Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Waltham Abbey Doom Painting

The term "Doom" is the old English word for "Judgement". The Doom painting located in Waltham Abbey is a depiction of the Last Judgement, when Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead. All Doom icons follow the same scheme, the details of which are drawn from various 'clues' in the Bible, particularly from St. Matthew's Gospel and the Book of Revelation. The icon painting in Waltham Abbey dates from the 15 century A.D.


To the modern believer, the stress placed by a Doom icon on Hell and the damnation of souls to everlasting torment seems entirely negative, however, the underlying message is, in fact, a positive one. It is a reminder that life begins and ends with God. It is a gift by God, and one day we must all answer to Him for the way in which we have used His gift. 


What is significant is the fact that it is impossible to know when the end will come. This means that we all have to live in readiness to be called to Judgement at any moment, as explained by the Evangelist Matthew with the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew, 25, 1-13):  
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

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