Thursday, September 24, 2015


The Catholic Church has a number of unbiblical teachings on Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.  Some of these include the concept of her bodily Assumption into Heaven, Mary as the “Queen of Heaven,” Mary as the “Mother of the Church” (i.e., of all Christians), and Mary as the “Ark of the New Covenant.”  It seems that a misinterpretation of Revelation chapter 12 is the springboard, at least in part, for these particular Catholic teachings.  But is Mary the woman portrayed in Revelation 12?  What does the Catholic Church say?

Note these official Catholic sources:

On February 2, 1904, Pope Pius X, in his papal encyclical (an official letter to the church), titled Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum, said: 

“A woman clothed with the sun, and with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars upon her head.” Everyone knows that this woman signified the Virgin Mary… (Paragraph 24)

On May 13, 1967, Pope Paul VI, in his papal encyclical, The Great Sign, said: 

The great sign which the Apostle John saw in heaven, “a woman clothed with the sun,”…as referring to the most blessed Mary, the mother of all men by the grace of Christ the Redeemer.

And Pope John Paul II, March 25, 1987, wrote in his papal encyclical (Redemptoris Mater):

For Mary… by her ecclesial identification as the “woman clothed with the sun” (Rev. 12:1)… (Paragraph 47)

So, according to these popes, the Catholic Church officially sees Mary as the woman who is clothed with the sun in chapter 12 of the book of Revelation, where she is (supposedly) revealed in all of her splendor.  But it doesn’t stop here.  This interpretation also leads to other doctrines which cause Mary to be overly honored in other aspects, as well.  The influence of this interpretation develops a mindset that can eventually lead to the worship of Mary, though most Catholics will not admit it.

But to be fair, there are some Catholic apologists who see several different interpretations of the “woman” in Revelation 12.  In spite of the official Catholic documents quoted above, some will say that the woman clothed with the sun could possibly represent 1) the church, 2) Eve, 3) Mary, or 4) Israel.

But let’s take a look at the passage in context so that we can determine if it does indeed point to Mary or not.  Here it is: 

(Revelation 12:1-6)

  1) And there appeared a great wonder in Heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

  2) And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

  3) And there appeared another wonder in Heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

  4) And his tail drew the third part of the stars of Heaven, and did cast them to the earth:  and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

  5) And she brought forth a manchild, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron:  and her child was caught up unto God, and to His throne.

  6) And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. 

Ok, it seems obvious that the manchild who will rule with a rod of iron (v. 5) is Jesus Christ, I think most everyone would agree; although there are some who believe that the manchild will be the 144,000 Jews who are sealed by God (Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-5).  But anyway, let’s find out who this “woman” is in context.  

  1) It is not the church.  

How do we know?  Because the church did not give birth to Jesus (v. 5).  One could argue that Jesus “gave birth” to the church, but not the other way around.  

  2) It is not Eve.

One could say that Eve, in a sense, gave birth to Jesus, but she also indirectly gave birth to everyone else on the planet (except Adam).  So, this is not helpful.  Also, there is nothing in Scripture about Eve fleeing into the wilderness for special protection for 1260 days (v. 6).

  3) It is not Mary.

Yes, Mary directly gave birth to Jesus Christ, but she did not flee into the wilderness for protection.  Someone might object and say that this happened when she and her husband Joseph fled to Egypt, but according to Revelation 12, the woman’s flight was not when her Son was a child, but it was after the ascension of Jesus to the throne of God (v. 5-6).  And again, their flight into Egypt had nothing to do with her being fed for 1260 days.  So, this “woman” in Revelation does not describe Mary.

  4) It is the nation of Israel.

If the “woman” is seen as Israel, everything lines up.  Israel is “clothed with the sun” (a symbol of her glory given to her by God).  She has the “moon under her feet” (symbolic of the dominion God gave her).  She has a crown of twelve stars (representing the twelve tribes - Genesis 37:9-10).  She produced / gave birth to the Messiah (John 4:22), Who will rule with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:7-9; Revelation 19:15).  She will flee into the wilderness to escape the wrath of the antichrist and will be under God’s special protection for 1260 days (Revelation 12:6) - (or 42 months - Revelation 11:2; 13:5), (or three and a half years - Revelation 12:14; Daniel 7:25; 12:7) – these are all referring to the same thing.  This extremely heavy persecution of Israel will begin in the second half (middle) of the seven-year Tribulation period (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15-21).  These 1260 days have nothing to do with Mary, but everything to do with Israel.

By the way, the mention of the angel Michael in the same context (Revelation 12:7) is another clue that the author is speaking about Israel, since Michael is identified as the “great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people [Israel].” (Daniel 12:1)

Since the evidence points to Israel as the identity of the “woman clothed with the sun,” shouldn’t the Catholic Church make some serious changes in their doctrines and dogmas concerning Mary?  Yes they should, but we seriously doubt that will happen.


  1. To Russell,

    You have a very interesting site..... with some interesting articles,

    however your articles & information about the Catholic Church are just plain wrong !!

    Every Catholic Doctrine you claim to have "proven" wrong or "false"...... we can EASILY counter & REFUTE !!

    You're not the First Prod Organization to come down the turnpike...... & you won't be the last I'm sure !!

    Please come try & debunk us & debate us,.... if you think you can !


    By All means,

    Bring It On !!


    1. Obsydian is a troll and fool. I can personally testify in defense of Russell's presenting the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. His claims and arguments are absolutely correct.

      I was educated in a Roman Catholic school and in fact almost converted a few years back. Dave Armstrong presents the same tired, weak Catholic apologetics arguments you can find on just about any other Roman Catholic apologetics website. He's got no new ideas to bring to the table.


  2. The problem with the Catholic response like above is that is they never can quote scripture to refute any arguments arguments you make based on scripture. You should not try and debunk them but they should try and debunk what you said above, but they cannot becuase they have no scriptual answers. Their position is that they are the final authority on what the Bible says and their convoluted interpretations are never in agreement with what the Bible clearly states. Their "Sacred Tradition Responses are based upon so called "theoloigcal reasoning", never in line with what scripture actually says. God means what He says and says what He means. This totally lost on Catholics. Paul commands us in ACTS 17-11 to not believe anything (ANYONE -- Fill in the blank, ie. RCC) tells you but read the scripture ith all readiness of mind to see if those things are true, yet that verse goes completely over their head. I recently read what the Catholics beleive about Daniel's 70 weeks and it is the most convoluted, outrageous intrepretation that absolutely makes no sense and does not fit with any scenario in the Bible. Yet they go around pounding their chest like they gave the Bible to the world ... The RCC was not even around for the first 400 years and when Christainity became the offiical religion of the Roman Empire all these non biblical doctrines started creeping in. Evangelicals follow the teachings of the early church before the Roman establishment morphed the religion. All the prophecies of the OT and NT given by Jesus and the apsotles were alwyas taken literaly. Then comes the Roman emperors wh for politcal and economic reasons make Christainity the offical religion and start persecuting those who refused to become Catholics until the reformation period. The history of catholicism is one trench in blood with popes that commited virtually every crime imaginable from running a brothel at the vatican to corruption to murder and so on...

  3. I will use some of your words to show that Mary is definitely a better fit:

    4) It is the nation of Israel.

    If the “woman” is seen as Mary, everything lines up. Mary is “clothed with the sun” (a symbol of her glory given to her by God. Remember: she is full of Grace and the Lord is with her). She has the “moon under her feet” (symbolic of the dominion God gave her. Remember: in Luke she says: all generations shall call me blessed). She has a crown of twelve stars (representing the twelve tribes - right: The stars REPRESENT Israel. But one thing is the object (the crown) and the other the subject (the woman)). She produced / gave birth to the Messiah (John 4:22), Who will rule with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:7-9; Revelation 19:15).

    BTW, if you remember Isaiah 7:14, the reference of who gives birth couldn't be more clear: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

    Is Israel a Virgin? I don't think so. And if you doubts go and read Ezekiel 16. Only the virgin, which happens to be a woman, gives birth to a son.

    Moreover, the Catholic Church and the early fathers using typology have shown that Mary is the antitype of the Ark of the Covenant. And the Ark is exactly what precedes the vision of the woman clothed with the Sun. In other words, the woman is the ark, just as Mary is the ark of the new covenant. Just remember that when John wrote the book of revelation there was not a division of chapters, it was only one narrative.

    So, the case for Mary makes much more sense than Israel, particularly when you bring Isaiah 7:14 into the ecuation.

  4. Russell,

    Here's a Roman Catholic quote on Mary that you may find disturbing:

    "…it is not something extra that we do, it is something essential. You must have devotion to Mary. Because if you have devotion to Mary, she is the one who will bring us the closest to Christ.”

    Louis De Montfort, “True Devotion To The Blessed Virgin”

    I just do not get how people can not see this stuff as idolatry.

  5. No Catholic worships Mary, They ask for her prayers in Heaven where there is indeed prayer. She interceded to her Son at Cana. They revere her. They do not worship her. The 12 tribes culminate in the Messiah. Mary for any Catholic is NEVER worshiped but honored, God knows hearts, so stop Catholic bashing. They love Jesus. They believe in His death burial and resurrection. God will work it out as He is the only One who knows hearts.There is sin in every church

    1. Praying to another human is idolatry, and praying to a "saint" is exactly that. We are to pray to God alone. He is the only one who has power to answer any prayer.

  6. Hello Anonymous,

    Just so you know, the New Catholic Encyclopedia seems to have no problem calling what they offer to Mary “worship.” See the quote and the link below:

    “The worship of latria (latreia), or strict adoration, is given to God alone; the worship of dulia (douleia), or honour and humble reverence, is paid the saints; the worship of hyperdulia (hyperdouleia), a higher form of dulia, belongs, on account of her greater excellence, to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

    Furthermore, what exactly, do you consider “bashing” in this article? Is using simple logic and biblical evidence “bashing”? I think your argument is with Scripture and not me, because there is absolutely nothing there that can be considered bashing by any rational person.

    So why do you use such a loaded and emotionally charged term? Is it because you really have no argument?

    You said that there is sin in every church. That’s true, but just because it’s true, does that mean that no one has the right to correct false teaching, wherever it is found?

  7. Although the earliest fathers did sometimes see Mary as prefigured by the ark, the view that she is the one mentioned in Revelations did not gain widespread acceptance until nearly a millenium later. One of the earliest references or mention that it could be Mary is expressed with great doubt and was not a widely accepted view of its day. Scripture interprets scripture and most saw it as symbolic of the church which is the true Israel. Revelation recycles symbols and terms from the Old Testament to aid in interpreting it.

    I should add that the idea of Christians conceiving Jesus in a spiritual sense is used several times in the New Testament:

    Paul in Galatians 4:19: "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you..."

    1 Timothy 2:15: "Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control."

    This controversial passage in Timothy does not ask that women bear literal children to be saved. Mary conceived Jesus out of obedience to God, and in a sense, as the saying often goes, he was the blessed fruit of her womb. But so is every woman who obeys God and bears fruit in their lives or in others by example which is how Paul uses it in the passage quoted before this one.

    So yes, the bible does speak of the church as "bearing Christ" in a sense.

  8. Hello Anonymous,

    It looks as though you don’t really believe this teaching, since you said that this view did not get wide acceptance until later on. But did you notice in the article that the Catholic Church OFFICIALLY declares Mary as “the woman clothed with the sun”? Several popes have declared it, therefore, your argument is with THEM, not me.