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An 18th century oil painting by Dutch Master Aert de Gelder appears to depict the baptism of Jesus Christ being aided by bright streams of light emanating from a UFO hovering in the sky above the scene.
The painting, titled "The Baptism of Christ" and completed in 1710, is currently hanging in the Fitzwilliam, the art and antiquities museum of the University of Cambridge, England.
In the scene, Jesus Christ is kneeling in a shallow pool of water ringed by observers as John the Baptist administers baptismal rites above him.
What sets this work of art apart from the depiction of this familiar biblical scene portrayed hundreds, if not thousands, of times in the last twenty-plus centuries, is the immense circular object floating in the sky directly above.
The unidentified flying object is perfectly circular and seems to be standing out from the surrounding clouds. At its center is a barely perceptible white bird, most likely a dove, with wings outstretched.
Emanating from the object are four beams of light which stream to the center of the waterhole dell and fall directly upon Jesus and John.
In most other classical depictions of the baptism, considered to be the beginning of Christ's ministry, beams of light usually emanate from the dove itself, a symbol of the divinity of God, the heavenly father of Jesus Christ.
Why this particular scene depicts a hovering, circular disk (a modern consensus of what a UFO purportedly looks like) with rays of light shooting down towards the Earth is a subject for debate.
But, it's safe to say, the illustration of the pivotal moment in the life of Christ is unlike any other depiction of the act which signified to the world that John the Baptist believed the Savior had finally appeared and was ready to take up his sacred mission.
Perhaps the rendering is merely the result of Aert de Gelder's brilliant imagination and artistic skill. But, the work of art doesn't represent the only instance when an artist from the ancient past seems to have alluded to some sort of extraterrestrial intercession in depictions of other seminal moments in the life, and death, of Jesus Christ.
Consider this painting by an unknown artist, circa the 11th century.
"UFOs" hover above Jesus Christ as he hangs from the cross in an 11th century fresco mural painting by an unknown artist.
In it, two unidentified flying objects appear to be thrusting away from the scene on either side of the mortally wounded Jesus Christ, perhaps at the moment his soul departs for the afterlife. Is this a depiction of his spirit leaving the body?
In other contemporary paintings, and, indeed, in most depictions since, such heavenly bodies are portrayed as Angels, supernatural, humanoid beings with wings. Why would this painting intimate that Angels may actually be in aircraft which look remarkably like a classic UFO rendering from modern times?
The painting is a section of a fresco mural painted on to the walls of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Georgia, a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Needless to say, 11th century artists and the learned rulers of society at the time had no knowledge of powered flight or flying machines.
Still, the unidentified flying objects bear an uncanny resemblance to actual aircraft, particularly the rounded hull and apparent stream of fuel emitted from the object's undercarriage.
Is it possible that artists and scholars from the near and more distant past were aware, as we are today, that the possibility of alien life exists and that, in fact, visitors from other worlds may have appeared in the skies overhead at momentous times in human history?
Or, are these startling images, evocative of what we call spacecraft built and flown by alien civilizations from another galaxy, just flights of fancy conjured by the vivid imagination of skilled artists who have left their imprint on history, leaving behind a message for all future generations?
We may never know. But, it's comforting to think that we are faced today with an issue our ancestors were also confronted by:
Trying to answer the question of whether or not we are alone...