Now, nearly everyone who has a basic knowledge of UFO's and UFO related phenomenon has some knowledge of the purported UFO's which are visible in works of art from throughout the ages.
This was originally to be dedicated to that exact subject; however upon researching the subject thoroughly it quickly became apparent that these UFO's are not all that they initially appear to be.
This is especially true with the majority of paintings which depict religious events or have religious connotations. There are still some artworks where the apparent UFO connection is impossible to deny, but the majority of the ones that I had previously believed were UFO's can (and hopefully will) be explained!!
The Annunciation (pictured) is one of the artworks that was a major disappointment, at least as far as I was concerned. As you can see from the picture, it would appear to depict a UFO shooting some sort of beam of light onto the crown which adorns the head of the Virgin Mary.
Now there are a couple of things that are worth noting with this painting, not least of all that it appears to show a classic UFO shape.
The other point is that the majority of images on the internet are crops of the same image. The reason this is important is that it's not possible to clearly discern what the UFO is intended to portray. In fact if you zoom in on most of the current copies of the same image, it certainly does appear to be a UFO.
It's important to understand that the Annunciation refers to the Immaculate Conception, i.e. the virgin birth when the Holy Spirit, “Touched,” the Virgin Mary.
LUKE: Chapter 1, verses 26-38:
26 In her sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent forth from God to a city of Gal´i·lee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin promised in marriage to a man named Joseph of David's house; and the name of the virgin was Mary. 28 And when he went in before her he said: “Good day, highly favored one, God is with you.”
29 But she was deeply disturbed at the saying and began to reason out what sort of greeting this might be. 30 So the angel said to her: “Have no fear, Mary, for you have found favor with God; 31 and, look! you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you are to call his name Jesus.
32 This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and God will give him the throne of David his father, 33 and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.”
34 But Mary said to the angel: “How is this to be, since I am having no intercourse with a man?” 35 In answer the angel said to her: “Holy spirit will come upon you, and power of the Most High will overshadow you. For that reason also what is born will be called holy, God's Son.
36 And, look! Elizabeth your relative has also herself conceived a son, in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her, the so-called barren woman; 37 because with God no declaration will be an impossibility.” 38 Then Mary said: “ May it become of me according to your word.” At that the angel departed from her.
Now let's go and have a look at that picture again. As you can see below, by zooming in on a clearer image of the UFO, it's actually a circle of clouds inside which there are two circles of small angels!! A little further research also reveals that this is in fact a very common way of representing the, “Divinity” and is evident in several other historical sacred works of art.
And here we can see that the symbolism of using a group of angels joined together in a ring/circle isn't exclusive to the Annunciation painting. Below you can see the fresco of the Assumption of the Virgin in the dome of the cathedral of Parma
Before I start on this one, I feel it's important to stress a few facts mainly regarding symbolism in medieval works of art. In fact, it's by no means exclusive to medieval art (or to the Byzantine era) the symbolism is quite easily explained and can really be pinned down to the theme of the crucifixion itself. (The Byzantine Empire is the term conventionally used since the 19th century to describe the Greek-speaking Roman Empire of the Middle Ages.)
The interpretation of the symbolism is widely recognized as being representative of how through the death of Christ, man was ultimately saved. A negative and positive, dark and light, which is nearly always represented by the two universally recognised symbols of the sun and the moon.
The, "Smoking gun " which has sent many people up the wrong path is the ways in which the sun and the moon are represented. And to add yet further confusion, this symbolism is not exclusive to the Byzantine era and can be found in the works of other painters, like Crivelli for instance, who we have already briefly discussed with regards to the Annunciation.
The Byzantine style of painting is certainly the style where the objects are most prevalent on either side of the cross and they can be seen in a great many works from this time.
To further reinforce this fact, I've included some further pictures of where the sun/moon symbolism is present.
I have chosen the two pictures you can see to the right as they undoubtedly are a clear representation of the point I am trying to illustrate.
The first one being the two angels to represent the sun and the moon., and the second one actually shows the sun and the moon.as celestial bodies, leaving no doubt as to what they are representative of.
And here you can see the sun from a less abstract perspective but in an almost identical shape
leaving no doubt as to the intentions of the artist and symbolism.
And these two pictures below have also been mistaken for UFO's,
which again appear on either side of the cross and depict the sun and the moon.
Again, bearing in mind the reasoning just put forward it soon becomes obvious doesn’t it. However, I’ve included this one as it is probably one of the most publicized examples.
(Top Image - Crucifixion - Visoki Decan)
(Bottom Image – Deposition From The Cross - Benedtto Antelami)
Below the Crucifixion is a very, very similar artwork, “Deposition from the Cross” of Benedetto Antelami, currently located at the Dome of Parma.
Here you can see the sun & the moon as visible in the crucifixion painting. (Moon is at top)
These are an anthropomorphic representation of the Sun and the Moon!!
And again this is more evident in a modern Byzantine fresco, pictured below.
The Baptism Of Christ is another sacred work of art that requires a little background knowledge to fully appreciate the symbolism which is again evident in the painting. For this a basic understanding (again!!) is required of the content it is trying to relate.
In Christianity, the doctrine of the Trinity states that God is one being who exists, simultaneously and eternally, as three parts of one person, or three persons in one part.
Since the 4th century, in both Eastern and Western Christianity, this doctrine has been stated as "three persons in one God," all three of whom, as distinct and co-eternal persons, are of one indivisible Divine essence, a simple being.
Can you remember back in the Annunciation painting when the Holy Spirit, “Touched” the Virgin Mary during the Immaculate Conception? And indeed it was the representation of the Holy Spirit that caused the confusion?
Well, it's much of the same here, for people unfamiliar with the story the premise of it is John The Baptist baptising Jesus Of Nazareth. John acquired his name from his practice of preaching and baptizing Jews in the River Jordan. John The Baptist is the one who recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and, on Jesus' request, baptised him. This pivotal point (the baptism) marked the beginning of Jesus' life as a teacher.
Anyway, back to the painting, in other images of Jesus' baptism, the Dove is often used to represent the part of the Holy Trinity, and in the painting at hand the dove is shrouded within a bright light.
The dove is placed in a dark night sky purely to emphasize this fact. Have another look at a rarer (on the internet) and larger version of the painting (to the right) and yet again, this quickly becomes obvious.
And below are some clearer examples of this phenomenon in other portrayals of, "The Baptism Of Christ."
And lastly we have another famous (or should that be infamous?) painting of, “ Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John.”
For the sake of this article this could well represent the, “Smoking gun” as it were, as this is possibly the most often cited and displayed example of an apparent UFO in sacred works of art. Couple this with the fact that there are no celestial bodies or tiny angels to clarify what the object is, and the fact that there's a man with his dog pointing at the object and at first it would certainly seem like it's a UFO.
However, yet again a basic knowledge of the, “Back story” is required to fully appreciate and comprehend what it is that you're looking at.
The story, in this picture is of the announcement to the shepherds, as told in St. Luke's Gospel,
“Shepherds abiding in the field keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, an angel of the Lord come upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear ye not: for behold!, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you was born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
There is something else in the painting which requires your attention, even though ay first it may seem like a minor detail, it's not!! I'm talking about the upper left section of the painting where you can see a large star and three smaller stars.
These often appear in paintings of Madonna in the Byzantine era, occasionally they are painted on her forehead, veil and shoulders. Sometimes they are replaced by three rays of light, the reasoning behind this representation is that they are synonymous with the threefold (triple) virginity of the Virgin Mary. (Before, during and after the birth of Jesus Christ.) Again, this is evident in the image pictured below.
The shepherd with the hand on the forehead is similar to many other shepherds in countless sacred works of art of The Nativity or Adoration paintings, the lighting cloud, symbol of the God's Glory, comes from the narration of the nativity in the Protogospel of James (chapter 2, 19).
These above are but a few examples, taken from dozens of paintings of the Nativity of Christ. In every one, we clearly recognize the Angel, and see that almost always there's one shepherd holding a hand to his forehead, shielding his eyes from the resplendent light of the Glory of the Lord, occasionally there's a dog <aware of> and also looking towards the apparition. In most cases there is an angel coming out of a cloud lined by light, or as is evident in significantly older pictures this is represented with golden rays. Either way they are very much explainable!!
To be honest I must admit I was a little disappointed at the mundane and all together explicable nature of the apparent UFO's in the sacred works of art which I researched. I've always believed (as I'm sure many others have, and still do) that in the pictures I've referenced there were undeniable UFO's, unfortunately I no longer believe that is the case.