The Peacock

Calvary Catholic Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri

Even in the stylized version of the peacock above, one of the first elements that is noticeable are feathers with the “eyes” that surround the body of the peacock, suggestive of the all seeing eye of God.  The feathers are regenerated each year, and each year, the male peacock has larger, more brightly-colored feathers.  Early Christians adopted the peacock as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and eternal life because of the peacock’s ability to shed and regenerate its stunning plummage.  Images of the peacock have been found in the catacombs in Rome as early as the Third Century.

Born out of an ancient legend that the peacock’s flesh did not decay, and St. Augustine’s belief in the antiseptic qualities of peacock flesh, the peacock also became a symbol of immortality and the incorruptability of the flesh.

Peacock at the Castelo de St. Jorge, Lisbon, Portugal

 

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