Definition: St. Elmo’s Fire

St. Elmo’s Fire is an ‘electrical weather phenomenon’ known as ‘The Flames’.  These ‘flames’ are named after Saint Erasmus of Formiae who is the ‘Patron Saint of Sailors’.  The ‘flames’ mean different things to different sailors.  To Russian sailors ‘the flames’ are Saint Nicholas.  ‘The flames’ are depicted in literature.  In ‘Ludovico Ariosto’s’  14th century poem ‘Orlando furioso’  the flames are described as bringing ‘hope of calmer airs’…and…in “Moby Dick” as you’ll recall it is ‘Starbuck’ who sees ‘the flames’ and cries, “Look! Aloft!”.  In Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”  ‘the flames’ appear as ‘evidence’ of the tempest afflicted by ‘Ariel’…and…in the comic book “Tin Tin in Tibet by Herge” it is Captain Haddock’s ‘ice axe’ that is ‘hit’ by St. Elmo’s flames….(scroll down) 

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