Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A Rather Amazing Cloud...

This isn't funny so much as it's just cool. Matthew Paris, who included this story in his Chronica Majora under the year 1254, was a monk of St Alban's himself, so he probably heard the story from the monks who witnessed it.

"About midnight of the day of our Lord's circumcision [January 1], 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 [a nearby shrine] 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 extraordinary one."

Later he observes "the apparition was believed at the time to be a sign of coming tempestous weather, and was followed by such a deadly disease among sheep and wild beasts, that the sheepfolds were void of sheep, and the forests of wild beasts".

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