Toward the end of the 12th century, the pope (Innocent III) began calling himself the vicar of Christ, standing as a representative of Christ (authoritatively) to rule while Christ is in heaven. This assertion was practiced when an opposing king begged outside the pope's window in the cold, with no shoes on. The pope, back then, believed that he had the authority to crown or depose kings. This would, in a sense, make him a king of kings, a title rightfully claimed by Jesus.
This pope then, with the miraculous help of St. Dominic and St. Francis, convinced many in the Holy Roman Empire that the Roman Church was their only hope of salvation. When it became evident that the Cathars were still growing, the Office of The Inquisition was instituted to find non-Catholics and judge them according to Canon Law. Those who refused were put to death. Those who converted were given back their property (sometimes) and kept a close eye on.
The mark of the beast is evidently the exercise of state religion under impulse of persecution.
Perhaps it isn't one man, but one man's title. And the prophecy of St. Malachy shows that Rome will be destroyed in the end, and Jesus will judge. Paired with Revelation 14, 16, 17, 18, and 19, Jesus will destroy the authority of beast, the false prophet, and the dragon. In other words, all kingdoms will be put under Christ's authority.
Early Christians evidently believed this literally, as do I.
There was more to Innocent III than just trying to convince the Roman Empire of the Papacy. The Muslim recapture of Jerusalem in 1187 was to him a divine judgment on the moral lapses of Christian princes. He was also determined to protect what he called "the liberty of the Church" from inroads by secular princes. But I guess that's another thread to discuss!
Edited by Star of the Sea, 04 October 2012 - 10:45 PM.