The Nikonian Chronicle - January 1319, Mozhcharyk, Russia - Fiery columns, pillars of fire
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
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At the time when Prince Mikhail of Tver was murdered by his brother and a wicked Tatar,
"many believers and even infidels at that time saw two clouds which came over the body of blessed Prince Mikhail, and they came together and parted and they shone as the sun. These people told us of it with tears, and giving many oaths. The body was sent to Mozhcharyk.
"At that time there were Russian merchants present who wanted to place the body in a church and cover it with a saintly cover; but they were not permitted to do so and the body was put in a barn, under guard. Then others living there saw at night a fiery column extending from the earth to the sky. Others saw a rainbow which bent over the barn in which the body lay.
"From thence the body was taken to the town of Bezdezh, and when they drew near the town, many people in the town saw a vision; around the sledge there was a multitude of people with candles and others on horseback with lanterns, riding in the air. And so they brought the body to the town, but the body was not placed in the church, but only iff’ the yard. Two of the guards lay down in the sledge above the body but they were seized by great fear and were thrown out of the sledge and pushed afar off. When they arose and recovered, they went and confessed what had happened to the priests who were there. I heard it from them and I have written it exactly."
Another source reports that during the course of January, at night over most areas of Russia numerous witnesses observed "fiery pillars," similar to those sighted in 1111, which extended from the ground toward the sky. Some people also sighted a "heavenly arc." Yet others saw horse-like flying entities, equipped with "lanterns."
These descriptions suggest a widespread natural phenomenon such as an aurora borealis, which could be seen over large portions of Russia. The mechanism of the aurora's fantastic luminous displays was a mystery until the 20 century, when physicists understood the behavior of charged particles from the Sun caught in the Earth's magnetic field. These particles emit light of vivid colors in wide, undulating curtain-like swatchs that can be likened to pillars, rainbows or arches.
Source: The Nikonian Chronicle, trans. S. A. Zenkovsky, vol. 3 (Princeton, NJ: Kingston Press, 1984-1989), 110-112