The Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT), the main telescope of the Vatican Observatory. The dome to the left houses the telescope itself; the space to the right are the control room and the living space for the observers.
I have just watched an episode of the TV documentary series Forbidden History concerning the Vatican (Series 6, Episode 2). The last portion of the programme concentrated upon why the Catholic Church should have an interest in astronomy, to the extent of having a state-of-the-art telescope on Mount Graham in California.
No mention was made of the apparent UFOs that appear in many medieval paintings, but I thought of this immediately. These little images in the heavens are taken as proof that UFOs were around in those early centuries, just as they are today. But are they “UFOs” as we understand them today?
What do we mean by UFOs? Unidentified Flying Objects…aliens. Little Green men, Greys, call them what you wish, we all have notions of the nature of flying saucers.
There’s always speculation about everything concerning the Vatican, and conspiracy theories abound. I don’t intend to comment one way or the other, but I would like to know why, exactly, the Catholic Church wishes to study the heavens. To my mind Christianity—and indeed most great religions—is a strange blend of the natural and supernatural. Well, they are interested in science, and are probably as keen as the rest of us to know if something nasty is hurtling toward Earth. But….is there also a secret purpose that has preoccupied Christianity ever since Calgary? Are they seeking the earliest possible signal of the Second Coming?
Are the “UFOs” in medieval paintings simply visions of Christ’s return (or arrival, e.g. the star followed by the three Magi) that the artists actually meant to illustrate? So, nothing whatsoever to do with men from Mars, or indeed from any other planet, galaxy or universe, but everything to do with indicating Christ’s first arrival from Heaven or His second coming?
To read more about the images of UFOs in medieval art, go this article.