... in peacocks

Published on 12 Apr 2021

I was listening to a radio programme this week about peacocks. I've always had a fondness for peacocks, as they combine all my favourite colours in one. 

I've known for some time that in Christian art they are symbols of resurrection, a little like the phoenix. There's a beautiful mosaic of a peacock at Westminster Cathedral, and according to the radio programme the peacock features in Byzantine art. One of those interviewed on the programme said that he thought that the peacock was featured in Byzantine art for partially aesthetic reasons because of their beautiful shape. I've no objection to the idea that early Christians simply saw beauty in the world around them and wanted to depict them. The symbolism dates back further though, to the ancient Greeks. Apparently, they thought that the flesh of the peacock did not decay after death. This seems rather improbable.

The peacock loses its beautiful plumage which then regrows, and it is therefore in a sense reborn. I take heart in this idea, as I think we all should. We have all had times in our life of darkness and lack of hope, or times when we have felt dull or even lifeless. The peacock symbolises not only our life and flourishing after death, but by the grace of God, how we may have hope and flourish again in this life too.