In order to understand the issue, we must first get to know the difference between the Roman Empire (27 B. C. to 476 a. D.) and the Holy Roman Empire (800 a. D. to 1806 a. D.). Although the names of the two Empires sound very similar, they are two totally different things. The Roman Empire knew no mixture of state and Church. Merely beginning with emperor Constantine the Great, the Church got gradually protected by the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire declined in 476 a. D. Papacy was established 607 a. D. In the course of time the power of the popes increased, and thus 800 a. D. the Frankish king Charles the Great was crowned emperor by the pope. By this coronation the Roman Empire resurrected, and was now called Holy Roman Empire. The Centre of the Holy Roman Empire was not Italy but Germany. Hence, the Roman Empire or Holy Roman Empire is the Beast (including its head, the Wicked or Arch-Blasphemer) of Revelation, Chapter 17.
Why do we call the Middle Ages dark age sometimes?
What made life so unpleasant during the dark age?
There are two reasons: the impact of the pope and the impact of the Muslims (the Muslim Arabs (Saracens) and the Muslim Turks).
Here, I will focus on the influence of wicked papacy:
After Gregory the Great (the last good pope, lifetime 540-604 a. D.), the wicked papacy was established by the criminal emperor Phocas (emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, reign 602-610 a. D.). Phocas made the Roman See the highest on earth; which was a crime because God refuses a visible head of the whole Church. Jesus Christ shall be the head of the whole Church.
After wicked (papacy is wicked because God doesn’t want any See to be the highest one on earth) papacy was established, the papal office corrupted more and more in the course of time. After a while, the popes not only presumed to be the bishops of all bishops, but they even claimed to be higher than the emperor or any king. This development peaked in the papal document Dictatus Papae (by Pope Gregory VII, lifetime 1020-1085), which declared that the pope was higher than the emperor. According to the demands of the document Dictatus Papae, Gregory VII indeed deposed emperor Henry IV (emperor of the Holy Roman Empire) at a Lenten synod on February 14, 1076 a. D..
From 1076 onward the Roman-German emperors (emperors of the Holy Roman Empire) were subordinated to the pope.
Now hang on to your hat: for 666 years the Pope was the Super-Emperor of the whole world up to 1742 a. D. when the Holy Roman Empire (centre: Germany) got a secular emperor again (Emperor Karl VII, who got crowned emperor on February 12, 1742 a. D.) One of the darkest periods of history lasted 666 years. Seemingly, this number 666 is identic to the Number of the Beast, 666, which is mentioned in the Revelation.
Free Churches should stop to mind about the meaning of 666.
From 1076 to 1742 a beast ruled the world; 666 years long, the world was tortured by a beast.
God prevent us from a further papal rule. It is yet enough that he rules his club of predators (child abuse).
Passages of the Holy Bible regarding the issue:
Revelation, Chapter 13:
1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.
10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
Revelation, Chapter 17:
1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
7 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.
11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
Correction from February 9, 2018
Since I have drafted the article above, I have undergone an evolution. I no longer think that the Beast or Roman Empire resurrected in 800 a. D. when Charles the Great was crowned emperor. Now, I think the Beast climbed out of the abyss during the reign of Emperor Claudius or Nero. The genuine Beast was the old historical Babylonia. When the Roman Empire under the rule of Claudius or Nero adopted the bad politics of Babylonia, it became the Beast which is mentioned in the Revelation. Furthermore, I think the Roman Empire (but not the Beast) first declined in 1806 a. D. when the Holy Roman Empire was abolished by Principal Decree of the Imperial Deputation. After that the national states came up. It is predicted in the Revelation that in its last state the Beast will consist of national states. Hence, in 1806 the Beast only changed its outward appearance but did not decline.
However, I am still convinced that the 666 years of papal rule were one of the darkest periods of history. Though the period of papal reign was very dark, at least Dr. Martin Luther could start the Reformation. Though I would still ask God for preventing us from further papal rule, I must say now that nowadays things have become even worse than during the 666 years. Today every real Christian reform is suffocated in its beginnings because the godless conglomerate of national states under the leadership of the USA – the Beast in its modern appearance – will never tolerate any religious community teaching its genuine doctrine. Today, every religious community it required to teach total sexual and religious tolerance, no matter what their genuine doctrines are. Of course, that is the absolute end of the true Christian Church because the true Christian Church can teach nothing save the truth which is revealed in the Holy Bible. According to Revelation there is a second Beast: all religious communities together, save the true Christian Church, under the informal leadership of the pope.