi-Adad V. In particular, note the necklace the King is wearing. On it is what is called a Cross Pattée or Cross Formée. Twenty-eight hundred years ago that shape was symbolic of pagan sun worship (click on the image for a closer look).

 Stela of Shamshi-Adad V
The British Museum
Pope John Paul II wearing the Pallium

The Pope wears a similar symbol around his neck, on the Pallium, which the Pope also confers on selected bishops as an ornamental token of his favor, and it is also worn by archbishops and  patriarchs as a symbol of their authority as a metropolitan, derived from unity with the Pope. Note also, that beneath John Paul's Pallium there is an "x" / diagonal cross, which mimics the diagonal bands below the Cross Pattée worn by the pagan king. The Pope also has a ring and staff of authority, remarkably similar to the depiction of the sun god Shamash on the Babylonian tablet shown previously.


Pope Benedict XVI wears a different style of Pallium that hangs from his left shoulder and has red crosses. The above photos show vestments worn during Benedict's trip to the U.S. that feature several sun symbols.

Stele of King Ashur-nasir-pal II
The British Museum

John XXIII Pontifex Maximus
Photo by Felici, Roma

Note the lower hand of King Ashur-nasir-pal II in the above stele. On the wrist is the sunburst symbol. On the right, the pagan sunburst is on the glove of Pope John XXIII.

The depictions of the pagan kings on the ancient standing stones above, show a strip of cloth (lappet) hanging from the rear of the headgear. These lappets are also present on the papal mitre and tiara, shown at left, and partially visible in the photos of popes above.

Press Office of the Ecumenical Council.

Photos from the Archdiocese of Toronto website.

The symbols of Baal and Shamash worn by a Catholic Bishop.

On the left is a medallion from the Vatican pavilion of the 1988 World Expo, which depicts what is called a Monstrance, used to display a consecrated host. It bears a remarkable similarity to the symbol of Baal / Shamash.
See The Monstrance.
At left are two examples of ciborium, in which are kept the Eucharistic wafer hosts of the Catholic Mass. The one on the left uses the Cross Pattée as a handle on top, and the other uses the four point cross within a circle, the ancient symbols of Shamash and Baal.

On the left is a Vatican 100 Lire gold coin. Note the symbol of Baal, found in Hazor, is behind the head of the figure supposed to be that of Christ.


Here you see the symbol of Baal used in artwork representing the Year of the Eucharist that appeared on the cover of  the November 10, 2004 edition of L'Osservatore Romano.

Now on the right you see the sunburst image on the underside of the canopy of Bernini's Baldacchino, the large canopy-like monument in St. Peter's Cathedral, directly over the main altar of St. Peter's, and the alleged tomb of St. Peter. The dove in front of the sunburst is supposed to be symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Note the shape of the sun rays. They are essentially identical to that of the pagan sun symbol worn by Assyrian kings over 800 years before the time of Christ.

From Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter's
Copyright 1996, NBC News.

The Babylonian Sun god Shamash is also represented by a winged solar disk.
See: Stela from the Temple of Marduk in Babylon.

The Baldacchino
From a photo by Scala/Art Resource, New York

Bernini also put pagan sun images on the top of each of the columns of his Baldacchino, which stands above the altar of St. Peter's. (The sun image and 3 bumble bees are symbolic of the Barberini family and Pope Urban VIII).

APOLLO Here on the left is essentially the same image as found in Bernini's La Verita and Baldacchino, but this is the face of the pagan Greek sun god Apollo, on the temple of Apollo, in the Pergamon museum in Berlin!
Picture of the sun god Apollo.
From the book "The New Illustrated Great Controversy"
Copyright © LLT Productions — Used by Permission

Catholicism has clearly adopted the sun symbolism of the ancient pagans!

Please continue on to The Solar Wheel.