Three Pelicans


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Pelicans

Pelicans

In medieval Europe, the pelican was thought to be particularly attentive to her young, to the point of providing her own blood by wounding her own breast when no other food was available. As a result, the pelican came to symbolize the Passion of Jesus and the Eucharist, and usurped the image of the lamb and the flag. A reference to this mythical characteristic is contained for example in the hymn by Saint Thomas Aquinas, “Adoro te devote” or “Humbly We Adore Thee”, where in the penultimate verse he describes Christ as the “loving divine pelican, able to provide nourishment from his breast”. Elizabeth I of England adopted the symbol, portraying herself as the “mother of the Church of England”. Nicholas Hilliard painted the Pelican Portrait in around 1573, now owned by the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. A pelican feeding her young is depicted in an oval panel…

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