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lightning from a cloudless sky

1492

April 5

on Tuesday

At about 3 at night (11 p.m.) the lantern of the cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore was struck by a thunderbolt and it was split almost in half; that is, one of the marble niches and many other pieces of marble on the side towards the door leading to the Servi,(1) were taken off in a miraculous way; none of us had ever in our lives seen lightning have such an effect before. If it had happened at the time when the sermon was being preached (for a sermon is preached every morning now, with 15 thousand people listening), it must of necessity have killed hundreds of persons. But the Lord did not permit it. This marble niche fell and struck the roof of the church between the two doors which lead to the Servi, and broke the roof and the vaulting in five places, finally fixing itself in the brick floor of the church. And many bricks and much other material from the vaulting fell also, reaching as far as the benches placed for the sermon, where many people would have been sitting. Some material fell in the choir as well, but not very much. Many pieces of marble fell outside the building, beyond the door leading to the Servi; one piece falling on the stepping-stones in the street, and after having split the stone, burying itself underground; another piece was hurled across the street, and struck the roof of the house opposite the said door, where it split the roof and many beams and vaultings, and finally buried itself in the ground under the cellar. Although the house was full of people, no one was injured. A man called Luca Ranieri lived there. You may imagine that they nearly died of amazement and terror at the fearful noise; for besides that which fell into the cellar, many pieces fell on the roofs all around. The gallery on the cupola was also injured.(2)

And observe that this great niche fell inside the church, and made a large hole in the pavement; but did not spoil anything, not even the worth of a grosso. It was considered a great marvel, and significative of some extraordinary event, especially as it had happened suddenly, when the weather was calm, and the sky without a cloud.

(1) See note to 26th April, 1478.

(2) In the Maruccellian Code we read on that margin this note: "The following fact happened in the year . . . that the same church was struck by lightning, with a similar effect, and a block of marble was detached and remained resting on certain beams, which would have killed many if it had fallen; and Messer Vincenzio, the sculptor, was there."

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The moon was in the first quarter that night.

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