Sunday, 14 June 2009

Holy Pelican!

No, this is not something Batman says.

My kids were amused to read in the translation of the Adoro te, the words Holy pelican. Then I pointed out the door of the tabernacle in our church (which, alas, has no veil in front of it) which is carved with a picture of a pelican.

Why a pelican? Because the pelican was thought, in earlier times, to feed its young with its own flesh - and so became a perfect symbol for Our Lord giving his own flesh to us in the Blessed Sacrament at Holy Communion.

So naturally, tabernacles and hymns made use of this symbol.

It was only in a later, less pious more rationalist age that it was observed that the pelican was plucking insects or something out of its feathers to feed to its young, not tearing out its own flesh.

But we like the idea of the Holy Pelican!

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