Pelican in her Piety

Such decorative motif finds its origin in the Bible and was then developed by Christian commentators. In nature, female pelicans keep the food for their young to macerate in the membranous sac that hangs from the lower jaw, and then nourish them by pressing their beak against their chest to let the food out. To the naked eye this was perceived as the pelican piercing her breasts in order to draw blood which would have fed her chicks. This image became the symbol of Christ who sheds blood for the redemption of men.

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