The great red dragon represents the earthly powers as well as Satan. From the beginning the woman was tempted by the serpent, and it was prophesied that she would trample his head. Here time is suspended and the battle in Eden and the last cosmic battle are one. The seven heads with seven crowns simply represent the perfection and completion of earthly power. Seven is the symbol of perfection and completion in the ancient world, and for the beast to have seven heads with seven crowns symbolized earthly power at it’s zenith. The number ten represents the cosmos–the physical creation, and the red color symbolizes passion, fire, blood, violence and fury. So the red dragon is a pure symbol of earthly, cosmic power expressed in violence and rage. His tail sweeping the stars out of the sky to earth is a sign of the fall of the angels. The stars are symbols of heavenly spirits who were swept out of their place in heaven under the influence of the Prince of Darkness.
The Beast wishes to devour the child who is one who will rule with a scepter or iron. This is a direct reference to Christ the King in Psalm 2:9 who will rule the nations with an iron scepter. Again, time is conflated and now we are at the birth of Christ where earthly kings like Herod were eager to destroy the child from the time of his birth. The child is snatched up to heaven–referencing Christ’s resurrection and ascension, while the woman flees to the wilderness.
Now the woman is the persecuted church. Remember that the Book of Revelation is written during a time of persecution, and the woman in the wilderness is the symbol of the church of God hiding from the persecuting powers–for now the Red Dragon is the Roman Empire–the earthly power persecuting the Church. The ’1260 days’ is not to be taken literally, nor should any attempt be made to do ‘Biblical fortunetelling’ with such numbers. The number 1260 symbolizes the fullness of time or ‘when the time is right’. As such it is a sign that the church will remain in the wilderness of persecution protected from the beast by God until the fullness of time comes for her to be freed.
Here Mary’s role in the cosmic battle against Satan is shown as her role as Mother of the Church. All of this is gathered up in the passage from Revelation and made explicit in the Dogma of the Assumption–which completes Marian doctrine as it fulfills the prophecy from Genesis that she would trample down the old serpent under her feet.
This is a practical truth for all of us as we take up our own battles against evil. The Blessed Mother is engaged in the great battle with the dragon. As such she is a help and support to those of her children who also take up the sword against the ancient foe.
The rosary is therefore the great weapon. Through the rosary we enter into the mysteries of the incarnation through which Satan is defeated. Through the rosary Mary walks with us in the mysteries of the gospel, and as Satan is defeated by the power of Christ’s victory so he can be defeated in our lives as we take up the rosary and join our prayers with the prayers of she who trampled the serpent underfoot. through the rosary we re-live the mysteries of salvation and claim those victories in our lives and for the life of the world.
Check out my book Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing