(RNS) Pope Urban VIII had counter-magic performed and cardinals jailed amid predictions that solar eclipses in 1628 and 1630 spelled doom for his papacy, and he later issued a papal bull prohibiting Catholics from practicing astrology.

A 1652 solar eclipse that blotted out the sun in Scotland and Ireland was widely interpreted as the beginning of God’s wrath, a sign of the imminence of the Day of Judgment.

And months before a solar eclipse passed over London for the first time in nearly 600 years in 1715 it was heralded as “The Black Day or a Prospect of Doomsday.”

Throughout history,

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