VICARIVS FILII DEI: The Papal Crown and the Papal Throne

The Papal Crown

BeleiveTheSign claims there is an issue with statements Bro. Branham made about the papal crown and papal throne. They claim Bro. Branham was purposefully lying about what he saw during a trip to Rome. They claim that Bro. Branham repeatedly told people he personally saw the title “VICARIVS FILII DEI”. The Latin title translates to “Vicar of the Son of God”. In this article we will examine their allegations and find out what the truth is.

That the pope used the title “VICARIVS FILII DEI”, and that this equated to 666 was widely accepted in American protestant circles beginning in the 1800s. Popes had been using the title “Vicar of Christ” since the reign of Pope Gelasius I in 492 AD and the title “Universal Bishop” since the reign of Boniface III in 607 AD. The connection of the pope with the antichrist originated in the teachings of Martin Luther in the 1500s and was widely accepted by all streams of historic Protestantism. Bro. Branham is merely repeating what had long been accepted as a “fact” in Protestant Christendom. So in that regard, if Bro. Branham is being dishonest in his claims, than in his company would have to be placed a vast number of Christian ministers.

The papacy used the title “VICARIVS FILII DEI” in the Donation of Constantine. A document they forged in 778 AD to claim that Roman Emperor Constantine had given the city of Rome as a gift to the pope. This is very fitting, that the fake title of a fake apostle should first appear in a fake document.

BeleiveTheSign is correct of course in saying that the phrase is not written on the papal crown. But a careful review of what Bro Branham says reveals he does actually say that it was wrote on the crown. 

What did Bro. Branham say?

Read in succession these quotes of Bro. Branham may present a picture of dishonestly, but these are different statement across a period of years. Additionally, the critics at times leave out the key preceding or following sentence that gives the key clarifying statement. Each one needs to be looked at separately, and if so done, it will reveal Bro. Branham was honest in what he said. 

How did I know Rome set on seven hills? How did I know the pope had VICARIVS FILII DEI? Had to take somebody else’s word for it. 
[DWB: In this statement, Bro. Branham clearly says he took someone else’s word for it! Not that he saw it himself.] How did I know the triple crown was on the pope; the jurisdiction of the vicar of Heaven and earth and hell? How did I know it till I went and seen it? [DWB: Bro. Branham does not say he saw any writing on the crown.] 

(58-0928M – The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit, para. 143)

This next sermon was preached two years after the preceding quote. They are not directly connected.

I been right there and seen it myself, [DWB: Bro. Branham is talking about seeing the papal throne.] would know, up over his place (his throne, as it was) like they set the first Boniface up, the III, up at the beginning of the Catholic age here. And up over there it’s Vicarivs Filii Dei, [DWB: Bro. Branham appears to be saying he saw the writing “Vicarivs Filii Dei” above the papal throne. But recall that he he stated he based his interpretation of what he saw on the words of another.  Also note that Boniface III was pope before the current papal throne was built; Bro Branham was therefore likely referencing the Lateran Palace.] which means “a vicar of the Son of God.” Dei, Dei, “Deity,” see. See, “The vicar of the Son of God.” In other words, “Just like the Son of God sitting here on earth,” see, “all powers to change the Bible,” change anything he wants to. Therefore, “Say ‘Hail Mary’!” What does the pope say? “We’ll have ‘Hail Mary’!” That settles it. Uh-huh, uh-hum. “Well, we’ll do so-and-so.” What the pope says, that’s it, that’s it. “A vicar instead of the Son of God.” 

(60-1211M – The Ten Virgins, And The Hundred And Forty-Four Thousand Jews, para. 234)

This final quote is another year after from the prior quote.

Now, go on over here in Revelations 13, and show you that this man sets on a city…in a city, and the city sets on—on seven hills. And the numbers of the beast is six hundred and sixty-six, wrote out in the—in the Latin…Roman alphabet, is six hundred and sixty-six, is VICARIVS FILII DEI, which is, “Instead of the Son of God,” on a pope’s throne. [DWB: That would equal 666; Bro. Branham is clear to associate it with the throne. He does say here he personally saw the text.] And his chair, got a triple crown. ‘And I’ve looked right at the crown, stood as close as my hand is to my face”’, like that, and—and seen the decked crown of the pope right there in the Vatican, myself, stood and looked at it, be sure I know what I was talking about.  “He opposes, himself above all that’s called God, all the godly men. He’s the holiest of all of them; sets in the temple of God, just showing himself he is God,” forgiving sins on earth, and so forth, you know. 

(61-0806 – The Seventieth Week Of Daniel, para. 184)

The Papal Throne

Papal Throne at St. Peter’s Basilica. Click to enlarge.

Bro. Branham does not claim to have seen “VICARIVS FILII DEI” on the papal crown. He does say that based on the words of another person, he interpreted what he saw above the papal throne as “VICARIVS FILII DEI”.  “VICARIVS FILII DEI”, however, is not wrote above the Papal throne – but there is a Latin phrase wrote above it stating “O Pastor Ecclesiae, tu omnes Christi pascis agnos et oves” (which equals 1809, the year Napoleon declared the Donation of Constantine a forgery and annexed Rome. Interesting?)

The Papal throne at the Lateran Palace. Click to enlarge

The editors of this website suspect Bro. Branham was actually talking about the Papal throne of Boniface III (607 AD), and not the current papal throne, given the context of his statements. The Papal throne of Boniface III was in the Lateran Palace and is pictured above. A quick view will show you the writing above it. The Lateran Palace was completely remodel between 772-816 AD, about two hundred years after the reign of Pope Boniface III.

A misunderstanding

The editors of this website believe Bro. Branham mistook what he saw above the throne and thought he saw “VICARIVS FILII DEI”. There are several words which look very similar, and it is uncertain how close Bro. Branham was able to get to the writing to see it clearly. Bro. Branham had read a book that stated “VICARIVS FILII DEI” was written on the wall. He very likely assumed that was indeed what he was looking at without making a full verification of it. People can misunderstand or misinterpret things, it does not make them liars. Bro. Branham was a man who made mistakes.

Now, yes I meant… Forgive me, please. I… And–and brethren, you on the tape out there, and friends, listen: I didn’t mean to say that like that. I–I–I’m a minister of the Gospel; I… Many times as I’ve preached that, I knowed …  I make them mistakes all the time. I’m–I’m a–sure a dummy, so you forgive me. See? I didn’t mean to do that.


The critics have had multiple mistakes on their websites which they have corrected and we forgive them for their mistakes. Why are they unwilling to give to Bro. Branham the same fair treatment?

Are the critics protestants?

Have the critics rejected centuries of protestant teaching?  Every single stream of historic Protestantism has taught that the papacy is the embodiment of the anti-Christ. This is the point Bro. Branham was trying to convey in the statements the critics are attacking. That is what can be called missing the forest for the trees. Here are the positions of Protestant Christianity.

It is nothing else than the kingdom of Babylon and of very Antichrist. For who is the man of sin and the son of perdition, but he who by his teaching and his ordinances increases the sin and perdition of souls in the church; while he yet sits in the church as if he were God? All these conditions have now for many ages been fulfilled by the papal tyranny

Martin Luther, First Principles, pp. 196-197

Unless the falling away – From the pure faith of the gospel, come first. This began even in the apostolic age. But the man of sin, the son of perdition – Eminently so called, is not come yet. However, in many respects, the Pope has an indisputable claim to those titles. He is, in an emphatical sense, the man of sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled, the son of perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers, destroyed innumerable souls, and will himself perish everlastingly. He it is that opposeth himself to the emperor, once his rightful sovereign; and that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped – Commanding angels, and putting kings under his feet, both of whom are called gods in scripture; claiming the highest power, the highest honour; suffering himself, not once only, to be styled God or vice – god. Indeed no less is implied in his ordinary title, Most Holy Lord, or, Most Holy Father. So that he sitteth – Enthroned. In the temple of God – Mentioned Rev 11:1. Declaring himself that he is God – Claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone.

Though it be admitted that Rome was once the mother of all Churches, yet from the time when it began to be the seat of Antichrist it has ceased to be what it was before. Some persons think us too severe and censorious when we call the Roman Pontiff Antichrist. But those who are of this opinion do not consider that they bring the same charge of presumption against Paul himself, after whom we speak and whose language we adopt .. I shall briefly show that (Paul’s words in II Thess. 2) are not capable of any other interpretation than that which applies them to the Papacy

John Wesley, Explanatory Notes Upon The New Testament, p.216

Yea, to speak it in plain words; lest that we submit ourselves to Satan, thinking that we submit ourselves to Jesus Christ, for, as for your Roman kirk, as it is now corrupted, and the authority thereof, whereon stands the hope of your victory, I no more doubt but that it is the synagogue of Satan, and the head thereof, called the pope, to be that man of sin, of whom the apostle speaks.” 

John Knox, The History of the Reformation of Religion in Scotland, p.65

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ.”

1689 Baptist Confession of Faith – Baptist Church

There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalts himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God.

1646 Westminster Confession of Faith – Church of England

It is the bounden duty of every Christian to pray against Antichrist, and as to what Antichrist is no sane man ought to raise a question. If it be not the popery in the Church of Rome there is nothing in the world that can be called by that name. If there were to be issued a hue and cry for Antichrist, we should certainly take up this church on suspicion, and it would certainly not be let loose again, for it so exactly answers the description.

Popery is contrary to Christ’s Gospel, and is the Antichrist, and we ought to pray against it. It should be the daily prayer of every believer that Antichrist might be hurled like a millstone into the flood and for Christ, because it wounds Christ, because it robs Christ of His glory, because it puts sacramental efficacy in the place of His atonement, and lifts a piece of bread into the place of the Saviour, and a few drops of water into the place of the Holy Ghost, and puts a mere fallible man like ourselves up as the vicar of Christ on earth; if we pray against it, because it is against Him, we shall love the persons though we hate their errors: we shall love their souls though we loath and detest their dogmas, and so the breath of our prayers will be sweetened, because we turn our faces towards Christ when we pray.” 

Charles Spurgeon, All Roads Lead to Rome

The full dialogue with BeleiveTheSign can be found here.

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