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Juan Antonio wrote:

Hi, guys—

I have a friend that attacks the Catholic Church whenever he gets the chance.

One of his main objects of scorn is our Holy Father, who, he says, is the beast spoken
of in Revelation, Chapter 13.

He claims he can "prove" this because the numerical values assigned to various letters in the Pope's title, "Vicarius Filli Dei": (Latin for "Vicar of the Son of God"); add up to 666,
the "number of the beast" mentioned in Revelation 13.

  • Is this true?
  • How can I respond?



  { How do I respond to the Pope's title Vicarius Filli Dei adding up to 666, the mark of the beast? }

Answer courtesy Catholic Answers: September 1992 Quick Questions.

Let's consider this accusation.

Latin, Greek, and Hebrew have numerical values assigned to various letters in their alphabets. In Latin the values are: I=1, V=5, X=10, L=50, C=100, D=500, M=1,000. By extension W=10 (because W=VV, or two V's together), and U=V (because there was no letter U for the Romans; where you see the letter U in modern writing, use the letter V instead).

As you can work out for yourself, Vicarius Filii Dei does add up to 666 in Latin: Vicarius=112; Filii=53, Dei=501. (Ignore letters which are not assigned a numerical value.)

V = 5         F = 0         D = 500
I = 1          I = 1          E = 0
C = 100     L = 50         I = 1
A = 0         I = 1
R = 0         I = 1
U = 5                                 
I = 1                                  
S = 0

  112    +       53    +       501  = 666

Note: "U" and "V" have the same numeric value. Verify this in any Encyclopedia.

The problem is that Vicarius Filii Dei is not a title of the Pope.

One of his titles, in fact his chief title, is Vicarius Christi (Vicar of Christ), but, unfortunately for Seventh-Day Adventists and other anti-Catholics who attempt to use this ploy, Vicarius Christi adds up to only a measly 214, not the infernal 666.

Since the average person, Catholic or Protestant, hasn't the foggiest idea what the Pope's titles are in Latin or English, anti-Catholics (some of whom know better) can get away with this subterfuge.

  • But what if one of the Pope's titles did add up to 666?
  • Would that coincidence prove the Pope is the beast?

Hardly. It would prove nothing because lots of names and titles add up to 666. By using a nifty little technique you can force a Seventh-Day Adventist to admit that the addition to 666 proves nothing, even when it's a papal title that's in question. Here's how.

Have your son-in-law do the math, and he'll be shocked to learn that the name of the woman who started Seventh-Day Adventism, Ellen Gould White, adds up to 666:

E =  0        G =   0         W =  10
L = 50        O =   0         H =   0
L = 50        U =   5         I =   1
E =  0        L =  50         T =   0
N =  0        D = 500         E =   0

   100    +       555    +         11  = 666

        Ellen=100, Gould=555, White=11. 
  • Ask him whether this "proves" that the foundress of his religion was the beast?

If he says "No," then the tallying of the name means nothing.

  • If he says "Yes," then what's he doing belonging to a church founded by the beast?

Either way his argument collapses.

  • Isn't apologetics fun?

From our colleagues at Catholic Answers

Francesco Maddalena commented:

Hi all,

Perhaps this is a little 'paranoid' but there are a lot of sites like this one:

[Web site address hidden.]

Although I know one should be cautious in playing with numerology as these people do, some of their results are somewhat frightening.

Also Karl Keating, from Catholic Answers claimed that 'Vicarius Filii Dei' was never used by any Pope but these people seem to prove him wrong.

This site and many others, show many words and titles, often connected with the Church
(like paradosis) add up at 666.

  • Can these be mere coincidences?
  • Why are they so many coincidences?
  • Are there any flaws or errors in their arguments?

I hope you have a good reply for me. I do not believe the Pope is the anti-Christ, although I find these "findings" somewhat frightening. I would like to be able to defend myself against these claims if they come up in conversations with non-Catholics.

Thank you!



Eric replied:

Hi, Francesco —

As for 666, this guy needs to get a life.

  • First of all, a reference to "Latin Kingdom" or "Latin Speaking man" or "Roman Kingdom" could very well refer to the Roman empire.
  • "Italian Church" or "paradosis" is not the name or title of a man.
  • "Apostates" is not the name or title of a man and it's subjective and rather self-fulfilling anyway.
  • I've never even heard of "dux cleri" or "ludovicus".
  • "Roman man" is too vague to fulfill this prophecy.

As for Vicar of the Son of God: Karl's point is simply that this has never been an official title of the Pope. There is actually an official list of titles of the Pope. This title is not among them. This remains true, despite this interlocutor's strenuous efforts to pin it on him. Just because someone used it, doesn't make it an official title. Moreover, you'd think with the importance of the point in Revelation, it would be a chief title, a banner title, not a two-bit obscure title that requires a virulent anti-Catholic with no life to find like "dux cleri", "ludovicus" or "vicarius filii dei" in dusty Latin documents no one reads anymore.

All he's trying to do is load "evidence" upon dubious "evidence" in the hopes that by the sheer weight of the pseudo-scholarly dung he produces, you'll be convinced of his tenuous point.

Finally, if the Pope really is the anti-Christ, most logically the most plausible "true" church would be the Orthodox Church, which pretty much believes the same thing we believe anyway, compared to this guy. In other words, all his arguments disappear like a house of cards when applied to the Orthodox church, which still refutes all of his theology.

Also, the "antichrist" isn't even mentioned in Revelation. 666 is the number of the beast, not of the antichrist. St. John tell us that the antichrist can be identified because:

  1. he denies that Jesus is the Christ (1 John 2:22)
  2. denies that Jesus is from God (1 John 4:3), and
  3. denies Jesus as coming in the flesh (2 John 1:7)

all three of which the Popes have always professed, chiefly in our Creed.

Also the timing is wrong. Revelation says that the beast:

"was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months."

(Revelation 13:5)

That's three and a half years. It amazes me that anti-Catholics can claim the Pope has been the anti-Christ since 600 A.D. or earlier (in this guy's case, I suppose 1054 A.D.) and continues to be the anti-Christ for 1,000, 1,400 years, or more — all while doing nothing even remotely close to what was prophesied except in the imagination of their hearts — when Revelation is clear that his rule is limited in time.


Francesco replied:

Dear Eric,

Thank you very much for your answer.

Reflecting upon it in these last few days I came to the conclusion that indeed I was just a little paranoid. In any case, I thank you very much for your answers!

God bless you!


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