SPIRITUAL DARKNESS IN THE MIDDLE AGES #8
PAGAN Origin of PAPAL Office
by Ralph Woodrow
NIMROD, THE KING and founder of Babylon, was not only its
political leader, he was its religious leader also. He was a
priest-king. From Nimrod descended a line of priest-kings - each
standing at the head of the occult Babylonian mystery religion.
This line continued on down to the days of Belshazzar of whom we
read in the Bible. Many are familiar with the feast he held in
Babylon when the mysterious handwriting appeared on the wall.
Some have failed to recognize, however, that this gathering was
more than a mere social party! It was a religious gathering, a
celebration of the Babylonian mysteries of which Belshazzar was
the head at that time. "They drank wine, and praised the gods of
gold, and of silver, and of brass, of iron, of wood, and of
stone" (Dan.5:4). Adding to the blasphemy of the occasion, they
drank their wine from the holy vessels of the Lord which had been
taken from the Jerusalem temple. This attempt to mix that which
was holy with that which was heathenism brought about Divine
judgment. Babylon was marked for doom.
The ancient city is now in ruins, uninhabited, desolate
(Jer. 50:39; 51:62). There is a railroad which runs from Baghdad
to Basra which passes close by. A sign written in English and
Arabic says: "Babylon Halt, Trains stop here to pick up
passengers." The only passengers, however, are tourists who come
to inspect the ruins. But though the city was destroyed, concepts
that were a part of the old Babylon religion survived!
(That sign may not be there today - this book by Woodrow was
written in the 1960s - Keith Hunt)
When Rome conquered the world, the paganism that had spread
from Babylon and developed in various nations, was merged into
the religious system of Rome. This included the idea of a Supreme
Pontiff (Pontifex Maximus). Thus Babylonian paganism, which had
originally been carried out under the rulership of Nimrod, was
united under the rulership of one man at Rome: Julius Caesar. It
was the year 63 B.C. that Julius Caesar was officially recognized
as the "Pontifex Maximus" of the mystery religion - now
established at Rome. To illustrate how this title was used
by the Caesars, we show here an old Roman coin of Augustus Caesar
(B.C. 27 - 44 A.D.) with his title as the "PontMax", the head of
the mysteries. It is interesting to note that coins such as this
were in circulation during the days of our Lord's earthly
ministry. "And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto
them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him,
The Roman emperors (including Constantine) continued to hold
the office of Pontifex Maximus until 376 when Gratian, for
Christian reasons, refused it. He recognized this title and
office as idolatrous and blasphemous. By this time, however, the
bishop of Rome had arisen to political power and prestige.
Consequently, in 378, Demasus, bishop of Rome, was elected the
Pontifex Maximus - the official high priest of the mysteries!
Since Rome was considered the most important city in the world,
some of the Christians looked to the bishop of Rome as "bishop of
bishops" and head of the church. This produced a unique
situation. One man was now looked to as head by both Christians
and pagans. By this time, and through the years that followed,
the streams of paganism and Christianity flowed together,
producing what is known as the Roman Catholic Church, under
the headship of the Pontifex Maximus, the Pope.
The title Pontifex Maximus is repeatedly found on
inscriptions throughout the Vatican - above the entry of St.
Peter's, above the statue of Peter, in the dome, above the Holy
Year Door which is opened only during a jubilee year, etc. The
accompanying medal, struck by Pope Leo X just before the
Reformation, illustrates one of the ways that the title "Pont.
Max." has been used by the popes.
But how could a man be at one and the same time both the
head of the church and the Pontifex Maximus, the head of the
pagan mysteries? In an attempt to cover this discrepancy, church
leaders sought for similarities between the two religions. They
knew that if they could find even a few points that each side had
in common, both could be merged into one, for by this time most
were not concerned about details. They desired numbers and
political power. Truth was secondary.
One striking similarity was that the Supreme Pontiff of
paganism bore the Chaldean title peter or interpreter - the
interpreter of the mysteries. Here was an opportunity to
"Christianize" the pagan office of Pontifex Maximus, the office
the bishop of Rome now held, by associating the "Peter" or Grand
Interpreter of Rome with Peter the apostle. But to make the
apostle Peter the Peter-Roma was not without its problems. To do
so, it was necessary to teach that Peter had been in Rome. This
is the real reason that since the fourth century (and not before)
that numerous tales began to be voiced about Peter being the
first bishop of Rome. And so, to the blinded Christians of the
apostasy, the Pope was the representative of Peter the apostle,
while to the initiated pagans, he was only the representative of
Peter, the interpreter of their well-known mysteries.
According to an old tradition, Nimrod was "the opener" of
secrets or mysteries, "the firstborn" of deified human beings.
The word translated "openeth" in verses such as Exodus 13:2, as
Strong's Concordance points out, is the Hebrew word "peter." To
what extent things such as this may have influenced traditions
that have been handed down about Peter and Rome, we cannot say.
Since the apostle Peter was known as Simon Peter, it is
interesting to note that Rome not only had a "Peter", an opener
or interpreter of the mysteries, but also a religious leader
named Simon who went there in the first century! In fact, it was
the Simon who had practiced sorcery in Samaria (Acts 8:9) that
later went to Rome and founded a counterfeit Christian religion
there! Because this sounds so bizarre, in order to make it clear
there is no bias on our part, we quote the following right from
The Catholic Encyclopedia about this Simon: Justin Martyr and
other early writers inform us that he afterwards went to Rome,
worked miracles there by the power of demons, and received Divine
honors both in Rome and in his own country. Though much
extravagant legend afterwards gathered around the name of this
Simon ... It seems nevertheless probable that there must be some
foundation in fact for the account given by Justin and accepted
by Eusebius. The historical Simon Magus no doubt founded some
sort of religion as a counterfeit of Christianity in which he
claimed to play a part analogous to that of Christ.
We know that the Romish church became expert in taking
various ideas or traditions and mixing them together into its one
united system of religion. If Simon did build up a following in
Rome, if he received Divine honors, if he founded a counterfeit
Christian religion in which he played a part analogous to Christ,
is it not possible that such ideas could have influenced later
traditions? Perhaps this "Simon" being in Rome was later confused
with Simon Peter. The Popes have claimed to be "Christ in office"
Apparently Simon the sorcerer made the same claim in Rome,
but we never read of any such claim being made by Simon Peter the
Another mixture at Rome involved "keys." For almost a
thousand years, the people of Rome had believed in the mystic
keys of the pagan god Janus and the goddess Cybele. In Mithraism,
one of the main branches of the mysteries that came to Rome, the
sun-god carried two keys. When the emperor claimed to be sucessor
of the "gods" and the Supreme Pontiff of the mysteries, the keys
came to be symbols of his authority. Later when the bishop of
Rome became the Pontifex Maximus in about 378, he automatically
became the possessor of the mystic keys. This gained recognition
for the Pope from the pagans and, again, there was the
opportunity to mix Peter into the story. Had not Christ said to
Peter, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven"
(Matt.16:19)? It was not until 431, however, that the pope
publically claimed that the keys he possessed were the keys of
authority given to the apostle Peter. This was over fifty years
after the pope had become the Pontifex Maximus, the possessor of
the keys. For an example of how the keys are shown as symbols of
the Pope's authority, see the large fan on page 89.
The key given to Peter (and to all the other disciples)
represented the message of the gospel whereby people could enter
the kingdom of God. Because some have not rightly understood
this, it is not uncommom for Peter to be pictured as the
gatekeeper of heaven, deciding who he will let in and who he
won't! This is very much like the ideas that were associated with
the pagan god Jan us, for he was the keeper of the doors and
gates in the pagan mythology of Rome, the opener. Janus, with key
in hand, is shown in the above drawing. He was represented with
two faces-one young, the other old (a later version of Nimrod
incarnated in Tammuz). It is interesting to notice that not only
was the key a symbol of Janus, the cock was also regarded as
being sacred to him.$ There was no problem to link the cock with
Peter, for had not a cock crowed on the night that he denied the
Lord? (John 18:27).
It is certain that the title "Supreme Pontiff" or "Pontifex
Maximus" which the Pope bears is not a Christian designation, for
it was the title used by Roman emperors before the Christian Era.
The word "pontiff" comes from the word "pons," - "bridge", and
"facio," - "make." It means "bridge-maker." The priest-king
emperors of pagan days were regarded as the makers and guardians
of the bridges of Rome. Each of them served as high priest and
claimed to be the bridge or connecting link between this life and
That branch of the mysteries known as Mithraism grew in Rome
until it became - at one time - almost the only faith of the
The head priest was called the "Pater Patrum," that is, the
Father of the Fathers. Borrowing directly from this title, at
the head of the Roman Catholic Church, is the Papa or Pope - the
Father of Fathers. The "Father" of Mithraism had his seat at Rome
then, and the "Father" of Catholicism has his there now.
The expensive and highly decorated garments that the Popes
wear were not adopted from Christianity, but were patterned
after those of the Roman emperors. The historians have not let
this fact go unnoticed, for indeed their testimony is that "the
vestments of the clergy ... were legacies from pagan Rome." The
tiara crown that the popes wear - though decorated in different
ways at different times - is identical in shape to that worn by
the "gods" or angels that are shown on ancient pagan Assyrian
tablets. It is similar to that seen on Dagon, the fish-god.
(cf. the tiara pictured on page 94).
Dagon was actually but a mystery form of the false
Babylonian "savior." The name Dagon comes from "dag" (a word
commonly translated "fish" in the Bible) and means fishgod.
Though it originated in the paganism of Babylon, Dagon worship
became especially popular among the heathenistic Philistines
(Judges 16:21-30; 1 Sam.5:5,6).
The way that Dagon was depicted on Mesopotamian sculpture is
seen in the drawing above (second figure from left). Layard, in
"Babylon and Nineveh," explains that "the head of the fish formed
a mitre above that of the man, while its scaly, fan-like tail
fell as a cloak behind, leaving the human limbs and feet
Later, in the development of things, just the top portion
remained as a mitre, with the jaws of the fish slightly opened.
On several pagan Maltese coins, a god (whose characteristics are
the same as those of Osiris, the Egyptian Nimrod), is shown with
the fish body removed, and only the fish-heading.
A famous painting by Moretto shows St.Ambrose wearing a
mitre shaped like the head of a fish. This same type of mitre is
worn by the pope as seen in the sketch of Pope Paul VI as he
delivered a sermon on "Peace" during his historic visit to the
United States in 1965. The picture on page 89 also shows the
H.A.Ironside says that the Pope is "the direct successor of
the high priest of the Babylonian mysteries and the servant of
the fishgod Dagon, for whom he wears, like his idolatrous
predecessors, the fisherman's ring." Again, in mixing paganism
and Christianity together, similarities made the mixture less
obvious. In this case, since Peter had been a fisherman, the
fish-god ring with the title Pontifex Maximus inscribed on it was
associated with him. But a ring like this was never worn by Peter
the Apostle. No one ever bowed and kissed his ring. He probably
didn't even have one - for silver and gold had he none! (Acts 3).
Another clue to help us solve the mystery of Babylon modern
may be seen in the use of the "pallium" which the Pope wears over
his shoulders. The unabridged dictionaries define it as a garment
that was worn by the pagan clergy of Greece and Rome, before the
Christian Era. In modern times, the pallium is made of white wool
which is taken from two lambs which have been "blessed" in the
basilica of St.Agnes, Rome. As a symbol that the archbishops also
share in the plenitude of the Papal office, the Pope sends the
pallium to them. Before it is sent, however, it is laid all night
on the supposed tomb of St.Peter--such a practice being a copy of
paganism that was practiced among the Greeks!
For centuries the Romish church claimed to posses the very
chair in which Peter had sat and ministered at Rome. The Catholic
Encyclopedia explains that the plates on the front of this chair
show fabulous animals of mythology as well as the fabled "labors
of Hercules." In another volume of The Catholic Encyclopedia,
we find these words: "Gilgamesh, whom mythology transformed into
a Babylonian Hercules ... would then be the person designated by
the Biblical Nemrod (Nimrod)." It is curious that Nimrod is
likened to Hercules and carvings associated with Hercules appear
on the so-called "Chair of Peter." None of these things would
cause us to think of this chair as being of Christian origin.
A scientific commission appointed by Pope Paul in July,
1968, has now reported that no part of the chair is old enough to
date from the days of Peter. In the official report on the carbon
dating and other tests, it has been determined that the chair is
no older than the ninth century. Clearly, the old ideas about
Peter's chair were interesting, but not accurate.
Near the high altar of St.Peter's (see page 43 ) is a large
bronze statue supposedly of Peter. This statue is looked upon
with the most profound veneration and its foot has been kissed so
many times that the toes are nearly worn away! The photograph on
the previous page shows a former pope (John XXIII) about to kiss
this statue which was dressed up with rich papal robes and a
three-tiered papal crown for the occasion.
The practice of kissing an idol or statue was borrowed from
paganism. As we have seen, Baal worship was linked with the
ancient worship of Nimrod in deified form (as the sun-god). In
the days of Elijah, multitudes had bowed to Baal and kissed him.
"Yet", God said, "I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all
the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which
hath not kissed him" (1 Kings 19:18). In one of his "mystery"
forms, Nimrod (incarnated in the young Tammuz) was represented as
a calf. Statues of calves were made, worshipped, and kissed!
"They sin more and more, and have made them molten images of
their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all
of it the work of the craftsmen: they say to them, Let the men
that sacrifice kiss the calves" (Hosea 13:1-3). Kissing an idol
was a part of Baal worship!
Not only was the practice of kissing an idol adopted by the
Romish church, so was the custom of religious processions in
which idols are carried. Such processions are a common part of
Roman Catholic practice, yet these did not originate with
Christianity. In the fifteenth century B.C., an image of the
Babylonian goddess Ishtar was carried with great pomp and
ceremony from Babylon to Egypt. Idol processions were practiced
in Greece, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, and many other countries in
The Bible shows the folly of those who think good can come
from idols - idols so powerless they must be carried! Isaiah, in
direct reference to the gods of Babylon, had this to say: "They
lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and
hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea,
they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him,
and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall
he not remove" (Isaiah 46:6,7).
Not only have such processions continued in the Roman
Catholic Church in which idols are carried, but the Pope is
also carried in procession. In Isaiah's time the people lavished
silver and gold on their god. Today expensive garments and jewels
are placed on the pope. When the pagan god was carried in
procession, the people fell down and worshipped, so on certain
occasions do people bow before the Pope as he is carried by. Even
as the god was carried "upon the shoulders", so do men carry the
Pope, the god of Catholicism, upon their shoulders in religious
processions! (Now today he is carried by an car; he stands inside
a bullet-proof glass cube - one Pope was shot and nearly killed,
some decades ago - Keith Hunt)
Over three thousand years ago, the very same practice was
known in Egypt, such processions being a part of the paganism
The illustration on the next page shows the ancient
priest-king of Egypt being carried through worshipful crowds by
A comparison of the papal procession of today, and the
ancient pagan procession of Egypt, shows that the one is a copy
of the other!
In the drawing of the Egyptian priest-king, we notice the
use of the "fabellum," a large fan made of feathers. This was
later known as the mystic fan of Bacchus. And even as this fan
was carried in procession with the pagan priest-king, so also are
these fans carried with the Pope on state occasions. (cf. the
drawing with photo.) As The Encyclopedia Britannica says, "When
going to solemn ceremonies, (the Pope) is carried on the sedia, a
portable chair of red velvet with a high back, and escorted by
two fabelli of feathers." That these processional fans originated
in the paganism of Egypt is known and admitted even by Catholic
The four strong iron rings in the legs of the "Chair of
Peter" (page 86) were intended for carrying-poles. But we can be
certain that the apostle Peter was never carried through crowds
of people bowing to him! (cf. Acts 10:25,26).
That the papal office was produced by a mixture of paganism
and Christianity there can be little doubt. The pallium, the
fish-head mitre, the Babylonish garments, the mystic keys, and
the title Pontifex Maximus were all borrowed from paganism. All
of these things, and the fact that Christ never instituted the
office of Pope in his church, plainly show that the Pope is not
the vicar of Christ or the successor of the apostle Peter.
To be continued with "Papal Immorality"