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The Book of Revelation - Part 11 Pope Boniface VIII & Celestine V

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Issue #180September 2003

The Book of Revelation - Part 11 Pope Boniface VIII & Celestine V

There are two beasts mentioned in Revelation 13. We have shown previously that the first beast was the spirit behind the Roman Catholic Church which motivated the popes to seek after political power. This was the method by which they sought to establish their vision of the Kingdom of God upon the earth. Yet (as we also showed) they did so by fleshly means and by carnal thinking.

They did not understand the difference between a true Vicar of Christ (like King David, who ruled in place of Christ on the throne of Israel) and a usurper of the throne (like Absalom, who overthrew David for a time). Hence, Pope Boniface VIII issued his famous Unum Sanctum in 1302 A.D., claiming the long-established right to overrule the precepts of both Christ and the apostles.

Incidentally, Boniface VIII was born Benedict Gaetani. He took on the name of Boniface VIII in order to legitimize the pontificate of Boniface VII who had been pope three centuries earlier. Of this we read on page 157 of E. R. Chamberlin’s The Bad Popes,

“Three hundred years earlier, in the dark days of the tenth century, a certain priest called Boniface Franco had murdered the reigning pope and had himself elected as Boniface VII. He then fled, returned, murdered the current occupant of the chair, and being of a legalistic turn of mind, carefully dated his reign from the first, not the second murder, thereby thrusting into legal oblivion the two popes who had reigned in the interim. Surely, of all popes, his election had been canonically suspect. Nevertheless, that great lawyer Benedict Gaetani had taken the style of Boniface VIII, thus tacitly recognizing the legality of Boniface VII.”

On page 111, it says,

“Boniface had a gift for pungent, pithy speech, a liking for witty, frequently punning epigrams which he tossed out regardless of their propriety, indifferent to the fact that busy little men might be recording them. Sexual immorality? Why—there is no more to going to bed with women and boys than in rubbing one’s hand against the other. Immortality? A man has as much hope of survival after death as that roast fowl on the dining table there—a remark made on a fast day at that, the shocked witness recorded. It was difficult to assess his true beliefs, but his obiter dicta seemed all of a piece: the clever remarks of a learned man who was indifferent to, or even skeptical of, the inner mysteries of the religion he professed. The god that the world saw him worship was the god of power.”

Boniface VIII was said to be the last true Roman Emperor-Pope. More than anything, his dream was to gain political power over all of Europe. Because of this, it was inevitable that he would clash with other monarchs. Ultimately, he disputed with King Philip IV of France over money. Philip ultimately overthrew the pope and took him prisoner in 1303. He died in prison later the same year.

It is perhaps poetic justice that Boniface had done the same to his predecessor, Pope Celestine V.

1260 Years from 33 to 1293 A.D.

At the end of our last bulletin we mentioned the 1,260-year period from 529-533 to 1789-1793. Recall the 42 months, or 1,260 “days,” of the first beast’s rise to power given in Rev. 13:5. Most of these time cycles have more than one beginning point, and therefore also have more than one ending point. Such is the case here as well. There is also a 1,260-year cycle from 33 to 1293 A.D. where God gives the Roman Church opportunity to repent.

The New Testament Church began in simplicity in 33 A.D. with a non-political message of love, based upon the teachings of Jesus Christ, who made no effort to attain political power by force. Then 1,260-years later (1293 A.D.) the Church came to another interesting turning point. Who but God could have sovereignly engineered such events? It was as if the Roman Church came to a crossroad, and God tested their hearts to see what type of kingdom they wanted to have.

Pope Nicolas IV died in 1292. There was, actually, no pope at all in 1293, because the cardinals from the Orsini family and the Colonna family could not agree upon his successor. Chamberlin records on pages 79, 80,

“The casual conversation became more animated as the cardinals retailed the legends of Peter, some perhaps with concealed scorn, others with genuine conviction. Then Malabranca said loudly, ‘In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, I elect brother Peter of Morone.

“It seemed a fantastic idea, an almost miraculous demonstration of the doctrine that, ultimately, it was the Holy Ghost who guided the decision of the conclave. In the past, that guidance had been manifested in perplexing ways, but here it seemed was a pure and unequivocal choice—a holy man already dedicated to the Holy Ghost, elected spontaneously.”

Pope Celestine V was nominated and elected by the cardinals on Aug. 29, 1294. Celestine was Peter Morone, a saintly old hermit-priest in his eighties, who lived in a cave on the top of a mountain. He wore rough clothing, modeling his life after John the Baptist. He was an ascetic who fasted every day except Sunday. When he was elected Pope, the cardinals actually had to search for him on the mountain top.

Celestine was probably the most unhappy pope who ever lived. He hated the luxury of the Vatican and had no ability or interest in ruling men like a monarch. The common people, however, were overjoyed, as Chamberlin tells us on page 88-84,

“The election of a simple good man, who was taken from his cave to mount the most splendid throne in Europe, had first astonished and then delighted Christians. It seemed as though they were witnessing the working out of those recent prophecies which foretold a new dispensation, when the meek would rule the mighty. Such a pope as Celestine might perhaps have found a place in the earlier centuries of the church, before the machinery of government dwarfed the men who had built it. In the thirteenth century he was an anachronism, as out of place as a first-century martyr would have been in the ruins of the Colosseum. . . .

“Celestine was in an impossible position. On one side were the men to whom he had given a new order and a new hope, exhorting him to begin the reign of love. On another were the tough and cynical papal bureaucrats who were either employing him for their own ends or were attempting to force his whole way of life into an alien mold.”

Then they were given opportunity to regain the simplicity and rule of love through Peter the Hermit, Pope Celestine V. But he was like a virgin in a brothel and lasted only 107 days as pope from Aug. 29 to Dec. 13, 1294. Chamberlin tells us on page 86,

“Pale, trembling, but for once resolute, the old man read a prepared deed of renunciation that he and Gaetani had drawn up. In the astonished silence that followed, he slowly descended the steps from the throne, and with his own hands stripped himself of the gorgeous robes that symbolized for him not power, but imprisonment. He left the chamber, then returned a few moments later, clad in his own familiar coarse garments.

“So ended the great experiment in love. The majority of the cardinals accepted the decision with relief, even if none were so unwise as Gaetani as to accuse the Holy Ghost of deceit. . . .

“Ten days after Celestine’s abdication, the conclave met and, within twenty-four hours, elected Benedict Gaetani. He took the name of Boniface VIII.”

Pope Boniface VIII: 1294-1303 A.D.

Boniface VIII came to power on Dec. 24, 1294 after the resignation of Celestine V on Dec. 13th. There could hardly have been a greater contrast between the two popes. After Celestine abdicated, the new Pope soon realized that he could never be as popular with the people as their beloved Peter the Hermit. He thought of Peter as a potential threat to his pontificate. Chamberlin says on page 89,

“Already rumors were circulating that he (Boniface) had brought pressure to bear upon Celestine [to abdicate], that he was a usurper. Now he learned that Celestine was at large, free to attract a rebellious following if he chose. He immediately gave orders that the old man was to be arrested and brought back to Rome, by force if need be. Celestine was warned and, with remarkable courage and agility for a man of his age, left Monte Morone in the depths of winter and began wandering in the remoter mountains, keeping just ahead of the papal officials seeking him. A monk who had remained in the cell to break the news to Boniface’s enraged and fearful soldiers paid for his devotion with his life.

“It was an ominous opening to a new pontificate, but after his initial reaction, Boniface was not unduly troubled. It could only be a question of time before somebody betrayed Celestine, and meanwhile there was his own coronation to be celebrated with all the pomp that was dear to him. Celestine had ridden to his coronation mounted on an ass—to some, an almost blasphemous symbolism. He, Boniface, would ride the Roman emperor he resembled, displaying himself for the adoration of the tumultuous Romans.”

Peter (Celestine) soon realized that he would have to leave Italy to avoid capture. He boarded a ship bound for Greece, but the ship was blown back by a storm and wrecked on the Italian shore. Celestine himself survived the shipwreck, but his enthusiastic admirers recognized him and soon proclaimed him to be the true pope. The troops thus found him and arrested him. When brought before Boniface, the hermit told him, “You have entered like a fox—you will reign like a lion—and you will die like a dog.” (p. 93)

“His last home was to be in the isolated fortress of Fumone, used in the past for the more important prisoners of state. The imprisonment was in fact an unwitting kindness, and when Celestine saw the tiny cell prepared for him, he rejoiced; it resembled closely enough his preferred type of home. . . .

“Certainly, Celestine did not long survive imprisonment, dying some ten months afterward to the expected accompaniment of rumors of murder. His bones were piously cherished, among them, the skull with a hole in it, together with the nail that was supposed to have been driven into it. It is wholly unlikely that Boniface would have employed such a crude means to destroy a man whom unaided nature would soon remove from the world. But the manufacture and cherishing of such a macabre story was evidence enough of the hatred which Pope Boniface VIII had inspired within a few months of his coronation.”

Later, on page 95 Chamberlin writes,

“Celestine’s tragedy had underlined the fact that a spiritual pope was an anomaly—the power to be exercised was the same type as that exercised by any other monarch.”

He says, in effect, that Celestine V was the first “good” pope in many centuries. Good popes were very rare. Popes like Boniface were more normal, except that he, more than his predecessors, ruled as if he were just another monarch. We cannot help but recall how the people in Israel demanded a king like the other nations, and God gave them Saul (1 Sam. 8:5). On page 94 Chamberlin writes,

“In domestic affairs, Boniface plunged straight into the shabbiest of papal crimes, simony and nepotism … In Boniface’s opinion, a pope could not, by definition, commit simony, for he was the church and the church was he and all that it possessed was at his ordering. Rome was a vast mouth gulping the gold of Europe. . . .”

Boniface was far from being the worst of the popes. It would take serious study to find the worst pope, simply because there are so many candidates. But he is important because of the time in which he lived. He came to power in 1294 and was a stark contrast to the simple Peter Morone (Celestine V) before him. This all began to occur 1260 years from the beginning of the Pentecostal Church in Acts 2. Thus we find in Boniface everything that John foretold in Rev. 13:5 of the great mouth speaking blasphemies.

With the year 1293 being the end of the first cycle of 1260 years, it is not surprising that this was also the first outward sign of the rise of the second beast described in the second half of Rev. 13. As we will soon show in more detail, this second beast is a dragon in sheep’s clothing (Rev. 13:11). It is a beast that pretends to establish the Kingdom of God, but is actually inspired by the “dragon.”

The difference between these two beasts is that the first was manifested in a lust for political dominance as the means to establish the Kingdom—the second is manifested in a more religious, spiritual way. Both methods are by the flesh, pretending to be by the Holy Spirit, but the methods differ to fit the times.

These two beasts are the spirits behind their earthly manifestation. The beasts are not exactly the same as the earthly manifestations. The beasts are the inspirational spirits behind them. Hence, the Roman Church is not the first beast, but is rather the tool by which that beast from the sea gains control over men on the earth.

Likewise, the second beast is another spirit that inspires other organizations and people to “establish the Kingdom” by the flesh in a different manner. The second spirit is the search for the “secret knowledge” denied to Adam and Eve in the Garden, by which man may become deified. The source of the occult is the Cabala, or Kabala, most notably, the Zohar h’ Sephir. (Book of Light). But before we study that second beast, we must address the other main 1260-year time cycle.

1260 Years from 529 to 1789 A.D.

The Emperor Justinian ruled from Constantinople. In 533 he re-conquered Africa that had been lost since the Vandals invaded a century earlier. Then his troops took Sicily and Italy from the Goths, completing their conquest by 540 A.D. According to The Catholic Encyclopedia under the heading, “Justinian I,”

“The most enduring work of Justinian was his codification of the laws.”

The Codex was produced in 529 A.D., the Digest (Pandectae) in 530, the Institutes (student manuals) the same year in 530, and finally a revision was published in 534 as the Corpus Juris Civilis with additions named “Authentic.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia says of this new law system,

“It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of this ‘Corpus.’ It is the basis of all canon law (ecclesia vivet romana) and the basis of civil law in every civilized country.”

Even American law was based upon Justinian’s Law Code. This is why all legal terms are expressed in Latin, even as all medical terms are expressed in Greek. The entire legal system of European nations during the Middle Ages was based upon Roman Law—as revised and condensed by Justinian and his Christian legal advisors.

Whether we say that Church law became the law of the Roman Empire or vice versa, one fact is clear: the Church of both halves of the Roman Empire were greatly influenced by the Roman legal system, instead of taking Hebrew biblical law as their foundation. To Roman law they added a few features of biblical law, but its foundation is Roman. In other words, it is based upon the Roman idea that the primary purpose of law is to mete out punishment in order to deter crime. The Hebrew concept makes that a secondary goal, for the purpose of biblical law was to mete out justice to restore the lawful order.

This shows that the Church was a legal extension of the fallen Roman Empire. Since Rome was the fourth (iron) beast of Daniel, the Church became the “little horn” that was its extension.

This extended Roman Empire began to be challenged by a new power in 1789-1794 with the French Revolution. The French Revolution was carried out by men who were well schooled in the occult—today we call it “New Age” teaching. The man at the top who planned it (or at least who put the plan into execution) was a former Jesuit professor at Inglestadt University in Bavaria. His name was Adam Weishaupt. He used his Jesuit training to shape what he called the “Illuminati,” which was Latin for “enlightened ones, or illuminated ones.”

The Jesuit order was founded by Ignatius Loyola in 1540. They functioned really as a military order to defend the Papacy. The order was built around absolute obedience and submission to the Pope—and, of course, to the General of the order. However, the fall of the city of Constantinople in 1453 had brought Greek culture to the West as streams of Greek-speaking refugees had been forced to flee that city. With them came manuscripts and a new knowledge of ancient Greece and Greek philosophy.

The idea of Democracy had been developed in ancient Athens, and this idea began to circulate in Europe. It was directly opposed to the idea that monarchs enjoyed a “divine right” to rule others. These democratic views also directly opposed the idea of a Papal right to rule others. Freedom of religion, then, began to be popularized.

And because the Scriptures were being published by the new printing presses throughout Europe, more and more people saw the discrepancies between the Bible and Roman Catholic teaching. A great many sincere Christians had believed that the Church was God’s organization on earth, regardless of its corruption. They regretted the corruption, but they merely regretted that God had chosen corrupt Popes and wealthy Cardinals to rule in the Church. Most did not question the Pope’s “divine right” to rule.

But all of these events were leading to a massive change in the Christian world. This change affected people in either of two ways. Some, like the Protestants, tried to set up a better, more democratic form of Christianity, ruled not by one man, but by elders or by the congregations themselves. Others, however, sought an alternative to Christianity itself, seeking “lost knowledge” from the distant past that might empower them to overthrow the Pope—and Christ Himself. This second path became the foundation of the modern occult, the new power of the second beast in Revelation 13.