Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A History of Visions of the Cross in the Sky by Ebenezer C. Brewer 1894

Visions of the Cross in the Sky by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer 1894

Matt. xxiv. 30. Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man.

Dan. vii. 13. I saw In the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man came [In] the clouds of heaven.

Achaius, king of the Scots, and Hungus, king of the Picts, see a cross m the sky.
A St. Andrew's cross appeared in the clouds to Achaius, king of the Scots, and Hungus, king or the Picts, the night before their engagement with Athelstane. As they won the victory, they went barefoot to the kirk of St. Andrew, and vowed to adopt his cross as the national emblem.-J. Leslie, History of Scotland.

A cross in the sky appears to Alonzo before the battle of Ourique (A.D. 1139). As Alonzo was drawing up his men in battle array against the Moors, the figure of a cross appeared in the eastern sky; and Christ, suspended on the cross, promised the Christian king a complete victory over the infidels. After the battle, Alonzo assumed for the royal device, on a field argent five escutcheons azure, charged with five bezants, in memory of the five wounds of Christ.

The emperor Constantine sees a cross in the skies. 
Constantine was on his march against Maxentius, who had declared war against him, and was at Rome with an army much superior in numbers. The emperor had marched from the Rhine, through Gaul, and was going to Rome by the way of Verona. He had passed the Alps, and was marching with part of his army towards Rome, when, a little before midday, he and those with him saw a bright cross of light in the clouds. In the night following, Christ appeared to him in his sleep, he had a cross in his hand, and commanded Constantine to have a standard made like it. Next morning the emperor gave orders for such a standard to be made, and called it the Labarum. It was a gilt pole with a cross-bar. The top of the pole was surmounted with a gold crown, set with precious stones, and in the midst of the crown were two Greek letters, Chi and Ro (x, p). From the cross-bar hung a purple veil, spangled and dazzling. The emperor selected fifty of his best men to carry and guard this banner. The battle was fought in the Quintian fields, near the Milvian bridge. The foe was utterly defeated, and Maxentius drowned in the Tiber, Oct. 27, A.D. 312. Constantine now entered Rome in triumph, and always ascribed his victory to the cross. Philostorgius, describing the heavenly cross, says it contained in Greek words and letters this inscription "By this conquer" (EN TOUTO NIKA).-Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. xix., note; Alban Butler, Lives of the Saints, Sept. 14, note.

Respecting the "Labarum," the accounts given somewhat differ. The Roman vexillum, or cavalry flag, was a small square piece of cloth fixed on a cross-bar at the top of a pole. It la said that Constantine preserved this general arrangement, but on the little flag devised a cross from opposite corners, and set a Greek p (an English R) at the centre, where the cross lines cut. Below the little flag be also attached a small cross-bar, which, with the pole, represented a Latin cross. The cross or X - the Greek letter Ch., which, with the centre letter R, would form the monogram Chr.- Christ.

A cross seen in the sky soon after the inauguration of St. Cyril (A.D. 386). 
St. Cyril wrote a description of this meteoric phenomenon to the emperor Constantine, and his letter is inserted in the works of Sozomenes, Theophanes, Eutychius, John of Nice, Glycas, and others. On May 7, about nine in the morning, a vast luminous body, in the form of a cross, appeared in the heavens, just over the holy Golgotha, reaching as far as the holy Mount of Olivet (about two miles). This was seen not by one or two persons only, but by the whole city, and it continued for several hours, the light from it being more brilliant than that of the sun. "The whole city found in this phenomenon the truth of the Christian doctrine, to which the heavens bore visible witness."-Dr. Cave, Life of St. Cyril, vol. ii. p. 344.

How this meteoric phenomenon should be a proof of the doctrine of the cross, I am at a loss to imagine. I myself saw a very unusual phenomenon in the sky, Nov. 17, 1848, and sent an account to the papers. "The sky overhead seemed In flames, and bands of various colours of great brilliancy rose from the horizon to the north star, forming a luminous arch. This magnificent appearance lasted in full splendour from seven till ten at night." If the cross in the sky was a proof of the Christian doctrine, this arch or crescent might be claimed as a proof of the Turkish religion.

A cross in the sky seen when Julian attempted to rebuild the temple.
When Julian recalled the Jews, and employed them in rebuilding the temple, the work was arrested by fire from the ground, earthquakes, and lightnings. Then we are told that crosses were miraculously attached to the garments of the Jews engaged in the building, and a luminous cross, enclosed in a circle, appeared in the clouds.-St. Gregory of Nazianzen, Oration iv., against Julian.

(Theodoret cells in that the crowes miraculously attached to the garments of the Jews were black; 8t. Gregory says they were luminous. The solution given by Mgr. Guertn is this, that the crosses were or a phosphoric nature, black In daylight, but luminous In the dark.)

A cross in the sky seen at Migne in the diocese of Poitiers (Dec. 17, 1826).
Dec. 17, 1820, at Migne, in the diocese of Poitiers, at the close of the jubilee, while a cross was being planted in the cemetery, a luminous cross was seen in the clouds by some three thousand persons. The sun had set about an hour and a half. The length of the heavenly cross was forty feet, and the cross-bar between three and four feet. The whole crowd was seized with admiration, and instantly fell on their knees; some wept, some raised exclamations of wonder or delight, and others lifted their hands to heaven, invoking the Saviour. Mgr. de Bouille, bishop of Poitiers, published an account of "this miraculous apparition," and received two briefs from pope Leo XII. upon the subject. He also sent to the church of Migne a gold cross enclosing a piece of the true cross, and accorded plenary indulgence to all those who visited the church. The bishop fixed the third Sunday of Advent for the annual celebration of the phenomenon.-Mgr. Guerin, Vies des Saints (1880), note, vol. iii. p. 487.

Surely there ts no reason for supposing this vision miraculous. As I was travelling from London to Nottingham. March 20, 1882, I was for a long time puzzled at seeing in the air, some hundred feet or more from the train, what seemed to me a gigantic carriage moving with great rapidity. After a little reflection I thought of the spectre of the Brocken In the Hartz mountains, and had no doubt that the spectre carriage was the one I was riding in, greatly magnified. We are told they were planting a cross in the cemetery when the spectre cross appeared in the air.

St. Ouen sees a cross in the skies (A.D. 646).
When St. Ouen, on his return journey from Spain, was in the midst of the country not far from Louviers, his mule stopped short and refused to move. Astonished at this unusual behaviour, St. Ouen lifted up his eyes to heaven, and there saw, above his head, a luminous cross very brilliant, the light of which shone all around. God told St. Ouen, at the same time, that He had destined the spot for His service, and wished to be honoured there. So St. Ouen traced a cross on the ground, and left some relics there. He then continued his journey, and the mule made no further resistance. All that night a pillar of fire, reaching from earth to beaven, and more brilliant than the sun, appeared on the sacred spot, and all the inhabitants saw it. It was here that St. Leufroi, about a century later, built a church and a monastery, but St. Ouen had erected a wooden cross on the spot, which went by the name of "La Croix St. Ouen."-L'abbe Pecheur, Annales du Diocese de Soissons.

A cross in the sky seen by Waldemar II. of Denmark.
Waldemar II. of Denmark is said to have seen a fiery cross in the sky, betokening his victory over the Esthonians, A.D. 1219. The king, like Constantine, adopted the cross as a standard, which was called the Danebrog or Danish Cloth, and instituted the Order of Danebrog in commemoration of this vision.

This legend is differently told in some Scandinavian chronicles. It is said that the Danes lost their royal banner in the fight, but another dropped from the sky to supply its place, it was a red flag with a white cross. Immediately this banner fell into the hands of the standard-bearer the army rallied, and won a signal victory. Those who explain legends tell us that the Danebrog was a consecrated banner sent to the king by the pope. Whatever its origin, it was long used as the royal standard.-Drs, Chrichton and Wheaton, Scandinavia, vol. i. p. 257.

The emperor Augustus sees a Virgin and Child in the skies. 
Suidas tells us that, about the time of the Nativity, the famous oracle of Apollo of Delphos became mute, and gave no more responses. Augustus, demanding a reason for this silence, was told by a priest it was because a Hebrew child was born, who was the master of the gods, and he had commanded them to confine themselves to the infernal regions. Nicephorus adds, that Augustus, on his return to Rome, erected an altar in the Capitol with this inscription: "Ara Primogeniti Dei." Mgr. Guerin, chamberlain of pope Leo XIII., tells us (Vies des Saints, vol. xiv. p. 463), D'autres auteurs ecrivent que le meme empereur apercut dans les nues une vierge tenant un enfant entre ses bras.

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