Catholic Dictionary




A symbol of sacrifice, selflessness, and generosity. Emblem of the Eucharistic Christ, whose blood resuscitates the living soul, as the female pelican was thought to nourish her young from her own breast. In the hymn Adore Te, St. Thomas Aquinas addressed the Savior, "Pelican of Mercy, cleanse me in Thy Precious Blood." As a sign of God's providence and solicitude, this sea bird is often depicted in ecclesiastical writings, painting, murals, and stained glass.