The Apocalypse approaches: a look back on the doomsday predictions

The Knight looks back on the doomsday predictions and predictors of days past in a historical, anxiety-soothing exercise.


BCE 634

Source: Ancient Roman legend

A tale from Roman folklore concerns Rome’s founder, Romulus, and his meeting of 12 eagles before founding the city. Romans believed each eagle stood for 10 years and the civilization would cease to exist after its 120th year.


30-90 CE

Source: Early Catholic doctrine

Several disciples of Jesus took his promise of eternal life literally, believing they would see Christ’s return within their lifetimes. Members of the first church and even Paul held this belief.



Source: Pope Innocent III

The Pope predicted the world would end in 1284, approximately 666 years after the rise of Islam. Innocent III died 68 years earlier, in 1216, believing his prediction would come true.



Source: Melchior Hoffman

Anabaptist prophet, Germany


Influenced by the works of Martin Luther, Hoffman spent much of his life performing baptisms and witnessing Christianity.

Hoffman’s predicted Jesus would appear in Strasbourg in 1533 and ascend to Heaven with 144,000 followers. The rest of Earth’s population would be consumed by fire.

He spent the rest of his life in prison.



Source: The “Prophet Hen”

Leeds, England


A hen in Leeds gained notoriety for its gift of laying eggs with the phrase “Christ is coming” written on them.

The mythical eggs were discovered to be a hoax, however. The hen’s handler confessed to writing the phrase on the laid eggs and then stuffing them back inside the hen.


March 24-26, 1997

Source: Marshall Applewhite

Heaven’s Gate cult, San Diego


The cult, founded in the 1970s, believed in the impending appearance of a UFO after the comet Hale-Bopp. In order to transcend their existence, Applewhite convinced 38 followers to commit suicide by ingesting phenobarbital and vodka and wearing plastic bags to induce asphyxiation.


May 2003

Source: Nancy Lieder

Founder of Zetatalk website


In 1993, Lieder claimed she received telekinetic contact from aliens from the Zeta Reticuli system. She’s communicated with them ever since.

Lieder warned of an imminent space object – “Nibiru” – that would impact or pass by Earth in May 2003, halting Earth’s rotation for six days and  shifting the alignment of the planet’s poles.


May 21-Oct. 21, 2011

Source: Harold Camping

Christian radio broadcaster, numerologist


May 21 – Earthquakes rend the planet. In the Rapture, 3 percent of the population ascends to heaven. The end of days would come in October.


Oct. 21 – After his initial guess failed, Camping revised his end-of-days prediction to this date. He called his wrong guess a “Spirtual Judgment.”


Dec. 21, 2012, Predictions:

The 5,125-year-long Mayan calendar is set to reset on Dec. 21, 2012. New Age theorists predict the positive start of a new era, while some groups fear apocalypse. Historicists maintain that nothing exists in Mayan history to suggest the date signals the end of days.

Fortunately, the incorrect prediction wouldn’t be Earth’s first.



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