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  • Writer's picturePaul


In March 1707, midway through morning mass in the parish church of St Coultha, a tiny village near Stornaway in Scotland’s Western Isles, a gigantic hailstone smashed through a window at the back of the church, and struck the unfortunate priest—noted only in the parish records as a Father JR Robertson—on the side of the head.

The poor padre promptly collapsed to the floor, with a considerable wound to the side of his head, and was rushed back to his quarters to recover. Alas, recovery never came.

The head wound proved too severe, and Father Robertson died some eight days later. But according to local folklore, he spent those eight days drifting into and out of consciousness in total ecstasy, smiling and laughing contentedly to himself. There was no pain, there was no suffering—Father Robertson was seemingly utterly delighted by what had happened.

Why? Well, understandably, his parishioners were somewhat puzzled. But over the days that remained they managed to discern from Robertson that the night before the accident, he had dreamt that a hailstone would indeed break the church window, and strike him dead. The fact that his dream had come true proved to him that it was an act of God: the hailstone, he believed, was heaven-sent, and a pure sign that his time on earth had finally come to an end.

Local folklore would have you believe that the heavenly hailstone itself was collected up by the parishioners and placed on the altar in the St Coultha church, where it did not melt for the next 100 days.

Whether or not you believe that, of course, is up to you. As is, in fact, whether or not you believe any of this...

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