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Pagan Influence Upon Roman Catholicism

This article illustrates some of the possible influences of ancient pagan cults upon Roman Catholicism. For a more general look at pagan influence upon Christianity in general, please see Pagan Influence in Christianity.

As shown in the article mentioned above, many facets of the pagan religions of ancient Babylon found their way into Christian traditions, and some even persist in Protestant churches today. However, according to Alexander Hislop, in "The Two Babylons," these pagan practices have been more deeply engrained in Roman Catholicism throughout the centuries, with far more persistence. Revelation 17:5 refers to the "Mystery of Babylon the Great," and some Bible scholars even interpret this to be a reference to the Catholic church in the last days. We will use Hislop's writings examine Roman Catholicism in light of its origins.

The Church of Rome

Hislop considers the Church of Rome during the start of Catholicism and into the Dark Ages. The symbol of the Church of Rome became the woman with a cross in her left hand, and a cup in her right. It was said that "the whole world is her seat." During the Dark Ages, the Bible was sealed and unknown to the common man. People were forced to believe like the church believed. The priests reserved the right of teaching the faith, and the clergy sold dispositions of the true faith of Christianity. They practiced celibacy and priest craft, and held a mysterious power of dominion over the faith. Some did not even realize that they had simply adopted the pagan customs of the ancient mystery religions.

It is not difficult to see how some of the traditions of these ancient gods carried over into Christian Rome. Even in the first century, poems confused the story of the divine father, mother, and son with the story of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. In Japan, Spain, and India, there were legends of three-headed gods which some confused with the trinity of the Godhead. In many lands, mother-worship prevailed and was supported by citing Genesis 3:15 as proof that the mother would bruise the heel of Satan, and that she indeed had power over him. The Messiah is sometimes seen as only a mediator between the goddess and mankind, instead of as a savior.

Mystery

A primary example of the analogies drawn between the Babylonian mystery religions and Roman Catholicism is the practice of incorporating certain well-kept secrets that are available to only a select few. Rome insured that the common man was studiously kept in the dark, as did Babylon. Throughout the years, Catholicism has become known for a priesthood which seems to include only members of the clergy. By discouraging the reading of the Bible in the common language of the people, the church has also discouraged personal Bible study among its non-clergy members. This in turn has tended to teach the laypersons to become very dependent upon the clergy for Bible truths, and even for access to God. This hardly seems in step with the priesthood of the believer (1 Peter 2:5,9), where we are all encouraged to enter into the mind of God through His revealed Word.

Confession

Even the confessional had its roots in Babylon. All the people were required to make secret confessions to the priest in a prescribed form, if they were to be admitted, or initiated, into the "mysteries" of their religion. They were commanded to keep secret about these mysteries. Later, the Church of Rome began requiring the same type of confession for admission to the sacraments. Even the symbol of the Halo of Madonna was originated in Babylon as a disk symbol of the sun god.

Lady Day

In Pagan Rome, March 25th was a holiday celebrating the annunciation of the virgin, in honor of Cybele, the mother of the Babylonian messiah. Consequently, on the Pope's calendar, March 25th is Lady Day, the day to observe the miraculous conception and annunciation of the virgin Mary. Since the birthdays of the two respective messiahs is the same, one might expect that the day of their conception might be celebrated exactly nine months before their birth.

The Feast of the Nativity of St. John

The next point of interest on the Papal Calendar is June 24th, midsummer day, The Feast of the Nativity of St. John. In ancient Babylon, June 24th had commemorated the Festival of Tammuz, which celebrated his death and resurrection (during June, the month of Tammuz). Hislop writes, "When the papacy sent its emissaries over Europe, towards the end of the sixth century, to gather in the pagans into its fold, this festival was found in high favor in many countries... the famous advice of Pope Gregory I, that by all means they should meet the Pagans half-way, and so bring them into the Roman Church." So, to appease the Pagans, this festival was adopted by the church, but they did not want to use the name Tammuz, and there was no event of Christ's life to commemorate in June. Therefore, they contrived the scheme to celebrate this holiday as the birth of John the Baptist, since it conveniently coincided with a date six months prior to the celebration of the birth of Christ. Also, the name that the Babylonians used for Tammuz after he had been slain was Oannes. Conveniently, the name John, or Joannes, therefore satisfied both the Christians and the Pagans. In France and Ireland, this festival was celebrated with huge bonfires of purifying fire, across which children were thrown. This coincided with the Babylonian ritual in Jeremiah 32:35 which tells of the children being passed through the fire to the god Moloch.

Other Holy Days

The worship of Holy week with the sepulcher and the cross of fire coincide with the ancient festival of Sturn.

The date of October 7th on the Papal calendar is set apart to be observed in honor of St. Bacchus the Martyr, the martyr of the fire worshippers

October 9th is the festival of St. Dionysius (and St. Eleuther and St. Rustic). Dionysius was also known as St. Denys, the patron saint of Paris who was beheaded and is said to have carried his head in his hands to his grave. This festival was abolished in 1789, but somewhat revived in the 20th century. The origin of this Christian myth was also from Nimrod, who was said to have been beheaded and worshipped. This led to the famous statues in Rome of the man holding his head in his hands.

The Feast of the Assumption is observed by the Catholic church on August 15th to honor the virgin Mary as the omnipotent goddess who was perfect on earth and now resides in heaven. In Babylon, Bacchus rescued his mother in hell and took her to heaven. The Chinese also celebrate a feast in August, in honor of a mother. The Holy Virgin in ancient times was the wife of Pluto, the god of hell. She experienced the immaculate conception and was absolutely immaculate. In Rome, Madonna and her child are honored in the form of graven image statues.

Baptismal Regeneration

Catholicism holds that water baptism is an initiating ordinance and an absolute necessity for salvation. In Babylon, baptism was required before any instruction of the mysteries could be received. It provided the necessary washing and purifying. In Pagan Mexico, baptismal regeneration coincided with the worship of Wodan, the father of humanity, from whom evolved the name Wodansday (Wednesday). In Rome, a Pagan exorcism used water baptism with the use of salt, spittle, anointing oil, the sign of the cross, and holy water (consecrated salt water into which a burning torch was placed for purification). As part of excommunication, this phrase is used, "May the Holy Ghost who suffered for us in baptism curse him." Semaramis was known as a dove, a holy spirit incarnate, who passed through water when she was overcome by her enemies, and she took refuge in the water.

Works-Based Salvation

Another common doctrine shared by ancient Babylonians and Catholicism is the doctrine of justification by works. Merits and demerits are measured in the balance of God's justice by Anubis, the god of the scales, in ancient Babylon, and by St. Michael, the Archangel, in Catholicism. The priests were the judges, and the people had to pay to compensate for their demerits. This led to the "fear of the scales" in the Catholic Church, as well as to the practice of absolution by paying indulgences Like Moloch, the god of barbaric blood, in ancient Babylon, Greece, Rome, Egypt, Assyria, and Phonecia, Catholicism claimed that God was not satisfied without groans and sighs, lacerations of the flesh, tortures of the body, and penances including whippings and scourges. It was common practice for Catholics to crawl on their bare knees over sharp rocks in order to pay for their displeasing of God. This is one of the things that Martin Luther found so revolting about the Catholic Church. The Flagellants would even publicly scourge themselves. From the first to the third centuries, Christianity recognized this practice as purely Pagan.

Transubstantiation

In the Catholic Church, the Mass is heralded as the transubstantiation, or unbloody sacrifice, where small, thin, round wafers are eaten. The Babylonians worshipped Baal in the same way, using the small, thin, round wafers as a symbol of the sun god. The letters on the wafer, I.H.S., supposedly stand for Iesus Hominum Salvator, Jesus the Savior of Men, but in Babylon, they stood for Isis Horus, Seb, the mother, the child, and the father of the gods (the Egyptian trinity).

Extreme Unction

The practice of extreme unction, when death is visibly at the very door, originated in Babylon as an anointing for the last journey into the mysteries.

Purgatory

Purgatory and prayers for the dead have served both ancient Babylon and Catholicism as a special cleansing with a payment which was extorted to protect the payer from the purgation of fire.

Processions

Rome is famous for its long idol processions in which images are carried on men's shoulders, priests are adorned in gorgeous dresses, monks and nuns wear various habits, flying banners are displayed, and instrumental music is played. The same was true for Babylon. Also, the clothing and crowning of images in Rome originated with ancient Egypt, Nimrod, and the Queen of Troy.

Relic Worship

Rome uses rags or bones of saints to commemorate their deified heroes, as did Babylon. Both also artificially multiplied many fake relics for profit.

The Rosary

The rosary and prayer beads of Catholicism are pagan practices used in Mexico, Tibet, China, and Greece, as well as by Hindus and Pagan Rome. This began as the Rosary of the Sacred Heart in Babylon and Egypt, where the heart was a sacred symbol of Osiris when he was reborn and appeared as Harpocrates, or the infant divinity, born in the arms of his mother Isis. The rosary still resembles a human heart. Also, Cupid originated in Pompeii as a boyish divinity. He was a fair, full, fleshy boy in fine and sportive action, usually portrayed tossing back a heart. Thus the god of the heart, or the god of love was worshipped. The bow and arrows were used to identify him with his father, the mighty hunter Nimrod. Taking aim with his gold-tipped arrows at the hearts of mankind, he was immortalized. The ancients deified Venus and Cupid as the Catholics do Madonna and child.

Lamps

Lamps or wax candles of fire were used by the ancients in sun worship. The Catholic church uses candles at mass and at Easter, even in the daylight, although this practice was not started until the fourth century.

The Sign of the Cross

The Catholic sign of the cross originated in Babylon as a grand charm before prayer which drew the initial of the name Tammuz, Tau, or T. This same T can be found on the garments of Catholic priests. The Vestal Virgins of Pagan Rome and the nuns of Catholicism wore it on their necklaces. Bacchus wore a headband covered with crosses. The Buddhists wear them today. The cross was considered a divine tree, the tree of the gods, the tree of life and knowledge, and the product of whatever is good and desirable. In Catholicism, the cross is also called the tree of life, "hail, O cross, triumphant wood, true salvation of the world. . ." It is viewed as the only hope to increase righteousness and pardon offenses. Tammuz used the mistletoe tree to heal the sick. When Constantine came along, he declared popularized the X for Christ instead of the T for the cross, so again both Christians and pagans were satisfied.

The Sovereign Pontiff

Catholicism view the Pope as the sovereign pontiff, the representative of divinity on earth, the infallible, who's laws cannot be revoked, as was the case with Esther during the times of the Medes and the Persians. The pope is addressed as "Your Holiness," and his slipper is often kissed. He holds the keys of Janus and Cybele (on his robe), Peter's keys to heaven, although Peter was probably never in Rome. History has confused the Pagan statue of Jupiter with Peter. It is curious that the title of the high priest of Babylon was pronounced "Peter." He was the grand interpreter, Roma.

The College of Cardinals

Rome's College of Cardinals coincides with the Babylonian Council of Pontiffs and the Pagan College of Pontiffs. The word "Cardinal" comes from the word "cardo" which meant hinge. Janus, the god of doors and hinges, Patulcius and Clusius, was the opener and the shutter, controlling the door of heaven. Peter's chair, similar to that of Hercules and Mohammad, is where the ancients were carried in pomp and state in Egypt. Janus was the incarnation of Noah, half man and half fish. The Pontifical crosier corresponds to the magic of Nimrod.

The Priesthood

The celibacy of the catholic priesthood corresponds with the practice of Pagan Rome (Daniel 11:36).

The clerical tonsure, a circular haircut around the temples, used at ordination ceremonies was started by Peter of the Mystery Gods. Head shaving was a ritual in Egypt, India, and China.

Monks and nuns maintain perpetual virginity, and are often isolated in convents and monasteries. The same was true in Tibet, Japan, Scandinavia, Pagan Rome, and even with the American Indians, although most modern confinement is only temporary, while in ancient times, it was permanent.

Owen Weber 2009