The 1260 years of Papal Supremacy

Catholic writers attest to 12 centuries of Papal Supremacy and Sovereignty:

And now that the temporal power of the Roman Pontiffs belongs to the past, that the head of the Church must under heaven depend for its maintenance upon the generosity of his spiritual children throughout the world, that a usurper holds the throne from which the Pope ruled for a thousand years, while its rightful owner is a prisoner in his own city, it will be of interest from many points of view to review what Roman people and Rome were like before 1870 and what they are to-day.

[pg. 194]

Long ages ago, when Rome through the neglect of the Western emperors was left to the mercy of barbarous hordes, Romans turned to one figure for aid and protection and asked him to rule them; and thus in this simple manner, the best title of all to kingly right, commenced the temporal sovereignty of the Popes. And meekly stepping to the throne of Caesar, the Vicar of Christ took up the sceptre to which the emperors and kings of Europe were to bow in reverence through so many ages, from sentiments of respect for the dignity of his office and because he was the only mediator whom they recognized in their almost interminable wars.

Source: Two Romes, by James P. Conry, in The American Catholic Quarterly Review, Volume XXXVI (36), edited by James Andrew Corcoran, Patrick John Ryan, Edmond Francis Prendergast, 1911, pgs. 193-194.

... the right to her Temporal Sovereignty is an integral right of the Church as constituted by her Divine Founder. It has prevailed de facto for more than twelve hundred years, and has been possessed de jure by Divine Natural Law from the beginning of Christianity, ...

Source: The Victories of Rome and the Temporal Monarchy of the Church, 5th edition, By Kenelm Digby Best, London, 1906, pg. xii.

Rome has been a government under the Popes for some twelve hundred years.

Source: Complete Works of the Most Rev. John Hughes, Archbishop of New York, 1866, Volume 2. pg. 778

[pg. 6]

9. ... In books of all sizes, and from the pulpit of every church, we have been taught from our infancy, that the "beast, the man of sin, and the scarlet whore," mentioned in the Revelations, were names which God himself had given to the Pope; and we have all been taught to believe of the Catholic Church, that her worship was "idolatrous," and that her doctrines were "damnable."

10. Now let us put a plain question or two to ourselves, and to these our readers; and we shall quickly be able to form a

[pg. 7]

just estimate of the modesty, sincerity, and consistency of these revilers of the Catholic religion: ―they will not, because they cannot, deny, that this religion was the ONLY CHRISTIAN religion in the world for fifteen hundred years after the death of Christ. They may say, indeed, that for the first three hundred years there was no Pope seated at Rome. But, then, for twelve hundred years there had been; and, during that period, all the nations of Europe, and some part of America, had become Christian, and all acknowledged the Pope as their head in religious matters; and, in short, there was no other Christian Church known in the world, nor had any other ever been thought of. Can we believe, then, that Christ, who died to save sinners, who sent forth his gospel as the means of their salvation, would have suffered a false Christian religion, and no other than a false Christian religion, to be known amongst men all this while? Will these modest assailants of the faith of their and our ancestors assert to our faces, that, for twelve hundred years at least, there were no true Christians in the world? Will they tell us, that Christ, who promised to be with the teachers of his word to the end of the world, wholly left them, and gave up hundreds upon hundreds of millions of people to be led in darkness to their eternal perdition, by one whom his inspired followers had denominated the "man of sin, and the scarlet whore"? Will they, indeed, dare to tell us, that Christ gave up the world wholly to "Antichrist" for twelve hundred years?

Source: History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland, Showing How That Event Has Impoverished and Degraded the Main Body of the People in Those Countries, by William Cobbett, published in 1832 in New York by John Doyle, 12 Liberty-street; and Thomas Doyle, Market-street, Providence R.I., pages 6 and 7. (Online at Google Books)

2 Th 2:1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,
2 Th 2:2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.
2 Th 2:3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,
2 Th 2:4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
2 Th 2:5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
2 Th 2:6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.
2 Th 2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
2 Th 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
2 Th 2:9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,
2 Th 2:10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
2 Th 2:11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,
2 Th 2:12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Paul describes a restrainer who hinders the rise of the antichrist, that this restrainer must be removed before the man of sin can be revealed. Note the following:


    Now the abandonment of Rome [*] was the liberation of the Pontiffs. Whatsoever claims to obedience the Emperors may have made, and whatsoever compliance the Pontiff may have yielded, the whole previous relation, anomalous, and annulled again and again by the vices and outrages of the Emperors, was finally dissolved by a higher power. The providence of God permitted a succession of irruptions, Gothic, Lombard, and Hungarian, to desolate Italy, and to efface from it every remnant of

* Emperor Constantine left Rome in 326 A.D. in search of a suitable new capital, and dedicated Byzantium as the "Nova Roma" on May 11th, 330 A.D., renaming it Constantinople after himself.


the Empire. The Pontiffs found themselves alone; the sole fountains of order, peace, law, and safety. And from the hour of this providential liberation, when, by a Divine intervention, the chains fell off from the hands of the successor of St. Peter, as once before from his own, no sovereign has ever reigned in Rome except the Vicar of Jesus Christ.. The moral import of this Divine action must be adequately appreciated. It cancelled, abolished, and extinguished finally and for ever the right of conquest, possession, occupation, and property claimed by the Emperors over Italy and Rome.

[pg. 11]

For three hundred years, then, the Church had over it, in Rome itself, a temporal power, to which it rendered obedience in all things that were lawful. In this it only obeyed the precept, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.

    But from the hour when Constantine, in the language of the Roman law, "Deo jubente," by the command of God, translated the seat of empire to Constantinople, from that moment there never reigned

[pg. 12]

in Rome a temporal prince to whom the Bishops of Rome owed a permanent allegiance. From that hour God Himself liberated His Church. ... It waited until such time as God should break its bonds asunder, and should liberate it from subjection to civil powers, and enthrone it in the possession of a temporal sovereignty of its own. Therefore, in that day when the first Christian emperor withdrew himself into the far East, he abandoned Rome and Italy; and the "donation" of Constantine, as it is called, expresses not a fact, but a principle. Constantine signed no instrument of donation; but the manner of conceiving and of speaking, in those simple ages, so represented the provi-

[pg. 13]

dential fact of the donation of God. God gave to the Vicar of His Son the possession of the city in which thirty of his predecessors has sealed their testimony with their blood. The donation of Constantine consisted in the simple providential fact, that he departed from Rome to Constantinople, moved by an impulse from God himself. It would delay me too long to dwell upon the motives which God implanted in the first Christian emperor, to impel him to abandon his sovereignty in Rome. They were motives of a supernatural origin, and he was but obeying a supernatural impulse. The donation was of God, and not of man. ...

[pg. 16]

    I say, then, that it was God's own act which liberated His Vicar upon earth from subjection to temporal power; and that for twelve hundred years the Bishops of Rome have reigned as temporal princes. They have possessed their own. No man has given to them their sovereign rights. They reign there as Christian princes by the providence of God. They are the first example of a Christian monarchy, the first seed of Christian Europe, the first roll of Christian princes. When France was yet distracted by con-

[pg. 17]

flicting races, when England was divided by the Heptarchy, when Germany was a forest, and when Spain was a desolation, the Vicar of Christ already reigned as a sovereign prince in Rome.

[pg. 126]

It is true, indeed, that in the three centuries between the conversion of Constantine [312 A.D.] and the period of St. Gregory the Great [590-604 A.D.], in those three centuries of turbulence and disorder, invasion and warfare, by which Italy and Rome was afflicted, the temporal power of the Supreme Pontiff was only in its beginning; but about the seventh century it was firmly established, and that which the Divine Providence had prepared from the beginning received its full manifestation; and no sooner was the material power which once reigned in Rome consecrated and sanctified by the investiture of the Vicar of Jesus Christ with the temporal sovereignty over the city where he dwelt, than he began to create throughout Europe the order of Christian civilization,

[pg. 127]

Christian empires, Christian monarchies, which, confederated together, have maintained the peace and order of the world from that hour to this. What we call Christendom, that is to say, the great family of Christian nations, Christian races organised and knit together with their princes and their legislatures, by international law, mutual contracts, treaties, diplomacy, and the like, which bind them together in one compact body—what is this but the security of the world against disorder, turbulence, and lawlessness? And now for these twelve hundred years the peace, the perpetuity, and the fruitfulness of the Christian civilization of Europe, has been owing solely in its principle of this consecration of the power and the authority of the great Empire of Rome, taken up of old, perpetuated, preserved, and as I have said, by the salt which has been sprinkled from heaven and continued in the person of the Supreme Pontiff, and in that order of Christian civilization of which he has been the creator.

[pg. 182]

The conversion of the empire to Christianity, and then its removal, its banishment into the far East, freed the Vicar of Jesus Christ from temporal subjection; and then, by the action of the same Providence, he was clothed with the prerogatives of a true and proper local sovereignty over that state and territory and people so committed to his charge. From that hour, which I might say was fifteen hundred years ago, or, to speak within limit, I will say was twelve hundred, the Supreme Pontiff has been a true and proper sovereign, exercising the prerogatives of royalty committed to him by the will of God over the people to whom he is father in all things both spiritual and temporal.

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. (Online at Google Books)

Take special note that Manning, who became a prince of the Roman Catholic Church, admits a twelve century rule by the Bishop of Rome, a twelve century period of temporal papal supremacy, that was well established by the seventh century.

In prophecy days are symbolic of years. The 70 weeks of Daniel 9:24 being the most commonly known example. Seventy weeks is 490 days, but actually means 490 years. If this is unclear to you please go to Time, Times, and Half a Time.  See also the 70 weeks Diagram (16K GIF) The following verses then, refer prophetically to a period of 1260 years of apostasy prevailing in the church:

1260 Days

Rev 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

The two witnesses is a reference to the law and the prophets, the word of God. For 1260 years scriptural truth would be suppressed, obscured by the traditions of men.

Rev 12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

The true church would flee persecution by the apostate church, and be sustained by God for 1260 years.

42 Months

This period of 1260 days is also spoken of as 42 months:

Rev 11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

The apostate church is referred to here as Gentiles, who will be dominant for 1260 years. Their judgment is to be delayed (measure not), not to be done until after the true church (temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein, v. 1) is judged in the pre-advent judgment.

Rev 13:5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
Rev 13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
Rev 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Blasphemy and persecution characterize the 1260 years of dominion of the apostate church.

3 1/2 Times

The 1260 days are also referred to as 3 1/2 times:

Dan 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

Dan 12:7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

Rev 12:14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

Again, these verses describe 1260 years of blasphemy, persecution, and apostasy, through which the true church would persevere and emerge from the wilderness at the conclusion of 1260 years.

The 1260 Years Begin with the Implementation of Emperor Justinian's Decree

Arian Ostrogoths under Theodoric had controlled Italy since 493, and had even imprisoned Pope John I, who died in Ostrogoth custody in Ravenna in 526. Catholic Emperor Justinian, who began waging open war with the Arians in the 530s, declared the Bishop of Rome the head of all Christian churches in 533, and commissioned his General Belisarius to destroy the Arian Vandals and Ostrogoths. The Vandals were defeated in 534 in the battle of Tricamarum. Turning his attention to the Ostrogoths, General Belisarius took Rome in December of 536, and under the direction of Emperor Justinian, deposed and exiled Pope Silverius who had been installed by the last Ostrogoth King of Italy, Theodahad, who had terrorized the clergy into electing his pro-Gothic candidate. Silverius died a prisoner. Belisarius installed Vigilius, a confidant of Empress Theodora, as the Bishop of Rome in March of 537. In quick reply, the Ostrogoths rallied and laid siege to Rome. When the siege was finally broken by General Belisarius in March of 538, the Ostrogoths withdrew from Rome in defeat, leaving it in the Emperor's control, and Vigilius as the Bishop of Rome (who reigned until 555 A.D.). So it was in 538 A.D. that Emperor Justinian's Decree of the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome over the Church could actually be implemented, beginning the prophetic 1260 years of temporal rule by the papacy.

Pope Pius IX gave this remarkable testimony:

La Chiesa Cattolica fondata e istituita da Cristo Signore per provvedere alla salvezza eterna degli uomini, avendo conseguito, in forza della sua divina istituzione, la forma di società perfetta, deve godere, nell’esercizio del suo sacro ministero, di quella libertà che la sottrae alla soggezione di qualsivoglia potere civile.

Poiché per operare liberamente, come era necessario, doveva fruire di quei supporti che rispondevano alle condizioni e alle esigenze dei tempi, per una speciale disposizione della divina Provvidenza avvenne che, quando l’Impero Romano si dissolse e fu diviso in vari regni, il Romano Pontefice, costituito da Cristo capo e centro di tutta la Chiesa, ottenne un Principato civile.

Questo fu disposto con somma sapienza da Dio stesso, perché in mezzo ad una tale moltitudine e varietà di sovrani temporali, il Sommo Pontefice disponesse di quella libertà politica che era indispensabile per esercitare, senza alcun impedimento, il suo potere spirituale, la sua autorità e la sua giurisdizione sul mondo intero. − Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Cum Catholica Ecclesia, March 26, 1860.


The Catholic Church which was founded and instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ to procure the eternal salvation of men, has, by reason of this divine institution, the form of a perfect society. Therefore, she must possess liberty such that she cannot be subject to any civil power in the execution of her sacred ministry.

To act with freedom, as it is just she should, she has always needed the assistance which was suitable to the conditions and the necessities of the age. It is, therefore, by a particular decree of Divine Providence that, at the fall of the Roman Empire and its partition into separate kingdoms, the Roman Pontiff, whom Christ made the head and center of his entire Church, acquired civil power.

Certainly, it was by a most wise design of God Himself that in the midst of so great a multitude and variety of temporal princes, the Sovereign Pontiff enjoyed political liberty, which is so necessary for him to exercise his spiritual power, his authority, and his jurisdiction over the whole world.

Source: Papal Teachings: The Church, selected and arranged by the Benedictine Monks of Solesmes, translated by Mother E. O'Gorman, R.S.C.J., Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart, St. Paul Editions, Boston, © 1980, 1962 by Daughters of St. Paul, Library of Congress catalog card number 62-12454, par. #225, page 160.

See also: Early Church Fathers on the Timing of the Rise of Antichrist.

The 1260 Years End with a Head Wound to Papal Power

The "head wound" to papal power was inflicted in 1798 when General Berthier of France captured Pope Pius VI, who soon died in captivity in Valence, on August 29, 1799.

... when the French general L. Duphot was killed in a riot in Rome the Directory ordered the occupation of the papal states. On 15 Feb. 1798 General Louis Berthier entered Rome, proclaimed the Roman Republic and the deposition of Pius as head of state, and forced him to withdraw to Tuscany. For several months he lived at the charterhouse at Florence, cut off from almost all his advisers, but able to use the nuncio to Florence as secretary of state. The Directory planned to banish him to Sardinia, but his precarious health ruled that out. When war broke out afresh, fearful of attempts to rescue him, it had him conveyed from Florence (28 Mar. 1799) via Turin across the Alps to Briancon (30 Apr.) and then Valence (13 July). He died a prisoner in the citadel there, and was buried in the local cemetery; his body was then transferred to St. Peter's, in Rome, in Feb. 1802.

Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, by J. N. D. Kelly, Copyright 1986, published by Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-282085-0, page 302.

[p. 439]                          EXTINCTION OF THE PAPACY

    The object of the French directory was the destruction of the pontifical government, as the irreconcilable enemy of the republic. They urged their general to drive the pope and cardinals out of Rome. Bonaparte proposed to give the Eternal City to the King of Spain, on condition of his recognizing the French republic. Failing in this, he resorted to a system of pillage which exhausted its resources, and finally a democratical demonstration was got up at Rome in the accustomed manner, in which one of the French envoys was killed by the fire of pontifical troops. This misfortune afforded the desired pretext. The French army pouring in under Berthier planted the tri-color on the Capitol, while their Roman confederates displaying the famous insignia, S. P. Q. R., shouted for liberty. The aged pope [Pius VI] was summoned to surrender the temporal government; on his refusal, he was dragged from the altar, and the soldiers plundered the Vatican in presence of its owner. They stripped his own chamber: when he asked to be left to die in peace, he was brutally answered that any place would serve to die in. His rings were torn from his fingers, and finally, after declaring the temporal power abolished, the victors carried

[p. 440]                     DECLINE AND FALL OF THE PAPACY

the pope prisoner into Tuscany, whence he never returned (1798).
    The Papal States, converted into the Roman Republic, were declared to be in perpetual alliance with France, but the French general was the real master at Rome. The citizens groaned under his terrible exactions, Churches, convents, palaces, were stripped to the bare walls. The works of art were all carried off. The territorial possessions of the clergy and monks were declared national property, and their former owners cast into prison. The papacy was extinct: not a vestige of its existence remained; and among all the Roman Catholic powers not a finger was stirred in its defence. The Eternal City had no longer prince or pontiff; its bishop was a dying captive in foreign lands; and the decree was already announced that no successor would be allowed in his place.

Source: Rome: From the Fall of the Western Empire by Rev. George Trevor, M.A., London: The Religious Tract Society, 1868, pgs. 439, 440.

See also The Deadly Wound of Revelation 13:3 for more details.

Wound Heals and Papal Power is Restored

Napoleon had closed down the Catholic Church and the Papacy, it's power was thought to be forever broken. The wound was largely healed in 1929 when Mussolini gave the Vatican back to the Pope and established it as a country in it's own right in the Lateran Treaty. Today the Vatican (a church), has formal diplomatic relations with almost every country in the world.