EWTN Catholic Q&A
Understanding the symbols of Revelation.
Question from Leslie Abel on 11-27-2012:

Who does the scarlet colored red beast described by Jesus Christ to the apostle John in the book of Revelation chapter 17, represent?

Answer by Fr. John Echert on 12-04-2012:

The Book of the Apocalypse records:

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.

2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication: and they who inhabit the earth, have been made drunk with the whine of her prostitution.

3 And he took me away in the 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.

4 And the woman was clothed round about with purple and scarlet, and gilded with gold, and precious stones, and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of the abomination and filthiness of her fornication.

5 And on her forehead a name was written: A mystery: Babylon the great, the mother of the fornications and abominations of the earth.

6 And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I had seen her, I wondered with great admiration.

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.

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.

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.

10 Five are fallen, one is, and the other is not yet come: and when he is come, he must remain a short time.

11 And the beast that was, and is not: the same is also the eighth: and is of the seven, and goeth into destruction.

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.

13 These have one design, and their strength and power they shall deliver to the beast.

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.

There are three aspects of interpretation to this woman:

1. The Roman Empire, which was powerful and filled with debauchery, which persecuted the Church until the fourth century AD

2. Any power or government which is likewise debauched and persecutes

3. A final power or government, worst of all, which is steeped in debauchery and a most terrible persecutor of the saints on Earth

Here is the big question: will America be the final Woman in Scarlet or just another passing power among many other Whores of Babylon?

Thanks, Leslie

Father Echert