Renaissance 'Book of Miracles' shows gruesome visions of the apocalypse

(CNN)Today, we accept eclipses, meteor showers, plagues and unseasonable weather to be natural phenomena, easily explained away by science. But during the more religious and superstitious Renaissance period, these phenomena were often considered signs from God.

This is graphically illustrated in "The Book of Miracles," a coffee table book published by Taschen. It's a reprint of the "Augsburg Book of Miraculous Signs," which was rediscovered in what's now southern Germany in 2008.
Dated to the mid 16th century, it "gives spectacular expression to sixteenth-century Europe's ever-increasing concern for extraordinary signs sent from God," co-author Joshua P. Waterman writes in its introduction.
"The preoccupations that the present manuscript reflects were by no means unprecedented. They built upon traditions of omens and prophecy reaching back to Classical Antiquity and the Bible."
    Outside of the merely unexplained, the book delves into the truly impossible, dedicating substantial pages to freakish creatures, including a flock of flying crowned dragons and a raging seven-headed sea monster. Some scenes, such as Noah's Ark before the mythical flood, are taken from the Old Testament and local folklore.
    The final, more gruesome section was pulled from the Bible's apocalyptic Book of Revelations, which remains a popular source of inspiration today.
    "The Book of Miracles," published by Taschen, is out now. Check out the gallery above for a preview.