Blessed Nicholas Steno

Fossil shark tooth, 16 mm diagonal, Miocene, Westmoreland State Park, Virginia, U.S.A, DW Ross, CC BY
Though noting with incredulity
their employment in the
harnessing of winds,
Pliny the Elder
in his treatise on Natural History
could state with more certainty
on the subject of Glossopetrae 
that those forked stones 
littering mountaintops
drop out of heaven 
during lunar eclipses.

So when Ferdinando the Grand Duke of Tuscany, 
a millennium later, charged his best anatomist 
with the autopsy of a shark (of such magnitude 
her removed liver was measured at 100 kg)
caught by two men of Livorno,
who strung her from a tree and clubbed her to death,
the following miracle did Blessed Nicholas Steno 1
unveil to Florentine crowds:
via the divine, scrupulous 
hand, a mouthful
of tongue‚Äźstones 
set row upon 
row in 


  1. Feast Day: December 5th.
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