Here are some perplexing mysteries from the past that remain unsolved. From the bizarre dancing plague of 1518 to a doppelganger that haunted a school teacher for years, here are some unsolved mysteries from the past that are sure to furrow your brow.
5. The Veil of Veronica
When people think of mysterious artifacts involving Jesus Christ, the first thing that often comes to mind is the Shroud of Turin. But Christian history tells of another miraculous artifact bearing the mark of Christ – the linen Veil of Veronica.
It is believed that the veil was worn by Veronica, a pious woman who was in the crowd on the fateful day that Christ carried his cross through the streets of Jerusalem on the way to Calvary. Taking pity on the exhausted man, Veronica used her veil to blot the blood and sweat from the face of Christ as he passed by with his burden. Christ was so thankful for her kindness that he left an impression of his image on Veronica’s veil. She kept the veil until she realized that it had miraculous healing powers. She journeyed to Rome with the veil and placed it in the care of Pope Clement.
In 1297, the veil was displayed in the Vatican Basilica. It became the object of much adoration by those who came to experience its healing powers and to look upon the likeness of Christ. Eventually the veil was stored in the Vatican archive, but it was still displayed every year for the faithful.
Now it is thought that the real veil is actually not the one displayed by the Vatican, but is instead kept safely tucked away in a monastery. Just like the Shroud of Turin, the monastery veil has been subjected to numerous tests, and it has been determined that the image wasn’t painted on the veil but instead was infused in such a way that the image is identical on both sides of the linen.
There has been a lot of debate surrounding Veronica’s veil. Skeptics believe that it is a deliberate copy of the face from the Shroud of Turin. They also point out that the encounter between Christ and Veronica was never historically documented. Unfortunately, both veils are too delicate to submit them to carbon dating, leaving many wondering which veil is the real artifact. It doesn’t seem to matter that there are two veils or that no one seems to know which one is the authentic one. Veronica has been named as a Saint, and thousands pray to her each year for healing and guidance. Specially blessed replicas of the veil can also be purchased from the Church. The mystery of the Veil continues.
4. The Strange Case of Emilie Sagee
It’s thought that everyone has a double, a lookalike out in the world that looks and sounds just like their matching twin. But what if you were hounded by a spectral twin every day? To make it even more disturbing, what if you couldn’t see your doppelgänger but those around you could? That is exactly what happened to Emilie Sagee.
By all accounts, Emilie Sagee, a French school teacher was well liked. She was considered to be a good teacher, but during the mid-1800s she was fired from 18 different teaching positions because of her strange affliction. In 1845, Sagee was hired by an elite girl’s school in Riga, Latvia. It was while she was working here that the details of one of the most documented cases of the appearance of a doppelgänger came to light.
13 students all witnessed the appearance of Sagee’s double. As she was teaching, the doppelgänger appeared nearby and mimicked all of her actions. Even stranger, while everyone else in the room was able to see the specter, Sagee herself could not. The doppelgänger didn’t just limit itself to the classroom. The shade was spotted on the school grounds, sometimes near Sagee and sometimes trailing along behind the class when they were strolling in the garden.
Unfortunately, Sagee lost her job at this school as well. It has been speculated that Sagee may have been so devoted to her students that she was subconsciously projecting an additional “self” to help watch over them. Other theorists thought that the doppelgänger was actually a malignant spirit, intent on tormenting the young teacher. This historical doppelgänger remains a mystery.
3. The Dancing Plague of 1518
Dancing can be a fun way to ease stress and get some exercise without really feeling like you’re working out. But what if dancing ultimately leads to your death? That is exactly what happened to a group of individuals in Strasbourg, Alsace in July, 1518.
It all started on a sunny day with one lone dancer. Frau Troffea began to dance with a great amount of exertion in a Strasbourg street. A week later, 34 individuals had joined Troffea in the street, all of them dancing. Within a month approximately 400 people were dancing in the streets, most of them women.
While specific numbers were never recorded, it’s known that some people died during what came to be known as the dancing plague, of heart attacks, exhaustion and stokes. Others may have died from dehydration.
Physicians were consulted, and they diagnosed “hot blood” as the cause of the plague and prescribed more dancing as a cure, with authorities going so far as to open guildhalls and building a stage for the dancers. Musicians were even brought in to encourage more enthusiastic dancing. These actions only seemed to act as a contagion of sorts and soon spectators were joining in with the plagued dancers.
There are a variety of theories about what was behind the dancing plague. Food poisoning has been considered, or possibly ergot ingestion, which would occur if the dancers ate grains contaminated with ergot fungi. Ergot toxicity causes erratic or bizarre behavior in those who eat it and has been attributed to the Salem Witch Trials as the source of the strange behavior that resulted in the accusations made by those involved in the trials. The ergot theory was eventually dismissed however because it didn’t explain how the dancers managed to carry on for as long as they did. Another popular theory was stress induced mass hysteria. The people in that area of Strasbourg were dealing with disease and starvation, factors that could have led to abnormal behavior. No one really knows what exactly caused the Dancing Plague of Strasbourg, but regardless of what caused it, everyone hopes that it doesn’t recur.
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