Victorinus: In Apocalypsin (12.1-7)

[12.1] And a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet, having a crown of twelve stars, giving birth in her pains is the ancient Church of the fathers and prophets and holy apostles, because she bore the sorrow and torment of her desires, until which He was made from her people according to her flesh, as long promised to her: to see Christ take up from the same nation a body. And clothed with the sun signifies the hope of resurrection and the promise of glory. The moon, indeed, is the falling of the bodies of the saints from the debt to death, which never lacks strength. For whenever the life of men is lessened, it will also be increased. Nor is the hope of the sleeping totally extinguished, as some think, but they have a light in the darkness, like the moon. A twelve-starred crown signifies the chorus of fathers according to the birth of the flesh, from whom Christ was to take up flesh.

[12.2] And a red dragon standing waiting, so that when the woman will have borne her son, he might devour him is the devil, namely the fugitive angel, who supposed that the annihilation of all men equally through death was possible. But He who was not born of seed owed nothing to death; because of which nor was he able to devour him, that is, to hold onto Him in death. For indeed He rose up on the third day. Finally also, before He had suffered, he came to tempt Him like a man, but when he found Him not to be who he thought, he went away from Him, it says, until the time.

[12.3] It says this one was taken up to the throne of God. We read of it in the Acts of the Apostles, how speaking with the disciples He was taken up into heaven. For it is he who will be leading all nations with a rod of iron: the rod of iron is a sword; and all nations are those which battle under the stratagems (?) of Antichrist against the saints still remaining: which also, he says, will fall by the sword.

And the color of which he says to be red, that is, scarlet: the fruit of his works gave to him such a color. For from the beginning he has been a murderer and has oppressed all the human race not only by the debt of death, but moreso through various plagues everywhere.

Seven heads, seven kings of Rome from whom also is Antichrist, as we will speak of soon. Ten horns, ten kings in the end time; these are the same we will treat fully there.

[12.4] And the woman flew into the desert with the help of the wings of a great eagle—namely the two prophets—all the Catholic Church, in which will be one hundred forty four thousand believers in the end time, under the Prophet Elijah. Another second people will be found at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, of which the Lord Christ Himself speaks in the Gospel: Then those who are in Judea will be fleeing into the mountains, that is, however many will have been gathered in Judea, let them go to that place which they have prepared so that they will be nourished there for three years and six months, away from the face of the devil. The wings of a great eagle are the two prophets, Elijah and he who will be the prophet with him.

[12.5] And the water which the serpent sent out of his mouth signifies his command of the army following him. And the earth opened its mouth and devoured the water shows the conquering of the persecutors. Therefore, this might signify the one giving birth, and shows after the birth the fleeing to the heights: these things did not belong to one time. For we know the time to have occurred that Christ was born; however, that she will flee from the face of the serpent, this has not yet happened.

[12.6] Then he says: There was war in heaven: Michael and his messengers fought with the dragon; and the dragon fought, and his messengers; and there was not found for him a place in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown out, the ancient serpent fell to earth. This is the beginning of the coming of Antichrist. Yet before, Elijah must preach and there must be a time of peace, and thus after the end of three years and six months of the preaching of Elijah, he is to be thrown out of heaven, where he had the power of ascending to until this time, and all the fugitive angels. Thus Antichrist is to be raised up from hell; the Apostle Paul also says this: Except first will come the man of sin, the son of perdition, the adversary, who will raise himself above all that is called God or is worshipped.

[12.7] And it says that The tail of the dragon drew a third part of the stars. This may be taken in two ways. For many think this: he is able os seduce a third part of men to believe him; but, it ought to be better understood that (they are) the angels subject to him when he was still a prince, when he descended from his nature (?). Thus, what we have said above, the Apocalypse says: He stood upon the sand of the sea.


  1. “[12.1] And a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet, having a crown of twelve stars, giving birth in her pains is the ancient Church of the fathers and prophets and holy apostles”

    Your identification is in error – the woman ‘arrayed with the sun’ is the nation of Israel. In Genesis 37:9-10, the twelve tribes of Israel are described with exactly the same symbols. (Jews represent only 2 of these 12 tribes – the other 10 were not in Palestine when Revelation was written.)

  2. You are misreading, Vynette. He says what you said, if you’ll notice. The faithful in Israel were almost always referred to as the Church of the fathers (meaning “patriarchs” especially when paired with “prophets”) and/or prophets by Patristic writers. The continuity between the Old Testament Church (aka Israel) and the New Testament Church (the Church properly so-called) was believed and stated in this way for centuries, and still is in some circles.

    Even if it were incorrect, I didn’t write it. I only translated it. You’d have to take it up with St Victorinus himself, who was killed in the Great Persecution of 304 AD.

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