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Atmospheric ‘Miracles’?

Roberto Volterri ©

“Then Yahwe said to Moses: ‘Then I will make breads pour down from heavens....” (Exodus, XVI, 4).

What did really rain from the skies in the XIII Century B.C. in the land of Israel?

What did pour down, in 358 Anno Domini, on the mesmerized Roman citizens – from more than a thousand kilometres distance – who were idling about on the Esquiline Hill in a hot August day in the 4th Century? Who did annotate in the “Ancient Chronicles” the details of such unusual atmospheric phenomenon?

Many centuries later, in 1244, Brother Bartolomeo of Trent used this information to write his book “Liber Epilogorum in Gesta Sanctorum”, in which he described both the “oneiric (dream-like) message” grasped by Pope Liberio (352 – 366) and the wealthy Roman patrician Giovanni, and the very strange ‘Atmospheric Miracle’, when a circumscribed area of the Esquiline Hill was covered with a layer of strange white stuff. And only that area....

Who so meticulously described the very unusual ‘clouds’ aligned in an almost aerial formation, some of them having a discoidal and lenticular shape, and from which a kind of white snowlike material came out? But this was not snow....

We are not able to give an answer to these questions, but this does not matter. What it is important is to outline the fact that, not as a result of the human imagination, in those biblical times in Israel something whizzed about its skies. Also, in late Imperial Roman times, snowflakes could fall only from ‘real’ clouds and certainly not on the 5th of August!

At those times ‘something’ attracted the eyes towards the sky and left, even if slightly, a tangible sign for these simple-minded fellows. The recall of those memories was for many years handed down by word of mouth, until somebody finally wrote of it in “Ancient Chronicles”, a precious source of information for Bartolomeo of Trent, and for the mature and talented artist Masolino of Panicale. As Lippi, or somebody from his “School”, had already done, with the famous painting “The Madonna and the Little S. John” (Florence, Palazzo Vecchio) and later also the Sienese artist Ventura Salimberi with the well-known painting “The Eucharistical Glorification” (Montalcino, Siena). Masolino worked with Masaccio and Paolo Schiavo on the realisation of the “Triptych of the Snow” (ended in 1429) and of which two works were lost.

Today, however, not only Masolino’s painting (Capodimonte Musem, Naples), brings our attention to this very odd ‘Atmospheric Miracle’, and this phenomenon should at least be studied on the supposed basis that in the old times our planet is been ‘visited’ by some outsider civilisations. As a matter of fact, within the S. Maria Maggiore Basilica, also known as the “Sancta Maria ad Nives” or “Liberiana” from the Pope who witnessed the ‘phenomenon’, exist at least three more representations of the ‘miracle’.

This writer, armed with the usual and reliable camera, walked among Japanese, English, French and German tourists attracted by the architectural and artistic wonders of the Roman Jubilee Basilica. He documented the presence of a marvellous mosaic that covers the entire facade realised by Pope Eugene III (1145 – 1152), one bas-relief in the Borghese Chapel made by Mimo of the Reame in the 15th century, and a curious painting representing the Esquiline ‘snowfall’ itself. The writer is also conducting a detailed research, here and there, among the sanctuaries consecrated to the Madonna of the Snow, hoping to find the some documents to prove the existence of other similar summer ‘Atmospheric Miracles’. The quest continues...

Let us go back to the odd ‘snowflakes’ that Pope Liberio, the patrician Giovanni and the astonished citizens of ancient Rome labelled as a ‘miracle’. What were they in reality? Certainly not snow, taking in consideration the date when this ‘snowfall’ took place (5th of August!)... Who knows? Maybe it was the same substance the “Manna”, the food miraculously provided for the Israelites guided by Moses in the wilderness of the desert?

Perhaps it was the same stuff that fell in France in the 1950’s and also in Florence, Italy in 1954. In this beautiful Tuscan city during one of these strange ‘snowfalls’, an engineering student had the bright idea to pick up a small quantity of it and bring it the Chemical Institute University for a closer analysis. Here the professors Giovanni Canneri and Danilo Cozzi carried out some spectroscopic analysis and discovered the presence of Boron, Magnesium, Silicon and Calcium, very different composition from that of the ‘fribroine’ (C15 H25 N5 O6), the main component of some cobwebs brought, here and there, by the wind in certain period of the year.

So this is something completely different!

The white filamentous substance fell down from ‘objects’ similar to those represented in the Masolino of Panicale’s painting, and has been named ‘Silicious Cottonwool’ (due the large amount of this element found on it) or, more poetically ‘Angel’s Hair’.

Let us try to confront the two events, the two ‘Atmospheric Miracles’ separated from each other by more than sixteen centuries.

Earlier I mentioned Manna, that odd white stuff that apparently fell down from the sky in theDesert between Elim and the Sinai, when “...in the morning a layer of dew formed around the field. Then the layer evaporated and on the surface of the desert remained a fine flake shaped thing, fine as frost on the ground...(Exodus XVI, 13-14)

At this amazing view – which we can read about in a 19th Century version of the Old Testament – the Israelites repeated to each other the word Man-hu meaning “What is this?” because they did not know what it was...hence the use of the word Manna to describe the whitish material with which the Israelites nourished themselves and which made it possible for them to survive in the desert "...for forty years until they arrived to a populated town...to the frontiers of this town..." (Exodus, XVI), 35).

Another ‘Atmospheric Miracle’?

Maybe not, because in this case the most reasonable explanation could be classified under the realm of the Natural Sciences; however, it brings out some ‘strange’ aspects of eso-biologic nature.

Already in 1483, the Dean of Magonza Cathedral, Bernard von Breitenbach, described the ‘bread from the sky’ that “...rains down early in the morning and like daw and frost forms many drops on the grass, stones and tree branches...”

Successively, in 1823, the German botanist Eherenberg suggested the idea that the Manna was nothing more than the secretion of the Tamarisk tree, a species of Acacia wide-spread in that region. In 1925 two botanists of the Jerusalem University – Friederich Simon Bohenheimer and Oskar Theodor – after long investigations done in the Sinai area, confirmed that the secretion of the bush-tree Tamarix Gallica, when pierced by the Coccus Manniparus or Fossiparia Mannifera, a lady-bug typical of that area, presents a secretion the size and the shape of a white coriander seed, that after a while it crystalises in sweetish, white-yellowish grains. Just like what the Israelites saw when “...they turned the face to the desert and there the Glory of Yahwe appeared in the cloud...” (Exodus XVI, 10), when the morning after "...a fine flake-shaped thing was found on the surface of the desert (Exodus XVI, 14), similar to a “...white ...substance... tasting like the thin honey cakes...” (Exodus XVI, 31). Is it all clear now? Not really...

Perhaps the naive people confused the white substance similar to ‘silicious cottonwool’ or ‘Angel’s hair’ falling from an ‘anachronistic’ object from...the ‘cloud’ with the whitish stuff secreted by the Tamarix Gallica tree that made possible survival in the desert wilderness for so many years.

Maybe the two phenomena happened contemporaneously, creating confusion first in the oral and then in the written tradition. What, in reality, was the omnipresent “Glory of Yahwe”? That glory that appeared “...in a line-up of clouds guiding them through the journey, and by night in a line-up of fire...” (Exodus, XIII, 21).

We do not know it, but we can imagine it!

I entitled my recently published book “Ancient Chronicles narrate...” (Hera 2002 Publishing) with the intention to give, with the help of the omnipresent Personal Computer, some ‘exobiologic’ explanations to a wide range of phenomena of pictorial and architectural evidence. My intention is also to ‘curiously’ search for ‘above suspicious’ signs (they are a lot of them!) of biblical ‘Ancient Chronicles’ that may allow us to be more pragmatic about these Phenomena, which are traditionally set in a religious context.

These ‘events’, ‘pictorial witnesses’, ‘architectonic witnesses’ and ‘biblical chronicles’ are truly real ‘memories from the ....future’! – that I prefer to list, just like any vocabulary could do, as ‘anachronisms’. Thus,“…chronologic mistakes that erroneously associate things and facts to a different period of time than the real one when it really happened!” The odd ‘discoid’ object behind the Virgin, visible in the painting attributed to the ‘School’ of Filippo Lippi, titled “The Madonna and the Little S. John”; the even stranger ‘clouds’ of the already mentioned Masolino of Panicale’s painting and similar representations were unusual ‘Atmospheric Miracles’, or demonstrations of some ‘exobiologic’ presence on our planet? The well known “Vision of Ezekiel”, inspiration for the talented graphic artist Alberto Forgione who created the cover of the book, shows “...while the heavens spread apart...and appeared ....a large mass of clouds and quivering fire...” while “...something looking like torches was moving from one to the other side of the living creatures; the fire was bright and from the its radiancy a lighting burst out...”, when “...the living creatures raised up from the ground, the wheels raised...” Is this another unusual ‘Atmospheric Miracle’ or another witnessing that ‘something’ extremely ‘anachronistic’ happened in the skies of Israel?

In another Continent, Mexico, in Palenque many centuries later, in 7th century of our era, what did the unknown Mayan artist see when he engraved on the sarcophagus of the King Pacal a person that, strangely enough, ‘rides’ a bizarre ‘machinery’ fitted inside an ‘ogival’ structure spitting out smoke and fire.

Maybe the same ‘anachronistic’ object that, in 8th century BC, another unknown artist saw and remembered in sculpture - an image totally similar in which ‘El Rey’ the ‘Lord of Chalcatzingo’ is sitting inside an ‘ogival’ structure spitting out smoke and fire...

What really did take place in Medjugorie? Father Slavko Barbaric, vice-parrish of the ‘miraculous’ place located twenty kilometres from Mostar in Herzegovina, asserts that the Sun at sunset suddenly ‘rotated’ and ‘danced’ in the sky.

What happened in Fatima on the 13th of October 1917, when the Sun appeared to ‘rotate’ for at least twenty minutes? Was it really the Sun or....’something’ round-shaped?

More ‘Atmospheric Miracles’?

“Sun, remain still over Gabaon, and Moon on the Aialon lowland!” ordered Joshua to the Star around which our small planet rotates. (Joshua, X, 12). “Therefore the Sun remained still, and the Moon also stopped... And the Sun was standing still between the skies and it did not rush to set down for at least and entire day...! (Joshua, X, 13).

Another ‘Miracle’ that could turn insane any astronomer or researcher of Atmospheric Physics! Is it conceivable that the terrestrial globe rotation could be stopped by the will of a biblical Prophet?

Of course not! And so what did happen in the Gabaon skies? We remain faithful to the biblical tests when we try to interpret those phenomena with a wider point of view, open to the possibilities that the Earth has been ‘visited’ in past centuries and millennia by ‘somebody’ coming from ‘somewhere also’.

We could suppose that the presence of a non-identified anachronistic ‘object’ erroneously identified as the Solar Disc was observed in the Israel skies, at first in its revolving phase, and then, for at least a day, in a geo-stationary position, in a such low altitude as to be confused with the Sun. An ‘object’ that made Johsua and his people believe that a ‘Miracle’ was taking place.

Are we flying too... high? Maybe so, but I find it very interesting, and I have the opportunity to emphasise on these pages, to analyse with an attentive and wide-open eye biblical ‘Ancient Chronicles’, pictorial ‘Ancient Chronicles’ and archaeological ‘Ancient Chronicles’. My real purpose is to collect more and more evidence, ‘hints’ to finally prove the validity of my argument: we are not alone in this Infinite Universe.

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