He got up and wrote me:
"For some strange reason I woke up with a UFO link to the Dendermonde case. On the cover of the FT compilation Diary of a Mad Planet (FT issues 16-25), we featured a painting of what looks like a UFO hovering over a crowd surrounding St John baptising Jesus. The UFO is in fact a Divine Dove with an elliptical halo, but four beams of light shine down from it onto the scene below. The painting is by Aert de Gelder."
The cover of the compilation is shown here:
The "Dendermonde case" is code for the event involving the daycare nursery killer, Kim de Gelder, the Dendermonde Joker. (I've web logged several recent entries about the subject, for example, here, here, here, here, and here.)
Rickard pointed out to me that the image is now seen throughout the Internet, often in relationship to it being "ancient proof" for UFOs. I notice, for example, that the image is sometimes flipped, incorrectly (see below), thus changing its symbolism.
Rickard further shared that FT had permission, in 1991, from the owner, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, to use it. He wasn't so sure that today all the sites showing it have the Fitzwilliam's permission.
The painting is The Baptism of Christ, c. 1710, by Aert de Gelder (1645-1727), which was given to the Fitzwilliam Museum by Lord Alwym Compton, Bishop of Ely, in 1905. Apparently the previous owner, Marianne, the Countess of Alford, had bequeathed it to the donor in 1888. It is oil on canvas, 48.3 x 37.1 cm.
Aert de Gelder (Oct 26, 1645, Dordrecht – Aug 27, 1727, Dordrecht) was one of Rembrandt’s last pupils while in Amsterdam, studying in his studio from 1661 to 1663. The general consensus is that de Gelder was not only one of the most talented of Rembrandt’s pupils, but also one of his most devoted followers, for he was the only Dutch artist to paint in the tradition of Rembrandt's late style, into the 18th century.
The subject of de Gelder's painting, John the Baptist died around 30 A.D. The prophet is most remembered having headed a baptism movement at the Jordan River in expectation of a divine apocalypse that would restore occupied Israel. Christians, Jews, and Muslims regard John as a prophet, as do Bahá'ís and Mandaeans.
The painting that flashed into Rickard's mind this morning depicts John's baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. The dove overhead in de Gelder's painting is the disputed UFO/dove.
Christian scholars and writers for hundreds of years have used the dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. This symbolism was inspired by the Bibical account of Christ's baptism (Luke 3, 21-22). The dove, as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, may be seen in churches, on priestly vestments, on altars, tabernacles, sacred utensils, and in many religious paintings.
June 24th & Beheadings
Needless to say, among Forteans, the feast day of John the Baptist's birth (June 24) is a major milestone in anomalistic history. The Knights Templars displayed the “Mysterious Head” at Poitiers on June 24, 1308. The "modern age of flying saucers" began on June 24th, 1947. I and many others have written much about St. John's Day, June 24th. (See a list of anomalistic events associated with this date, here.)
The overlapping decapitation symbolism to various events such as the recent VA Tech beheading can be rather directly viewed, via metaphor, in the beheading of John the Baptist, a significant event that is often also painted.
The biblical account portrays the beheading of Saint John the Baptist by Herod Antipas. On Herod's birthday, Herodias' daughter (traditionally named Salome) danced before the king and his guests. Her dancing pleased Herod so much that in his altered state of consciousness he promised to give her anything she desired, up to half of his kingdom. When the daughter asked her mother what she should request, she was told to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Although Herod was appalled by the request, he reluctantly agreed and had John executed in the prison.
Salome With the Head of John the Baptist (London), by Caravaggio, c. 1607.
The beheading date is generally given as August 29th. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast on August 29 as the "Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist" in the ordinary form and as "The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist" in the extraordinary form, or traditional Latin Mass. The Church of England and many other national provinces of the Anglican Communion celebrate the feast on August 29. In the Church of England, the day is referred to as "The Beheading of John the Baptist."
The Divine Dove
Aert de Gelder's "Divine Dove" is a frequent motif in religious paintings, and is, as noted, an earthly representation of the "Holy Spirit."
In this painting, The Descent of the Holy Ghost, the disk form is similar to what is shown in de Gelder's art.
Sometimes, however, the Divine Dove is shown as part of the Trinity of Signs.
Fridolin Leiber (1853–1912) painted an example in his The Holy Trinity. Note that the iconography of "triplets" may not be accepted by all modern Christian groups. (The Holy Trinity is more usually depicted with God the Father as an elder, God the Son as Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as a Divine Dove.) The persons of the trinity are identified by symbols on their chests: The Son has a lamb (agnus dei), the Father an Eye of Providence, and the Spirit a dove.
But in general, the "Holy Spirit" as a dove is painted above the religious figures in the scene, as can be viewed in the following several examples (which may be identified and keyed from this reference, "Holy Spirit").
Doves, UFOs and Loch Ness
One could say that metaphoric UFO landings were re-enacted routinely within religious settings.
In medieval times the figure of a dove was widely used to enact in a dramatic way the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. When the priest had arrived at the sequence, he sang the first words in a loud and solemn voice: 'Veni Sancte Spiritus' (Come, Holy Ghost). Immediately there arose in the church a sound 'as of a violent wind blowing' (Acts 2, 2). This noise was produced in some countries, like France, by the blowing of trumpets; in others by the choirboys, who hissed, hummed, pressed windbags, and rattled the benches. All eyes turned toward the ceiling of the church where from an opening called the 'Holy Ghost Hole' there appeared a disc the size of a cart wheel, which slowly descended in horizontal position, swinging in ever-widening circles. Upon a blue background, broken by bundles of golden rays, it bore on its underside the figure of a white dove. Source
I want to note that the Loch Ness Monster can be added into this mix too.
The "dove" is found in a fairly common word and its many forms: Columba, Columbia (!), Columbine (!).
St. Columba, a warrior saint, has become the living "dove," for in Old Irish, he is known as Colum Cille (meaning "Dove of the Church"). It is said Clan Robertson are heirs of Columba, and to some extent, Clan MacKinnon too.
Art by Bill Rebsamen.
On August 22, in 565 AD, St. Columba came across a group of Picts who were burying a man killed by a monster that today is linked to the Loch Ness Monster. St. Columba supposedly brought the man back to life. In another version, he is said to have saved the man while the man was being attacked, driving away the monster with the sign of the cross.
Several St. Columbas have been recorded, all having been beheaded.
St. Columba of Sens suffered towards the end of the third century, probably under the Emperor Aurelian. She is said to have been beheaded in 273, near a fountain called d'Azon; and the tradition is that her body was left by her murderers on the ground, until it was buried by a man called Aubertus, in thanksgiving for his restoration to sight on his invoking her.
St. Columba the Virgin is a female saint with dedications in Cornwall and other Celtic regions. She probably lived in the 6th century. She became a Christian when the Holy Ghost appeared to her in the form of a dove. The Latin word for dove is 'columba'. She was beheaded by a pagan prince she refused to marry.
The Celtic saints of St. Columba of France and St. Columba of Spain have similar legends in that they were all maidens who were pursued and killed by pagans. All suffer decapitation where springs or wells then miraculously gushed forth from the spot, as was said to have happened with St Columba the Virgin too.
St. Columba of Cordova was a Spanish nun who was martyred by being beheaded by the Moors, at the monastery of Tabanos in 853.
St. Columba Kim Hyo-im (1813-1839) was a native of Pam-som, Korea. As the persecution of Korea’s Catholics continued, Columba and her younger sister (Saint) Agnes were brought before a pagan police commissioner. Upon refusing to apostatize, Columba was tortured in various ways. Only about five days after this ordeal, her wounds inexplicably healed so completely that her captors attributed the apparent miracle to an evil spirit. On September 26, Columba was beheaded for her faith, three and a half weeks after her sister Agnes had suffered the same fate.
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"On the instant when a picture of the dove, or even the shadow of the suspended bird, was pierced by a sword, the dove itself was beheaded, although it had not been disturbed....This experiment, called 'Theophrastus Paracelsus,' recalls an old superstition, namely, that evil can be wrought by a spoken incantation." - The Old and The New Magic by Henry Ridgely Evans