The 1260-Year Prophecy

Seven times the Bible predicted a 1260-year period of papal supremacy (See the bottom of this page for the list). History proved those predictions to be correct.

Going back to the late 5th century, the rise of the bishop of Rome to supremacy in Western Europe hinged upon the elimination of the Arian kingdoms which controlled Rome. In A.D. 476 the last of the western Roman emperors had been deposed. But the rule of Italy had at that time passed into the hands of an Arian king, Odoacer, to whom the activities of the Catholic bishop were subjected. In 493 Odoacer was overthrown. But his conqueror, Theodoric the Ostrogoth, was also an Arian. Catholic supremacy could never be realized while the Ostrogothic kingdom dominated Rome.

There was also one other major Arian kingdom to be dealt with. The Vandals had established themselves in Carthage and now controlled the Mediterranean. Their presence prevented Catholic supremacy.

In the year 533, the eastern emperor, Justinian, for the purpose of settling the religious question, issued a document recognizing the Catholic bishop in Rome as "head of all the Holy Churches." In the following year, he sent an army under the command of Belisarius, which quickly destroyed the Vandal kingdom. Belisarius then turned toward Rome and began the process of driving out the Ostrogoths.

Driven from their place, the Ostrogoths, under Witiges, set a seige upon the city in 537, which they maintained an entire year. When a second armed force arrived against them in 538, they could hold out no longer, and in March of that year they retreated. Although two years later they attempted to regain control of Rome, they were unsuccessful. With their withdrawal from the city in 538, their power in Rome had ended. (For documentation on these events see Thomas Hodgkin, Italy and Her Invaders, vol. 4, pp. 73-113, 210-252; and Charles Diehl, "Justinian," in Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 2, p. 15.)

The year 538, therefore, marks the first time since the end of the western imperial line that Rome was freed of Arian kings and the Catholic bishop held undisputed authority in the West. That year, therefore, represents the beginning of the 1260 years of papal supremacy.

"With the conquest of Rome by Belisarius, the history of the ancient city may be considered as terminating; and with his defence against Witiges commences the history of the middle ages." --George Finlay, Greece Under the Romans (Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1844), p. 295.

If the 1260 years began in 538, they must end in 1798. What happened in that year?

In February of 1798 the French general Berthier entered Rome, proclaimed a republic, and took the pope prisoner. The pope died in France shortly thereafter. Although a new pope was later elected, the papacy had lost its power. Its glory days were over; its supremacy had come to an end.

"Berthier advanced to the city by forced marches; summoned the castle of St. Angelo, allowing only four hours for its evacuation by the papal troops; the convicts were set at liberty; the gates of the city secured by the French; the pope, all the cardinals except three, and the whole people of Rome, made prisoners at discretion. . . . Shortly afterwards, Berthier made his triumphal entry into Rome; and a tree of liberty being planted on the capitol, . . . a proclamation was issued, declaring . . . a free and independent republic, under the special protection of the French army. A provisional government was acknowledged, as established by the sovereign people; and every other temporal authority emanating from the pope was suppressed, nor was he any longer to excercise any function." --John Adolphus, The History of France, Vol. 2 (London: George Kearsley, 1803), pp. 364, 365.

"The object of the French directory was the destruction of the pontifical government, as the irreconcilable enemy of the republic. . . . The aged pope [Pius VI] was summoned to surrender the temporal government; on his refusal, he was dragged from the altar. . . . His rings were torn from his fingers, and finally, after declaring the temporal power abolished, the victors carried the pope prisoner into Tuscany, whence he never returned (1798).... The territorial possessions of the clergy and monks were declared national property, and their former owners cast into prison. The papacy was extinct: not a vestige of its existence remained; and among all the Roman Catholic powers not a finger was stirred in its defence. The Eternal City had no longer prince or pontiff; its bishop was a dying captive in foreign lands; and the decree was already announced that no successor would be allowed in his place." --George Trevor, Rome: From the Fall of the Western Empire (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1868), pp. 439, 440.

"When, in 1797, Pope Pius VI fell grievously ill, Napoleon gave orders that in the event of his death no successor should be elected to his office, and that the Papacy should be discontinued. But the Pope recovered; the peace was soon broken; Berthier entered Rome on 10th February 1798, and proclaimed a Republic. The aged Pontiff refused to violate his oath by recognizing it, and was hurried from prison to prison into France. Broken with fatigue and sorrows, he died . . . [in] August 1799, in the French fortress of Valence, aged 82 years. No wonder that half Europe thought Napoleon's veto would be obeyed, and that with the Pope the Papacy was dead." --Joseph Rickaby, "The Modern Papacy," in Lectures on the History of Religions, Vol. 3, [lecture 24, p. 1] (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1910).

The 1260 years foretold in prophecy were therefore A.D. 538-1798.

The 7 texts referring to the 1260-year period are as follows:
      Daniel 7:25
      Daniel 12:7
      Revelation 11:2
      Revelation 11:3
      Revelation 12:6
      Revelation 12:14
      Revelation 13:5