From Fictitious and Symbolic Creatures in Art by John Vinycomb, p184 Arms of Francis Joseph Bigger, of Belfast Blazon: Argent a bend azure between three molets gules, 2 and 1 Crest: On a wreath of the colors a pelican in her … Continue reading →
Representations of pelicans in their piety from Fictitious and Symbolic Creatures in Art by John Vinycomb, p182-183. The first has wings elevated and displayed, the second wings displayed and inverted.
It is said naturalists of old, observing that the pelican had a crimson stain on the tip of its beak, reported that it was accustomed to feed its young with the blood flowing from its breast, which it tore for the purpose. In this belief the Early Christians adopted the pelican to figure Christ, and set forth the redemption through His blood, which was willingly shed for us His children.
From Fictitious and Symbolic Creatures in Art by John Vinycomb, p185
Early Christian painters always represented this emblem of devoted self-sacrifice, A Pelican in her piety- that is, feeding her young with her own blood- as having the head and beak of an eagle or bird of prey… and not with the clumsy and ungainly “bill” peculiar to this species of bird, which we know is more suited to gobble up small reptiles than to “vulning” itself.
From Fictional and Symbolic Creatures in Art by John Vinycomb, p11