This Week’s Ask Alice: Why the Vatican?



Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer your Catholic questions
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Roy writes: Jesus wasn’t born and raised in the Vatican, so why the Vatican is your holy city?

Alice explains: Catholics recognize Rome as our holy city since it is the place where Peter, Christ’s successor and our first pope, was martyred. Peter was given the keys to the kingdom by Jesus. Catholics acknowledge Peter as the earthly head of our Church.

“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the powers of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)

Jesus instructed his apostles to preach the gospel all over the world, which meant spreading their efforts outward far past Jerusalem.

“It is not for you to know the times orasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

The disciples felt called to travel and preach the gospel in Rome. “There we found some brothers and were urged to stay with them for seven days. And thus we came to Rome.” (Acts 28:14)

Since God is omniscient (all knowing) and exists outside of time, He certainly knew what He was doing when moving our holy city from Jerusalem to Rome. Considering that Jerusalem has been a lit firecracker in the Middle East for centuries, the Holy Spirit wisely inspired Church leaders to choose a sacred city that’s removed from the fighting fray.

From 70 to 130 A.D., Jerusalem was the scene of terrible persecution. Through the centuries Jerusalem has been conquered and ruled by Muslims. Geographically, Rome sits by itself rather than in the midst of the troubled Middle East.

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

*****

Doug Lawrence Adds:  I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “All roads lead to Rome.”

In the early days of Christianity, that was literally true … and also, the reverse.

Rome was then the very heart of the civilized world’s system of government, commerce and industry. A network of excellent roads, coupled with easy, reliable connections by sea, made Rome the literal “center” of the earth.

With new Christian communities constantly popping up throughout the world, all of them in need of inspired, timely, and expert guidance, there was truly “no place like Rome” from which to stay in constant contact, with the Holy See of Peter effectively leading the budding church, in all things Catholic.

During the 4th century, with the rise of Emperor Constantine, who at once ended the persecutions, became a dedicated supporter of the Catholic Church, and eventually, a Catholic himself.

The wisdom behind the selection of Rome for the location of the Holy See soon became even more apparent, as the Catholic Church continued to greatly benefit from the dedicated patronage of both the Emperor Constantine and his mother, St. Helena.

The contemporary writings of the Roman historian and Catholic Bishop Eusebius, aptly chronicle those events (and more.)

Read all about that here (particularly in Books IX and X.)

When the Empire eventually fell, the Roman Catholic Church found itself in a unique position, charged with rebuilding modern western civilization in the image of heaven … a daunting task that was eventually accomplished with a very high degree of success … through the grace of God … and the holy, inspired work of generations of dedicated Catholic men and women.

Book Selection: How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization

It’s also interesting to note that the Jews, as a nation or people, have never accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah … while the formerly pagan Romans … the ones who actually nailed Jesus to the cross and thrust the spear through his heart … did indeed convert … and they have remained staunchly Catholic for (at least) the last 1500 years.

All the more reason to choose Rome, rather than Jerusalem, as the headquarters of the universal church … at least, until Jesus comes again … bringing with him the “New Jerusalem”.

(Revelation 3:12)  He that shall overcome, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God: and he shall go out no more. And I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and my new name.

(Revelation 21:2)  And I, John, saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Besides … “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it.” (Psalms 127:1)

Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

Writer provides useful insights into the mysterious Book of Revelation


Because of Israel’s rejection of the King of kings, the blessings they had received would turn into curses. Jerusalem had been “swept clean” by Christ’s ministry; now it would become “a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird” (Revelation 18:2). The entire generation became increasingly demon-possessed; their progressive national insanity is apparent as one reads through the New Testament, and its horrifying final stages are depicted in the pages of Josephus’ The Jewish War: the loss of all ability to reason, the frenzied mobs attacking one another, the deluded multitudes following after the most transparently false prophets, the crazed and desperate chase after food, the mass murders, executions, and suicides, the fathers slaughtering their own families and the mothers eating their own children. Satan and the host of hell simply swarmed throughout the land of Israel and consumed the apostates.

The vegetation of the earth is specifically exempted from the destruction caused by the “locusts.” This is a curse on disobedient men. Only the Christians are immune to the scorpion-like sting of the demons (cf. Mark 6:7; Luke 10:17-19; Acts 26:18); the unbaptized Israelites, who do not have “the seal of God on their foreheads” (cf. Revelation 7:3-8), are attacked and tormented by the demonic powers. And the immediate purpose God has in unleashing this curse is not death, but merely torment, as the nation of Israel is put through a series of demoniac convulsions. St. John repeats what he has told us in Revelation 6:16, that “in those days men will seek death and will not find it; and they will long to die and death shall flee from them.” Jesus had specifically prophesied this longing for death among the final generation, the generation of Jews which crucified Him (Luke 23:27-30). As God had said long before: “He who sins against Me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate Me love death” (Proverbs 8:36).

The frightening description of the demon-locusts in Revelation 9:7-11 bears many similarities to the invading heathen armies mentioned in the prophets (Jeremiah 51:27; Joel 1:6; 2:4-10; cf. Leviticus 17:7 and 2 Chronicles 11:15, where the Hebrew word for demon is hairy one). This passage may also refer, in part, to the Satanic gangs of murderous Zealots that preyed on the citizens of Jerusalem, ransacking houses and committing murder and rape indiscriminately. Characteristically, these perverts dressed up as harlots in order to seduce unsuspecting men to their deaths.

One particularly interesting point about the description of the demon army is St. John’s statement that “the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle.” That is the same sound made by the wings of the angels in the Glory-Cloud (Ezekiel 1:24; 3:13; 2 Kings 7:5-7); the difference here is that the noise is made by fallen angels,

St. John goes on to identify the king of the demons, the “angel of the Abyss,” giving his name in both Hebrew (Abaddon) and Greek (Apollyon) — one of many indications of the essentially Hebraic character of the Revelation. The words mean Destruction and Destroyer; “Abaddon” is used in the Old Testament for the realm of the dead, the “place of destruction” (Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; Psalm 88:11; Proverbs 15:11; 27:20). St. John thus presents Satan as the very personification of death itself (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:10; Hebrews 2:14).

Clearly, for Satan’s entire host of destroyers to be let loose upon the Jewish nation was a hell on earth indeed. And yet St. John tells us that this outbreak of demons in the land is only “the first Woe.” Even greater horrors lie ahead.

Read more