Since “Eucharist” means “Thanksgiving,” this story is well timed. (My thanks to Opinionated Catholic for spotlighting this story.)
The State of Louisiana has modified its already beautiful state flag. Here’s the flag they already had:
The brown pelican is Louisiana’s state bird. In fact, Louisiana’s nickname is the Pelican State. So it’s only fitting that a pelican don the state flag.
But it isn’t merely a pelican, but a mother feeding her young. A mother pelican was long ago believed to feed her young with drops of her own blood, if no other food was available. Catholics naturally used this to teach people about the sacrificial love of Christ, who offered his own blood to us all at Mass. (Instead of bleeding herself, the mother is likely just pounding her bill into their chest to fully empty her pouch.)
In the hymn “Adoro te devote,” St. Thomas Aquinas wrote:
“Like what tender tales tell of the pelican, bathe me, Jesus Lord, in what Thy bosom ran, blood that but one drop of has the pow’r to win all the world forgiveness of its world of sin.”
The pelican remains a powerful Christian symbol, often found in churches.
But you’ll notice that the mother pelican depicted in art shows three drops of blood — one for each child. And obviously, three is a very Christian number.
And, so, Louisiana decided in 2006 to update their flag. Not only does the bird look more realistic, but now there’s three drops of blood on the bird. The new flag’s design was unveiled this month:
Opinionated Catholic, who lives in Louisiana, notes:
Besides having a State Flag with the Christ on the Cross, the Last Supper, or a Priest Saying the Mass one cannot get more Christian than this as to State flags in many ways.
While you won’t find the Crucified Lord on any world flags, it is worth recalling that many European countries have the Christian cross on their flag: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Greece, and the United Kingdom. Scotland’s patron saint is Andrew and they have the Andrew “X” cross on their flag to honor him.
And now Louisiana’s flag is even more Christian in its symbolism. Wonder how long it’ll take the ACLU to freak out about this one.