Based on an illustration from “a bitter anti-papal pamphlet written by Martin Luther and his coleague Philip Melancthon. Alleging that the beast was found in Rome at the end of the 15th Century, they analyzed it as a symbol for the papacy: the ass’s head, inappropriate to the beast’s body, was just as incongruous as the Pope at the head of the Church.
“The left foot was clawlike, they charged, because the Pope’s servants grasped the world so greedily; the right hand was an elephant’s foot because the overbearing Pope crushed weak souls with elephantine force. The old man’s head facing backward meant that the papacy was drawing near its end, and the dragon-headed tail spewed fire just as the Pope “belched” edicts, books and words. The beast’s scales, they asserted, represented reactionary rulers clinging to the Pope.”
Quote from an art book who’s name I failed to write down.