Painted around 1600 A.D. by the artist Ventura Salimbeni, the Glorification of the Eucharist (or Esaltation of the Eucaristy) has in recent years become known as the “Sputnik” of Montalcino. This is because, at first glance, it would appear to depict the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1.
The content of the painting, originally commissioned by the Church of San Pietro in Montalcino, likely has a less esoteric explanation: the object in question is actually a celestial sphere. However, not everyone agrees with this analysis, and some think a mystery lies at the heart of these peculiar objects found in paintings throughout history.
Ancient Alien Theories
A celestial sphere (also known as a creation globe) is an early artistic representation of the cosmos. Earth lies at the center, and spherical layers containing the other planets, the stars, the Moon, and the Sun surround it. Many paintings throughout history have depicted these spheres, which are typically grayish or dark in color, and you can find several examples of them here. The Sun and the Moon are clearly represented within the sphere of the Glorification of the Eucharist.
Those who believe the object is not a celestial sphere, however, point out the lack of stars and its metallic reflection, as well as its apparent metal plating, such as what you’d expect from an early man-made satellite.
They also note the strangeness of the “antennae,” which are more commonly explained to be symbolic wands held by Jesus and the Heavenly Father. Instead, theorists note that they almost seem to have a retractable “telescope” design.
As with many ancient alien theories, it is then claimed that, at some point in the past, Salimbeni and other artists may have encountered unidentified extraterrestrial objects and represented them in their paintings.
Time Travel Possibilities
A more intriguing theory is that the “satellite” in the painting is not extraterrestrial at all, but rather man-made, a product of Earth. And that leaves us with another possible conclusion: time travel.
Like other seemingly anachronistic anomalies in photographs and paintings, some claim the Glorification of the Eucharist contains proof that time travelers are out there, accidentally (or perhaps purposefully) leaving clues that temporal excursions are possible.
How or why would an object so similar to Sputnik 1 find itself in the time of Ventura Salimbeni? Perhaps he took this altogether ordinary object from 1957, somehow displaced through time and space, as a vision from the heavens.
If you’d like to read about another historical art anomaly, continue on to the The Madonna with Saint Giovannino: An Unidentified Anomaly?