Animals in mediaeval visions of the hereafter

In the Middle Ages anyone of any commercial talent (and his/her mum) had visions and stored some human bones in the new toilet chapel extension of the pig shed nave of the temple next to that handy spring holy source on the hillside. Here, extracted by moderately cunning device from Amazon, is the relevant part of the ToC of Eileen Gardiner’s (not completely exhaustive) Medieval Visions of Heaven and Hell: A Sourcebook:

Vision of Adamnán
Vision of Ailsi
Vision of Alberic
Vision of Ansellus Scholasticus
Vision of St Ansgar
Vision of Baldarius
Vision of Barontus
Vision of Bernoldus
Vision of Bonellus
Vision of Boso of Durham
Vision of the Boy William
Voyage of St Brendan
Vision of Charles the Fat
Vision of Christina Mirabilis
Vision of Drythelm
Vision of an English Novice
Vision of an English Presbyter
Vision of Ezra
Vision of Furseus
Vision of a German Count
Vision of Gottschalk
Dialogues of Gregory the Great

Vision of Peter
Vision of a Soldier
Vision of Stephen

Vision of Guibert of Nogent’s Mother
Vision of Gunthelm
Vision of Heriger
Vision of John, Monk of St Lawrence
Vision of Laisrén
Vision of Lazarus
Vision of Leofric
Vision of Marguerite d’Oingt
Vision of Maximus
Vision of Merlino
Vision of the Monk of Bernicia
Vision of the Monk of Evesham
Vision of the Monk of Melrose
Vision of the Monk of Wenlock
Vision of Olav Aesteson
Vision of Orm
Vision Book of Otloh of Emmeran

Vision of a Servant
Vision of the Monk Isaac
Vision of a Beggar
Vision of the Empress Theophanu

Purgatory of St Patrick

Vision of Knight Owein
Vision of William Staunton
Vision of Louis of France
Vision of Raymond de Perehlos
Vision of Laurence Rathold
Vision of George, Knight of Hungary
Vision of Laurent de Pasztho

Vision of St Paul
Vision of a Poor Woman
Vision of Rotcharius
Vision of St Sadalberga
Vision of Salvius
Vision of Stephanus de Marusiaco’s Father
Vision of Sunniulf
Vision of Thurkill
Vision of Tundale
Revelation of Purgatory by an Unknown Fifteenth-Century Woman
Vision of Walkelin
Vision of Wetti
Vision of a Woman

Here is a not particularly helpful analysis of the frequency of appearance of
various types of beast (bear in mind that Gardiner limits herself to executive
vision summaries):

beast number of the beast
angel 23
adder, dragon, lizard, serpent, snake, viper, worm 7
bull, calf, cow 7
demon 7
ass, donkey, horse, mare, mule 2
dog 2
dove, pigeon 1
cat 1
camel 0
beetle, cockroach, fly, insect, mosquito 0
boar, pig, swine 0
chicken, cock, hen 0
deer, hart, hind, stag 0
eagle 0
fox 0
frog, toad 0
goat 0
lamb, ram, sheep 0
lion, tiger 0
mouse, rat 0
scorpion 0

This relative lack of biodiversity also characterises much of the infernal Languedocian
etc etc mediaeval literature I have read, including Inquisition records. I don’t
know, but I would like to, whether this means that hellish zoomorphs had been
successfully purged from popular religion in, say, the Provençal cultural
zone by, for example, the C14th, or whether this was just the case in written

Similar posts


  1. The dog/cat ratio is interesting. W.E. Farbstein wrote: The dog is mentioned in the Bible eighteen times—the cat not even once.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *