The Pelican in Her Piety

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Greetings, fellow disciples of Jesus,

A few years ago I found a cope (basically, a churchy cape) on eBay that I just had to buy. It is old and, quite frankly, has seen better days. There are threads straying in all directions and it has the distinct odor of a musty church closet. Some of this can be remedied, of course, but that’s beside the point. This cope is special to me because of the symbol on the back: the Pelican in Her Piety.

The Pelican in Her Piety

The image is of a mother pelican feeding her young by piercing her own breast. In the middle ages, it was believed that this was a natural phenomenon during times of drought. While modern zoology has disproved this theory, the mythological symbolism still hold power, as it represents Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

“…he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” – Isaiah 53:12

“Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” – Matthew 26:27-28

The Pelican in Her Piety
Stained Glass at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Stony Ridge

As symbols of the passion go, you don’t see this one too often anymore; however, I was delighted to see it represented in stained glass in the sanctuary at St. John’s. Check it out the next time you’re in the sanctuary—third window on the west side as you enter from the narthex. When you see “the Pelican in Her Piety,” remember God’s love for you in giving Jesus Christ, crucified for you in order that you may have life in Him!

Praying for you as we prepare to enter Holy Week,
Pastor Mike