…One sign is the present state of the Roman Empire, if it may be said to exist, though it does exist; but it is like a man on his death-bed, who after many throes and pangs at last goes off when you least expect, or perhaps you know not when. You watch the sick man, and you say every day will be the last; yet day after day goes on – you know not when the end will come – he lingers on – gets better – relapses – yet you are sure after all he must die – it is a mere matter of time, you call it a matter of time: so it is with the Old Roman Empire, which now lies so still and helpless. It is not dead, but it is on its death-bed.

(John Henry Newman, The Patristical Idea of Antichrist, 1835).