VICARIUS FILII DEI and 666
Response to a Challenge by Patrick Madrid of Envoy Magazine.



The Challenge

 

The following is an excerpt from Envoy Magazine's Volume 2.2 March/April 98 cover article, Pope Fiction, by Patrick Madrid. The highlighted text is of special interest, and the core of the subsequent discussion.
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Fiction 5
The pope is the beast spoken of in Revelation 13. Verse 1 says that he wears crowns and has "blasphemous names" written on his head. Verse 18 says that the numerical value of his name adds up to 666. The pope's official title in Latin is Vicarius Filii Dei (Vicar Son of God). If you add that up using Roman numerals, you get 666. The pope's tiara is emblazoned with this title, formed by diamonds and other jewels.boxes

I wasn't very good at math in school, but even I can follow this argument and run the numbers well enough to show it's bogus. (Besides, answering this question is apologetics at its most fun!) The charge that the pope is the beast of Revelation 13, because his title adds up to 666, is especially popular with Seventh-Day Adventists, but it's also widely repeated in some Protestant circles.

Vicarius Filii Dei does have the mathematical value of 666 in Latin. Here's how it works. Like many ancient languages, such as Greek and Hebrew, some Latin letters are also used for numbers: I = 1, V = 5, X = 10, L = 50, C = 100, D = 500 and M = 1000. The letter "u" is rendered as V and the letter "w," which doesn't exist in the Latin alphabet, would be rendered as VV. So this title would read in Latin as VICARIVS FILII DEI.

When calculating the value of a name or word, letters that don't have a numerical value are ignored. For example, drop out the no-value letters in my name, PATRICK MADRID, and you come up with 2102 — 1 (i) + 100 (c) + 1000 (m) + 500 (d) + 1 (i) + 500 (d) = 2102. By the way, this is one reason why, as far as I know, no one has yet accused me of being in league with the anti-Christ. The numbers just don't add up.

But in the case of VICARIVS FILII DEI, they do add up to 666. Isolate the numbers and this is what you get: 5 (v) + 1 (i) + 100 (c) + 1 (i) + 5 (V) + 1 (i) + 50 (L) + 1 (i) + 1 (i) + 500 (d) + 1 (i) = 666.

But there are problems with this. The first is that Vicarius Filii Dei, or "Vicar of the Son of God," is not now, nor has it ever been, a title of the bishop of Rome. The second problem is that virtually no one, including many unsuspecting lay Catholics, knows that this papal "title" is a fabrication. To an untrained ear, it sounds enough like one of the pope's real titles, Vicarius Christi (Vicar of Christ), to pass the test. Unfortunately for those who traffic in this particular piece of pope fiction, the real title, Vicarius Christi, adds up to only a measly 214, not the infernal 666. In fact, none of the pope's official titles, such as Servus Servorum Dei (Servant of the Servants of God), Pontifex Maximus (Supreme Pontiff), or Successor Petri (Successor of Peter), will add up to 666. That's why you never see any of them used by anti-Catholics.

If the person making this claim disputes these facts, ask him to furnish even one example of a papal decree, ecclesiastical letter, conciliar statement, or any other official Catholic document in which the pope calls himself or is referred to as the "Vicar of the Son of God." He won't be able to find one, because none exist. Vicarius Filii Dei has never been a title of the pope.

MAY 1, 2009: An official ecclesiastical letter of Pope Leo IX that uses Vicarius Filii Dei has been found!
JUNE 25, 2009:  Two official Apostolic Constitutions of Pope Paul VI that use Vicarius Filii Dei discovered!
See VICARIUS FILII DEI 666.

Poof! That part was easy, but some people, especially Seventh-Day Adventists, will ignore the evidence (or lack of it) and hold tenaciously to the notion that "Vicar of the Son of God" is an official papal title and therefore identifies the pope as the Beast of Revelation. What else can be said in response?

Using the same math exercise we did above, point out that the name of the woman who started the Seventh-Day Adventist church, Ellen Gould White, also adds up to 666 in Latin. (L + L + V +D + V + V + I = 666). Then ask if this proves that she is the Beast. I can assure you the answer won't be "yes." If the answer is "no," ask how this numbers game could possibly prove the pope or anyone else is the Beast. If you're answered with silence, it's a good bet that you've made some progress with the person.

The main fact to impress on someone who uses this argument is that a papal title had to be invented, one that could produce the magic number, in order to give this argument legs.

But we're not quite finished cutting it off at the knees. The charge that the pope is the Beast because he wears a crown, and Revelation 13:1 says the Beast wears crowns and has "blasphemous names" written on his head, must also be answered. This we can do more quickly.

Since about the year 708, many popes have worn at non-liturgical ceremonial events a special papal crown called a tiara, but the stylized beehive-shaped papal crown of three diadems that we have come to know as a tiara emerged only in the early 14th century. Although it was customary for tiaras to be encrusted with jewels and precious ornaments, there is no evidence — no statue, bust, painting, drawing or even written description of any of the many tiaras that were crafted — that any papal tiara ever had the name or title of a pope emblazoned on it.

 Wrong. An inscribed tiara of Pius IX was recently displayed in museum tours. See this page.

This is significant, because there have been medieval and Renaissance popes whose extravagant vanity prodded them to have lavishly ornamented, jewel-encrusted tiaras made for themselves. And we possess paintings and statues and other representations of them produced during their lifetimes that show these tiaras (we even possess some of the actual tiaras). If any popes in history would have been tempted to succumb to the bad taste of spelling out "Vicarius Filii Dei" in diamonds across the front of their tiaras, these men would have — but they didn't. No pope did. One particular anti-Catholic tract I've seen shows a plain metal tiara with Vicarius Filii Dei written in diamonds across it. But it was a drawing — not a photograph of a museum piece or even a photo of a painting of a tiara.

It had to be drawn, of course, because the "666 papal crown"— as with all the other pope fictions—has only ever existed in the minds of those who perpetuate this fantasy.

 

Challenge Accepted

The following was sent to Patrick Madrid via the Envoy Magazine web page email address at  envoymag@juno.com

23 September 98

An open letter to Mr. Patrick Madrid and Envoy Magazine,

In  your cover story Pope Fiction, in the March/April 1998 issue, you make the following statement under Fiction 5:

"If the person making this claim disputes these facts, ask him to furnish even one example of a papal decree, ecclesiastical letter, conciliar statement, or any other official Catholic document in which the pope calls himself or is referred to as the 'Vicar of the Son of God.' He won't be able to find one, because none exist. Vicarius Filii Dei has never been a title of the pope."

I accept your challenge.  I would like to offer my article at http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/666.htm in response. I personally have Lucius Ferraris' Prompta Bibliotheca, 1858 Paris edition, a Catholic theological encyclopedia, in which the title VICARIUS FILII DEI appears in volume 5, column 1828, under "PAPA" (Pope), "Article II." I have scanned the item and it appears in my article. Prompta Bibliotheca, according to the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, is "a veritable encyclopedia of religious knowledge" and "will ever remain a precious mine of information" and is quoted frequently as an authoritative Catholic source.

Vicarius Filii Dei also appeared repeatedly in Catholic canon law for hundreds of years (Anselm's, Cardinal Deusdedit's, and Gratian's Decretum also known as Concordia Discordantium Canonum), in quotes of the Donation of Constantine which contained the title and was considered authentic by the Church for many hundreds of years, having been cited by as many as 10 Popes as proof of their temporal authority. One 1879 edition of Corpus Juris Canonici containing VICARIUS FILII DEI is presented in my article.

In "Crossing The Threshold of Hope", by Pope John Paul II: First Chapter: "The Pope": A Scandal and a Mystery, page 3, you will find:

"The Pope is considered the man on earth who represents the Son of God, who "takes the place" of the Second Person of the omnipotent God of the Trinity".

If you directly translate "represents the Son of God" into Latin, the official language of the Church, you get "Vicarius Filii Dei".

In my article I present the above and other evidence to show conclusively that VICARIUS FILII DEI is not a fraud, and that it was indeed used by the Catholic Church for well over 600 years. In fairness, I have included a link to your article from mine so that my readers can see a Catholic viewpoint on the matter. If you are so sure that VICARIUS FILII DEI is a fabrication, then I challenge you, in reciprocal fairness, to include a link to my article from yours to show the historical evidence to your readership.

(I have posted this email to you on my initial web index page and will be happy to append any response of yours to it.)

Respectfully,

Michael Scheifler

 

The following reply was received on 26 September 98:

 26 September 98

Mr. Scheifler,

Thank you for your letter to the editor. It will be printed and answered by me in the pages of Envoy within the next two issues. The arguments you raise regarding the alleged official papal title, "vicarius filii dei," have been around a long time, much longer than your Web site has, especially among Seventh Day Adventists.

Which prompts me to inquire if you yourself are a Seventh Day Adventist. If not, what Protestant denomination do you belong to?

Patrick Madrid

This reply was sent on 27 September 98:

 27 September 98

Mr. Madrid,

I am indeed SDA, and wish to dispel the notion that Adventists ignore "the evidence" as you claim. You may still claim that it is not today, or ever was an officially recognized papal title, but since the association with 666 apparently first surfaced in 1612, it is no real surprise that Catholics are ignorant of the facts on this matter today, or that the title is denied by Catholic apologists.

The lack of official recognition today, however, does not in any way prove that Vicarius Filii Dei is a fantasy or fabrication concocted by Protestantism. The documented evidence I present shows beyond any doubt that Vicarius Filii Dei is not, as your article suggests, merely a groundless anti-Catholic invention. On the contrary, it has a very long history of use by the Catholic Church, having appeared in print in Catholic Canon Law, a respected Catholic encyclopedia, and Catholic newspapers. Those are the hard facts, which the Adventists at least, choose not to ignore.

I look forward to your published response in Envoy Magazine.

(This will be appended to my open letter to you on my web page.)

Respectfully,

Michael Scheifler

Mr. Madrid's published response appears in the Sept/Oct 98 edition of his Envoy Magazine, the text of which he emailed to me on 9 December 98 for posting here on my web page. It is presented below in its entirety.


Volume 2.5

Going the Distance

Patrick Madrid

More Vicarius Thrills

The numbers of the "beast" and the men who flub them.

Do we need any more proof that apologetics is fun? Well, here's more. When I wrote my article "Pope Fiction" (March/April 1998), I knew it might rile some people, and it did. Shortly after it appeared, I received a letter from a Mr. Allan Drisko. He didn't care for my piece, especially my refutation of the 666 nonsense sometimes used against the papacy. He wrote:


"In regard to Mr. Madrid's zealous efforts to eradicate 'papal fictions' from the cobwebs of our minds, I was not impressed. To begin with, the attempt to locate an ecclesiastical colossus headed by the papacy at Rome as demonstrated in the New Testament, is an exercise in futility. We Protestants never cease to be amazed at your tireless armchair theological gymnastics to persuade us in the opposite, though not unreasonable direction. If the Lord Jesus Christ had intended to establish the supreme authority of Peter perpetuated in a dynastic line of popes who would enjoy absolute episcopal jurisdiction over the entire world, all logic demands that He would have categorically and intentionally informed his followers in no uncertain terms! But He did not. Other sacred offices of the church are set forth in Holy Writ, yet strange silence prevails with regard to that which is supposedly the highest of them all! The silence of the inspired writers in omitting to mention such a high office is equivalent to Napoleon's biographer failing to use the title of emperor.

"Now Mr. Madrid takes great glee in swinging the wrecking ball at those who would entertain the thought that the pope fits the description of the beast in Revelation 13. May I say that the allusions to Catholicism in the book of Revelation are quite intriguing, and many have concluded what Mr. Madrid rejects, but certainly not without reason. Besides, we are told that wisdom is needed here: 'Let him that has understanding count the number. . . for it is the number of a man; and his number is 666.' I noticed no attempt whatsoever on the part of the author to display any understanding in offering an alternative explanation. Hence it is obvious he is only interested in bashing a popular Protestant position and is content to congratulate himself for doing so. Mr. Madrid triumphantly concludes that the title Vicarius Filii Dei is not now, nor has it ever been, a title of the bishops of Rome, and insinuates that Protestants are merely dumb bunnies pulling this 'rabbit' out of a hat. Unfortunately, the author is not being entirely forthright with his readers. He says, 'If the person making this claim dispute these facts, let him produce. . . any official Catholic document in which the pope calls himself or is referred to as, "Vicar of the Son of God" . . . none exist.' Drum roll please.

"In the early collection of canon law, the Decretum of Gratian, first published in 1148, we read, (Latin) 'Beatus Petrus in terris vicarious Filii Dei videtur esse consitutus.' Translated into English, it means, "Blessed Peter is seen to have been constituted vicar of the Son of God on earth." Furthermore, in the revised Corpus of Canon (sic), published by order of Pope Gregory XIII, it was to be corrected by, 'the plenitude of apostolic power,' so that it is, 'entirely freed from faults.' Therein we find the same statement as above. And I go on, when Lucius Ferraris wrote, Prompta Bibliotheca in 1755, he gave under the article 'Papa,' the title, Vicarius Filii Dei, and cited the revised canon law as his authority. When his work was revised and published in Rome in 1890, the document and aforementioned title were retained! Moreover, the Catholic Encyclopedia says his work, 'will ever remain a precious mine of information' (1913, vol. 6, p.48).

"In conclusion, a subscriber to Our Sunday Visitor, a Catholic weekly periodical, wrote a letter to the editor, wherein he asked, 'What are the letters supposed to be in the pope's crown, and what do they signify, if anything?' The answer given was, 'The letters inscribed on the pope's mitre are these: Vicarius Filii Dei, which is Latin for, Vicar of the Son of God' (April 18, 1915, Vol. 3, Number 51, p. 3)."

Some weeks later, Mr. Drisko sent me a follow-up letter:


"I wrote to you a couple of months ago in regard to your inaccurate article relating to papal fictions. I thought perhaps you might drop me a line as to where it was I erred, or maybe print a response in your letters section. . . neither of which you chose to do, and I quite understand why. You were wrong and you would look like a fool."

Clearly, Mr. Drisko was expecting to pull out the history books and have himself a wonderful time, but I'm going to have to disappoint him. As I'll show in a moment, there's a lot less to his argument than meets the eye. But first, I should point out that Mr. Drisko was not completely on the level with me in his first e-mail.

He plagiarized a significant chunk of his argument, word for word, from The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, a book written by a Seventh Day Adventist named Uriah Smith. Evidently, he didn't think I'd be familiar with the book, and thought he could get away with passing off Mr. Smith's work as his own.

Not long after receiving Mr. Drisko's letters, I received an e-mail from Michael Scheifler, and Adventist apologist and creator of the Bible Light Homepage. Note the striking similarity between Mr. Scheifler's arguments, and those of Mr. Drisko:


"In your cover story, 'Pope Fiction'" he writes, ". . . you issue a challenge for the critics of Catholicism to furnish one example of an official Catholic document in which the pope is referred to as Vicarius Filii Dei. I accept your challenge.

"I personally have Lucius Ferraris' Prompta Bibliotheca, 1858 Paris edition, a Catholic theological encyclopedia, in which the title Vicarius Filii Dei appears in volume 5, column 1828, under 'Papa,' article 2. I have scanned the item and it appears in an article on my Bible Light web site. Prompta Bibliotheca, according to the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, is 'a veritable encyclopedia of religious knowledge,' and 'will ever remain a precious mine of information' and is quoted frequently as an authoritative Catholic source.

"Vicarius Filii Dei also appeared repeatedly in Catholic canon law for hundreds of years (Anselm's, Cardinal Deusdedit's, and Gratian's Decretum, also known as Concordia Discordantium Canonum), in quotes of the Donation of Constantine, which contained the title and was considered authentic by the Church for many hundreds of years, having been cited by as many as 10 popes as proof of their temporal authority. One 1879 edition of Corpus Juris Canonici containing Vicarius Filii Dei is presented in my article.

"In Crossing the Threshold of Hope, by Pope John Paul II, in the first chapter, page 3, you will find that, 'The pope is considered the man on earth who represents the Son of God, who "takes the place" of the Second Person of the omnipotent God of the Trinity.' If you directly translate 'represents the Son of God' into Latin, the official language of the Church, you get Vicarius Filii Dei.

"I am a Seventh Day Adventist, and wish to dispel the notion that Adventists ignore 'the evidence' as you claim. You may still claim that it is not today, or ever was an officially recognized papal title, but since the association with 666 apparently first surfaced in 1612, it is no real surprise that Catholics are ignorant of the facts on this matter today, or that the title is denied by Catholic apologists.

"The lack of official recognition today, however, does not in any way prove that Vicarius Filii Dei is a fantasy or fabrication concocted by Protestantism. The documented evidence I present shows beyond any doubt that Vicarius Filii Dei is not, as your article suggests, merely a groundless anti-Catholic invention. On the contrary, it has a very long history of use by the Catholic Church, having appeared in print in the Catholic Canon Law, a respected Catholic encyclopedia and Catholic newspapers. Those are the hard facts, which the Adventists, at least, choose not to ignore."

Hard facts? Mmmm, . . . no. I don't think so. But I will say this much for Mr. Scheifler: He obviously thought about this matter long and hard before coming up with the wrong answer. In reality, the "hard facts" indicate that Mr. Scheifler also seems to have plagiarized from the same book out of which Mr. Drisko took his arguments. Perhaps Seventh Day Adventists have only a single anti-Catholic source book to filch from. In any case, at least Mr. Scheifler, unlike Mr. Drisko, had the good taste not to copy Uriah Smith word for word. Even so, the remarkable similarity between his "essay" and the corresponding section in Mr. Uriah Smith's book is unmistakable — the kind of similarity that would get him into hot water, perhaps even expelled, if he tried something like this in a university setting.

But enough. With that unpleasantness aside, I'll now respond to the arguments raised in these letters, most of which (thanks to Mr. Drisko and Mr. Scheifler's, ahem. . . borrowing from a common source) are shared by all three writers.

1. First, Mr. Drisko remarks about me that, "[I]t is obvious he is only interested in bashing a popular Protestant position and is content to congratulate himself for doing so." How ironic! If anyone is "bashing," isn't it the Seventh-Day Adventists? After all, they are the ones who conjured up the bogus Vicarius Filii Dei canard in the first place to attack the Catholic Church.* My article responded to this charge. Mr. Drisko's equating this with "bashing" is astonishing.

2. Mr. Drisko claims that if Jesus meant to found the papacy, "all logic demands that He would have categorically and intentionally informed his followers in no uncertain terms!" Very well. Let's apply this same principle to the Trinity. If Jesus meant for Christians to believe in the Trinity (the most fundamental tenet of the Christian Faith), logic demands that he would have categorically and intentionally informed his followers in no uncertain terms. Perhaps Mr. Drisko could show us in Scripture where, "in no uncertain terms," Jesus Christ teaches that God exists in three coequal, co-eternal, consubstantial persons. Obviously, He nowhere does this. The Trinity doctrine is certainly scriptural, but any systematic biblical defense of it must be assembled from many verses. So, if even as bedrock a doctrine as the Trinity is neither mentioned by name nor categorically explained "in no uncertain terms" in Scripture, it's inconsistent and incorrect to demand the same of the papacy.

Mr. Drisko also argues that "the attempt to locate an ecclesiastical colossus headed by the papacy at Rome as demonstrated in the New Testament, is an exercise in futility." Here I agree with him, but not for the reason he might think.

He's right. We shouldn't (and don't) expect to find the full-blown, developed papacy, colossal or otherwise, in the New Testament. Why not? Because the New Testament shows us a picture of the primitive Church, the Church as it was in its infancy, the Church in "mustard seed" form. And Christ Himself promised that His Church, "The Kingdom of God," is an organic entity, one that would grow and develop until it became tree-like.

The mustard seed bears no resemblance whatsoever to its mature form. Surely Mr. Drisko must recognize this and its parallel with the Church (and the papacy). So while it would indeed be futile to attempt to find a fully developed papacy in the pages of the New Testament, it is equally futile for Mr. Drisko to claim that this somehow undermines the Catholic position on the papacy. It doesn't.

3. Both Mr. Drisko and Mr. Scheifler cite the Decretum of Gratian and the Corpus of Canon Law as evidence that Vicarius Filii Dei is contained in "official" Catholic documents. What Mr. Drisko doesn't seem to realize is that those sections of the Decretum and the Corpus he cites are actually from the Donation of Constantine, a famous forgery (anyone familiar with medieval Church history could have told him that). Obviously, a forged document is not an "official Catholic document," even though it may have been regarded by many as authentic.

Mr. Drisko and Mr. Scheifler should have read "Pope Fiction" more carefully, for they seem to have entirely missed the point here. My claim centered on the twin facts that Vicarius Filii Dei is not an official papal title and that it is never used as such in official Church documents — not forged documents, not civil documents, not unofficial documents. Since these two are so fond of quoting the Catholic Encyclopedia when it suits them, I should point out that they didn't bother to quote from the "Pope: Primacy of Honour: Titles and Insignia" article in the same 1913 Encyclopedia. Actually, they wouldn't have been able to quote from it because, under the section of "official titles of the pope," the phrase "Vicarius Filii Dei" is nowhere to be found. But we shouldn't be surprised that this escapes the notice of these two men. It seems they relied heavily (and in Mr. Drisko's case, entirely) on the flawed "evidence" contained in Mr. Smith's book, without bothering to check the accuracy of his charges.

The fact that the Donation of Constantine was wrongly assumed to be legitimate is irrelevant. What makes the Donation even more irrelevant to this issue is that even if it were not a forgery, it still wouldn't qualify as an official Catholic document. At best, it would have been an official state document, emanating from the Roman imperial government. That's because whoever forged it purported to be the Emperor Constantine, decreeing a series of land grants and various other temporal advantages to the bishop of Rome. So, unfortunately for Mr. Drisko and Mr. Scheifler's argument, the forged Donation of Constantine cannot qualify, on two counts: A) it's bogus and B) even if it weren't, it would only be a civil document.

4. Next, both Mr. Drisko and Mr. Scheifler cite Lucius Ferraris' Prompta Bibliotheca as further evidence that Vicarius Filii Dei is an official title of the pope. But here again, both men seem to be lost in a maze of historical details they don't understand.

The section of Prompta Bibliotheca Mr. Scheifler refers to is also a quote from the Donation of Constantine forgery. Naturally, Fr. Ferraris, a Franciscan ecclesiastical historian, could have been considerably more careful in his use of sources, given the fact that for fully 300 years before he compiled the Prompta Bibliotheca, it was widely known that the Donation of Constantine was a forgery. But again, his injudicious inclusion of the forgery hardly constitutes evidence of Vicarius Filii Dei being used as an official title of the pope. In fact, regarding Ferraris' scholarship, the Catholic Encyclopedia passage Scheifler and Drisko quote incompletely reads in full, "This supplement serves to keep up to date the work of Ferraris, which will ever remain a precious mine of information, although it is sometimes possible to reproach the author with laxism." His use of the Donation of Constantine is certainly one such instance. Not surprisingly, Mr. Scheifler and Mr. Drisko both failed to include the italicized portion of this Encyclopedia quote. Why? Because it undercuts their argument, and they apparently don't wish the unsuspecting reader to know that.

5. Mr. Drisko offers a quote from a 1915 edition of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper, to the effect that the papal mitre is inscribed with diamonds with the title Vicarius Filii Dei. I contacted Robert Lockwood, the president of Our Sunday Visitor, about this. He had personally gone through the OSV archives and reported that he had found no evidence that that this quote ever appeared in any issue of the paper. Evidently, it had been removed from the archive. The error on the part of a newspaper staffer (and let's remember, the Catholic Church does not claim infallibility for journalists) was caught only after it had slipped into print, but the editor was obviously concerned about the incorrect answer being perpetuated, so he expunged that issue from the archives.

Not surprisingly, those who perpetuate the Vicarius Filii Dei myth never mention the several strong disavowals of this issue made by Our Sunday Visitor newspaper over the years. For example, in the August 3, 1941 issue, a reader posed this question: "A pamphlet has come to me entitled Mark of the Beast. It identifies the pope with the mark (ie. 666) referred to in Revelation 13:16-18."

The editor responded: "The question you ask has been answered many times, although not in recent years, in this paper. If we have recourse to the best biblical scholars or exegetes, we find them applying the text from Revelations to Nero, the archpersecutor of Christianity in the first century. To give color to their accusation, enemies of the Church publicize something that is not at all true, and that is that the pope's tiara is inscribed with the words 'VICARIUS FILII DEI,' and that if the letters in that title were translated into Roman numerals, the sum would equal 666. As a matter of fact, the tiara of the pope bears no inscription whatsoever."

Robert Lockwood has written a letter on behalf of Our Sunday Visitor explaining that the 1915 remark regarding the alleged inscription on the pope's mitre was an unintentional and unfortunate error that should not be used as "evidence" to support the Vicarius Filii Dei argument. A copy of this letter is being sent to the Seventh-Day Adventist headquarters, demanding that they stop using this episode as some sort of "proof" to prop up their argument. Let's hope that honesty and a desire to know the truth will compel Seventh-Day Adventists to stop using the illegitimate OSV quote.

So, if the very best our Adventist friends can do is point to an alleged passage from a Catholic newspaper printed nearly a century ago, this demonstrates further the fact that Vicarius Filii Dei is not an official title of the pope. If it were, why would Adventists have to go through such gyrations to find an example of it? If it were an official papal title, examples would be strewn everywhere (as are occurrences of Vicarius Christi, Servus Servorum Dei, etc.). In spite of his strenuous efforts at historical sleuthing, the "evidence" Mr. Drisko present is hardly the smoking gun he imagines it to be.

6. Finally, Mr. Scheifler claims that the phrase "represents the Son of God," quoted from Pope John Paul II's Crossing the Threshold of Hope, if translated directly into Latin, comes out to Vicarius Filii Dei.

Alas, if only Mr. Scheifler's Latin were as good as his imagination. In fact, the phrase "Represents the Son of God," translated directly into Latin, yields "Filium Dei Repraesentat, not Vicarius Filii Dei. Oh well. It should suffice to point out that "represents" is a verb. "Vicar" is a noun. But let's not belabor the obvious.

To sum up, the errors in both Mr. Scheifler's and Mr. Drisko's letters are based on three fundamentally flawed premises. The first is that the Latin form of Vicar of the Son of God is a title (not an actual title, of course, but a made-up one), and the Book of Revelation identifies the number of the Beast as a name, not a title (Rev. 13:17-18). So all this talk about titles is irrelevant anyway.

Second, they erroneously assume that simply because the pope has been called Vicarius Filii Dei, or described in a roundabout way as such, that it must necessarily be an official title of the pope. Think about that. Office workers often refer to their supervisor as "the boss." While that's an accurate description of him, it's nevertheless not his official title. You might also refer to him as "the Big Cheese," or "the Big Kahuna." While these may be apt descriptions of the individual, they're nevertheless not official titles. Similarly, the pope can indeed be described as the Vicar of the Son of God, for that is exactly what he is, yet this is not an official title.

In my article I stated that Vicarius Filii Dei has never been an official title of the pope. I didn't claim that no one in the 2,000-year history of the Church has ever described him in such a way.

I am at fault, though, for not having been more precise when I wrote, "If the person making this claim disputes these facts, let him produce. . . any official Catholic document in which the pope calls himself or is referred to as, 'Vicar of the Son of God.'" I assumed the reader would understand that the mere fact that if a pope had been described as the vicar of the Son of God, which, as I mentioned, is a theologically accurate description, that would not be the same as an example of an official title. If I had left out the phrase "referred to as," I could have saved Mr. Drisko and Mr. Scheifler all their trouble. Mea culpa. (By the way, that adds up to 1150.)

But back to the matter at hand. The third fatal flaw in the Seventh-Day Adventist argument is its arbitrary selection of the Latin "title" Vicarius Filii Dei. Why not use a real title of the pope? I listed several in my original article (eg. Servus Servorum Dei, Pontifex Maximus and Successor Petri). The reason our Adventist friends neglect to mention, much less deal with, these actual papal titles is because they refute their claim. None adds up to 666, the number they so badly want to pin on the pope.

And another question: Why do Seventh-Day Adventists and other papal critics insist on using a Latin phrase (ie. Vicarius Filii Dei) to arrive at 666, when Revelation was written, not in Latin, but in Greek? The numeric identification of the Beast as "666" in Revelation is tied to the values of Greek letters, not Latin ones. Adventists like Mr. Scheifler ignore this basic fact for an obvious reason: The Greek form of Vicarius Filii Dei doesn't add up to 666.

Notice too that Mr. Drisko and Mr. Scheifler ignored the fact that the name of Ellen Gould White, the founder of their religion (Seventh-Day Adventism), adds up to 666 in Latin. The same is true of Martin Luther and of other figures they hold dear. Allow me to demonstrate how this technique works:

First we begin with a title. Since he started the ball rolling, let's assign one to Allan Drisko. How about, Drisko Vicar of Scheifler? Translate that into Latin, and we have Drisko Vicarius Scheifleri which produces a hefty 760. Not quite 666. So let's make up another title for him: Plagiarist of the Error of Scheifler. But in the true spirit of Seventh Day Adventist scholarship, let's get a little bit more creative:

I ran the numbers on MICHAEL SCHEIFLER. In Latin that comes to 1302 — way too much to get him into any biblical trouble. But then I noticed that 666 x 2 = 1332, a mere 30 away from double trouble! So then I made up a Latin title for Mr. Scheifler, to reflect his use of Mr. Smith's work: Scheifler Vicarius Smithi. That yields 1265, and since Mr. Scheifler can only claim half the credit for his work, we reduce that figure by half and get 632. So close, yet so far. Unfortunately, this tack seemed to lead nowhere, lucky for Mr. Schiefler. So I turned again to Mr. Drisko.

First, I converted ALLAN DRISKO into Greek and Hebrew (the two languages of the Bible). His name in Greek adds up to 1246, while the Hebrew gives us 634. When we put the two together (just as the Hebrew Old Testament was joined with the Greek New Testament) we get 1880. We divide this by three (the three persons of the Trinity being at the center of the Old and New Testaments) and get 626.6666666667.

The first number is an obvious hint as to our next action. 626 can also be understood as saying "6 to 6." So, keeping the Scriptures at the center of all our calculations (to keep Mr. Drisko happy), we count the number of books between the 6th book of the Protestant Old Testament (Joshua) to the 6th book of the New Testament (Romans). The number we get is 40, which is then added to our previous number. The result is a frightening 666.6666666667. Since 7 is the Biblical number indicating perfection or completion, we know we're finished with our calculations. So, it seems that Mr. Alan Drisko bears the number of the Beast not once, not twice, but four times over!

Needless to say, I'll be sending my findings to the Vatican.

Patrick Madrid

Editor-in-Chief, Envoy Magazine

www.envoymagazine.com

* As previously mentioned, the phrase Vicarius Filii Dei appeared in the Donation of Constantine, an 8th century document. Seventh-day Adventists formed as a denomination in the 19th century. There is no possible way that Adventists, or any Protestants for that matter, are responsible for inventing the title.

The following response was sent to Mr. Madrid via email on 13 December 98.

13 December 98    

Mr. Madrid,

It is exceedingly interesting that Our Sunday Visitor has no copy of the April 18th, 1915 edition of their own publication. Now either the quote from that issue is merely another false anti-Catholic fabrication, or it is genuine, and someone, perhaps a former editor as you suggest, is guilty of destroying the embarrassing evidence. As it so happens, I have a facsimile copy of that very article obtained from an Adventist University. I have scanned it and just posted the image in my article on 666 at http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/666.htm - it might even be possible to provide a facsimile copy of the entire missing edition to Mr. Lockwood and Our Sunday Visitor, so that their archive can be more complete. But interestingly enough, that was not the only issue of OSV that acknowledged the veracity of Vicarius Filii Dei as a papal title, the Nov 15, 1914 edition did as well. A scanned copy of this is also available in the above article.

It really does not matter how many subsequent retractions or denials Our Sunday Visitor may have published over the years and Mr. Lockwood's letter of protest to Adventist Headquarters will have no effect at all, because he cannot himself prove that article to be in error. That barn door is already open, and no mere verbal denial will close it. There is, and was, really only one way for the Catholic Church to really prove this issue one way or another, and that remains to produce all the papal tiaras in its vaults and allow close up inspection of every single one of them. But, dare I suggest first, that even if such a tiara ever existed, (and I believe it did) as claimed in OSV, it has surely met with precisely the same fate as you propose for the archival copy of the April 18th, 1915 edition of Our Sunday Visitor? Lets face it, the Roman Catholic Church would obviously never let it see the light of day, or admit that it ever existed.

You know, it is totally irrelevant to this discussion who you think you can make the number 666 fit, Ellen White or otherwise. The issue I have raised with you is whether or not Vicarius Filii Dei is purely a fabrication as you maintained. I take special note of these admissions on your part:

"In my article I stated that Vicarius Filii Dei has never been an official title of the pope. I didn't claim that no one in the 2,000-year history of the Church has ever described him in such a way."

But you did know it had been used repeatedly by the Catholic Church, which you chose not to inform your readers about, and that rather glaring omission is the issue at hand. You left your readers in ignorance of pertinent facts, facts you very effectively admit having, since you claim to be quite familiar with Uriah Smith's book Daniel and Revelation.

"Second, they erroneously assume that simply because the pope has been called Vicarius Filii Dei, ... " 

From this, you now apparently will concede that the phrase Vicarius Filii Dei, in point of fact, has been used by Catholics themselves to refer to the Pope. That in my opinion, is the very nub of this discussion.

The phrase was discovered in Catholic Canon Law, in quotes of the Donation of Constantine, which the Catholic Church trumpeted loudly for hundreds of years as absolutely genuine. Knowing this, how can you  seriously continue to assert that anti-Catholics have "conjured up the bogus Vicarius Filii Dei canard"? I maintain that every single time a Pope quoted the Donation of Constantine as proof of his temporal authority, or the Donation was quoted as genuine in Canon Law, this effectively constituted an acknowledgment that the phrase Vicarius Filii Dei was also considered to be authentic, and this situation existed for well over 600 years.

Were the Donation not such a stupendously famous fraud, it too might have gone the way of the pope's alleged inscribed tiara and the April 18th, 1915 edition of Our Sunday Visitor, and simply disappeared from Catholic archives after the discovery that Vicarius Filii Dei added up to 666. But circumstances prevented subterfuge in this instance, and the Roman Catholic Church is now stuck with the embarrassing legacy of temporal papal authority being asserted for hundreds of years on the basis of a fraudulent document, probably of the Church's own making. How ironic that in the process of trying to assert papal authority, they are also permanently branded by their own hand with Vicarius Filii Dei and 666. What poetic justice!

You ask:

"Why do Seventh-Day Adventists and other papal critics insist on using a Latin phrase (ie. Vicarius Filii Dei) to arrive at 666, when Revelation was written, not in Latin, but in Greek?"

Shall we let Uriah Smith answer that question. From page 619 of Daniel and Revelation:

    "It has been argued that the title of the popes should be reckoned according to the Greek gematria, since John wrote in Greek, but since the title appears in Latin, and Latin is the official language of the Church of Rome and the language of its adopted Bible, the Vulgate, such a procedure would destroy the numerical value of that title in its own language. It would seem reasonable that a Latin title should exhibit its Latin numerical values rather than Greek values."

Adventists and others latch on to Vicarius Filii Dei precisely because of its long easily documented past use by the Catholic Church, which has Latin as its official language, and because it adds up to 666 in Roman Numerals without any manipulation.

As to your assertion that Represents the Son of God translates to Filium Dei Repraesentat, but not Vicarius Filii Dei, Pope John Paul II in his Crossing The Threshold of Hope says (emphasis is mine):

[pg. 3] The leader of the Catholic Church is defined by the faith as the Vicar of Jesus Christ (and is accepted as such by believers). The Pope is considered the man on earth who represents the Son of God, who "takes the place" of the Second Person of the omnipotent God of the Trinity.

[pg. 13] The Pope is not the only one who holds this title. With regard to the Church entrusted to him, each bishop is Vicarius Christi.

It is not difficult for everyone to see that the Pope himself equates the word Vicarius/Vicar to "represents" in the title Vicar of Jesus Christ / Vicarius Christi. This is something so obvious, that even without the papal support cited above, I am frankly astounded that you think you can legitimately claim Vicarius Filii Dei does not also mean "represents the Son of God".

I note with great interest that you have apparently not published all my remarks as originally emailed to you. To be specific, it was clearly my essay on 666 at http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/666.htm that I offered to you in response to your challenge, not just the few remarks I emailed you. By editing this out, you have intentionally made it difficult for your readers to find my essay. I challenge you again, in intellectual fairness and honesty, to place a hyperlink to my 666 essay on your internet editions of Pope Fiction and More Vicarius Thrills, and publish the address in your magazine, so that your readers can easily view all the documented historical evidence I have about Vicarius Filii Dei for themselves.

As to charges of plagiarism, which by the way, have absolutely no bearing what-so-ever on the facts in this matter, I will happily append the relevant portions of Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith to this discussion on my web site. Let the reader be the judge.

Sincerely,

Michael Scheifler

Pope Fiction - The Book

Patrick Madrid has recently published a book also titled Pope Fiction, which developed from his Envoy Magazine Article. Chapter 6 is devoted to Vicarius Filii Dei and 666. It begins on page 89 and runs 10 pages. Much of the chapter repeats what he presents above, but in his book Patrick makes the following significant concession:
"Now, it's true that over the course of the last two thousand years of Catholic history, a few examples exist of popes being described as the vicar of the Son of God, and some of these mentions appear in documents that are rightly called "official". But we are not claiming here that popes have not been, at one time or another, described that way — this is not at issue. Rather, the issue is that Vicarius Filii Dei Dei has never been a name or an official title of the pope." (Pope Fiction, pg. 92)

But this use by Catholics was precisely the original issue, the point of this entire discussion. Note that this represents a reversal, and an acknowledgment that his previous challenge, issued in Envoy Magazine, was successfully met. That original challenge is repeated here for the purpose of comparison:

"If the person making this claim disputes these facts, ask him to furnish even one example of a papal decree, ecclesiastical letter, conciliar statement, or any other official Catholic document in which the pope calls himself or is referred to as the 'Vicar of the Son of God.' He won't be able to find one, because none exist. Vicarius Filii Dei has never been a title of the pope." (Envoy Magazine, March/April 1998 issue)

Now in the book, this is cleverly revised as follows:

"If the person making this claim disputes these facts, ask him to furnish an example of the alleged title, Vicarius Filii Dei, being used officially by a pope. You won't encounter papal decrees, conciliar statements, or other authentic, official Catholic documents in which the pope calls himself the 'Vicar of the Son of God.' Why? Because no such examples exist. Vicarius Filii Dei has never been an official title of the pope." (Pope Fiction, pg. 91)

So in his book Pope Fiction, Patrick Madrid admits that the phrase Vicarius Filii Dei (Vicar of the Son of God) has in fact appeared in print even in "official" Catholic documents, something he originally denied. This admission completely and totally validates the application of Vicarius Filii Dei, and hence the number 666, to the papacy!

But then, Patrick revises and narrows his rules to only consider usage of Vicarius Filii Dei by a Pope as valid, and then only in an "authentic" document. (Where is it written that Patrick sets the ground rules for this?) This revision is crafted to specifically exclude the whole of Catholic Canon Law, and all similar references to Vicarius Filii Dei (i.e. Prompta Bibliotheca) that are quotes of the Donation of Constantine, because the Donation is now known to be fraudulent (not "authentic") and is therefore unacceptable by his new carefully narrowed rules:

... Anyone familiar with medieval Church history will recognize the Donation as one of the better known examples of a forged ecclesiastical document and, as such, cannot by any stretch of semantics be regarded as an "official Catholic document." (Pope Fiction, pg. 94)

The elephant in the room he so conveniently overlooks, is the fact that the Donation of Constantine was considered to be an absolutely genuine document by the Roman Catholic Church for well over 600 years, which is why it was repeatedly quoted in Catholic Canon Law in the first place, in order to bolster papal authority. Despite an apparent unwillingness of Patrick Madrid to face this fact squarely, the discerning reader of Pope Fiction will still see that Vicarius Filii Dei is not a "fabrication" as he claims. History testifies clearly that it appeared in print in Catholic documents repeatedly for many centuries, even being applied by Catholics themselves to the papacy, and so "cannot by any stretch of semantics be regarded as" an Adventist "fabrication". Vicarius Filii Dei is simply not an anti-Catholic invention or fantasy, rather it is an established historical FACT. Consequently, the application of Vicarius Filii Dei and 666 to the papacy stands vindicated, and unimpeached by Patrick Madrid's Pope Fiction.

Patrick Madrid's Pope Fiction is published by Basilica Press of San Diego, copyright 1999, ISBN 0-9642610-0-6.

Pope Fiction - The TV Series

The Audio of the Pope Fiction Series of 16 Programs is available online at EWTN

Listen to the entire program on Antichrist (#6) at EWTN

The subject of Vicarius Filii Dei and 666 was one of the topics for the Pope Fiction TV program broadcast on October 7th, and again on October 10th, 2000. In it, Patrick Madrid again presents the same arguments he made in writing, which essentially boils down to: Vicarius Filii Dei is a fabrication, and was never an official papal title. However, he again admits that Vicarius Filii Dei did appear in Catholic Canon Law, Prompta Bibliotheca, and Our Sunday Visitor. That is the point! This historical evidence proves that Vicarius Filii Dei is NOT A FABRICATION by so-called anti-Catholics!

Patrick Madrid's Use of Strawman Arguments

Strawman Argument #1

A "strawman" is a specious or false issue or point which is attributed to one's opponent in a debate, and is easily refuted. The intent of a strawman argument is to deceptively demonstrate that the opponent's position is quite preposterous, and has no basis in truth. It does not actually address the opponent's true position on an argument, but misrepresents it, in order to make it appear easy to demolish. Note the following examples of this tactic used by Patrick Madrid in his Pope Fiction TV program on Vicarius Filii Dei:

... and they claim also that the Pope's tiara or that, that a, crown, the metal crown that Popes have worn for about the last thousand years, has written across the front of it in jewels, 666, or in some other variations of this Pope fiction, that it is written out Vicarius Filii Dei, which adds up to 666.

Patrick wants you to believe that anti-Catholics claim that Popes wore a tiara with the actual number 666 on it in jewels. Can anything be more absurd than this? What Pope would ever do this? None surely. I have to ask, can Patrick Madrid furnish any evidence that Seventh-day Adventists, or any Protestants, have ever made this claim? I dare say he cannot. The intent of the misrepresentation, or strawman, is to make the Vicarius Filii Dei claim look equally preposterous, however, it is quite plausible that a Pope might very well wear a tiara with that phrase, not knowing that it added up to 666. That Our Sunday Visitor in the early 20th century could claim Vicarius Filii Dei was indeed on the papal tiara, demonstrates this possibility.

Strawman Argument #2

In attempting to refute Uriah Smith's book Daniel and the Revelation, Patrick states the following:

Mr. Smith, clearly, had a great time with the history books trying to find a lot of examples of Vicarius Filii Dei. Unfortunately we have to disappoint him and those who bind to this line of reasoning. For one thing, those examples of Vicarius Filii Dei that are are often cited from the Decretum and the Corpus of Canon Law are actually drawn from the so-called Donation of Constantine, which was a famous forgery. And if those who are familiar with medieval history happen to glance into this they will immediately recognize the Donation as a forgery of an ecclesiastical document. So, that document, as such, cannot be by any stretch of the imagination be regarded as an official Catholic document.

Patrick now knowingly reveals, for the education of his audience, the fact that Vicarius Filii Dei, appearing in Catholic Canon Law, actually originated in the Donation of Constantine, a forgery, to the apparent utter disappointment and frustration of the sadly ignorant Seventh-day Adventists. This is another subtle misrepresentation of the facts by Patrick. I quote from Daniel and Revelation:

   In recent years, the validity of this title has been questioned, but historical evidence remains that this arrogated title has served to support the authority of the popes in building up their vast temporal supremacy during the heyday of Romanism in medieval times, and in maintaining their spiritual authority to this day.
   The particular title Vicarius Filii Dei appeared as early as 752-774 in a document historically known as the "Donation of Constantine." Though this document was later proved to have been written by someone else and signed with the name of Constantine the Great to give it the weight of his authority—a practice not uncommon in medieval times—yet this so-called Donation of Constantine was used as valid by at least nine of the popes over a period of seven centuries or more in establishing the spiritual and temporal supremacy of the bishops of Rome. ... The document employing the title was confirmed by a church council, says Binius, a high Roman Catholic dignitary of Cologne, quoted by Labbe and Cossart. [49] It was incorporated in Roman Catholic canon law by Gratian, and when this last-named work was revised and published, with endorsement by Pope Gregory XIII, the title was retained.— Daniel and Revelation, 1944 revised edition, pages 621-622 (See also below).

Adventists were quite well aware that the Donation was a forgery, as stated above. The facts are that the Donation of Constantine was considered quite genuine for over 700 years, and during that period Vicarius Filii Dei would not have been denied as a papal title by anyone. It might very well have appeared on a papal mitre or tiara, until the association with 666 was recognized, after which the tiara(s) would have been modified or destroyed. That today's Catholic apologists do not want to own up to this historic, documented and authentic title today, simply does not invalidate or disqualify it from consideration.

Why not use the official legitimate papal titles in tracts on 666?

The real title, Vicarius Christi, adds up only to a measly 214, not the infernal 666. If fact none of the Pope's official titles, such as Servus Servorum Dei, which means Servant of the Servants of God, or Pontifex Maximus, which means Supreme Pontiff, or Successor Petri, which means Successor of Peter, none of those titles add up to 666. And that's why you never see any of the Pope's legitimate titles being used by anti-Catholics in their propaganda. So you won't see Servus Servorum Dei in a tract written against the Papacy. Why? Because those titles do not add up to 666.

First, let me point out that Vicarius Christi, a title that is officially recognized, is equivalent in meaning to the word antichrist, as vicarius and anti both can mean a substitute, as my article on 666 demonstrates. Next, dare I suggest that recent official lists of papal titles have been carefully screened to avoid any that add up to 666? Since Patrick admits that Vicarius Filii Dei is perfectly accurate, and theologically correct, dare I also suggest that the only reason any Catholic would reject its legitimacy as a title is only because it does add up to 666.

Vicarius Filii Dei is NOT listed as an official title in the Catholic Encyclopedia

... so those who have trawled carefully through the classic Catholic Encyclopedia and other documents looking for examples of this, they are going to be disappointed because Vicarius Filii Dei, although is does appear in some of those, a, forged documents, they can't be regarded as authentic. Now there are some who will push this point, who don't bother to read in the very same encyclopedia article, that they sometimes get information about Father Ferraris' Prompt Bibliotheca. In the very same encyclopedia we have the article called "The Pope, Primacy of Honor, Titles and Insignia. And under that subsection where it gets into the official titles of the Pope, the phrase Vicarius Filii Dei is nowhere to be found. It isn't now, it has never been, an official title of the Pope. But we shouldn't be surprised that this fact escapes the notice of some people who write books and tracts and articles and fill web sites with this kind of argument. Many people make this charge against the papacy without really ever bothering to check the facts.

My, how sloppy we anti-Catholics are for not reading and accepting at face value the facts about papal titles in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia. Let me point out that Vicarius Filii Dei and its sum of 666 was apparently first revealed in 1612 by the rector of Berlin, Andreas Helwig [or Helwich] (1572-1643) in his Antichristus Romanus. That's 300 years the Catholic Church had to discover that Vicarius Filii Dei was not something it wanted to lay claim to. So the fact that the title is not listed by the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia three hundred years after its association with 666 comes as no particular surprise to anyone. However, some Catholics were still claiming the title in the 20th century, as evidenced by Our Sunday Visitor. But, as Patrick Madrid discovered after contacting OSV, their archival copy of the April 18th, 1915 edition had mysteriously disappeared, something Patrick actually defends:

Most Amazing Of All - If You Need To, Destroy The Evidence!

... evidently it had been removed from the archives by, perhaps the editor, or who knows, and that the error on the part of this staffer who allowed this argument to slip into the paper was caught only after it had slipped into print. Now we have to remember that the Catholic Church does not claim infallibility for journalists. So obviously concerned about the blunder being perpetuated, the editor expunged that issue from the archives. Now this is a, not surprising in that the Catholic Church doesn't teach, and doesn't hold that this Vicarius Filii Dei title is a title of the Pope, so it was important that Our Sunday Visitor make, take a step to try to remove that.  (This is said some 14 1/2 minutes into the program)

This is absolutely incredible! Patrick Madrid is actually defending dishonesty and subterfuge in the attempted eradication of documentary evidence as an important step!!!

Vicarius Filii Dei just might have appeared in, perhaps, dozens of official papal documents that over the last few centuries may have been destroyed by the Catholics under similar circumstances. Unlike Our Sunday Visitor, which was printed in the thousands of copies and widely distributed, preventing a successful eradication effort, ancient papal documents may have existed only in single copies, or only limited copies, making a successful cover-up much more likely. We may never know how frequently it was used "officially", because the fox is clearly in charge of the hen house!

Yes, Patrick, you are quite correct, we Protestants are not surprised by this, not surprised in the slightest!

CONCLUSION

Based on his pattern of  behavior regarding the issue of Vicarius Filii Dei, Patrick Madrid has demonstrated that he simply cannot be trusted to present the true facts on any of the Pope Fictions he addresses in his book or television series.

EWTN is airing Patrick Madrid's Pope Fiction series regularly. EWTN TV Schedule.

The following email was sent to Patrick Madrid on September 27, 2000:

Dear Patrick Madrid,

I note that you have begun "Pope Fiction" the TV series. I would like to inquire as to whether or not you have done a program on the papal title Vicarius Filii Dei, and if so, do you know what dates will it air on EWTN?

If you have not yet taped this program, but intend to, I would like to again offer the documentation on my Bible Light web site at http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/666.htm for your viewers to see for themselves that Vicarius Filii Dei is not an Adventist fabrication, as you claimed, because it appeared repeatedly in historical Catholic documents for hundreds of years, long before there were any Adventists, or any Protestants for that matter.

You have my permission to make that URL public on your TV program and Envoy web site. Included are facsimile copies of the Our Sunday Visitor articles, Prompta Bibliotheca and Catholic Canon Law.

Your viewers will surely appreciate having full access to both sides of this debate, assuming you are confident enough in your position to provide the URL of my article for your readers and viewers to see.

You may also wish to review my "Pope Fiction" article at http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/envoy.htm which you may also make public to your viewers and readers.

I look forward to seeing the topic of Vicarius Filii Dei addressed on your TV program, and I am sure my internet readers do as well.

I also would like to ask in advance, permission to publish any reply of yours on my web site. You have my permission to publish this email, should you choose to do so.

Michael Scheifler
Bible Light
http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch

AN OPEN LETTER TO PATRICK MADRID

May 7, 2009
Patrick Madrid,

I have just recently discovered that a letter of Pope Leo IX to Michael C´┐Żrularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, in 1054, contained Vicarius Filii Dei. Because of the subsequent schism in 1054, this letter has great historical significance and is well documented. In his letter, Leo IX cited a large portion of the Donation of Constantine, to include Vicarius Filii Dei. The reason that Leo provided the Greek Patriarch with the bulk of the text of the donation, was to officially notify him that Emperor Constantine had conferred a unique dignity, authority and primacy on the See of Peter. Leo IX assured the Patriarch that the donation was completely genuine, not a fable or old wives tale, so only the apostolic successor to Peter possessed that primacy and was the rightful head of all the Church. Details of this letter can be found on my website at http://biblelight.net/666.htm#OFFICIAL to include links to its full text available online.

I quote you:

"If the person making this claim disputes these facts, ask him to furnish an example of the alleged title, Vicarius Filii Dei, being used officially by a pope. You won't encounter papal decrees, conciliar statements, or other authentic, official Catholic documents in which the pope calls himself the 'Vicar of the Son of God.' Why? Because no such examples exist. Vicarius Filii Dei has never been an official title of the pope." (Pope Fiction, pg. 91)

As this letter of Pope Leo IX has an official status, as recognized even in the Catholic Encyclopedia, I suggest that the example you requested in your Pope Fiction has now been furnished to you. I invite your response, and will be happy to add your comments, if any, to our previous discussion at http://biblelight.net/envoy.htm to which this open email to you will be posted.

Michael
 

OFFICIAL PAPAL USE BY POPE PAUL VI DISCOVERED

June 25, 2009: Official papal use that authenticates the title has been discovered. Vicarius Filii Dei was used twice by Pope Paul VI in documents found on the Vatican's web site. They are Apostolic Constitutions, which are the highest form of official Papal decree in the Roman Catholic Church and are issued with binding legal authority. See http://biblelight.net/666.htm#OFFICIAL

2 August, 2009
An open email to Patrick Madrid and Karl Keating,

I quote both of you:

"If the person making this claim disputes these facts, ask him to furnish an example of the alleged title, Vicarius Filii Dei, being used officially by a pope. You won't encounter papal decrees, conciliar statements, or other authentic, official Catholic documents in which the pope calls himself the 'Vicar of the Son of God.' Why? Because no such examples exist. Vicarius Filii Dei has never been an official title of the pope." (Pope Fiction, by Patrick Madrid, 1999, pg. 91.)

"Vicarius Filii Dei never has been used as a title by any Pope." (Catholicism and Fundamentalism, by Karl Keating, 1988, pg 221.)

Pope Paul VI used the title twice, in 1965 and 1968, in Apostolic Constitutions, applying the title to himself, and in plural form to all Peter's successors. See http://biblelight.net/666.htm#OFFICIAL
I invite the two of you to respond to this papal use of the title, and I will also append your response to my web page.

Michael Scheifler
 

2012 — Patrick Madrid concedes use in official documents!

93. Subsequent to my article and no doubt in response to it, at least one industrious Seventh-Day Adventist apologist was able to locate examples of variants of the phrase Vicarius Filii Dei being used in certain official Church documents, such as Pope Paul VI's 1968 apostolic constitution Bafianae. I therefore stand corrected in my unduly exclusive assertion that "no" examples can be found of this phrase. Nonetheless, such counter-examples notwithstanding, the relatively rare instances of this usage not only do not rise to the level of being a formal title of the pope (remember that in the Catholic Encyclopedia's article on papal titles, Vicarius Filii Dei is conspicuously absent from the list), they do not vindicate the notion that this obscure and rarely used description of the pope's office equates with the "the name of the beast or the number of its name" (Revelation 13: 18).

Envoy for Christ: 25 Years as a Catholic Apologist, by Patrick Madrid, (2012-12-03), Servant Books, footnote 93.

The repeated use and application of this title, even by popes to themselves in official documents, is sufficient for the purpose of Bible prophecy. See the historical proof.


Extracts from the book
Daniel and the Revelation

by Uriah Smith.*

Page 128 ...

    Little Horn to "Speak Great Words Against the Most High."—This prophecy, too, has been unhappily fulfilled in the history of the pontiffs. They have sought, or at least have permitted to be applied to them, titles which would be hyperbolical and blasphemous if applied to an angel of God.

    Lucius Ferraris, in his Prompta Bibliotheca which the Catholic Encylopedia refers to as "a veritable encyclopedia of religious knowledge" and "a precious mine of information," declares, in its article on the pope, that "the pope is of so great dignity and so exalted that he is not a mere man, but as it


Page 129

were God, and the vicar of God. . . . The pope is of such lofty and supreme dignity that, properly speaking, he has not been established in any rank of dignity, but rather has been placed upon the very summit of all ranks of dignities. . . . The pope is called most holy because he is rightfully presumed to be such...

    "The pope alone is deservedly called by the name 'most holy,' because he alone is the vicar of Christ, who is the fountain and source and fullness of all holiness. . . . 'He is likewise the divine monarch and supreme emperor, and king of kings.' . . . Hence the pope is crowned with a triple crown, as king of heaven and of earth and of the lower regions. . . . Moreover the superiority and the power of the Roman Pontiff by no means pertain only to heavenly things, to earthly things, and to things under the earth, but are even over angels, than whom he is greater. . . . So that if it were possible that the angels might err in the faith, or might think contrary to the faith, they could be judged and excommunicated by the pope. . . . For he is of so great dignity and power that he forms one and the same tribunal with Christ. . . .

    "The pope is as it were God on earth, sole sovereign of the faithful of Christ, chief king of kings, having plenitude of power, to whom has been intrusted by the omnipotent God direction not only of the earthly but also of the heavenly kingdom. . . . The pope is of so great authority and power that he can modify, explain, or interpret even divine laws." [24]

[24] Translated from Lucius Ferraris, Prompta Bibliotheca, art, "Papa," II, Vol. VI, pp. 26-29.


Page 619 ...

    Verse 18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six.

    The Number of His Name.—The number of the beast, says the prophecy, "is the number of a man." If it is to be derived from a name or title, the natural conclusion would be that it must be the name or title of some particular or representative man. The most plausible expression we have seen suggested as containing the number of the beast, is one of the titles applied to the pope of Rome. That title is this: Vicarius Filii Dei, "Vicegerent of the Son of God." It is worthy of note that the Douay Version of the Bible has the following comment on Revelation 13: 18: "The numeral letters of his name shall make up this number." Taking the letters out of this title which are used as Roman numerals, we have V, 5; I, 1; C, 100; I, 1; U (formerly the same as V), 5; I, 1; L, 50; I, 1; I, 1; D, 500; I, 1. Adding these numbers together we have 666.

    It has been argued that the title of the popes should be reckoned according to the Greek gematria, since John wrote in Greek, but since the title appears in Latin, and Latin is the official language of the Church of Rome and the language of its adopted Bible, the Vulgate, such a procedure would destroy the numerical value of that title in its own language. It would seem reasonable that a Latin title should exhibit its Latin numerical values rather than Greek values.

    As to the practice of representing names by numbers we read: "It was a method practiced among the ancients, to denote names by numbers." [43]


[43] Matthew Henry, Commentary, Vol. III, p. 1065, note on Revelation 13: 18.


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    "Representing numbers by letters of the alphabet gave rise to a practice among the ancients of representing names also by numbers. Examples of this kind abound in the writings of heathens, Jews, and Christians." [44]

    "It was a method practiced among the ancients, to denote names by numbers: as the name of Thouth or the Egyptian Mercury was signified by the number 1218. . . . It hath been the usual method in all God's dispensations, for the Holy Spirit to accommodate His expressions to the customs, fashions, and manners of the several ages. since then this art and mystery of numbers was so much used among the ancients, it is less wonderful that the beast also should have his number, and his number is 666." [45]

    This title, Vicarius Filii Dei, or some equivalent form of it, has appeared so frequently in Roman Catholic literature and rituals for centuries, that it scarcely seems necessary to add other proof of its validity and importance. Some of the variations of the title are: Vicar of Christ, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Vicar of God. A quotation from the noted Cardinal Manning illustrates these various forms of the same title:

    "So in like manner they say now, 'See this Catholic Church, this Church of God, feeble and weak, rejected even by the very nations called Catholics. There is Catholic France, and Catholic Germany, and Catholic Italy, giving up this exploded figment of the temporal power of the Vicar of Jesus Christ,' And so, because the Church seems weak, and the Vicar of the Son of God is renewing the Passion of his Master upon earth, therefore we are scandalized, therefore we turn our faces from him." [46] (Italic ours.)

    Several other variations of this title are used elsewhere in the same book.

    On the importance of the pope's position as indicated by the title under consideration, or its equivalents, we quote from


[44] Adam Clarke, Commentary on the New Testament, Vol. II, p. 1025, note on Revelation 13: 18.
[45] Thomas Newton, Dissertations on the Prophecies, Vol. II, p. 298, 299.
[46] Cardinal Manning, The Temporal Power of the Year of the Vicar of Jesus Christ, pp. 140, 141.


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J. A. Wylie, in his comment on the Apology of Ennodius written in defense of Pope Symmachus:

    "We find the council [of Rome, A.D. 502 or 503] convoked by Theodoric demurring to investigate the charges alleged against Pope Symmachus, on the grounds set forth by his apologist Ennodius, which were, 'that the Pope, as God's Vicar, was the judge of all, and could himself be judged by no one.' 'In this apology,' remarks Mosheim, 'the reader will perceive that the foundations of that enormous power which the popes of Rome afterwards acquired were now laid.' " [47]

    In recent years, the validity of this title has been questioned, but historical evidence remains that this arrogated title has served to support the authority of the popes in building up their vast temporal supremacy during the heyday of Romanism in medieval times, and in maintaining their spiritual authority to this day.

    The particular title Vicarius Filii Dei appeared as early as 752-774 in a document historically known as the "Donation of Constantine." Though this document was later proved to have been written by someone else and signed with the name of Constantine the Great to give it the weight of his authority—a practice not uncommon in medieval times—yet this so-called Donation of Constantine was used as valid by at least nine of the popes over a period of seven centuries or more in establishing the spiritual and temporal supremacy of the bishops of Rome.

    The title itself was obviously an invention to designate the office of Peter as the first pope in harmony with the widely known claim of the Roman Catholic Church that the words of Jesus in Matthew 16: 18, 19, conferred upon Peter the first bishopric of the church—a view which Protestants have never allowed—and that this bishopric descended to his successors in the papal seat, as stated in the Donation of Constantine and maintained by the church to this day. [48]


[47] J. A. Wylie, The Papacy, pp. 35, 36.
[48] See Christopher Coleman, Constantine the Great and Christianity, p. 178.


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    The document employing the title was confirmed by a church council, says Binius, a high Roman Catholic dignitary of Cologne, quoted by Labbe and Cossart. [49] It was incorporated in Roman Catholic canon law by Gratian, and when this last-named work was revised and published, with endorsement by Pope Gregory XIII, the title was retained. [50] When Lucius Ferraris wrote his elaborate theological work about 1755, he gave under the article "Papa" the title Vicarius Filii Dei, and cited the revised canon law as his authority. Again when Ferraris's work was revised and enlarged, and published in Rome in 1890, the document and title were still retained. [51]

    Of Ferraris's theological work just cited, the Catholic Encylopedia says that it "will ever remain a precious mine of information." [52]

    We quote herewith from the Latin of the Donation of Constantine, confirmed by a church council, incorporated in Roman Catholic canon law, and cited by Ferraris:

"Ut sicut Beatus Petrus in terris Vicarius Filii Dei fuit constitutus, ita et Pontifices eius successores in terris principatus postestatem amplius, quam terrenae imperialis nostrae serenitatis mansuetudo habere videtur." [53]

Christopher Coleman translates this paragraph from the Canon law of Gratian as follows:

    "As the blessed Peter is seen to have been constituted Vicar of the Son of God on the earth, so the pontiffs who are the representatives of that same chief of the apostles, should obtain from us and our empire the power of a supremacy greater than the clemency of our earthy imperial serenity." [54]

    A freer translation by Edwin Lee Johnson, professor of Latin and Greek, Vanderbilt University, reads: "Just as the


[49] P. Labbe and G. Cossart, Sacrosancta Concilia, Vol. 1, col. 1539-1541.
[50] Corpus Juris Canonici, Lyons, 1622.
[51] Lucius Ferraris, Prompta Bibliotheca (Rome 1890), Vol. VI, p. 43, col. 2.
[52] Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Vol. VI, p. 49, art., "Ferraris."
[53] Lucius Ferraris, Prompta Bibliotheca (Edition of 1890), art., "Papa," II, Vol. VI, p. 43.
[54] Christopher B. Coleman, The Treatise of Lorenzo Valla on the Donation of Constantine, p. 13.


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Blessed Peter was appointed on earth vicar of the Son of God, so also it seems that the Pontiffs, his successors, hold on earth the power of the chief rule rather than (that) His Excellency, His Imperial Serene Highness on earth, (should hold it)."


*The above extracts are from the book Daniel and the Revelation, by Uriah Smith, Revised Edition, Southern Publishing Association, Copyright 1944, published by Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington DC 20039-0555, Hagerstown, MD 21740.   NOTE: Uriah Smith died in 1903. The 1944 revised edition includes updated text and information added by the publisher, which Smith did not author or refer to, which is not found in his original work. This is mentioned in the Foreword.



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