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The fifteen tokens of Doomsday

Author: [unknown]

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Whitley Stokes

translated by Whitley Stokes

Electronic edition compiled by Benjamin Hazard

Funded by University College, Cork and
The Higher Education Authority via the LDT Project

2. Second draft.

Extent of text: 4655 words


CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork
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Text ID Number: T207002


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    Manuscript Source
  1. London, British Library Additional MS 30512, fo 95a1–98a2. Description (from the website of the British Library): [quot ]Leabhar Ui Maolconaire: a collection of legends, lives of saints compiled by the family of O'Mulconroy. Written in various hands. A list of contents by Eugene O'Curry is prefixed. Inserted, on ff. 73b, 74, are notes concerning the family of Mac Geogaghan, circ. 1631. Vellum; ff. 123. 15th cent. From the libraries of W. Monck Mason and Sir W. Tite. Octavo.[quot ] For details see Robin Flower: Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in the British Museum. Vol. II, London 1926 (repr. Dublin 1992), pp. 470–505.
  2. On p. 309 of his edition of the Fifteen Tokens of Doomsday, Whitley Stokes mentions [quot ]a tract dealing with this subject at fo. 26 of a ms in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, marked 1291, and transcribed by Hugh O'Daly in 1775. See Dr. Abbott's Catalogue, p. 307.[quot ]
    Secondary literature (For literature about the Apocrypha, click on
  1. St. John D. Seymour, 'The Eschatology of the Early Irish Church, Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 14 (1923) 179–211.
  2. St. John D. Seymour, 'Notes on Apocrypha in Ireland', Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 26 (1926) Class C: 107–117.
  3. St. John D. Seymour, Irish Visions of the Other-World: A Contribution to the Study of Medieval Visions (London 1930).
  4. Louis Gougaud, Christianity in Celtic lands: a history of the churches of the Celts, their origin, their development, influence and mutual relations by Dom Louis Gougaud, translated from the author's MS. by Maud Joynt (London 1932; reprinted Dublin 1992).
  5. William W. Heist, 'Welsh prose versions of the Fifteen Signs before Doomsday', Speculum, 19:4 (1944) 421–32.
  6. William W. Heist, The Fifteen signs before Doomsday, East Lansing 1952.
  7. Brian O'Dwyer Grogan, The Eschatological Doctrines of the Early Irish Church, [unpublished doctoral dissertation] (Fordham University 1972).
  8. David N. Dumville, 'Biblical Apocrypha and the Early Irish', Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 73 (1973) C: 299–338.
  9. Martin McNamara, The Apocrypha in the Irish Church (Dublin: DIAS 1975; corrected reprint 1984), esp. 128–139.
  10. Bernard McGinn, Apocalypticism in the middle ages: an historiographical sketch, Medieval Studies 13 (1975), Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, Toronto, 252–286. Reprinted in: Bernard McGinn, Apocalypticism in the Western Tradition (Brookfield, Vermont 1994).
  11. The Irish Adam and Eve story from Saltair na Rann. 2 vols. Vol. I: Text and translation by David Greene and Fergus Kelly; Vol. II: Commentary by Brian O. Murdoch. (Dublin: DIAS 1976).
  12. Bernard McGinn, Visions of the End: Apocalyptic Traditions in the Middle Ages (New York 1979).
  13. Máire Herbert, Martin McNamara (eds.), Irish Biblical Apocrypha. Selected texts in translation, Edinburgh 1989.
  14. Martin McNamara, 'Early medieval Irish eschatology'. In: Próinséas Ní Chatháin and Michael Richter (eds.) Irland und Europa im früheren Mittelalter: Bildung und Literatur (Stuttgart 1996) 42–75 (esp. 74–75).
  15. Thomas O'Loughlin, 'The Celtic homily: creeds and eschatology'. Milltown Studies 41 (1998) 99–115.
  16. Milton McCormick Gatch, Eschatology and Christian nurture: themes in Anglo-Saxon and medieval religious life (Aldershot 2000).
  17. Benjamin Hudson, 'Time is Short: The Eschatology of the Early Gaelic Church', in: Caroline Walker Bynum and Paul Freedman (eds.), Last Things: Death and the Apocalypse in the Middle Ages (Philadelphia 2000) 101–23; esp. 102–105.
  18. Martin McNamara, Apocalyptic and eschatological heritage: the Middle East and Celtic realms, Dublin 2003.
    The edition used in the digital edition
  1. Whitley Stokes, The fifteen tokens of Doomsday in Revue Celtique. Volume 2, Paris, F. Vieweg (1907) page 308–326: 311–323


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Created: Translation by Whitley Stokes. (c.1906)

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Language: [EN] The text is in English.
Language: [LA] Some words are in Latin.
Language: [GR] One word is in Greek.

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Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition: T207002

The fifteen tokens of Doomsday: Author: [unknown]


Hieronymus in Annalibus Hebraiorum, etc., that is, Jerome the prophet relates, as he found in the historical books of the Hebrews, the tokens of the fifteen days before Doom. And these are the tokens of the fifteenth day before Doom, to wit, all the seas and waters will rise1 from the face of the earth up to the clouds of heaven, fifteen cubits above the mountains, so that the cry of the seals, and the roar of the whales, the yelling and blowing of the red-mouthed sea-monsters will be on the dry strands after the water leaves them on that day.

This is the token of the fourteenth day before Doom, namely, the vast billow-roar, and the noise of the mighty waves of all the waters falling hurriedly again on the following day into their own proper places, so that they go into the depth of the earth; and whither they go is unknown.

This is the token of the thirteenth day before Doom, i.e. all the waters will go back into their own right and proper place, and will freeze and harden, so that many armies would march upon them.

This is the token of the twelfth day before Doom; to wit, all the sea-animals will rise up madly from the earth to the walls of the firmament and to the clouds of heaven, and will be continually clamouring and uttering outcries urgently for dread of the Day of Doom; and no one in the world, save the true, great, mighty God, knows what they say on that day.

These are the tokens of the eleventh day before Doom, to wit, all the birds and fowls of the earth will be moving and flitting continually, without resting or delaying, and will be there without partaking of food or drink.

This is the token of the tenth day before Doom, to wit, great rivers, rough-waved, solid, fiery, will flow out of the firmament from sunrise to sunset.

This is the token of the ninth day before Doom, to wit, a great sound, ugly, rough, terrific, will be heard from the heights of heaven, and many lightnings and vast thunder will come thereout, and a red, fiery cloud will rise from the southern part of the sky and spread over all the surface of the earth, and a rush of crimson blood, with a rough-waved fiery flame, will pour out of that cloud, so that it would fill the whole world, both sea and


land; and flames of flashing fire (will be) over the four parts of the globe, and a mighty earthquake on the whole world, and a vast spark will rise at every part of the earth, and the sea with its many thousands will go forth over its ramparts on that day.

This is the token of the eighth day before Doom, to wit, an excessive tremor will be on the elements, with the shaking of the firmament and a great clanking at all the earth for dread of the great deed that is coming to them. And every creature will be prostrate with fear, and the waves of the sea will rise as high as the lofty ether, and strong fiery winds will shake the ocean from bottom to top. The stridor and thundering of the seas and the waters against the rivers of fire in the ether, without music or pleasure, throughout the world's four parts on that day. A life sad, ever-distressful, peaceless, healthless, they have, after the slopes and glens of the world have been filled for the sinners there.

This is the token of the seventh day before Doom, to wit, all the stones, both small and great, will split into four parts, and each of these parts will be conversing with another, and no one but God Himself knows what they say. And the woods of the earth will fall out of their roots, after all of them have been broken on that day, and a perilous trembling of the stones after they have been separated from their proper forms. And bitter, spectral streams of sulphurous fire will rise from the flanks of the earth, so that the whole world is one blaze from sunrise to sunset. Mist and mighty thundering of heaven are on that day.

This is the token of the sixth day before Doom, to wit, all the trees and stones will be shedding blood there, and frequent, rough, keen wind will rise there, whereby the whole world is shaken at once. Wailing and screaming and crying and wretched sorrowful groaning have Adam's race, entreating the earth to open before them, so that they may not be seeing those vast evils, for they deem it seven times better to die than to be alive at that season.

'Tis then three hundred and sixty-five stars will fall from the east of the firmament down upon earth on that day. And the mountains will then fall, so that they will be on a level (?) with the glens, and the firmament and heaven and earth will be shut there.

This is the token of the fifth day before the Doom, to wit, great thunders and the sound of the four fiery winds from the four airts of heaven. The elements will shrink up and separate before the holy Powers, and their nature will change so that out of the firmament innumerable streams of stars, to wit, five thousand three hundred and sixty-five stars, fall down to earth as falls ripe fruit on a windy day. The moon will turn into blood, and the sun will grow dark, and the mountaius and all the structures will turn into ashes. The terrible screaming and wretched cry


of the birds at being burnt and scalded on that day, and the bitter sulphurous streams of that heavy storm's fire between heaven and earth! A bitter, sad wail, and a hard, vehement lamentation and heavy grief, and reproachful rebuke hath Adam's race on that day.

All mankind will then be kneeling fervently to God, and entreating Him to save them from the fire of Doom.

This is the token of the fourth day before Doom, to wit, all the lawless animals of the earth will go out of their proper places, and be on the plains, crying out and howling, without food, without clothing on that dy, and the human race will go out of the places in which they will be, and each of them past his fellow in madness, and he himself understands nothing that he says. And everyone that has tasted life will die at once on that day, and all the world will be under hail and fire.

And the doors of the palace will open there. Ah the hurried crashing together, and the vast roar of the seven heavens, at the coming of the Creator with His angels out of them to the judgment of Doom!

Then will heaven's angels say to the Creator: ‘Oh, oh, our Lord!’ they say, ‘come quickly near us, so that the living fire of Doom may not burn us!’ For though virulent is this fire that is in the world, hotter seven times is the fire of Doom. For there are four fires there, and seven times greater is the heat of each of them than that of another: as said a certain sage, namely, fire of earth, fire of lightning, fire of Doom, and fire of Hell:

    1. Seven times greater than the heat of the fire of the soft earth
      is the fire of bright-quick lightning:
      Seven times greater than the heat of the fire of ready Doom
      is the fire of cruel Hell.
Then the angels and the souls of the saints and the righteous will be saved, like a fish in water, so that the fire of Doom does not burn them.

This is the token of the third day before the Doom, to wit, every grave will open, and their dead will come forth honourably, and the world will be in grief on that day, for then there will not be dwellings for living, or for dead on the present world.

This is the token of the second day before Doom, to wit, all the living will die thereon.

This is the token of the day before Doom, to wit, the pure King of Glory, the only Son of the King of heaven and earth and hell, with a countless multitude of angels and archangels, to wit, the nine ranks of heaven, in His company will go, on that day to the summit of Mount Zion to judge their deeds, both good and evil, for Adam's impure children.

This is the semblance in number of the household of heaven in the company of the Creator on that day, to wit, stars of heaven, and sand


of sea, and grass on earth. Such is the greatness of the power and strength of the angels, that in the space of only a single day seven of them would sweep away the whole world from sunrise to sunset.

More awful and mightier than thunder are their voices, so that then, there is sent a proclamation, from the Creator to the human race, to wit, Michael the Archangel; and all human beings will then hear Michael's proclamation from the Creator, summoning them to that great assembly. So then all the dead will arise out of the earth, to wit, first, the apostles will arise, and the prophets and the confessors, the martyrs and the saints and the righteous; and thereafter the virgins and penitents; and, lastly, baptized infants.

No one on that day will be younger or older than another, for the whole human race will arise at the age of thirty years, that is, the age at which Adam was created, and the age which Jesus had attained when He was baptized.

Oh, foul will be the resurrection of the sinners on that day! A great and vast army of Adam's race will be proceeding distressfully through the seas of heavy, fiery, perilous (?) storm, and through the vast unendurable waves of the red flame which is in the four parts of the world, to the meeting of the justly-judging, mighty Overking, unto Mount Zion.

Oh then the household of heaven and earth and hell will gather into that meeting, and then the King of Glory will arise with His final Cross on his shoulder in the presence of them all; and thus He will arise, with all His red Body around Him, with the traces of the stabs and wounds of His Passion upon Him, so that all the deep, incurable gashes, and the great tortures which they themselves inflicted upon Him, may be manifested to the Jews.2

Then Christ will sit down with his twelve Apostles around Him. Oh then will be the great, conspicuous end, to wit, the Monday of Doomsday, the day of destruction and vengeance for the sinners, and the day of respect and great honour for the righteous.

That day there will be a sad and manifest cry from the rabble of the world at being cast, bound and cruelly fettered, into the awful death of Hell, into the unfriendly hands of their foe, the Devil, tortured continually, and with Hell shut upon them for ever and ever.

Then the saints and the righteous will be diligently and always praising their Creator, they being cheerful and glad after gaining victory and triumph from the Devil.

Oh the whole human race is arranged in four assemblies, there in presence of Christ, to wit, the good and the very good, the bad and the very bad. 3


Oh sad it is that the provision of the ready, ever-decisive judgments which are then delivered will not be upright, pleasant, righteous, discreet, gentle, patient, loving, abstinent, fasting, humble, penitent!

Oh, on one side then will be cast the envious and the false-judging, the quarrelsome and the incestuous, the harlots and the satirists and the buffoons, the heretics and the marauders, the robbers and the jealous, the liars, the noisy, the lampooners, the she-lampooners, the haughty; the gluttonous, the angry, the homicidal, the parricides, the deceivers, and all other evil ones.

Those, then, are cast to the demons, to inhabit Hell for ever and ever. And that folk is swept out of the world, for they themselves have forsaken the reward of heaven and the sight of their holy and mighty Father; and they will be a thousand years in the eternal fire of Doom, for that is the length and period of the Day of Judgment.

Oh, neither calm nor easy is that road, for there they get neither food nor drink nor resting, but constant hunger, and thirst without relief, and cold and unendurable heat.

Oh, sad will be the sharp cry of lamentation and the great howl of grief, and the hard, vehement wailing, and the sorrow of mind, and the suffering of heart, and the enduringly wretched hand-clapping of Doom, which the sinners, after rejecting God's mercy, make at being dragged, strongly and urgently, to the everlasting torture of Hell. And they will be mightily praying for pardon, and wretchedly reproaching the Lord for not forgiving them in this life for the outrages they committed upon Him.

Oh, 'tis then on that day the locks will be shut on the sinners! to wit, the shutting on them by casting them into the many awful torments of hell, and the shutting of their eyes against the world, and the shutting from beholding the heavenly Kingdom without their seeing it thenceforward.4

Oh, then they will sit in the presence of the King of Evil, to wit, the Devil, in the glen of infernal torments, where there is dark, lightless fire, and a life sad, ever-distressful, foul, sooty, virulent, impure; and where there will be trembling on tooth, and hard shackles on body, and grief on mind, and darkness on cheeks, and miserable, mournful moans, and constant weepings, and lasting handclapping, and heavy tears of blood over cheeks at their suffering, and cries at hearing them.

Oh, the Devil will then make heavy-headed, cruelly-fettered, bound captives of the tortured sinners at their lasting passion in the narrow chested, rough-headed, iron, awful prison of hell for ever and ever. White faces of constant suffering with the aspect of a dead man they have; and horrible, many-headed monsters with thick, crimson snouts upon them; and one great monster there, with five hundred heads and five hundred fangs in every head, and a hundred feet, and a hundred toes on every foot, and a hundred nails on every toe.5


Howbeit, the whole human race could not set forth the multitude of Hell's many torments, Everliving fire will be continually blazing therein, and it does not illumine; and if the sea were spilt against it the sea would not quench it.

This is the second torment therein, to wit, unendurable cold, as saith this testimony: si mitteretur etc.6 that is, in a mountain of fire aflame were cast therein, Hell would make of it ice and snow.

The third torment, that of poisonous snakes and vermin and many monsters of hell to be gnawing and wounding the souls continually.

The fourth torment, the lasting, unmeet stench of Hell.

The fifth torment, the urgent smiting together of the demons, like the sledging of smiths in a forge, at the continual smiting and massacring of the souls.

The sixth torment, everlasting: A land of darkness wherein dwells the shadow of Death, and no right order, but eternal horror.7

The seventh torment, namely, the confession of the sins which one did not confess in this life, so that they are then manifest to all the folk of Hell.

The eighth torment, the continual contemplation of the Devil's countenance. For though there were no torment in hell, that would be enough of torment, for sparks of fire drop urgently from the base eye of the Devil as a red firebrand (?) drops from a hearth.

The ninth torment: locks and fiery bonds to be blazing on every member and on every separate joint of the sinners, so that they cannot escape from the torments in which they abide for ever: for in ife they did not control those members by penance and by the cross of repentance in liability for their evil and their sin.

But touching the saints and the righteous, the mighty Lord will welcome them attentively on that day, and will then say to them: Come ye blessed ones, etc.

Then seven Glories are bestowed on the bodies of the righteous, and seven glories on their souls. These are the seven Glories of those bodies, Claritatem, that is brightness, for the bodies of those that arise on that day will be seven times brighter than the sun: Velocitatem, that is, speed, for the bodies of those that arise will be swifter than wind: Fortitudinem, that is strength: Libertatem, that is freedom: Voluntatem, that is, will, for their will and the Lord's shall be the same: Sanitatem, that is, health, for throughout eternity they will suffer no disease or sickness: Immortalitatem, that is, immortality, for in their case they will never have separation of body and soul.

These are the seven Glories of the soul, to wit, wisdom and friendliness and union, power and honour, gentleness and gladness. Oh those are the


honours and gifts that the mighty Lord bestows on his own righteous ones, to wit, on the mild and kindy and loving and merciful, the beneficent, and the virgins for sake of God.

Then is Life eternal without death, and many-melodied joy, and lordly delight without limit or end, and health without sickness, and pleasure without strife, and youth without aging, and peace without disunion, and dominion without disturbance, and freedom without labour, and patience without desire, and calm without sleep. Holiness without defect, unity of angels, feasting without limit, to partake of the great Pasch among nine ranks of heaven's angels, and together with them a Prince high, noble, fair, just, adorned: great, lordly (?), gentle and pure: on golden thrones and on glassen couches. And every one will be seated there according to honour and law, and according to his good works, contemplating the King perfect, entreated, righteous, truly-judging, noble, reverend, humble; in presence of the great Godhead, to wit, the King of the Three Households,8 chanting together with Cherubim and Seraphim, and with nine ranks of Heaven, and with Him who was and is and will be there for ever; without age or decay, without feebleness or weakness, without gloom or sadness, in bodies subtile and shining, in the station of angels and in the burgh of Paradise.

Oh, unspeakable is the size and amplitude and breadth of the Heavenly City! For the bird whose flight and flying are swiftest on this earth could not finish the journey of that royal abode though it flew from the beginning of the world to the end.9

Oh great and vast are the size and lastingness and radiance of that City, and its ease and its lustre, its grace and its great purity, its firmness and its stability, its costliness, its beauty, and its pleasantness, its height and its splendour, its dignity and its venerableness: its plenteous peace and plenteous unity.

Oh then well for him who shall be with good morals and good works to inhabit that City on the day of Doom! For he will be in the unity of each of the three, namely, in the unity that is greatly nobler than any unity, the unity of the royal Trinity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.

I entreat the mercy of great God. May we all reach the unity of that noble many-powered King, and may we dwell together with Him for ever!