The Madonna with Saint Giovannino: An Unidentified Anomaly?

The Madonna with Saint Giovannino was painted in the 15th Century, and is often attributed to artist Domenico Ghirlandaio. It’s one of many paintings that alien theorists claim depict an extraterrestrial object.

The Madonna with Saint Giovannino painting
Image: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

In this case, the object is hovering in the distance (upper right) behind the Madonna. A man standing in the background with his dog also appears to be looking up at the UFO, using his hand to shield his eyes.

The strange object, which appears as a dark oval
Image: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

The object is “leaden” and glowing, with radiant beams of light protruding in every direction. Looking at it, it does seem to match our modern ideas of flying saucers.

In truth, however, it’s more likely that these “unidentified objects” found in various paintings throughout history are actually symbols added by their painters, in this case Domenico Ghirlandaio (although the painting has also been attributed to Sebastiano Mainardi and Jacopo del Sellaio).

It may be a depiction of a glowing star, a divine cloud, an angelic presence, or some other Christian symbolism. This iconography is common in early religious paintings, and in fact the strange object is not alone in the sky; to the left, you can see the Nativity Star.

Christian iconography or extraterrestrial UFO? You decide. The Madonna with Saint Giovannino can currently be found as part of the Loeser collection in the Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Florence, Italy.


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  1. Maybe the one who drew it spilled some ink and tried to cover it up by adding some stuff to it? And then people continued to do it because they thought it was intended.

  2. What about the shadded finger above her head pointing at the object in the sky above her shoulder? From

  3. It looks more like an asteroid or meteoroid! I read recently that scientists had been able to find evidence of strikes all over the world using satellite images , it would be interesting to see if they had found any in that area! Would solve the mystery if they could! :)

    1. That’s actually a really good point. It’s possible there had recently been a meteorite impact, and the artist was depicting that event in the painting. I like it.