Increasingly boom rejection and cruelty against those who believe in Christ and his Catholic Church spreads. Defamation, slander, ridicule and vituperation; terrorism and persecution in various parts of the world, even with increasing frequency on the Internet; frontal attacks against the practice of Christianity paradoxically in the name of religious freedom.

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Talking with my evangelical friends about the “Whore of Babylon”

By José Miguel Arráiz

You can read it in SpanishEnglish and Portuguese.

La Ramera de BabiloniaWe reproduce excerpts of conversations between Catholics and Evangelicals from the book "Talking with my evangelical friends", very useful in helping our fellow Christians understand the Catholic faith.

Michael: Joseph, there is a topic that I would like to discuss with you, so I can hear your opinion.

Joseph: Tell me about it.

Michael: It is about the identity of the famous “Whore of Babylon” that is described in the book of Revelation. We have several brothers that think that it is the Catholic Church and I would like us to analyze their arguments.

Joseph: Of course, but what do you think about this?

Michael: I don’t really agree with them[1], but I don’t know the identity of the “Whore” either so I would like to know your opinion.

What do you think if we review what the Bible says about the Harlot and then you give me your opinion about this?

Joseph: Sure. Let’s do it. 

Michael: So let’s read what the Bible says[2]:

(Rev 17,1) “And there came one of the seven angels who had the seven vials and spoke with me, saying: Come, I will shew thee the condemnation of the great harlot, who sitteth upon many waters, (v.2) With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication. And they who inhabit the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her whoredom.

(v.3) And he took me away in spirit into the desert. And I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. (v.4) And the woman was clothed round about with purple and scarlet, and gilt with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of the abomination and filthiness of her fornication, (v.5) And on her forehead a name was written: A mystery: Babylon the great, the mother of the fornications and the abominations of the earth. (v.6) And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And I wondered, when I had seen her, with great admiration. 

(v.7) And the angel said to me: Why dost thou wonder? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman and of the beast which carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.  (v.8) The beast which thou sawest, was, and is not, and shall come up out of the bottomless pit and go into destruction. And the inhabitants on the earth (whose names are not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world) shall wonder, seeing the beast that was and is not. 

(v.9) And here is the understanding that hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, upon which the woman sitteth: and they are seven kings.  (v.10) Five are fallen, one is, and the other is not yet come: and when he is come, he must remain a short time. (v.11) And the beast which was and is not: the same also is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into destruction. (v.12) And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom: but shall receive power as kings, one hour after the beast. (v.13) These have one design: and their strength and power they shall deliver to the beast. (v.14) These shall fight with the Lamb. And the Lamb shall overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings: and they that are with him are called and elect and faithful.

(v.15) And he said to me: The waters which thou sawest, where the harlot sitteth, are peoples and nations and tongues.  (v.16) And the ten horns which thou sawest in the beast: These shall hate the harlot and shall make her desolate and naked and shall eat her flesh and shall burn her with fire. (v.17) For God hath given into their hearts to do that which pleaseth him: that they give their kingdom to the beast, till the words of God be fulfilled.  (v.18) And the woman which thou sawest is the great city which hath kingdom over the kings of the earth. 

(Rev 18,1)And after these things, I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power: and the earth was enlightened with his glory.  (v.2) And he cried out with a strong voice, saying: Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen: and is become the habitation of devils and the hold of every unclean spirit and the hold of every unclean and hateful bird.  (v.3) Because all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication: and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her; And the merchants of the earth have been made rich by the power of her delicacies.

(v.4) And I heard another voice from heaven, saying: Go out from her, my people; that you be not partakers of her sins and that you receive not of her plagues. (v.5) For her sins have reached unto heaven: and the Lord hath remembered her iniquities. (v.6) Render to her as she also hath rendered to you: and double unto her double, according to her works. In the cup wherein she hath mingled, mingle ye double unto her. (v.7) As much as she hath glorified herself and lived in delicacies, so much torment and sorrow give ye to her. Because she saith in her heart: I sit a queen and am no widow: and sorrow I shall not see. (v.8) Therefore, shall her plagues come in one day, death and mourning and famine. And she shall be burnt with the fire: because God is strong, who shall judge her. (v.9) And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived in delicacies with her, shall weep and bewail themselves over her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning; (v.10) Standing afar off for fear of her torments, saying: Alas! alas! that great city, Babylon, that mighty city: for in one hour is thy judgment come. (v.11) And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her: for no man shall buy their merchandise any more.  (v.12) Merchandise of gold and silver and precious stones: and of pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet: and all thyine wood: and all manner of vessels of ivory: and all manner of vessels of precious stone and of brass and of iron and of marble; (v.13) And cinnamon and odours and ointment and frankincense and wine and oil and fine flour and wheat and beasts and sheep and horses and chariots: and slaves and souls of men. (v.14) And the fruits of the desire of thy soul are departed from thee: and all fat and goodly things are perished from thee. And they shall find them no more at all. (v.15) The merchants of these things, who were made rich, shall stand afar off from her, for fear of her torments, weeping and mourning, (v.16) And saying: Alas! alas! that great city, which was clothed with fine linen and purple and scarlet and was gilt with gold and precious stones and pearls. (v.17) For in one hour are so great riches come to nought. And every shipmaster and all that sail into the lake, and mariners, and as many as work in the sea, stood afar off, (v.18) And cried, seeing the place of her burning, saying: What city is like to this great city? (v.19) And they cast dust upon their heads and cried, weeping and mourning, saying: Alas! alas! that great city, wherein all were made rich, that had ships at sea, by reason of her prices. For, in one hour she is made desolate. 

(v.20) Rejoice over her, thou heaven and ye holy apostles and prophets. For God hath judged your judgment on her. (v.21) And a mighty angel took up a stone, as it were a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying: With such violence as this, shall Babylon, that great city, be thrown down and shall be found no more at all. (v.22) And the voice of harpers and of musicians and of them that play on the pipe and on the trumpet shall no more be heard at all in thee: and no craftsman of any art whatsoever shall be found any more at all in thee: and the sound of the mill shall be heard no more at all in thee: (v.23) And the light of the lamp shall shine no more at all in thee: and the voice of the bridegroom and the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee. For thy merchants were the great men of the earth: for all nations have been deceived by thy enchantments. (v.24) And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all that were slain upon the earth.

(Rev 19,1)After these things, I heard as it were the voice of much people in heaven, saying: Alleluia. Salvation and glory and power is to our God.  (v.2) For true and just are his judgments, who hath judged the great harlot which corrupted the earth with her fornication and hath revenged the blood of his servants, at her hands. (v.3) And again they said: Alleluia. And her smoke ascendeth for ever and ever.”

Michael: Let’s now do a summary of the characteristics of the “Whore” according to what we just read:

FIRST: “She fornicates” with the kings of the earth and has sovereignty over them.

Because we just saw that it says: “With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication. And they who inhabit the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her whoredom” (Rev 17,2) by “which hath kingdom over the kings of the earth” (Rev 17,18)

SECOND: She is dressed in “purple” and “scarlet”.

About this it says: “the woman was clothed round about with purple and scarlet, and gilt with gold and precious stones and pearls” (Rev 17,4; and it says it again in Rev 18,16)

THIRD: She murders the saints and the prophets.

It says: “I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Rev 17,6) and then it also says: “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all that were slain upon the earth.” (Rev 18,24)

FOURTH: She sits upon “seven mountains”.

It says: “The seven heads are seven mountains, upon which the woman sitteth” (Rev 17,9)

FIFTH: She holds in her hand a chalice.

It also says: “having a golden cup in her hand, full of the abomination and filthiness of her fornication” (Rev 17,4)

Based on these characteristics, my brothers in the Church say that it refers to the Catholic Church. In the first place, because the whore is described as a powerful city that fornicates spiritually and rules over the kings of earth. The Vatican has had so much power throughout the years over the nations and governments, and now even helps them to maintain good diplomatic relations. Moreover, The Vatican is located in Rome, a city that rests on seven mountains[3]. On the other hand, the Whore is dressed in purple and scarlet, and these are the colors with which the Catholic clergy dresses. There is a reason why the phrase “cardinal purple” is used to refer to the cardinals. When it says that she murders martyrs and prophets, my friends tell me that it refers to the inquisition. Finally, as the chalice full of abominations, they see the great amount of gold chalices that the Catholic Church have, which are a main element in the mass.

What would you tell to my friends?

Joseph: First of all, we must have in mind that the people who hold these positions have great anti-catholic prejudices. Any argument, even if it is not so important, will serve to confirm anything to them that they have already decided to believe. Overcoming these prejudices is very difficult because they don’t think objectively and you can’t make it without the help of grace. Therefore, don’t be discouraged if the best arguments don’t make them come to reason.

Now, throughout history, the Christians have seen that this term can refer mainly to the pagan (non-Christian) Rome or to the apostate Jerusalem. There are arguments that support these interpretations, let’s see:

The Seven Mountains

Jerusalem, just like the pagan and ancient Rome, was a big city that settled on seven mountains[4]. Paradoxically, the same argument that your friends use to point the Vatican City as the “Harlot” is the same that works for discarding it, because it doesn’t rest on any of the mountains of Rome. We must remember that The Vatican is located to the west of the Tiber River, while the seven mountains of Rome are located to the east. Both Jerusalem and the pagan Rome were large cities, unlike The Vatican, which is the smallest country in the world (The Vatican City has an extension of 0.439 km. It is so small that the St. Peter’s Basilica is a 7% of its surface, the basilica and the square of St. Peter occupy a 20% of the territory)[5]. And I say all this assuming that the term of the seven mountains has to be interpreted literally, because so many exegetes think that it doesn’t have to be interpreted in this way.

She is dressed in purple and scarlet

Regarding the colors with which she appears literally dressed, we also have multiple interpretations, because the exegetes also think that this doesn’t refer to literal colors, but has a symbolic meaning.Red represents the blood of the persecutions of the first Christians by the pagan Rome, or of the saints and prophets murdered by apostate Jerusalem, and in the case of the purple, the magnificence of the triumphant Empire upon which the Harlot would ride.

But if we see the colors literally, we have to again discard the Catholic Church, because the predominant color of the Catholic Clergy is white and it only uses other colors in different periods of liturgical time (the green is used in ordinary time, the white at Christmas and Easter, the purple at Easter and during the four Sundays of Advent and red during the celebrations of the Passion, including Good Friday, and in the days that commemorate the deaths of the martyrs, the apostles and the evangelists). Paradoxically, the Catholic clergy never used the purple and scarlet colors in any liturgical period at the same time, unlike the Levites priests in Jerusalem, whose attire was purple and scarlet, as the Old Testament points out (Exod 28,4-8.15.33; 39,9). So, if the author of the Revelation wants to identify the Catholic Church with these colors, he wouldn’t have mentioned just the two colors that they use only in very particular moments of the liturgical cycle, especially when the Jewish priests were more suited to the color description I indicated.[6].

She shed the blood of the saints and prophets

About the fact that she shed the blood of the saints and prophets, it seems to point to pagan Rome for its persecutions of Christians, or to the apostate Jerusalem to which the gospel identifies as the one who kills the prophets: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets; and stonest them that are sent to thee, how often would I have gathered thy children as the bird doth her brood under her wings, and thou wouldest not?” (Luke 13,34).

To consider the different heretics persecuted by the Inquisition as saints and prophets is something difficult to sustain even for them, because most of the people who were persecuted by the Inquisition don’t share the doctrines that they currently hold, and it is pretty likely that they would have been persecuted also in the Protestant countries, as is the case of Michael Servetus, who after he had escaped from the Catholic Inquisitions, was caught in Genève by John Calvin and was condemned to the bonfire.  We must not forget that in times of inquisition, Catholics and Protestants acted in the same way against those who were considered heretics.

She prostitutes with the kings of the earth and she has sovereignty over them.

And if we study the, obviously not literal, but spiritual prostitution of the “Whore” it is clear that it doesn’t mention that the States have diplomatic relations with other corrupt states, but it does talk about the participation and the complicity in their idolatrous religions and their abominations. This description fits perfectly with pagan Rome or even with the apostate Jerusalem, as it is described by the prophet Ezekiel: “Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations.” (Ezek 16,2); “Therefore, O harlot, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God: Because thy money hath been poured out, and thy shame discovered through thy fornications with thy lovers, and with the idols of thy abominations, by the blood of thy children whom thou gavest them:  Behold, I will gather together all thy lovers with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all whom thou hast loved, with all whom thou hast hated: and I will gather them together against thee on every side, and will discover thy shame in their sight, and they shall see all thy nakedness.  And I will judge thee as adulteresses, and they that shed blood are judged: and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy.  And I will deliver thee into their hands, and they shall destroy thy brothel house, and throw down thy stews: and they shall strip thee of thy garments, and shall take away the vessels of thy beauty: and leave thee naked, and full of disgrace.” (Ezek 16,35-39), and throughout the book of Ezekiel the same idea is repeated in many other texts.

Another element that identifies the “Harlot” or “Whore” with Jerusalem is that it is designated as the great city where the Lord was crucified: “And their bodies shall lie in the streets of the great city which is called spiritually, Sodom and Egypt: where their Lord also was crucified.” (Rev 11,8).

Michael: Very interesting, Joseph, thank you very much!

Joseph: Always at your service, brother.


[1] So far none of my closest evangelical friends, including the family, has told me that they think that the Catholic Church is the “Whore of Babylon”. In fact, I have asked them directly and they have answered that they don’t believe that. However, it is a common belief among the most anti-catholic evangelical denominations and especially among the sects, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Adventist and the Mormons, which are not considered evangelical ecclesial communities.

As an example, we have Ralph Woodrow, an evangelical minister who gained great notoriety with his book “Babylon, Religious Mystery”, where he tried to prove that the “Whore of Babylon” was the Catholic Church. The book was a best-seller translated into a number of languages. However, after a long time of historical investigation, he also found that his sources were inaccurate and fraudulent, and he retracted with a new book entitled “The Babylon Connection?” where he analyzes and refutes his previous book and the book from which he took some of his sources, entitled “The Two Babylonians” by Alexander Hislop.

Woodrow is a protestant, but he has changed his point of view in this respect and he no longer claims that the Catholic Church is “The Whore”.

[2] I have decided to put the biblical text of the book of the Revelation that refers to the Harlot, according to the translation of the Douay-Rheims Bible, so it becomes easier to the reader’s reading in case they don’t have a Bible at hand.

[3]The seven mountains on which the ancient Rome rests are: Palatino, Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquilino, Celio y Aventino

[4] These hills are: Scopus, Nob, Solomon’s Temple, Mount Zion, the southwestern hill also called Mount Zion, Mount Ofel and The Rock.

[5] Woodrow in his book “The Babylon Connection?” also realizes that his argument is fallacious, and he explains:

 “«The Mystery of Babylon» is described as the one that locates in the middle of the seven hills, (Ap. 17,9). Hislop says: «To call Rome the city of the seven hills, its own citizens gave it this description, so it should be called by its own name» and in this way, «the Church, which have its seat in the headquarters of the seven hills of Rome, would be the most appropriate to be called “Babylon”». ........In another part of the book, Hislop describes the Pope as «the one who sits on the seat of the seven hill of Rome».

But it is on the Vatican hill where the seat of the Pope is located, and its headquarters is on the Roman Catholic Church, and this is not a mountain of the Seven Hills of Rome! This district didn’t belong to the ancient Rome, and it wasn’t included in the boundaries within the wall of the city, built by the Emperor Aurelian.Harper's Bible Dictionary includes a map that confirms this point. The seven hills where Rome was built are: The Palatine, Capitoline, Quirinal, Aventine, Caelian, Esquiline, and Viminal. The hill of the Vatican City across the Tiber to the west, is not one of this seven.

It’s important to mention that the term that is currently used by this prophecy is: “seven mountains”. The seven hills would hardly qualify as mountains, because they all have a slight elevation. The highest is the Quirinal hill with 226 feet above the sea level. The St. Peter Church –just the building, is almost twice as much as this. I can testify about his height, because I climbed the stairs between the interior and the roof of the dome in 1978. This is 434 feet from the first floor to the top cross…”

[6] Ralph Woodrow also recognizes this in “Babylon Connection?”:

“The called «Mystery of Babylon» whore is «dressed in purple and scarlet»(Ap. 17,4). Some people think that there is a connection between these color and the bright and highly decorated vestments of the Pope, and other characters of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. But again these colors don’t indicate a unique identification...

The purple and the scarlet were the colors used in the curtains of the tabernacle (Exodus 26,1, the veil of the Temple (2 Chronicles 3,14), and they were also used in garments that the priests of the Old Testament used (Exodus 28,6.8.15). Lidia, a woman who turns into the Christianity, was a seller in purple (Acts 16,14). Proverbs mentions the family of a "Virtuous Woman" who wore purple (Proverbs 31:22). Daniel - certainly not compromising in worldly ways - was honored and clothed in purple (Daniel 5,19).