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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Pie Pellicane

A common image found in many Catholic churches of an unMahony kind is the Pelican. I recall many years ago when I first saw such an image in a church. I recall wondering what it was about and whether there was some scriptural verse that I had missed that would explain what it meant. I later found out that, throughout the centuries, the faithful had used the pelican as an allegory for Christ. How so? It is an image of caritas. Persuing my Beeson (as I mentioned the other day), I found a selection on point and one which I hope that you will use to improve your ever increasing Latin acumen.

The selection is from the Physiologus, a work in which, as Beeson says, "the peculiarities of animals and fabulous creatures were given a mystical, symbolical interpretation." Originally written around the 2nd century in Greek, it was known by many of the Church fathers. It was likely translated into Latin in the 5th century.

De pellicano dicit David in psalmo ci: "Similis factus sum pellicano in solitudine." Physiologus dicit de eo quod nimis amans sit filios suos. Cum autem genuerit natos et coeperint crescere, percutientes lacerant parentes suos in faciem. Illi autem repercutiendo occidunt filios suos. Tertia autem die mater eorum percutiens costam suam aperit latus suum et infundit sanguinem super corpora mortuorum, sicque cruore ipsius sanantur resuscitati pulli. Ita et Dominus noster Iesus Christus per Isaiam prophetam dicit: "Filios genui et exaltavi; ipsi autem me spreverunt." Nos igitur auctor et conditor noster omnipotens Deus creavit et cum non essemus fecit nos ut essemus. Nos vero e contrario percussimus cum in conspectu eius potius creaturae servivimus quam creatori. Idcirco in crucem ascendere dignatus est percussoque latere eius exivit sanguis et aqua in salutem nostram et vitam aeternam.