Pope Francis Reflects on the Roman Empire

During a visit to Capitoline Hill on June 10, Pope Francis praised Rome as “a radiating center of civilization.”

Gazing over the ancient ruins of the Roman Forum alongside Roman Mayor Roberto Gualtieri, Francis recalled how the city of Rome “since its birth some 2,800 years ago has had a clear and continuing vocation of universality.” The pontiff then went on to note how the Roman Catholic Church must go beyond “Rome’s vocation to universality,” which was limited to the “Mediterranean world” and “make Christ, His action and His words of salvation known to all peoples.”

Pontifex maximus: Francis’s musings did not start with the coming of the Christian gospel to Rome some 2,000 years ago but with the founding of the Roman monarchy some 2,800 years ago.

According to legend, the Sabine king Numa Pompilius appointed Numa Marcius as the first pontifex maximus of Rome. As the chief high priest of the College of Pontiffs, Numa Marcius filled the same religious office that Pope Francis now occupies.

The fact that Francis’s Twitter handle is @Pontifex is a callback to his position as supreme pontiff, a title the bishops of Rome assumed sometime after Emperor Gratian refused the priesthood and made Catholicism the state religion.

Prophecy says: Biblical prophecy describes a church that holds significant political influence with “the kings of the earth.” It will have particular power over a political-military union of European nations described in symbolic terminology as a “beast” (Revelation 17).

This description can only apply to one church in modern history—a church that meddles in the affairs of nations and considers itself mother to all—a church that has repeatedly aligned with a political empire to exercise its power. “Rome’s vocation to universality” has indeed been a dominant trend for 2,800 years.

Learn more: For information about the history and prophecy of this unique institution, read our free book The Holy Roman Empire in Prophecy.