Delivered in Concord Square the City of Athens, Greece – July 27th, 1866
In our previous address we explained the dragon-like nature of the pseudo-Christ Pope, another of our enemies, by means of the image of the earthly beast and the confirmation of history. After we clearly indicated that this our enemy is a grand hypocrite, a great false teacher, a false prophet, an extreme egoist, vindictive, always breathing fire and murder against us because we faithfully bear the Truth which censures him; after we showed him to be the image of the anti-Christ Mohammed and a supporter of the ungodly Turks, we concluded with practical observations regarding the Eastern Question and our national policy.
Today’s speech as we promised will dwell again on the same adversary depicted in the sacred Book of Revelation by means of another wonderful image, that of “the great harlot that sitteth upon many waters.” For one image alone is not enough to represent the wicked nature of our adversary. It is obvious that the better we become orientated with the nature of our enemies, the more alert we shall become for the solution of the great Eastern Question which concerns us; and we shall act wisely if we are well instructed in advance. Let us, therefore, also take into consideration the Biblical image of the “great harlot.”
In chapter seventeen of the sacred Book of Revelation, one of the seven angels who minister to the justice of God says to John: “Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great harlot that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” [Revelation 17:1-2].
The angel carries him away in spirit into the wilderness. And he sees a woman sitting upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication. And upon her forehead was a name written, “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth.” Continuing, St. John writes that he saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: And when he saw her, he wondered with great amazement.
The angel then said to St. John, “Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.” [Revelation 17:7]. There is nothing improper in supposing that we too were called by the angel to behold the great harlot, and that the infallible angel takes it upon himself to answer all our questions about her. We behold the woman sitting upon the scarlet beast, and we ask in wonder: O divine angel, tell us, what does this woman signify? This woman, responds the angel, signifies the great city that reigns over the kings of the earth: “And the woman which thou saweth is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” [Revelation 17:18].
If there were two such cities on earth, we could ask the angel which city the woman depicts. Since however, there is one and only such city on earth, called Rome, we assuredly learn from the angel of God that the great harlot depicts the Roman Church which admittedly reigns over the kings of earth. For the head of this Church is the Pope who bears the title of King of kings and deems himself worthy of ruling over the kings of earth. As we said elsewhere, the prophetic word of God by means of various images represents the same object from various perspectives. Thus the two-horned beast was employed to symbolize the head of the Latin Church. The great harlot whom we saw here sitting upon the beast of blasphemy was employed to portray the whole of this Church which has denied the faith and obedience due to Christ, and has followed after Satan.
Now it follows from this confession of the angel that the children of the Roman Church as offspring of a harlot are to be considered illegitimate. He who says that he is the first-born son of this Church is actually admitting that he is the first-born son of the great harlot, and the disgraceful offspring of a disgraceful mother.
At this point I can foresee that many people will respond to this by slandering me. I anticipate this by giving a necessary defense right now. Now what is this calumny? they will reply. If, to wit, we insult the king of France and the whole French nation by calling them illegitimate and the disgraceful offspring of a shameful mother, we may be said to be abusing in this way our freedom and to be ungrateful to a benefactor and protective power. In giving a defense of these things, we say that the Greek nation, having convened here to hear the words of angels and divine teachings, has no insolent disposition whatever against anyone. Rather, as interpreters of the divine oracles, we insult no one by relating to our listeners that which we heard from the angel. Should it occur that they who call themselves sons of the shameful harlot be disgraced, they are the cause of their own disgrace. We love them to such a degree that we give them every opportunity to wash away the shame of their ignoble birth. We are willing to have them become reborn through the true Baptism of the Holy Orthodox Church, and to have them distinguished as sons of light and honorable children of an honorable mother. In affirming the truth, we do not offend anyone, but rather, enlighten persons by leading out of disgrace those who love honor.
Now if we do not teach and duly admonish the Roman Catholics, let them teach us the meaning of the divine oracles, and deliver us from deception, if they honor the truth. Christ told His disciples that He would give them speech and wisdom against which their adversaries could say nothing. If the Romanists have this wisdom and power of speech, it is evident that they are the genuine disciples of Christ, and that they have the truth. But if the Greek people have both of these virtues, and this fact compels our opponents to seal their lips, all of the West must be Christianized Hellenically, and be grateful to us for having been delivered from the deception which corrupts man’s soul. These are the things we have to give as an account, if anyone should slander us for being insolent to kings and nations, to whom we are actually most benevolently disposed according to Christian duty.
But I can forsee that the Papists will raise an objection against the interpretation of the words of the angel, and we must refute this also. Now what is this objection? It is that objection which the ardent defender of Roman deceit, Bossuet, employed while undertaking an exegesis of the Book of Revelation. He cast this objection against the Protestants who interpreted the harlot as being the Roman Church. According to this Roman objection, the angel in speaking of the harlot really does mean the city of Rome, but the pagan city, not the Papal one. Bossuet bases this opinion upon these two arguments: I) The angel calls the woman a harlot and not an adultress; 2) The angel calls the harlot woman Babylon, the name of a pagan city, and one which cannot be given to the Christian Church.
The first argument is so unsound that it is refuted by Bossuet himself, who, making a distinction between a harlot and an adultress, admits that Holy Scriptures calls the Church which sins against God a harlot. This is precisely what Isaiah affirms: ”How did the faithful city of Zion become a harlot full of judgment in which righteousness has fallen asleep and in which there are now murderers?” The weight of the second argument shall become very evident, once we set forth the reasons why the angel means Papal Rome by the harlot woman, and not pagan Rome.
The first reason is the witness of that wonderful angel who in the tenth chapter of the Book of Revelation appears descending from heaven holding the small open book. That angel said to St. John, after the latter had consumed the small open book: “Thou must prophesy again before many peoples and nations, and tongues, and kings.” According to these words the prophecy refers not to pagan Rome, when the world recognized only one Caesar; rather, it refers to Papal Rome, when the world recognizes many sovereigns. How is it possible that the angel speaking in the seventeenth chapter prophesy concerning pagan Rome, while the angel speaking in the tenth chapter refers the prophecy of the little book to many nations and many kings, i.e. to the era when Papal Rome succeeded the pagan city?
The above assertion is clearly confirmed also by the very words of the angel who explains to St. John the judgment of the great harlot who sits upon many waters with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication. It is impossible to say that these words refer to pagan Rome, for the following reasons:
1) Pagan Rome did not co-exist with kings committing fornication with her.
2) The harlot has indirect power and not direct power, being mighty by virtue of her admirers; when forsaken by them she can do nothing.
Pagan Rome, as we know, held direct sway over the whole world. The Rome of the Pope, however, wields indirect power, deriving her might from the kings who commit fornication with her. This is why while pagan Rome is depicted in Daniel by means of the most powerful and fierce beast which devours and tramples upon the whole earth, Papal Rome is here depicted by means of the harlot woman.
3) The harlot holds a cup full of abominations and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
The wine of fornication means false teaching, or rather, the mixture of truth with falsehood, bringing disastrous results to men’s minds. The prophet Isaiah bears witness to this, saying: “Woe to them who become drunk without wine.” Everyone knows that while pagan Rome was a polemical and conquering city, Papal Rome is a didactic city. Pagan Rome accepted and tolerated all doctrines with indifference; the city neither had nor propagated its own system of beliefs. Proof of this fact is found in the events related in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter eighteen:
“But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack upon Paul and brought him before the tribunal, saying, ‘This man is persuading men to worship God contrary to the law.’ But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, ‘If it were a matter of wrong-doing or vicious crime, I should have reason to bear with you, O Jews; but since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves; I refuse to be a judge of these things.’ And he drove them from the tribunal.”
As much as pagan Rome was indifferent to every doctrine, because it was a polemical and conquering state, so much is Papal Rome madly opposed to every teaching contrary to its own, as it is a didactic state. It is impossible, therefore, that the angel means that pagan Rome corrupted the minds of the inhabitants of earth with false teaching. The angel quite necessarily refers to Papal Rome which, by means of its improper dogmas, was confusing and disturbing all Europe. To this date the nations of Europe have been unable to sober up from their intoxication, while ignorant of where they are being led.
4) While the harlot appears to be gold outwardly, inwardly she is filthy and abominable.
This means that the city about which the angel speaks is a great hypocrite hiding its wickedness under the veil of hypocritical virtue. It is usually they who do not have immediate power within themselves, but rather derive their strength indirectly and through others, who become hypocritical and deceitful traitors. Pagan Rome, being powerful by itself, in no way practiced hypocrisy systematically as Papal Rome has done. The latter as of necessity dissembles piety and holiness in order to exert influence over both the nations and the kings.
5) The harlot has upon her forehead a name written, “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth.”
The name “Mystery” means something that is not what it appears to be, something unknown by those who are uninitiated. The Papal city of Rome is quite different from what it appears to be. Its nature is until this day unknown to so many nations and political leaders who are worshipping the vicar of the anti-Christ, and while drunk with the cup of fornication, they think they are hearing the teaching of Christ. The Roman Church is really a mystery to this day, for the most sensible king of Europe takes pride in being her first-born son. This sovereign unknowingly is calling himself the first-born son of the great harlot for whom he cares and protects lest he become an orphan of such a mother who, while seemingly honorable, is in truth disgraceful.
The name Babylon signifies a confusion of concepts and purposes effectuated by Rome’s false doctrine. It is, therefore, impossible that the names Mystery and Babylon the Great be brought to bear against pagan Rome which was neither a mystery nor did it carry out a systematic teaching of deception. Both these characteristics befit Papal Rome whose nature is still unknown, and which is the true cause of the intoxication prevailing all over civilized Europe.
6) The characteristics of the harlot are completely identical with those of the two-horned beast.
For example, the two-horned beast is hypocritical, for it seems to have the horns of a lamb, but within there lurks a dragon. The harlot too has the character of hypocrisy, for outwardly she appears to be gold, but inwardly she is full of abominations and filth. The beast is a mighty false teacher and false prophet, and it leads astray the inhabitants of the earth. The harlot by means of the wine of fornication, i.e. false teaching, makes the inhabitants of earth drunk and deceives them. The beast loves itself and speaks in such a way so as to kill those who do not worship it. The harlot becomes drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, for she is disgraced by them. Thus if the two-horned beast emerged out of the earth at the time when the seven-headed and ten-horned beast came out of the sea, this signifies the person of the Pope. The great harlot must as of necessity mean the Roman Church, Papal Rome, and not the pagan city.
If one were to add to the six reasons derived from the words of the second angel cited above the reason of that wonderful angel of the tenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, the reasons would then be seven in number. These arguments convince every rational man beyond the shadow of a doubt that the angel is pointing out in spirit Papal Rome, and not the pagan city, to St. John the Divine.
After this proof which utterly refutes the unsound sophistry of Bossuet, the Roman Church has no other argument but the following to cast at us: the angels of the Book of Revelation are not infallible as the Pope is who represents God Himself. The words of the angels are, therefore, invalid before the dogmas of the Pope. We, however, being unable to accept the teachings of both the Pope and the angels, have the right to choose between the contrary points of view. We prefer the words of the angels to those of the Popes, and we ask the angel to show us according to his promise the judgment of the great harlot whose significance and nature he has adequately clarified for us.
By judgment is meant the condemnation which a guilty person must suffer. What Judgment has the great harlot received from our just God for the wicked acts she dared to perpetrate? That is, the woman who committed fornication with the kings of earth, who corrupts men’s minds, who is drunk with the blood of the saints and of the martyrs of Jesus, in a word, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth, who is adorned with the gold of sin and injustice. The divine angel responds to this question with the following words: “And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast are ten kings. These shall hate the harlot, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.”
This means that the Roman Church was condemned to be hated by her admirers, to be abandoned by those who made her wealthy, to be disgraced by those who honored her, and finally, to be torn asunder and to be consumed in fire by those who protected and preserved her. This judgment of God’s justice began long ago; it is now being fulfilled before our eyes; and the time of its final execution is not far off.
The kings and the governments of Europe who formerly admired the Roman Church have hated the Roman Church, they have begun deserting her, taking away many revenues. The European powers are already seeking to denude the Papal Church of its regal robes and the embellishments of its worldly authority. They also are aspiring to devour the flesh of the Church, i.e. to take over the Papal sovereignty, while reassuring the Pope they will not interfere with his spiritual authority. But once the harlot loses her wealth and embellishments, once the European powers devour her flesh, there remains nothing in her but the disgust and the shame of her wicked nature. She is thus condemned to be consumed in fire, i.e. to be spurned and anathematized by all.
There was a time when the Popes used to consume kings and nations with the fire of anathema [i.e. excommunication] which they caused to descend from heaven before the sight of men. The day shall come, and it is already here, when both the nations and the political leaders shall consume the Pope and Papism with the fire of the true and righteous anathema. Today, the Roman Church is suffering the condemnation which the angel of God heralded against her. But we see that the judgment of the harlot woman is already being actualized upon Papal Rome and we are informed convincingly that Papal Rome, and not pagan Rome, is the great harlot who sits upon the beast of blasphemy, from whose cup the inhabitants of earth have become so inebriated that they know not what they do.
In part, we too drank of the potion of the harlot which corrupts men’s minds and we became drunk; this is why we do the things that drunkards do. However, we shall sober up and act prudently, if we enter the house of God and drink of the cup of divine wisdom. For, as is written:
Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her
She hath killed her victims; she hath mingled her wine;
she hath also furnished her table.
Who so is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth
understanding, she saith to him,
Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.
Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of
understanding. [Proverbs 9:1-6]
The House of the Wisdom of God is our Orthodox Church, founded upon the seven Christian virtues, upon the seven Sacraments (Mysteries), upon the seven Ecumenical Councils, as upon seven firm pillars. The slaughtered victims in this house are all the martyrs of the truth, they who lay down their own lives in order they might not defile the divine truth. The prepared table and the wine of the pitcher is the Bread of Life which lies upon the holy table, and the Blood of Christ which washes the faithful from every sin. The servants of Wisdom are the preachers and the teachers of the divine word, they who call the imprudent to come to the spring of wisdom and become wise by hearing the divine teachings of the Gospel.
Now think, on the one hand, of the great harlot sitting in pomp upon the heads of the beast of blasphemy, holding in her hand the cup which poisons men’s minds. By means of her sinful allurements, she leads astray and makes the inhabitants of earth drunk with wine which poisons their souls – this is the image of the Roman Church. On the other hand, think of the Temple of God which is founded upon seven unshaken pillars; think of the servants of God beckoning those who have gone astray and are imprudent people to enter the Temple and taste of the words of wisdom and eternal life – this is the image of our Orthodox Church which has been founded upon the rock against which the gates of hell shall not prevail.
Having understood and appreciated the meaning of these things, what is our obligation? It is obvious that we should spurn the harlot and her cup, and approach with faith to hear the teachings of our Holy Orthodox Church. Now that we have heard these teachings, we can sober up from the passion of intoxication, and we can see the way that leads us to the illustrious polis of Constantine [i.e. Constantinople]. Today, by having heard the teaching of the angel, we drank of the cup of God’s wisdom, and by being enlightened, we perceived the significance of the mystery of the harlot woman. On the basis of the other words of the angel, we shall also come to grasp the mystery of the beast which bears the harlot*. [* For a more elaborate account of the Roman Church as the apocalyptic “great harlot” see A. Makrakis’ Interpretation of the Book of Revelation, pp. 552 (1948).]