Did you know that there is a peacock feather meaning in Christianity as well as the peacock in Christianity? Peacocks are very exquisite creatures, and Peacock feathers equally beautiful and give the male peacock the beauty it is known for when it opens and spread its feathers. The peacock has about 150 of these beautiful feathers and they can grow to be over a yard long. Every year these feathers will fall off and will be regrown within the same year.
How Does the Peacock and its Feather Symbolize Christianity?
Peacock Loses and Regrows its Feathers
First, it is seen that the peacock loses its feathers every year during summer, and then regrows these feathers before Christmas time. This was seen historically by Christians and Catholics as representative of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross was made to make atonement for sinners. His Resurrection was Him conquering death and the grave for believers. He was Resurrected in full beauty, just as the peacock feather dies and resurrects again in full beauty.
This could even represent the death of believers to their old lives, followed by resurrection to a new life and heart. The shed peacock feathers were used throughout history to decorate churches at Easter and Christmas.
The Flesh of the Peacock
Another reason is that it was believed by the Ancient Greeks that the flesh of the peacock was very tough, and was able to survive longer without spoiling than other birds. This was even tested by Saint Augustine who found that after a year, the flesh of the peacock was very tough. Also, the 13th Century Franciscan, St. Anthony of Padua noted that the peacock flesh is said to be incorruptible if dried.
“For who but God the Creator of all things has given to the flesh of the peacock its antiseptic property? This property, when I first heard of it, seemed to me incredible; but it happened at Carthage that a bird of this kind was cooked and served up to me, and, taking a suitable slice of flesh from its breast, I ordered it to be kept, and when it had been kept as many days as make any other flesh stinking, it was produced and set before me, and emitted no offensive smell. And after it had been laid by for thirty days and more, it was still in the same state; and a year after, the same still, except that it was a little more shriveled, and drier.” (Book 21, chapter 4):
This represents the fact that Christians will be immortal, and the flesh will also not corrupt. It is symbolic of everlasting life, given though Jesus Christ.
Peacock in the Bible
Peacocks are mentioned in the Bible when peacocks of Tarshish are brought to Solomon during his reign (1 Kings 10:22). Solomon sent out ships to other countries, and they came back at one time with gold, silver, ivory apes and peacocks. This was probably to India where they are extremely common to find and native to the area. But it could have been given to the ships by someone who only had connections with India, and the ship may not have actually gone to India.
Peacocks have also been seen in church’s artwork and structures as well as Medieval Christian and Byzantine art, usually in funeral scenes. Many early Christian paintings and mosaics feature the peacock. Paintings of peacocks are also found in early Christian tombs. This is probably due to their symbolic relation to the Resurrection. Monasteries often had peacocks roaming the grounds as well. There’s even a painting of Christ’s nativity which features a peacock among the animals and standing on the rooftop.
Peacock Feathers Have Eyes
The feathers of the peacock each have an eye, or what looks like an eye on each one. Peacocks were seen in some ancient religions to represent the eyes of a certain god who could see all things. In Christianity, the peacock feathers can represent the eyes of God, all knowing and able to see all things. It would also sometimes represent the Church of believers. The peacock can also come to represent the presence of God.
The peacock may have been symbolic of Christianity, because the peacock was known to be able to eat poisonous snakes and plants, and not be harmed. This could be linked to the idea of Resurrection and that believers have conquered over evil through Lord Jesus. It could also be related to the fact that Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake and yet did not die in the book of Acts.
Another way that the peacock and its feathers might represent Christianity and the Christian believer, is in the everyday nature of the peacock. The peacock can look ordinary, roaming around without its tail feathers spread, and then it can all of a sudden spread its feathers and show a beauty and glory that was unseen or known.
This can represent the Christian believer. The believer may look ordinary from the outside, especially going about their everyday lives and tasks, but then underneath there might be a beauty and glory that is waiting to be revealed.
A final symbol that has been mentioned is that if a peacock is shown to be drinking from a vase, it represents a believer drinking from the eternal waters of Life. In Christian iconography, the peacock is meaning times featured next to the tree of life. Part of its symbolism in Christianity for eternal life.
Christian Moral Teaching Using the Peacock
There was an ancient Christian moral teaching which used the peacock to teach a lesson. It was said that the peacock did not like its ugly feet. It would stop in the middle of its strutting and cry out when it saw its feet, which it considered to be an imperfection in its majestic beauty.
In the same way, it was said, we should cry out at our own spiritual imperfections.
Final Thoughts on the Peacock in Christianity
We have taken a look at the peacock in Christianity and the peacock feather meaning in Christianity and what historically they have symbolized in Christianity and the Church. All of these things I was unaware of, even being a Christian.
The feather can represent Resurrection since it sheds and is regrown every year. The peacock skin can represent immortality and eternal life since it was believed to not corrupt or decay after death. And the peacock feather eyes were symbolic of the Eyes of God, all seeing and all knowing.
The peacock has played a role symbolically in the history of the Christian religion and Catholicism and has had different meanings. It is found in Christian art and iconography. The peacock has represented more than just its beauty.