I was just wondering what the symbolism behind the pelican and the peac[SIGN][/SIGN]ock is in relation to Christianity. I sometimes see them on stained glass windows, or engraved on the altar. What do they mean?
Not sure about the peacock but a mother pelican will feed her chicks with her own blood if there is not food. It symbolizes of course Jesus feeding us with his blood. The images show the mother pelican pricking her breast with her beak to draw blood which drips into her chicks mouths.
You got me interested, so I googled it a little. I didn’t have to go far. oce.catholic.com/index.php?title=Birds
That is the symbolism, although in real life pelicans do not actually do this.
As to the peacock, Wikipedia says,
Ancient people believed that the flesh of a peafowl did not decay after death, and it so became a symbol of immortality. This symbolism was adopted by early Christianity, and thus many early Christian paintings and mosaics show the peacock. The peacock is still used in the Easter season especially in the east.
(Citing “Birds, symbolic.” Peter and Linda Murray, Oxford Dictionary of Christian Art (2004).)