Medieval Magic and Marvels: Of a fantastic apparition in the Sky

This is from Matthew Paris’s Chronica Majora for 1254. This time a phenomenon seen by monks from his own abbey!

Fits quite well I think with the idea of Cloud Ships that I blogged about previously.

Of a fantastic apparition in the Sky

About midnight of the day of our Lord’s circumcision, the moon being eight days old, and the firmament studded with stars, and the air completely calm, there appeared in the sky, wonderful to relate, the form of a large ship, well-shaped, and of remarkable design and colour. This apparition was seen by some monks of St. Alban’s, staying at St. Amphibalus to celebrate the festival, who were looking out to see by the stars if it was the hour for chanting matins, and they at once called together all their friends and followers who were in the house to see the wonderful apparition. The vessel appeared for a long time, as if it were painted, and really built with planks ; but at length it began by degrees to dissolve and disappear, wherefore it was believed to have been a cloud, but a wonderful and extra-ordinary one.

Day of our Lord’s circumcision – actually New Year’s Day, January 1st – as this was eight days after Christ’s birth.

St. Amphibalus – a Christian pries sheltered by Alban, who was converted by Amphibalus. St. Alban was then martyred protecting Amphibalus. Matthew is indicated that the monks were at the Abbey’s satellite priory of St. Amphibalus at Redbourn, which is where the Saints remains were originally found before being moved to a shrine in the Abbey Church.

I wonder what this vessel could have been. It is interesting that Matthew does not try to explain it any spiritual one – in the end he puts it down to being just a very remarkable cloud.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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